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Thursday, 8 December 2016

Dr Richard K Bernstein why no Nobel Prize? he has saved countless people!

From my main man and guru for over eight years. Why no Nobel Prize? he has saved countless people! Eddie

Alzheimer's disease found to be a diabetic disorder of the brain!

Researchers at Tohoku University have found a promising treatment for Alzheimer's disease, by noticing a similarity in the way insulin signaling works in the brain and in the pancreas of diabetic patients.

More on this paper here.

To non diabetics. When did you last get your blood glucose checked? You can get a BG meter and some test strips from your local chemist for a very small amount of money. Money well spent I reckon.


Nutmeg - Is it the forgotten spice?

I wonder do you use nutmeg in your house? When growing up my dear Mum made the most delicious tasting rice pudding always topped with nutmeg, it was a once a week family favourite. Nowadays, rice pudding does not appear in my menu plans ... it sends Eddie's blood sugar numbers too high. Instead there are other ways to incorporate this spice - in soups, with low carb vegetables - it's amazing how you can use spices and herbs to enhance cooking flavours.

In a BBC article about nutmeg these words - "There are few spices more evocative of Christmas than nutmeg. But why is the ingredient relegated to the back of the cupboard for the rest of the year?

"[It] works in the background, doing magical things," says chef Nigel Slater, describing nutmeg's quality in savoury dishes.

"It's a winter spice... nutmeg to me is about warm, cosy kitchens, it's about log fires, it's about drawing the curtains, opening a book, wrapping presents."

Freshly grated into mulled wine or eggnog, the spice's rich aroma fills many kitchens in December.

Nutmeg trees produce two spices - nutmeg and mace. Both are extracted from the trees' fruits: nutmeg is a brown seed, while mace is the red membrane which grows around the shell of the seed.

Although nutmeg can be bought as both a whole and ground spice, Nigel Slater says grating the whole nut with a small grater releases a superior flavour.

The smell is "almost pine-like", he says. "It is one of the magical smells."

Whole nutmeg works particularly well grated on top of rice pudding, and it is delicious when added to a custard tart and cream desserts, says Mr Slater. (It works well in this recipe too - use nutmeg in place of cinnamon - or even consider a mix)

But for many people Christmas is the only time to use nutmeg in the kitchen.

Once one of the most sought after spice in the world, today nutmeg often lies sitting in cupboards, unused, for months.

"For me nutmeg is a very old fashioned spice. It's one that isn't used very much now," says Mr Slater.

Perhaps it is because the sweet, gentle tone of nutmeg is the antithesis to the fiery, pungent flavours of spices people in Britain love cooking with today such as chilli and ginger.

Chilli products for example, are in high demand, and an increasing number of British farmers now grow the crop.

"If you think of the spices that we use now, we use them I think for excitement," argues Mr Slater.

Nutmeg is thought to have been imported into Europe during the 12th Century by Arab merchants. But by 400 years ago it had become the most valuable spice in the world.

In the 17th Century, displaying a bowl of nutmeg in your home was a sign of immense wealth, says Giles Milton, author of history books including Nathaniel's Nutmeg, an account of English adventurer Nathanial Courthope.

"Nutmeg was the ultimate luxury," says Mr Milton. "Of all the spices, nutmeg was the most elusive to find and it was also the most valuable."

But a dark history surrounds the spice.

"Hundreds maybe thousands of people died - were slaughtered - fought in battles over this spice," says Mr Milton. "And all to satisfy the tastes of the elite."

The Portuguese found the spice growing on the Banda Islands of Indonesia (Spice Islands) in 1512.

At the time, nutmeg trees grew on only six remote islands in Indonesia and the east indies.

By the early 1600s Dutch troops had control of the nutmeg trade. But in 1616 English trader Nathanial Courthope and his men took over the Island of Run, and struck a deal with native chiefs to ensure the English would keep control of the island and send nutmeg back to the UK.

Today nutmeg trees are grown much more widely. In the Caribbean, the centre of the nutmeg trade is the island of Grenada.

Most of the nutmeg growing there is exported but the spice is also much-used in Grenada in the cuisine and as a medicine. In Grenada "You use it on meat, you use it in soup, you use it in bread, we use it in everything."

Nutmeg has been used as a medicine in some parts of the world for centuries.

In Grenada it is commonly used to treat a range of ailments such as aches and pains and arthritis.

The island's nutmeg industry was devastated in 2004 by hurricane Ivan.

Many trees on the island were flattened and it will still take several more years for new ones to reach full production (around 300lbs of nutmeg from each tree).

One silver lining however is that farmers have reported a better quality of nutmeg being produced by their post-hurricane trees.

Nigel Slater says he would love to see nutmeg regain popularity, and be added to a wider variety of dishes.

"The thing about nutmeg is that it keeps very well. Particularly as a whole spice. It's there. It's sitting in your cupboard."

"Get it out and let's grate it. Let's put it in our white sauce... it's fabulous on cauliflower... let's put it in our cheese sauces. You know, let's bring nutmeg back."

This recipe suggestion uses nutmeg

Serves Four
350g/12oz broccoli, florets and stalks cut into small pieces
400ml/14fl oz vegetable stock
25g/1oz butter
4 spring onions (scallions), finely sliced
50g/1¾oz Stilton, crumbled, or to taste
100ml/3½fl oz double (heavy) cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper
pinch freshly grated nutmeg

For the croûtons (optional*)
4 slices French bread ( you may prefer to use a low carb alternative bread)
100g/3½oz Stilton, sliced

1. For the soup, place the pieces of broccoli into a glass bowl. Pour over the vegetable stock.
2. Cover the bowl with cling film and place in the microwave. Cook on full power for four minutes, or until tender.
3. Meanwhile, heat a frying pan until hot then add the butter. When it starts to foam, add the spring onions and cook for one minute.
4. Transfer the cooked broccoli and stock to a food processor. Add the fried spring onions, Stilton and cream and blend until smooth.
5. Transfer the blended mixture to a pan and bring gently to a simmer.
6. Meanwhile, for the optional* croûtons, toast the French bread under a grill until golden-brown on each side.
7. Top the grilled bread with the slices of Stilton and return to the grill until golden-brown and bubbling.
8. Season the soup with salt, freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.
9. Divide the soup equally among four warm bowls and top each with a Stilton croûton. Serve.

We bring a variety of articles, studies etc. plus recent news/views and recipe ideas to this blog, we hope something for everyone to read and enjoy.
Please note, not all may be suitable for you.

If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

Thanks for reading - and please share your thoughts about nutmeg.

All the best Jan

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Pfizer fined record £84.2m for overcharging NHS

 Drugs giant Pfizer has been fined a record £84.2m by the UK's competition watchdog for overcharging the NHS for an anti-epilepsy drug.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) also fined distributor Flynn Pharma £5.2m for the 2,600% overnight price increase for the drug in 2012.

NHS spending on the capsules, used by 48,000 UK patients, rose from £2m a year in 2012 to about £50m in 2013.

Pfizer rejected the findings and said it would appeal against the decision.

UK prices for the drug were many times higher than in Europe, the CMA said.
'Extraordinary' rises

Philip Marsden of the CMA said: "The companies deliberately exploited the opportunity offered by de-branding to hike up the price for a drug which is relied upon by many thousands of patients.

"These extraordinary price rises have cost the NHS and the taxpayer tens of millions of pounds."

Before 2012, Pfizer manufactured and distributed the drug, which was branded Epanutin.

Pfizer then sold the UK rights to distribute the phenytoin sodium capsules to Flynn Pharma, which de-branded the drug.

That allowed the firms to charge more for the drug because it was no longer subject to a pricing scheme agreed between the NHS and the drugs industry, the CMA said.

However, Pfizer said the drug was a loss-making product, and that the deal with Flynn "represented an opportunity to secure ongoing supply of an important medicine for patients with epilepsy".

"Pfizer believes the CMA's findings are wrong in fact and law and will be appealing all aspects of the decision," it said.

'Beggars belief'

The drugs giant said the increased price of the drug was still 25% to 40% below the cost of an equivalent medicine by another supplier to the NHS.

But the CMA said by its calculations "all such losses would have been recovered within two months of the price rises."

Flynn Pharma said the CMA was "making a serious error" and that it would appeal in a bid to overturn the CMA's findings.

"It beggars belief that the CMA seeks to punish Flynn for selling phenytoin capsules at a significant discount to phenytoin tablets," said David Fakes of Flynn Pharma.

The firms have between 30 days and four months to reduce the price to a level acceptable to the CMA, and two months to appeal against the CMA decision to the Competition Tribunal.

The fine will go to the Treasury rather than the NHS directly, although the health service could try to seek damages.
'Best possible value'

Drugs industry body the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry said it "does not in any way support or condone the practice of 'price hikes' to generic medicines".

"Whilst we can't comment on individual companies and an appeal being made, it's appropriate that the complexities of this case are considered through the ongoing legal process," the organisation said.

The government is seeking to tighten up regulation of generic drugs price rises.

The Health Service Medical Supplies (Costs) Bill passed its third reading in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "Yesterday, our bill to ensure we can control high prices of generic medicines passed through the House of Commons - we are absolutely determined to ensure that no pharmaceutical company can exploit the NHS.

"We very much welcome the fines issued today, which show that any such exploitation will not be tolerated."


Roasted Vegetables Tricolore : A Colourful Dish

Anne Aobadia has recently produced this wonderful dish and named it 'Roasted Vegetable Tricolore', and you can see why. It really is a beautiful, and most colourful, side dish. So easy-to-make with lots of good flavour, and you can choose to serve it with either meat, chicken or fish ... but perhaps if you just like vegetables, enjoy the dish by itself. The choice, dear reader, is always yours.

Serves Four
6g carb per serving
300 g brussels sprouts
150 g cherry tomatoes
150 g mushrooms
2⁄3 teaspoon sea salt
1⁄3 teaspoon ground black pepper
2⁄3 teaspoon dried rosemary or dried thyme
80 ml olive oil

Please see the cooking instructions here

I always have mushrooms in the house and incorporating them in this recipe idea is such a lovely suggestion ...

Mushrooms "are a good source of the many B Vitamins which help provide energy by breaking down proteins, fats and carbohydrates, and play a key role in the nervous system ...

Importantly, in the absence of sunlight or supplements, eating mushrooms is a good way to up your vitamin D levels. They are the only vegetarian food source of vitamin D, because ergosterols in mushrooms convert to vitamin D when exposed to light. There is always strong feelings and thoughts about Vitamin D deficiency, which is thought to be quite widespread in Britain.

Research also suggests that mushrooms may have anti-cancer properties, thanks to their rich array of phytochemicals and unique nutrient profile" ...

Read more about the nutritional value of mushrooms here

I hope you may enjoy this side dish recipe suggeston soon ...

All the best Jan

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Squash Tagine and Cauli ‘Couscous’ : Gluten Free

Ooh, thanks Natasha, this looks delicious! Now, if you fancy a gluten-free and veggie-filled dish for a mid-week change then why not consider this Moroccan-style tagine. It's from a recipe suggestion by Natasha Corrett,

Serves 2/3

For the tagine:
200g butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1cm cubes
1 tbsp sunflower oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red onion, chopped
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cumin
460g vine tomatoes, chopped
100g green beans, trimmed
50g black olives
Bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped

For the cauli couscous:
360g cauliflower, thick core removed
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
Bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Bunch fresh mint, roughly chopped

1. Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6. Put the squash in a roasting tin and roast for 20-25 minutes.
2. When the squash has been in the oven for 15 minutes, start the tagine. Heat the oil in a saucepan (that has a lid) over a medium heat, then fry the crushed garlic and onion for 2 minutes. Stir in the ground spices with 60ml cold water, then cook for 2 minutes more.
3. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir to coat in the spices. Add 125ml water and bring to a simmer, then bubble gently for 4 minutes or until the liquid has reduced a little.
4. Add another 125ml water to the pan along with the roasted squash. Cover with the lid and cook for 2 minutes. Add the green beans and the olives and season to taste with salt. Stir, then put the lid back on and cook for another 2 minutes. Take off the heat, uncover and stir in the chopped coriander.
5. Meanwhile, to make the cauli couscous, chop or break the cauliflower into large pieces, put in a food processor and whizz until it resembles couscous.
6. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Fry the garlic and cumin seeds for 1 minute. Add the cauli couscous to the pan, then stir in the fresh coriander and mint and season with salt and pepper. Leave to cook for 2 minutes, then take off the heat. Serve with the squash tagine.

Recipe from 'Honestly Healthy in a Hurry' by Natasha Corrett

Nutritional details:
based on serving three
Fat 12.8g  Protein 7.6g  Carbohydrates 20.9g

A variety of recipe ideas is within this blog, but please note, not all may be suitable for you.

If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan

Monday, 5 December 2016

PCSK9 inhibitors could increase diabetes risk

medwireNews: The results of two independent studies of genetic variants suggest that treatment with a PCSK9 inhibitor could increase the risk for diabetes.

In the first study, involving 112,772 participants, the researchers constructed two genetic scores consisting of PCSK9 and HMGCR variants to mimic the effects of treatment with PCSK9 inhibitors and statins, respectively. They found that low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol-lowering variants in both genes were associated with a reduction in the risk for cardiovascular events, but an elevated risk for diabetes.

After adjustment for a decrease in LDL cholesterol levels of 10 mg/dL, the team found a “nearly identical” reduction of 18.9% and 19.1% in the risk for cardiovascular events with the presence of PCSK9 and HMGCR variants, respectively.

These findings suggest that “treatment with a PCSK9 inhibitor should reduce the risk of cardiovascular events by approximately the same amount as treatment with a statin,” write study authors Brian Ference (Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan, USA) and colleagues in The New England Journal of Medicine.

However, the presence of PCSK9 variants was associated with an 11.2% increase in the risk for diabetes per decrease of 10 mg/dL in LDL cholesterol, and the presence of HMGCR variants was associated with a 12.7% increase in risk.

“[L]ike statins, PCSK9 inhibitors may also increase the risk of new-onset diabetes,” say the authors. However, because the proportional reduction in cardiovascular disease risk associated with PCSK9variants was “much greater” than the increased risk for diabetes, they conclude that “as with statins, the reduction in cardiovascular risk with PCSK9 inhibitors should far exceed any potential increased risk of diabetes.”

In the second study, Amand Schmidt (University College London, UK) and colleagues analyzed data from 568,448 individuals included in randomized controlled trials, observational studies, and genetic consortia to estimate the association between PCSK9 variants and type 2 diabetes risk.

The team showed that four independent PCSK9 variants were associated with a reduction in LDL cholesterol levels, ranging from 0.02 mmol/L (0.78 mg/dL) to 0.34 mmol/L (13.15 mg/dL) per LDL cholesterol-reducing allele.

When the variants were combined into a weighted gene-centric score and scaled to a reduction in LDL cholesterol of 1 mmol/L (38.67 mg/dL), presence of the variants was associated with a 29% increased risk for type 2 diabetes.

The study authors also found that PCSK9 variants were associated with increased fasting glucose, bodyweight, and waist-to-hip ratio, but not with glycated hemoglobin, fasting insulin, or body mass index.

"[G]enetic variants in PCSK9 that associate with lower concentrations of LDL cholesterol are also associated with a modestly higher risk of type 2 diabetes and with associated differences in measures of glycaemia,” write the authors in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology.

They recommend that future trials of PCSK9 inhibitors should carefully monitor changes in metabolic markers, including bodyweight and glycemia, and conclude that genetic studies “could be more widely used to interrogate the safety and efficacy of novel drug targets.”


Tiramisu the Low Carb Way : Certainly puts the 'T' in ChrisTmas !

This recipe idea can certainly put the 'T' into chrisTmas ! You can make this as boozy as you like, alternatively, you can omit the alcohol entirely, especially if you are serving to children. Why not simply drizzle a little brandy over the top of individual servings for those who like it... sounds good to me !

Serves 10 slices
Flourless sponge cake
110g / 4 oz / 1 stick butter melted
½ cup coconut flour
3 -5 tbs granulated stevia, or sweetener of choice, to taste
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
8 eggs
Coffee and brandy drizzle
1 cup very strong coffee
brandy (optional or use brandy essence)
Cream layer
1 cup heavy/double/whipping cream
2-4 tbsp sweetener of choice to taste
brandy to taste (optional or use brandy essence)
To decorate
40g / 1.5 oz dark 90% chocolate to decorate (optional)

Please go across to Libby's 'Ditch The Carbs' site to see the instructions and more here

If you should need help with weight/measurement conversions see here

A little more about Tiramisu ... from the Italian, spelled tiramisù and meaning "pick me up", "cheer me up" or "lift me up"! It is a a popular coffee-flavoured Italian custard dessert. Over the years the recipe has been adapted into many varieties of cakes and other desserts. Its origins are often disputed among Italian regions, but most accounts of the tiramisu date its invention to the 1960s in the region of Veneto, Italy, at the restaurant "Le Beccherie" in Treviso.

image from here

This will be great for the coming Christmas Season - or special occasion

All the best Jan

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Shock Statin News: Millions taking controversial heart drug unnecessarily report confirms

STATINS might not be worth suffering the side effects as it's revealed millions are taking the controversial heart drug unnecessarily. What are statins and the new updated research and news explained.

Records of nearly 800,000 people aged 60 and others over 24 years showed the drugs prescribed to reduce risk of heart disease and strokes had no effect on life expectancy. 

The only exception was for patients aged over 65 who were already at high risk of heart problems. 

This is in spite of Government-backed guidance that the drugs, linked with side effects such as muscle pain, memory loss and diabetes, should be taken by up to three million people at low or medium risk. 

The research, published in leading journal Public Library of Science last week and carried out by researchers at the University of East Anglia, warned of “over treatment”. 

Campaigning GP Dr Malcolm Kendrick said: “This is further confirmation of many independent researchers who have discovered statins have no benefit except in very small population of people at very high risk. 

“Millions taking these drugs should not be taking them.” 

Leading London-based cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra added: “This study supports the fact that there are millions of people taking statins not receiving any benefit from them. My concern is people are not being told this by their doctors, which is ethically dubious.” 

NHS watchdog Nice advises all adults with a 10 per cent or higher chance of developing heart disease in the next decade be considered for statins – meaning up to 17 million are eligible. 

Up to 10 million take them. The new research showed statins had no effect on longevity in patients over 60, unless the risk of heart disease was high – 20 per cent or above. 

It follows an independent analysis published earlier this month in healthcare journal Prescriber that concluded claims about statins had no credible scientific basis. 

This research claimed millions of patients are being misled about the pros and cons of the drugs. 

The Medicines Healthcare Regulatory Authority which oversees drug safety said: “The efficacy and safety of statins have been studied in a number of large trials which show they can lower the level of cholesterol in the blood and reduce cardiovascular disease and save lives. 

“Trials have also shown medically significant side effects are rare.”


Italian cabbage stir fry : LCHF : è così buono

You may have seen the Asian cabbage stir fry recipe here, well how about trying it Italian style! Yes, Cabbage Stir Fry or Crack slaw done the Italian way! With a little extra garlic, tomato paste and fresh basil, this low-carb favourite will be / is amazing ...

Serves Four

10 g carb per serving

750 g green cabbage
150 g butter
600 g ground (minced)beef
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
90 g leeks, thinly sliced
120 ml fresh basil
1 cup mayonnaise or sour cream, for serving

I do know a friend who also included some dried Italian Herbs into the mix, that's the joy of cooking, recipe's can always be amended a little to suit your needs.

The original recipe instructions are here

and just for you dear reader - here is an Italian style cafe

è così buono
Buon appetito
All the best Jan

Saturday, 3 December 2016

John Legend - Love Me Now

John Legend's baby features in this though provoking video

Ward Thomas - Cartwheels

This British country and western duo have a lot of radio airplay's of late enjoy


Sting & Peter Gabriel - In Your Eyes live 2016 Rock Paper Scissors Tour

Matt Monro - On Days Like These

Saturday night again and music night on our blog. Jan and myself love driving around the lake district in our little red car listening to this sort of music. Unfortunately our meagre pensions don't run to owning a Lamborghini. Eddie

The Lake District

Jan and our little red car

Broccoli and Smoked Salmon Omelette.

Ingredients For One

1 tbsp olive oil
100g Tenderstem® Broccoli, each piece cut into 3
Half a small red onion, finely sliced
3 large free-range eggs
Knob of butter
2 tbsp cream cheese
1 tbsp chopped chives
Salt and pepper
50g smoked salmon, cut into strips


1. Heat the olive oil in a small non-stick frying pan (around 15cm diameter) and gently sauté the Broccoli and onion, until softened and onion starting to become golden. Remove from the pan and keep to one side.

2. While the onion and Broccoli are cooking, mix together the cream cheese and chopped chives. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Return the pan to the hob, increase the heat and add the butter. Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk together with a fork. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Once the butter is bubbling, add the eggs. Swirl around the pan and either using a fork or rubber spatula, stir around until the eggs are almost set. Spread to cover the surface and leave to continue cooking for a minute or so, until the top of the eggs are almost set, with just a little liquid on the surface.

5. Spoon the onion and Broccoli onto one half of the omelette. Add the cream cheese and finally lay over the salmon. Tilt the pan and carefully fold over the other half of the omelette on top of the filling. Slide onto a plate and serve with a green salad.

Tip... Fried bacon or chorizo are delicious alternatives to smoked salmon. You could also add a pinch of dried chilli flakes into the pan with the onion and Broccoli for a kick.

Original recipe idea from the ‘Tenderstem’ site.


Poinsettia - have you got yours yet ?

One thing that is always part of Christmas in our house is the Poinsettia, at least one ... if not more, are purchased, and they do look so warm, cheerful and welcoming dotted around on tables, shelves etc. Of course there are many varieties available but for me my favourite is the wonderful RED ones, they are brilliant. We also have some cheery Father Christmas 'wooden' ornaments / decorations and they sit well together on the hall table ! If you'd like to find out more about these wonderful plants and their link to Christmas please read on.

"Poinsettia plants are native to Central America, especially an area of southern Mexico known as 'Taxco del Alarcon' where they flower during the winter. The ancient Aztecs called them 'cuetlaxochitl'. The Aztecs had many uses for them including using the flowers (actually special types of leaves known as bracts rather than being flowers) to make a purple dye for clothes and cosmetics and the milky white sap was made into a medicine to treat fevers. (Today we call the sap latex!)

The poinsettia was made widely known because of a man called Joel Roberts Poinsett (that's why we call them Poinsettia!). He was the first Ambassador from the USA to Mexico in 1825. Poinsett had some greenhouses on his plantations in South Carolina, and while visiting the Taco area in 1828, he became very interested in the plants. He immediately sent some of the plants back to South Carolina, where he began growing the plants and sending them to friends and botanical gardens.

One of the friends he sent plants to was John Barroom of Philadelphia, who gave the plant to his friend, Robert Buist, a plants-man from Pennsylvania. Robert Buist was probably the first person to have sold the poinsettias under their botanical, or latin name, name 'Euphorbia pulcherrima' (it means, 'the most beautiful Euphorbia'). It is thought that they became known as Poinsettia in the mid 1830's when people found out who had first brought them to America from Mexico.

There is an old Mexican legend about how Poinsettias and Christmas come together, it goes like this:

There was once a poor Mexican girl called Pepita who had no present to give the the baby Jesus at the Christmas Eve Services. As Pepita walked to the chapel, sadly, her cousin Pedro tried to cheer her up.
'Pepita', he said "I'm sure that even the smallest gift, given by someone who loves him will make Jesus Happy."

Pepita didn't know what she could give, so she picked a small handful of weeds from the roadside and made them into a a small bouquet. She felt embarrassed because she could only give this small present to Jesus. As she walked through the chapel to the altar, she remembered what Pedro had said. She began to feel better, knelt down and put the bouquet at the bottom of the nativity scene. Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds burst into bright red flowers, and everyone who saw them were sure they had seen a miracle. From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the 'Flores de Noche Buena', or 'Flowers of the Holy Night'.

The shape of the poinsettia flower and leaves are sometimes thought as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem which led the Wise Men to Jesus. The red colored leaves symbolize the blood of Christ. The white leaves represent his purity.

he Poinsettia is also the national emblem of Madagascar and grow there as large outdoor shrubs."
The above words from here
To learn about caring for Poinsettia plants, see here

And talking about things coloured red, and you know I nearly always include a recipe!
can I interest you in a tasty and warming bowl of
Roast Red Pepper & Tomato Soup - you can see the recipe here

Thanks for reading, wishing you all a Happy Weekend
All the best Jan

Friday, 2 December 2016

Saturated fat could be good for you

A Norwegian study challenges the long-held idea that saturated fats are unhealthy

A new Norwegian diet intervention study (FATFUNC), performed by researchers at the KG Jebsen center for diabetes research at the University of Bergen, raises questions regarding the validity of a diet hypothesis that has dominated for more than half a century: that dietary fat and particularly saturated fat is unhealthy for most people.

The researchers found strikingly similar health effects of diets based on either lowly processed carbohydrates or fats. In the randomized controlled trial, 38 men with abdominal obesity followed a dietary pattern high in either carbohydrates or fat, of which about half was saturated. Fat mass in the abdominal region, liver and heart was measured with accurate analyses, along with a number of key risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

"The very high intake of total and saturated fat did not increase the calculated risk of cardiovascular diseases," says professor and cardiologist Ottar Nygård who contributed to the study.

"Participants on the very-high-fat diet also had substantial improvements in several important cardiometabolic risk factors, such as ectopic fat storage, blood pressure, blood lipids (triglycerides), insulin and blood sugar."

High quality food is healthier

Both groups had similar intakes of energy, proteins, polyunsaturated fatty acids, the food types were the same and varied mainly in quantity, and intake of added sugar was minimized.

"We here looked at effects of total and saturated fat in the context of a healthy diet rich in fresh, lowly processed and nutritious foods, including high amounts of vegetables and rice instead of flour-based products," says PhD candidate Vivian Veum.

"The fat sources were also lowly processed, mainly butter, cream and cold-pressed oils."

Total energy intake was within the normal range. Even the participants who increased their energy intake during the study showed substantial reductions in fat stores and disease risk.

"Our findings indicate that the overriding principle of a healthy diet is not the quantity of fat or carbohydrates, but the quality of the foods we eat," says PhD candidate Johnny Laupsa-Borge.

Saturated fat increases the "good" cholesterol

Saturated fat has been thought to promote cardiovascular diseases by raising the "bad" LDL cholesterol in the blood. But even with a higher fat intake in the FATFUNC study compared to most comparable studies, the authors found no significant increase in LDL cholesterol.

Rather, the "good" cholesterol increased only on the very-high-fat diet.

"These results indicate that most healthy people probably tolerate a high intake of saturated fat well, as long as the fat quality is good and total energy intake is not too high. It may even be healthy," says Ottar Nygård.

"Future studies should examine which people or patients may need to limit their intake of saturated fat," assistant professor Simon Nitter Dankel points out, who led the study together with the director of the laboratory clinics, professor Gunnar Mellgren, at Haukeland university hospital in Bergen, Norway.

"But the alleged health risks of eating good-quality fats have been greatly exaggerated. It may be more important for public health to encourage reductions in processed flour-based products, highly processed fats and foods with added sugar," he says.

Facts: The FATFUNC-study
  • The Study is named (FATFUNC) and was performed by researchers at the KG Jebsen center for diabetes research, Department of Clinical Science at the University of Bergen.
  • In the randomized controlled trial, 38 men with abdominal obesity followed a dietary pattern high in either carbohydrates (53 % of total energy, in line with typical official recommendations) or fat (71 % of total energy, of which about half was saturated).
  • Fat mass in the abdominal region, liver and heart was measured with accurate analyses (computed tomography, CT), along with a number of key risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Study abstract:


Coq au vin with celeriac mash

Skin on or skin off ... that is the question! Whatever your preference, in this recipe suggestion, the mix and flavour of the chicken with the vegetables and herbs is just delicious. The accompaniment of celeriac mash, always a low carb winner, just adds nicely to this dish - so have a look at the recipe and perhaps give it a whirl ...

Serves 4

Olive oil spray
100g diced pancetta
8 chicken thighs, (skin removed if preferred)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and cut into half-moons
2 sticks celery, trimmed and finely chopped
250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp thyme leaves
1 sprig rosemary, leaves roughly chopped
1 tbsp sage leaves, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
300ml red wine
500ml chicken stock
10 shallots, peeled and halved
2 cloves garlic, crushed
800g celeriac, roughly cubed
Parsley, to serve

1. Spritz the olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the pancetta until it releases its natural oils. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the chicken thighs and cook for 4-6 minutes until well browned all over. Remove the thighs and set aside.
2. Add the onion, carrots and celery to the pan, season, and cook for another 3-4 minutes until just tender. Add the mushrooms, turn the heat up and cook for 3-4 minutes until golden. Stir in the flour and cook for a minute, stirring until a paste has formed.
3. Stir through the herbs and pancetta, then pour in the wine. Leave it bubbling for 2-3 minutes until the alcohol has evaporated. Add the stock and peeled shallots, then bring to the boil. Place the chicken thighs back in the pan and cook with the lid on for 10 minutes. Take the lid off and continue cooking for 20-25 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly and the chicken is cooked through, always check chicken is thoroughly cooked.
4. Meanwhile, make the mash. Lightly spritz a saucepan with the oil and cook the garlic for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add the celeriac and cook for 1 minute, before pouring over cold water to cover. Bring to the boil and cook for 8-10 minutes until very tender, then mash well with seasoning.
5. To serve, spoon the chicken on to a bed of celeriac mash and sprinkle with parsley.

Original idea from here

A variety of recipe ideas is within this blog, but please note, not all may be suitable for you.

If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Systematic Review of the Association between Dairy Product Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular-Related Clinical Outcomes

The objective of this systematic review was to determine if dairy product consumption is detrimental, neutral, or beneficial to cardiovascular health and if the recommendation to consume reduced-fat as opposed to regular-fat dairy is evidence-based.

 A systematic review of meta-analyses of prospective population studies associating dairy consumption with cardiovascular disease (CVD), coronary artery disease (CAD), stroke, hypertension, metabolic syndrome (MetS), and type 2 diabetes (T2D) was conducted on the basis of the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) statement. 

Quality of evidence was rated by using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation scale. High-quality evidence supports favorable associations between total dairy intake and hypertension risk and between low-fat dairy and yogurt intake and the risk of T2D. 

Moderate-quality evidence suggests favorable associations between intakes of total dairy, low-fat dairy, cheese, and fermented dairy and the risk of stroke; intakes of low-fat dairy and milk and the risk of hypertension; total dairy and milk consumption and the risk of MetS; and total dairy and cheese and the risk of T2D. 

High- to moderate-quality evidence supports neutral associations between the consumption of total dairy, cheese, and yogurt and CVD risk; the consumption of any form of dairy, except for fermented, and CAD risk; the consumption of regular- and high-fat dairy, milk, and yogurt and stroke risk; the consumption of regular- and high-fat dairy, cheese, yogurt, and fermented dairy and hypertension risk; and the consumption of regular- and high-fat dairy, milk, and fermented dairy and T2D risk.

Data from this systematic review indicate that the consumption of various forms of dairy products shows either favorable or neutral associations with cardiovascular-related clinical outcomes. The review also emphasizes that further research is urgently needed to compare the impact of low-fat with regular- and high-fat dairy on cardiovascular-related clinical outcomes in light of current recommendations to consume low-fat dairy.

Full text:


Change your diet or you'll die; Low carb advice lands doctor in hot water!

Gary Fettke is an orthopaedic surgeon and an advocate of a low carbohydrate diet.

He said he became passionate about nutrition after amputating limbs of diabetic patients whose diets were a big part of the problem.

"What I've been advocating for some years is cutting sugar down, particularly all the refined sugars in the diet," he said.

"Over time that's evolved, and it's evolved to what I call low carb, healthy fat.

"It's just eating lots of vegetables, pasture-fed meat and the right amount of oil in the form of things like nuts, avocado, cheese, olive oil and fish."

One of his patients, Julian Robinson, who had to have his leg amputated because of complications from diabetes, said the diet changed his life for the better.

More on this story here.


Apples with Cinnamon in a Vanilla Sauce

This makes a very nice dessert, to be enjoyed anytime, but also perfect for any up coming winter festivities. The spicy cinnamon and naturally sweet apples bring a perfect ending to your meal, and at 11g carbs per serving, could fit in with your LCHF menu plans well! Read on and see what you think ... 

Serves Six
11g carb per serving

Vanilla sauce
120 ml heavy (double) whipping cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 star anise (optional)
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg yolk
480 ml heavy (double) whipping cream

Cinnamon apples
3 tablespoons butter
3 apples, preferably a type that is firm and tart, e.g.Gravensteiner or Granny Smith (but you may have your own favourite)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

The sauce goes great with various desserts, where you would normally have served vanilla custard. For example, you can heat a few blackberries or raspberries and serve with the vanilla sauce.

Or why not put it in the freezer and you’ll have a luxurious ice cream!

Please see recipe instructions here

Did you know ... Cinnamon is a popular spice often associated with baked treats, cereals and smoothies. However, you may not have considered that the teaspoon of cinnamon that you add to your baked treats may be doing you more good than you realized. Studies have shown that cinnamon could assist with boosting brain function, fighting cancer, aiding in digestion, supporting weight loss and fighting diabetes.

Incorporate cinnamon into your life by:
Adding a cinnamon quill into your morning tea, sprinkling half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon onto your homemade granola or adding a sprinkle of cinnamon into your next bowl of breakfast oatmeal.

All the best Jan

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Kellogg’s is reintroducing toys in their breakfast cereals

SEVEN years ago Kellogg’s made the decision to stop including toys in their breakfast cereals, effectively removing the one good reason children had for getting out of bed every morning.

Well, the good news is Kellogg’s recognised the error of their ways and they’re back. This month they reintroduced toys into specially marked packs of Coco Pops, Sultana Bran, Rice Bubbles, Crunchy Nut and Just Right.

The toy of the moment is a spoon-straw, which means you can eat your Coco Pops with your spoon, and then suck up the chocolate milk with the same instrument.

Anyone over the age of 10 will have a slight touch of nostalgia for cereal box toys. They were first introduced in 1910 in the US and continued globally until 2009.

Iconic toys from Kellogg’s history include the empress of Australia model boat (1937), diamond jubilee badges (1984) and the Simpsons finger skateboard (2003).

That’s right. A skateboard. For your fingers.

So why were the toys removed in the first place?

According to Kellogg’s, “we change our priorities to ensure we’re giving our consumers what they want — we stopped putting collectables in packs to invest in other product innovations.

“But after getting positive feedback and requests from parents recently we decided to bring collectables back in pack — we wanted to celebrate the nostalgia by giving them a way to re-create the memories of opening up their cereal boxes in the morning to find a surprise inside”.

Breakfast cereal has had a bit of a bad rap of late. Childhood obesity rates are causing concern in Australia and some breakfast cereals have the sugar of two to three sweet biscuits in just one serve. So should parents be concerned about toys being used as an incentive for children to eat cereal?

Larissa Oliver, Shopper Activation Manager at Kellogg’s Australia told Kidspot that they did research in the Australian market before reintroducing the toys.

“When we did some research recently, 81 per cent of mums we spoke to thought it was a good idea for Kellogg’s to do these types of promotions,” she said.

“We listened to mums who loved the idea of collectibles, because we wanted to bring back the excitement of discovering them — like many of us (including me) enjoyed while growing up.”

More here:

Just a marketing ploy to boost the sales of sugary cereals, perhaps those in the the following video would be more nutritious than Kellogg's 

Coffee and Walnut Sponge Cake : Low Carb Treat

Wednesday already - where do the weeks go!
Amid all the hustle and bustle why not take time to enjoy a small slice of cake.
I can recommend this one, goes especially nice with a mid-afternoon cuppa ...

100 grams of ground almonds
100 grams of walnuts
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon of melted butter
2 tablespoons of double (heavy) cream
1 tablespoon of instant coffee
100 grams of clotted cream

1. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.
2. Melt the butter, I used a Pyrex jug, add the eggs, cream.
3. Place 1 tablespoon of instant coffee in a cup and pour some boiling water over the coffee, keep water to a minimum, just enough to melt the coffee. Then add the dry ingredients and mix.
4. Microwave in a 700 watt for 5 minutes in a 6" x 3" micro-wave safe glass dish.
5. Allow to cool and cut in half. Spread on clotted cream and add walnut halves.

Serves 6 , around five carbs per portion.
Please note this cake is very low in carbs, but quite high in calories, so have a small slice !

Whatever you may have got planned please

All the best Jan

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Look what 12 months on a keto diet did to my body.


The British Dietetic Association, cyber bullying and the big payola scheme

Over at the excellent site which can be found here run by ace investigative reporter Marika Sboros, a thread is running called "CYBER BULLYING VIRUS – INFECTION SPREADS AMONG DOCTORS" My response over there is waiting for approval. I thought it worthwhile to post my comment here and elsewhere. Eddie

Just for the record, I have never stated RD Catherine Collins posts on sites using other names, however, I have stated the RD Chris Cashin has used various names on social media sites. I first became aware of Chris Cashin back in the day I joined the forum for profit site this was over eight years ago. Cashin posting as Ally5555 and constantly harassed low carbers, with negative doom and gloom re. the low carb higher fat diet. The low carb diet was proving to be the salvation of many diabetics and continues to be, to the present day. Cashin’s antics can best be described and understood in the post below, posted by at the time forum moderator, and well known low carb expert Dr.Katharine Morrison.

November 13th, 2008, 7:45 am link 1

“I think there would be a lot less hostility towards you Ally if you actually gave constructive advice to people. Many diabetics have not had a positive relationship with NHS dieticians, myself included. A few have had their problems listened to and appropriately addressed and I hope the situation will continue to improve.

I have yet to see a post from you which is written with the aim of helping someone get better control of their diabetes or improve their nutritional state. So far I have simply seen one post after another of the "Do not try this at home variety." None of your negative comments regarding low carbing have been substantiated by scientific evidence. I am patiently waiting for your scientifically based expose of the errors of Dr Bernstein's method and Gary Taubes collection of evidence. All we have got so far is personal opinion.”

Back to the topic of cyber bullying. The forum for a very long time was controlled by anti low carbers. Countless low carbers were banned over the years including type two diabetic and low carb expert Dr.Jay Wortman. When the well known in the UK Dr.David Unwin aka The Southport Doctor joined the forum, he was immediately labeled a troll. This ridicule has been allowed to stand to this day. “Forgive me if am wrong but I smell a low carb troll here” link 2

Clearly, the attitude of the management of the forum, regarding low carb has changed big time in recent times. I suspect this has come about, because they see some profitable mileage to be had, and the overwhelming evidence that proves a diet based on highly processed carbohydrates is very wrong for a diabetic.

It never ceases to amaze me, how the likes of Cashin and Collins bleat like lost lambs when questioned or critiqued, but are able to sleep in their beds, when in my opinion, they have sent countless people to an early grave. If this was just my opinion, it would be meaningless, but increasingly this is also the opinion of many healthcare professionals. As we are seeing, these brave, honest and highly qualified professionals, are being subjected to constant ridicule, court cases and threats. Meanwhile The British Dietetic Association et al are accepting funding from outfits such as Danone, Abbott Nutrition, Nestle, Cereal Partners, BelVita Breakfast Biscuits and Coca Cola. Can anyone be so naive to think, the BDA and it’s RD’s are not heavily influenced by the aforementioned companies.

One last point. It may surprise many to know, the BDA has no formal policy on what constitutes the correct diet for a diabetic, or what is considered to be a safe blood glucose level. How do I know, because Catherine Collins told me on twitter, just before she blocked me. Evidently it’s all down to Diabetes UK the charity. One thing can never be denied, the BDA and many of it’s RD’s are masters of passing the buck. Link 3

Link 1

Link 2

Link 3 is here.