Blog

Pumpkins

Autumn pumpkins in all their glory

There are so many pumpkins in the shops at the moment. They look beautiful in their Autumnal glow – but do we realise their wonderful nutritional benefits – they are definitely more than just a Halloween lantern

They are a great source of soluble fibre, and as they have high water content they are also low in calories. As they are low on the glycemic index they are a great vegetable for keeping balanced blood sugars and helping insulin regulation. I m going to post a delicious and easy recipe for pumpkin soup with walnuts and the end, but before I do I want to just give you an idea of its impressive nutritional value

Firstly, its a great source of the phyto nutrient beta – carotene which our body converts to Vitamin A. Just like carrots, the Vitamin A in pumpkins is good for our eyes, skin and also supports our immune system. This is just what we need as coughs, colds and flu are all around us!

It also contains a lot of vitamin C, which is also supportive of our Immune system, along with zinc, folate and vitamin K. It also has a huge amount of two phytonutrients , lutein and zeaxanthin which are supportive of eye health and are linked with reducing risks of cataracts and macular degeneration.

This combination of nutrients give it its’ anti inflammatory and antioxidant qualities making it a great choice for a winter vegetable. You can dice and roast it with a little olive oil seasoned with salt, pepper and some spicy chilli or paprika. Its also a great base for a soup. Remember that you can also roast and eat the seeds which also contain zinc and fibre, and are very tasty!

So if you ve carved your pumpkin, and are looking for a way to use up the flesh – why not give this a try

PUMPKIN SOUP WITH TOASTED SEEDS

Ingredients

  • 2 kg unpeeled weight pumpkin or butternut squash
  • 3 red onions cut into chunks
  • 4 large tomatoes quartered – you could use a can of tomatoes instead, but if you do, just add them after the pumpkin has roasted.
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • sea salt
  • 1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
  • natural yogurt, to serve
  • For the Toasted Seeds
  • 100g pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp sea salt
  • ½ tbsp soft brown sugar [see below for alternative]
  • 1 large sprig rosemary finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Method

  • Peel and cut the pumpkin into chunks. Heat the oven to 200C. Divide the pumpkin, onions and tomatoes between 2 large roasting tins. Toss in the oil, maple syrup and a good sprinkling of sea salt. Roast for 45 mins or until the squash is slightly charred at the edges.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the seeds. This will make more than you need but they make a delicious snack and will keep in a sealed container for up to 1 week. Just mix all the ingredients together then spread out on a baking tray. Roast in the oven for 20 mins then leave to cool.
  • Transfer the vegetables to a large saucepan. Add the stock, bring to the boil and stir well. When it has cooled a little, blend to a purée. This makes a thick and hearty soup but just add more stock if you prefer a thinner version. Taste for seasoning. Ladle into bowls then top with a spoonful of yogurt, and some toasted seeds.

If you prefer to avoid the sugar you can sprinkle some Cajun spice or tamari sauce on the seeds before roasting.  This will give you a spicy or savoury version

How to support restful sleep

 

woman sleeping

The perfect day to help your night


Getting a good night s sleep for some people takes a bit more effort than just drawing the curtains and snuggling under the duvet….

However, I find that for many of us, a few changes in our daily routine can make all the difference. Here are my suggestions:-

  • Morning light and exercise/movement – Do this when you get up  Get some daylight for 20 minutes so that the morning light touches your retina to stimulate cortisol – your ‘get up and go’ hormone!. If possible get it by going outdoors rather than through a window
  • Flush your toxins – have a mug of warm water, with a squeeze of lemon or a teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar.
  • Protein at breakfast – the important thing to remember is that you should eat some protein with every meal. Start with your breakfast. See my recipe for Overnight oats below which is a great balance of complex carbohydrates and protein.
  • If you enjoy a coffee, now is the time to have it
  • If you feel your energy is flagging mid-morning, just have a few nuts and piece of fruit, and try a herbal tea instead of more coffee and a sugary snack
  • Get up from your desk and walk for 10 minutes a few times during the day
  • Healthy lunch –) Again think about protein, vegetables and complex carbs -Try some rainbow salad, a tub of hummus and a piece of rye sourdough bread
  • Avoid caffeine after lunch
  • 4pm snack – maybe some nuts and a piece of fruit
  • 7pm . Eat dinner now if you can. Maybe some Omega 3 rich baked salmon and some sweet potato wedges with a spinach salad and a green vegetable with raita. (Recipe below ) Some carbohydrate at night is good as it supports the production of serotonin which then converts to sleep inducing melatonin
  • No blue light after 8pm. So, try to avoid using your phone or tablet – or at least dip down the light. Try the yellow tinted glasses you can buy which block out the blue light ( Try Cyxus). Remember, blue light makes your brain think it is morning, thereby preventing the production of the hormone melatonin which helps you sleep.
  • Epsom salts bath. This really relaxes your muscles and it makes your body heat move to your extremities thus cooling down your core temperature, aiding sleep
  • Magnesium support – Magnesium is a mineral known as nature’s tranquilliser. Although it is found in foods like leafy greens, nuts and seeds, it is thought that many of us have low levels, which can be a factor in insomnia. Try talking @100- 300 mg of magnesium citrate or glycinate about thirty minutes before bed.  Many supplement companies produce magnesium supplements. I’ve recently been using one from a company called MAG 365, which you add to hot water to increase bio availability. The passion fruit flavour is delicious!
  • 10-10.30 Go to bed. Make sure your bedroom is cool and dark. I always use an eye mask to make sure that all light is kept out. Write 3 good things that have happened in the day in your gratitude journal
  • If sleep still evades you then have a tryptophan rich snack e.g. oatcake with banana or some warm oat milk
  • Remember that routine is the most important factor in all of this – our bodies like routine – so trying to establish a good pattern of bedtime can be vital in establishing better sleep
  • Sweet Dreams
Tricia s overnight oats with pic

pexels-photo-414262.jpeg

Tandoori Salmon with Spinach Raita

Winter warmers

Mediterranean Beef Stew

Recipe: Mediterranean beef stew

Now that we re firmly in Autumn, the thought of salads might be less appealing. I’ve pulled my slow cooker out of the cupboard and started using it again.

The recipe for Mediterranean beef stew is a good way of getting the nutritional goodness of good organic grass fed beef, without eating too much meat. I would suggest adding not one but two cans of butter beans – the flavours of the stew are so good that it will take the extra pulses. Add more herbs if you like. I added a teaspoon of paprika as I like the gentle heat it brings to the dish.  Slow cooking really is the healthiest way to cook – it allows the nutrients of the beef, peppers, onions, and herbs into the sauce so nothing is lost.

Grass fed beef is essential as it is a good source of anti inflammatory Omega 3 – whereas a lot of factory farmed beef is fed on Omega 6 rich feed which can be more inflammatory. If you can get organic, then even better. It is more expensive – but just use less and have it as a treat rather than on a daily basis. I suggest making this in bulk so that you can freeze a few portions.

I’m also adding a tasty Chicken and Sweet Potato tagine and a vegetarian Squash Chickpea and Apricot tagine recipe.

Apricot, squash and chickpea tagine

Chicken and sweet potato tagine

Hope you enjoy them

Mental Health Awareness Week

photo of a woman thinking

Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week, and  I was pleased to be involved in speaking at the Cardiff Junior Lawyers Health and Wellbeing breakfast seminar to share how Good Nutrition can support Resilience to Stress

Everyone in the legal profession will be aware of the stress placed upon all levels of the profession in the current workplace environment. As a former solicitor, married to a senior lawyer, I am acutely aware of how the pace of business has increased to frantic levels, adding to the stress of living in our constantly connected 21st century. There are no surprises then that mental health issues are increasing in the profession. In 2018 LawCare received its highest ever level of helpline calls.

And of course, this issue is not limited to the legal profession – it exists in all areas of work, from accountancy, advertising and marketing, insurance, call centres, to  teachers, NHS workers and more….

As a Nutritional Therapist I see many clients suffering from conditions such as chronic headaches and migraines, IBS, weight gain, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety and low mood. Most if not all of these conditions are driven by stress.

There are a number of ways that food – both what you eat and how and when you eat it, can help reduce the effects of stress in the body. Sadly, the Standard Western Diet that many of us eat today is devoid of fibre and nutrients and fails to give our body what it needs to work well.

What can we all do to mitigate against this? The main strategies that I suggest are:-

  • Balancing blood sugar – eating natural unprocessed wholegrains – eat brown and seeded not white and refined, complex carbohydrates – including the carbs in vegetables; and protein with every meal. This strategy ensures that glucose enters the bloodstream in a gradual way, avoiding energy highs and lows which have a massively detrimental effect on energy and mood
  • Replacing depleted nutrients like Vitamins B and C, magnesium, zinc and iron. Easily obtained from vegetables, fruit and other plants – so eat a rainbow of these, aiming for 10 portions a day. It’s a lot, so work up to this gradually! Without these nutrients our body just cannot perform its metabolic functions -its not surprising that we can feel unable to cope with the stresses of daily life
  • Eating good fats to support a favourable Omega 3/6 ratio:- olive oil, oily fish, nuts, avocados. These all support the manufacture of hormones, cell walls, absorption of certain Vitamins and help our nervous system work well
  • Eating good proteins to provide the building blocks of neurotransmitters – especially plant proteins like beans, pulses, nuts and seeds
  • Supporting your gut microbiome by eating the 3 Ps:- Prebiotics –soluble fibre found in plants like leeks, garlic, onions, Jerusalem artichokes, lentils and oats; Probiotics – the live bacteria in fermented foods such as yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut and miso. Finally, Phytonutrients – the plant chemicals found in, yes, plants. Research is showing that plants contain thousands of different nutrients that have a positive function on the gut and therefore on the rest of the body. I’m talking about things like the polyphenols in coffee, chocolate and red berries; the lycopene in tomatoes and quercetin in apples and onions. There is a massive amount of research into the Gut – Brain link at the moment. It’s showing that a healthy microbiome supports not only our digestion and nutrient absorption, but also our brain health. The key is Diversity – eat as many different natural foods as you can each day. Research shows that a diverse diet leads to a diverse microbiome which correlates with good health

assorted vegetable lot

Contact tricia@goodnutritionfirst.co.uk for more information on my Talks and Workshops

Spring into Summer

 

salmon summer

Summer is coming and our thoughts are turning to the warm sunny days ahead. We need to start thinking about taking off the layers of comfortable winter clothing- but might find that our bodies have gained their own ‘extra layer’ of padding!  What can we do to get rid of the extra pounds so that we can fit back into our summer wardrobe again?.

While its good to be mindful of the health issues linked with being overweight, I am also aware of the adverse metabolic effects of crash and yo yo dieting on your body. Its important to support your body nutritionally to ensure that you are providing it with the nutrients it needs to enable it to function properly. So, if you are trying to lose weight,  doing it by  simply reducing calories is not the best approach. Remember that there are about the same calories in two Jaffa cakes as there are in an egg. The Jaffa cakes have very little nutritional value, but the egg is full of good quality protein, very rich in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin which support our vision, as well as being rich in iron, phosphorus, selenium, Vitamins A, B12 and B5. To top it all it is a rich source of choline which is good for our brain!

So, what is the best way of losing weight healthily? As a Nutritional Therapist I am trained to treat every person as an individual – and I know that an eating plan that works for one person may not work as well  for another. This is why when seeing a client who wishes to lose weight, I will spend time in the consultation, analysing a detailed questionnaire of current and past health, as well as discussing your current eating routine,  in order to help work out the best nutritional plan for that person. I will support that plan with at least 7 different breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas and lots of tasty nourishing recipes.summer fruits

However, there are some basic rules for healthy weight loss that work for many people – providing there are no other ongoing health conditions. Here are my six  top tips

  1. Eat your vegetables – this is a no brainer. Plant foods are full of healthy vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals that support a healthy metabolism. Studies show that a plant based diet is one of the healthiest ways to eat. Focus on those vegetables that grow above the ground and try to eat as many different coloured veggies as you can every day. Eat a rainbow! A few portions of fruit a day are fine, but if you’re trying to lose weight focus on berries, apples and pears as these offer the least disruption to your blood sugar.carrot-kale-walnuts-tomatoes.jpg
  2. Eat a small amount of protein with every meal. Protein provide us with the amino acids needed to repair and replace your cells. Protein is also satiating – so you are less likely to feel hungry between meals. As well as animal proteins like lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs and live yoghurt, try eating more plant proteins like nuts, seeds, legumes and pulses. There are lots of great recipes around that focus on foods like chickpeas, black eyed beans and lentils – so give them a try
  3. Eat Complex carbohydrates like wholegrains, oats, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat and root vegetables like sweet potato. These are much slower to digest than the refined carbohydrates found in refined carbohydrates like white bread, sugary cakes and biscuits, pasta and white rice. Being unrefined they have avoided the manufacturing processes which removes most of their nutrients. These complex carbohydrates, along with vegetable fibre will help keep your bowels moving and will also provide food for your microbiota – the beneficial bacteria that live in your gut and work hard to support your digestion and immune system.
  4. Eat good fats. Please don t eat ‘low fat’ manufactured foods. These tend to be full of sugars and additives. Your body needs fat to help you absorb vitamins A D E and K; to help make hormones and to keep your cell walls flexible enabling your neurotransmitters to work efficiently. Just avoid trans fats and too many saturated fats. Focus on the healthy fats in olive oil, nuts, avocados and oily fish.
  5. Drink around 6-8 glasses of water a day. If this is a bit boring try adding fruit or herbs. Some good combinations and lemon and lime slices, cucumber, berries, mint and even rosemary. (Rosemary also reputed to help you concentrate better – so add a few sprigs to your work water bottle and stun your colleagues with your efficiency!)
  6. Give it a rest. Research shows that leaving around 12 hours between your last meal of the day and your breakfast can really help weight loss, as well as giving the cells of your body some ‘spring cleaning’ time.

Here is a  great recipe for a Detox rainbow salad. This can be made in bulk as it lasts 2 or 3 days in the fridge. It’s tasty, nourishing and filling and really useful for work lunches. Just add some protein in the form of salmon, (red tinned salmon is very nutritious), chicken, hummus or feta and olives. A few sweet potato wedges left over from last nights dinner can also be added for some healthy carbs.

rainbow salad 

Rainbow Detox Salad

½ red cabbage, thinly sliced

Red onion, chopped

Orange or yellow pepper, chopped

2 carrots, grated

1/4 cucumber chopped

Large handful coriander or flat leaf parsley chopped

Salt and pepper

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon organic apple cider vinegar

Finely chopped red chilli pepper (optional)

½ – 1 pomegranate, seeds

Contains the following anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant nutrients:-

Red cabbage- vitamins A and C, B6, magnesium, anthocyanins (cancer fighting), fibre
Red Onion – quercetin, Vitamin C, potassium, fibre
Carrots – vitamin A from beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, fibre
Peppers – Vitamin C, folate, Vitamin E and K, beta carotene
Cucumber- potassium, vitamin C, lowers blood sugar
Coriander – quercetin, kaempferol – good for detox, vitamins A,C,K
Olive Oil – good source of Omega 9 and 3; Apple cider Vinegar – probiotic – good for gut bacteria
Pomegranate – very high antioxidant, fibre, vitamins C and K, 124 phytonutrients
Chilli pepper – fibre vitamins, Vitamin C and K, capsanthin -anti cancer

If you would like a little more personalised nutritional support on weight loss or any other matter then please contact me tricia@goodnutritionfirst.co.uk

Workplace Wellness

Nutrition for Corporates

green apple cut

Wellbeing at work

  • Do your staff suffer from stress at work?
  • Is the health and wellbeing of your employees important to you?
  • Would a healthy workforce be a more productive workforce?
  • Do you want to play a positive role in your employees’ lives?

 If so, targeted nutritional education in the workplace can help, providing positive results for staff health and wellbeing, motivation, attendance and morale

Good Nutrition First offers practical, non-judgemental guidance on healthy eating, supported by current research not fads, with effective strategies for implementation including food ideas, recipes with a down to earth approach

We can provide

  • Breakfast and lunchtime seminars
  • Workshops as part of a Staff Wellness Programme
  • One-to-one nutrition consultations

All  tailored to the specific needs of your workforce 

Here are some of the talks that we deliver:

  • Healthy eating – What it means and how to achieve it
  • Good Nutrition – building resilience to stress
  • Eating for energy – How food can improve energy and performance
  • Eat to beat 21st century diseases like type 2 diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease
  • Good Gut Health – How your microbiome influences your health and how to harness it
  • Sleep – Why we need it and the impact of our Circadian clock on how, what and when you eat.

Testimonials

 “Tricia provided a thorough and interesting seminar explaining stress and the importance of nutrition in a comprehensible understandable way, with realistic steps and guidance to improve areas of my life that I often struggle with including stress, sleep and physical fitness” – A L seminar attendee – January 2019

“Tricia gave us a very interesting and informative talk on healthy eating. She came to our meeting complete with healthy snacks, and some of the messages she gave us have stayed with us and are still a source of conversation with… [us.]” – C R February 2109 

Tricia Lowe, a former solicitor, now a qualified Nutritional Therapist, has a clear understanding of the pressures on today’s workers. GP appointments for health conditions related to stress are at an all-time high – they adversely impact performance. Improving health through diet and lifestyle changes can have a beneficial effect on people’s resilience to stress both in the workplace and outside. All you need is the knowledge ……….. Contact us at:

 

Gut Healthy Recipes

 

Rainbow Detox Salad

½ red cabbage, thinly sliced

Red onion, chopped

Orange or yellow pepper, chopped

2 carrots, grated

1/4 cucumber chopped

Large handful coriander or flat leaf parsley chopped

Salt and pepper

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon organic apple cider vinegar

Finely chopped red chilli pepper (optional)

½ – 1 pomegranate, seeds only,

Method

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.

Serve with any fish or meat. Delicious in a wholegrain flatbread with dollops of home made hummus

Will make enough for 6-8 people.

You can keep this in a covered container in the fridge for 4-5 days

Contains the following anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant nutrients:-

Red cabbage- vitamins A and C, B6, magnesium, anthocyanins (cancer fighting), fibre

Red Onion – quercetin, Vitamin C, potassium, fibre

Carrots – vitamin A from beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, fibre

Peppers – Vitamin C, folate, Vitamin E and K, beta carotene

Cucumber- potassium, vitamin C, lowers blood sugar

Coriander – quercetin, kaempferol – good for detox, vitamins A,C,K

Olive Oil – good source of Omega 9 and 3; Apple cider Vinegar – probiotic – good for gut bacteria

Pomegranate – very high antioxidant, fibre, vitamins C and K, 124 phytonutrients

Chilli pepper – fibre vitamins, Vitamin C and K, capsanthin -anti cancer