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Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Gary Taubes: Are You a Carboholic? Why Cutting Carbs Is So Tough

I’ve been eating a high-fat, carb-restricted diet for almost 20 years, since I started as an experiment when investigating nutrition research for the journal Science. I find it’s easy for me to maintain a healthy weight when I eat this way. But even after two decades, the sensation of being on the edge of a slippery slope is ever-present.

The holidays and family vacations are a particular problem. Desserts and sweets, it seems, will appear after every lunch and dinner, and I’m not particularly good at saying no when everyone else is partaking. The more sweets I eat, the more we eat as a family, the longer it takes upon returning home before that expectation of a daily treat fades away.

What I’ve realized is that eating a little of a tasty dessert or a little pasta or bread fails to satisfy me. Rather it ignites a fierce craving for more, to eat it all and then some. I find it easier to avoid sugar, grains and starches entirely, rather than to try to eat them in moderation. The question is why.

To begin to answer that question requires understanding that researchers are generally divided not only on what causes obesity, but also why we have cravings and often fail to stay on diets.

The conventional thinking, held by the large proportion of the many researchers and clinicians I’ve interviewed over the years, is that obesity is caused by caloric excess. They refer to it as an “energy balance” disorder, and so the treatment is to consume less energy (fewer calories) and expend more. When we fail to maintain this prescription, the implication is that we simply lack will power or self-discipline.

“It’s viewed as a psychological issue or even a question of character,” says Dr. David Ludwig, who studies and treats obesity at Harvard Medical School.

The minority position in this field — one that Dr. Ludwig holds, as do I after years of reporting — is that obesity is actually a hormonal regulatory disorder, and the hormone that dominates this process is insulin. It directly links what we eat to the accumulation of excess fat and that, in turn, is tied to the foods we crave and the hunger we experience. It’s been known since the 1960s that insulin signals fat cells to accumulate fat, while telling the other cells in our body to burn carbohydrates for fuel. By this thinking these carbohydrates are uniquely fattening.

Since insulin levels after meals are determined largely by the carbohydrates we eat — particularly easily digestible grains and starches, known as high glycemic index carbohydrates, as well as sugars like sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup — diets based on this approach specifically target these carbohydrates. If we don’t want to stay fat or get fatter, we don’t eat them.

This effect of insulin on fat and carbohydrate metabolism offers an explanation for why these same carbohydrates, as Dr. Ludwig says, are typically the foods we crave most; why a little “slip,” as addiction specialists would call it, could so easily lead to a binge.

Elevate insulin levels even a little, says Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco, and the body switches over from burning fat for fuel to burning carbohydrates, by necessity.

“The more insulin you release, the more you crave carbs,” he said. “Once you’re exposed to a little carbohydrate, and you get an insulin rise from it, that forces energy into fat cells and that deprives your other cells of the energy they would otherwise have utilized — in essence, starvation. So you compensate by getting hungry, particularly for more carbohydrate. High insulin drives carb-craving.”

The result is that even a bite or a taste of carbohydrate-rich foods can stimulate insulin and create a hunger — a craving — for even more carbohydrates. “There’s no question in my mind,” says Dr. Lustig, “that once people who are ‘carboholics’ get their insulin levels down, they become less carboholic. And if they go off the wagon and start eating carbs, they go right back to where they were before. I’ve seen that in numerous patients.”

Sugar and sweets might be a particular problem because of several physiological responses that may be unique to sugar. Sugar cravings appear to be mediated through the brain reward center that is triggered by other addictive substances. Both sugar and addictive substances stimulate the release of a neurotransmitter called dopamine, producing an intensely pleasurable sensation that our brains crave to repeat. Whether this really is a significant player in sugar cravings is one of many areas of controversy in the field.

Researchers like Dr. Ludwig and Dr. Lustig who also see patients, and physicians, nutritionists and dietitians who promote carb-restricted diets, believe that a person can minimize these carbohydrate cravings by eating lots of healthful fats instead. Fat is satiating, says Dr. Ludwig, and it’s the one macronutrient that doesn’t stimulate insulin secretion. Eating fat-rich foods, “helps extinguish binge behavior,” Dr. Ludwig says, “as opposed to high-carb foods which exacerbate it.” (Although the definition of a “healthful” fat is another topic of debate.)

Whatever the mechanism involved, if the goal is to avoid the kind of slip that leads from a single forkful of rice to a doughnut binge or falling off your diet for good, then the same techniques that have been pioneered in the field of drug addiction for avoiding relapses also should work in this scenario as well. These basic principles have been developed over decades, says Laura Schmidt, an addiction specialist at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine who now studies sugar as well. They can “work for anyone who’s gotten clean and sober and wants to stay that way.”

The first and most obvious strategy is to stay away from the trigger. “Alcoholics who care about staying sober won’t get a job in a bar or even walk down the alcohol aisle in a grocery store,” says Dr. Schmidt. “It’s harder to avoid junk foods in the food environment around us, but we can certainly clean up our home environment and avoid situations where sugar and other treats are easily available.”

Changing our social networks may be necessary as well — convincing our families and our communities to be invested in eschewing these foods, just as they would help if we were trying to quit cigarettes or alcohol or a harder drug.

Another valuable technique is to learn to identify, plan for, and avoid situations that weaken resolve or increase cravings. “If I know that at 3 p.m. I have a little slump and will want to go to the vending machine, then I can have food available that’s the equivalent but that won’t trigger a binge,” says Dr. Schmidt. “Instead of sugary soda, I can drink sparkling water with a lime in it.”

Ultimately, any successful diet is by definition a long-term commitment. We tend to think of diets as something we go on and off. And if we fall off, we think the diet failed. But if we buy into the logic of carb-restricted diets, then it implies acceptance of a lifetime of abstention. As with cigarettes or alcohol, if we fall off the wagon, we don’t give up; we get back on.

“It’s a very powerful system that has to be undone, whether it’s addiction or metabolic disease,” says Dr. Schmidt. “It is knitted into the body and mind over years, and getting healthy requires taking the long view as well.”


Eat the colours of the rainbow !

image from here

'Come on now eat your greens' ... is something my Mum used to say, and sure enough there was usually at least two green vegetables on my plate, very often peas and cabbage - and I did eat them up!

"Including vegetables in your diet is extremely important. Veggies are incredibly rich in nutrients and antioxidants, which boost your health and help fight off disease. Additionally, they are beneficial for weight control due to their low calorie content. Health authorities around the world recommend that adults consume several servings of vegetables each day, but this can be difficult for some people. Some find it inconvenient to eat vegetables, while others are simply unsure how to prepare them in an appetizing way."

Nowadays, when it comes to vegetables we could eat the colours of the rainbow, there are so many great colours to choose.

The colours of the rainbow are Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet. So starting with Red - how about red pepper or red tomato. Moving onto Orange - how about carrot or an orange pepper. Next is yellow - so it could be butternut squash or a yellow pepper. Yes, it's Green next - so broccoli or Brussel sprouts ... now the last three colours of blue, indigo and violet may be easier to achieve if we think of them as one! Aubergine (eggplant) is a good start, followed by purple cabbage and how about purple cauliflower!

Have you any rainbow favourites, do please share them ...

All the best Jan

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Chicken Souvlaki

Isn't it funny how sometimes one thing leads to another ... I cannot remember tasting chicken souvlaki before, but I got to taste some this past weekend ... and it was absolutely delicious.

Then last night I happened upon these words about
Souvlaki: "consists of small, grilled pieces of meat on a skewer and is one of the most well-known Greek foods. It’s sold throughout Greece in “souvlatzidiko” or souvlaki shops and can be found in almost every Greek restaurant around the world.

Souvlaki is typically made from pork, chicken, lamb or beef. It’s traditionally only meat, but it’s now often served with vegetables like a kabob."

I searched for a nice looking recipe idea and found this ...

For the chicken souvlaki:
4 boneless chicken breasts (approx. 1 kg/35 ounces)
4 tbsps. olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tbsp. dried oregano
salt and freshly ground pepper

For the tzatziki sauce:
1 cucumber
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 of a cup extra virgin olive oil
500g of strained yogurt (18 ounces)
1-2 tbsps. of red wine vinegar
a pinch of salt

To prepare this chicken souvlaki recipe, start by preparing the marinade. Cut the chicken breasts into 2 cm pieces and place them in a large bowl, along with all the marinade ingredients. Use your hands to mix really well, cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for 30-60 minutes.

In the meantime prepare the tzatziki sauce for the chicken souvlaki. Pour in a blender the olive oil and grated garlic and blend until combined. Remove the skin and the seeds of the cucumber and grate it into a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and leave aside for 10 minutes. Wrap the grated cucumber in a towel and squeeze, in order to get rid of the excess water. In a bowl, add the cucumber, the blended garlic and oil, the yogurt, 1-2 tbsps. of red wine vinegar, a pinch of salt and blend, until the ingredients are combined. Store the tzatziki sauce in the fridge and always serve cold.

To assemble the chicken souvlaki (skewers), cut the wooden skewers to fit your griddle pan and soak them in water. (This will prevent them from burning.) Thread the chicken pieces, comfortably, on the skewers.
Preheat a grill or griddle pan on a high heat. Cook the chicken souvlaki (skewers) for about 8 to 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until nicely coloured on all sides and cooked through. Alternatively you call grill them for about 20 minutes.

We enjoyed ours with a mixed green salad ... delicious. 

See more about the recipe, including a how to video here

We bring a variety of recipe ideas to this blog, but 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

Quote of the day.

I'm not a religious man, however, I believe there is much wisdom to be found in the Bible. In this age of the Internet, many long concealed truths, and monumental lies, are now under the spotlight. It is not hard to understand why, the powers that be, and their puppet masters, want ever greater control of the Internet.

"Beware the leaven of the Pharisees, which is a hollow, pious hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, and hidden, that shall not be made known. Whatever has been said in the darkness shall be heard in the light: and what has been whispered behind closed doors shall be shouted from the roof tops."

Luke 12:1-3


Monday, 24 July 2017

Statins in new link to back disorders, says new study

Graham spotted this article - definitely one to share.

PATIENTS on controversial heart drug statins are almost 30 per cent more likely to suffer potentially serious back disorders, a study has found, writes Lucy Johnston.

Tests on thousands of people showed as many as one in 17 of those on statins had back issues, including disc and spine conditions serious enough to be identifiable on scans.

These included painful disc herniations, debilitating narrowing of the spinal canal, and bulging discs.

The research saw 60,455 patients examined, with the results published in the Journal Of The American Medical Association.

It showed that those on statins were 27 per cent more likely to suffer back problems.

The study has fuelled the debate surrounding the group of medicines, the most widely prescribed treatment in the UK, which fiercely divides medical opinion.

Some studies have shown up to six in 10 suffer side effects from the drugs, which have also been linked to an increased risk of impotence, cataracts, muscle pains, mental impairment, fatigue and liver dysfunction.

Many doctors argue the benefits may not outweigh potential side effects in some patients while others say its effectiveness in reducing cholesterol and the risk of cardiovascular disease justify the widespread use of the drug.

Sir Richard Thompson, the Queen's former doctor and past president of the Royal College of Physicians who has studied statin use also expressed concern. He said: “This is clear evidence statins are associated with real side effects. It shows people should think clearly about taking statins and assess the potential risks before they do so.”

Sir Richard also questioned the validity of industry sponsored studies on statins, which are routinely given to up to 12 million patients in the UK, or around one in four adults and have been used to back expanded use of the drugs to wider numbers of patients.

He added: “This adds to the growing evidence that we need an independent review of these drugs and the final decision on their use should be made by people with no financial or scientific conflict.”

Leading cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra, said: “Far from being a miracle drug, statins can result in a number of side effects including debilitating back problems.

“Unless you have established heart disease the reduction in quality of life from statins massively outweighs any small benefit.”

A spokesman for government drug regulator the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, said: “The benefits of statins are well established and considered to outweigh the risk of side-effects in the majority of patients."

Words taken from here

Tricolour Scrambled Eggs - a nice way to start your day!

How about some scrambled eggs with vibrant peppers, leafy spinach and smoky paprika. This beautifully colourful breakfast recipe will surely brighten up your morning!

Serves Two
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 red pepper, roughly chopped
1/2 yellow pepper, roughly chopped
1/2 green pepper, roughly chopped
1/2 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
2 slices of low carb
seedy bread, toasted
1/2 tsp paprika
50g (2oz) fresh spinach leaves or a large handful
3 (organic) eggs

1. Heat the oil in a medium, non-stick frying pan and cook the peppers, onion and garlic over a moderate heat, stirring occasionally for 3-5 minutes until softened and golden in places. Meanwhile toast the bread and place onto your serving plates.
2. Once the peppers and onions are soft, add the paprika and stir, then add the spinach leaves and stir once more. Crack in the eggs and quickly begin to stir constantly for 30 seconds – 1 minute, cooking the eggs within the vegetables until soft and creamy.
3. Working quickly, spoon the eggs onto the warm toast and serve straight away.

Tip: For a quick, no-fuss tomato sauce, in advance of this recipe, place 1 small onion into a small pan with 1 tbsp. olive oil and cook for 2 minutes. Then add two fresh, roughly chopped vine tomatoes and continue to cook for a further 3 minutes until the onions and tomatoes are soft. Add 2 tbsp. tomato purée and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and whizz with a hand blender until smooth. Serve with the scrambled eggs.
From an original idea

We bring a variety of articles and recipe ideas to this blog, but 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

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Limes : Some Facts and Two Lower Carb Recipe Suggestions

Limes are the same shape, but smaller than lemons, with a bright green, fairly smooth skin, limes are a highly aromatic fruit. Limes are an important ingredient in Mexican, Indian, Latin American and South-East Asian cookery.

Three main types are available:
Tahitian, which is the largest, with the most acidic flavour; Mexican, slightly smaller, very aromatic, and with a particularly bright green skin; and Key lime, which have a paler skin, a high juice content and a strong flavour. Like lemons, limes are high in vitamin C.

All year round.

Choose the best
Look for unblemished, firm limes that feel heavy for their size as they will be the juiciest. If you intend to use the zest, buy them in-waxed (shops should state this clearly). If you can't find un-waxed limes, scrub the limes thoroughly before zesting.

Prepare it
To extract the maximum amount of juice, make sure the limes are at room temperature, and firmly roll them back and forth under your palm a couple of times - that helps to break down some of the flesh's fibres. Alternatively, microwave them for around 30 seconds, depending on the size of the lime - warming them up also helps them give up more juice.

Store it
In a perforated bag in the fridge (for a couple of weeks); in a fruit bowl (for around a week). Once cut, wrap in cling-film and keep in the fridge for up to four days.

Cook it
Use to make Key lime pie; salsas and curries; marinades for raw fish; add a wedge to a classic gin and tonic or use to make cocktails such as the margarita, caipirinha or mojito.

Here are two lower carb recipe suggestions that use limes  that you may wish to try ...

Pork chops with apple, lime and mint butter - recipe here

Low Carb Lime and Vanilla Cheese cake - see recipe here

Will you be including limes on your shopping list soon ...

All the best Jan

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Earl - All That Glitters

It's late and to finish off Saturday night another song from Earl 

Beth Hart Joe Bonamassa Nutbush City Limits

Saturday night so soon again, and music night on this blog. Joe is in the UK next March and my brother treated me to a ticket. At my age and state of decrepitude, that was optimistic of him LOL. Looking forward to a great night. Eddie

Persian-style herb frittata / kuku sabzi !

I believe the Persian name for a frittata/omelette is Kuku, and this recipe idea may be similar to kuku sabzi ... sabzi meaning greens, especially fresh green herbs. This quick Persian-style herb frittata recipe is made by whisking together eggs, fresh herbs, saffron strands and vibrant turmeric powder. Sprinkle with tangy feta and juicy pomegranate seeds for a colourful brunch!

Serves Four
8 eggs
10g chives, finely chopped
10g coriander, finely chopped
10g dill, finely chopped
10g flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
4 spring onions, finely sliced
1 tbsp. flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tbsp. turmeric
35g toasted pine nuts
1 pinch of saffron, soaked in 2 tsp boiling water
1 tbsp. olive oil
75g feta, crumbled
1 lemon, juiced and zested
25g pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp. pomegranate seeds, to decorate
100g Greek yogurt

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas mark 6. Whisk together the eggs in a large bowl. Add the herbs, onion, flour, baking powder, turmeric, pine nuts and saffron. Season with black pepper and whisk again.
2. Heat the oil in an ovenproof frying/skillet pan. Pour the egg mixture into the pan. Cook over a very gentle heat for 10 minutes, then transfer to the oven for a further 5 minutes to finish cooking.
3. Remove the frittata from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Turn out and top with the crumbled feta, lemon zest, pumpkin seeds and pomegranate. Mix the Greek yogurt with the lemon juice and serve with the frittata.

Each serving provides:
7.9g carbohydrate 2.0g fibre 21.2g protein 28.0g fat 
Taken from an original Sainsbury's idea here

"Feta is the most well-known cheese in Greece. It is a soft, white, brined cheese that is very nutritious and is an excellent source of calcium. As part of Mediterranean cuisine, this cheese is used in all sorts of dishes — from appetizers to desserts — because it can enhance the taste of foods."
You can read more about this cheese here

I hope you may enjoy this recipe suggestion soon, wishing everyone a great weekend.

All the best Jan

Friday, 21 July 2017

Chicken Drumsticks or Thighs - Grilled with Buttermilk

Grilled chicken is an all-American summer classic that's perfect for a picnic or a scorching hot barbecue. You'll love this grilled buttermilk version as it's gluten-free and nut-free. What's more they're slowly marinated for hours making it super moist and tender.

Serves Four
8-12 chicken drumsticks or thighs
300ml (10 fl oz)
4 garlic cloves, crushed
4 spring onions, minced
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tbsp maple syrup

1. Put the chicken pieces in a large bowl or re-sealable bag. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Cover or seal and marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours, but no longer than 24 hours.
2. Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the remaining liquid.
3. Arrange the chicken evenly on a large baking dish, season well, and cook under a hot grill for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through, making sure to turn the pieces at least once during cooking.
4. If cooking on a barbecue place on the barbecue on a medium/high heat. Cook for 10-12 minutes; turning regularly until they are cooked through. Cut one of the pieces of chicken with a sharp knife to make sure no pink meat remains before serving.

Each serving:
Carbohydrate 6.5g Protein 59.2g Fibre 0.6g Fat 20g

From a Tesco Real Food idea

How about serving with a mix of different salads ...

All the best Jan

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Low-Fat Foods Are Making You Fatter

A bit of humour for Thursday night

Foods To Help Give Your Skin a Glow and Put a Spring In Your Step

If we feel good we so often look good - there's a Spring in our step and we feel "all's well with the world". What we eat is so important to our health, and also "when it comes to your skin, the phrase "you are what you eat" couldn't be more true.

"Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food." Hippocrates

With that in mind, you may wish to consider these foods which are specifically great for your skin and health.

1) Bell Peppers
Why? They naturally boost your body's collagen levels, which helps to keep your skin firm. In other words - less/no wrinkles, less/no dimples, less/no saggy skin.

Baked Mini Bell Peppers - see more here 

2) Mushrooms
Why? They contain selenium, which is an important mineral that helps protect your skin from sun damage.

Portobello Mushroom with Pate and Cheese - see more here

3) Shellfish
Why? Because it contains zinc, which is another immunity-boosting mineral that can help protect skin cells from long term damage.

Asparagus spears with shell fish - see more here

4) Strawberries
Why? They are crammed with vitamin C and flavanoids, both of which are important for keeping skin healthy.

Strawberries and Double Cream - see more here

Image result for strawberries and cream

5) Sunflower Seeds
Why? Because they're packed with vitamin E which helps to protect your body's cells and in turn can provide a healthy glow."

Low Carb Seedy Bread - which contains sunflower seeds - see more here

Some words taken from an original article

We bring a variety of articles and recipe ideas to this blog, but 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

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Easy Vegetable Stir-fry

This speedy stir-fry is super easy to make, packed with vegetables and full of flavour. You may wish to pair this with stir fry chicken or pork!

Serves Four
2 tbsp. oil

4 spring onions (scallions), cut into 4cm/1½in lengths
1 garlic
clove, crushed
piece fresh root ginger
, about 1cm/½in, peeled and grated
1 carrot
, cut into matchsticks
1 red pepper
, cut into thick matchsticks
100g/3½oz baby sweetcorn
, halved
1 courgette (zucchini)
, cut into thick matchsticks
150g/5½oz sugar-snap peas or
mangetout, trimmed
2 tbsp hoisin sauce

2 tbsp soy sauce

Heat a wok on a high heat and add the oil. Add the spring onions, garlic, ginger and stir-fry for 1 minute, then reduce the heat. Take care to not brown the vegetables.

Add the carrot, red pepper and baby sweetcorn and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the courgette and sugar snap peas and stir-fry for a further 3 minutes. Toss the ingredients from the centre to the side of the wok using a wooden spatula. Do not overcrowd the wok and keep the ingredients moving.

Add 1 tablespoon water, hoisin and soy sauce and cook over a high heat for a further 2 minutes or until all the vegetables are cooked but not too soft. Serve and enjoy.

Each serving provides
3g protein, 7g carbohydrate, 6g fat, 3.5g fibre.

Some tips
Make sure all the food is prepared before you start cooking.
Cut all of the vegetables to a similar size to ensure they cook evenly.
The oil needs to be hot before you start cooking, but reduced to a medium heat once you start cooking.

Happy Eating!

All the best Jan

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Strawberry Dessert Tart with Cream Cheese Filling : Low Carb

Kim at Low Carb Maven site has recently shared this lovely Low Carb strawberry dessert tart with cream and goat cheese recipe. It's an easy no-bake dessert with a delicious low carb hemp walnut crust which you may wish to try.

Serves 10 : 2 net grams carb per serving
Walnut Hemp Seed Crust
1 cup walnut pieces, toasted
1/2 cup Bob's Red Mill Hemp Seed Hearts
2 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp. Sukrin Fiber Syrup Gold or Clear (or Vitafiber Syrup) (honey if not low carb)
Cream Cheese & Goat Cheese Filling
4 ounces goat cheese, softened
4 ounces cream cheese cold
4 ounces heavy (double) cream, cold
1/4 cup Sukrin Melis Icing Sugar (or Swerve Confectioner's)
1 tbsp. lemon juice
zest from the lemon
6 ounces strawberries, sliced
2 tsp fresh thyme or rosemary, finely chopped

She says "This crust doesn’t soak and is absolutely fantastic in flavour and texture, but must be refrigerated. The tart takes minimal time and effort to make but does require a little time in the freezer to harden the crust before adding the filling." She suggests "keeping the crust in the freezer and the filling ready to go in the refrigerator. Then assembly should only take a few minutes depending on how fancy you'd like to make the tart."

Kim gives a very good step by step guide on how to make this dessert
She also gives a US to metric conversion guide, which you may find helpful here

Did you know that:
"Hemp seeds a
re the seeds of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. They are from the same species as cannabis (marijuana). However, hemp seeds contain only trace amounts of THC, the compound that causes the drug-like effects of marijuana. Hemp seeds are exceptionally nutritious and rich in healthy fats, protein and various minerals.

Here are 6 health benefits of hemp seeds that are backed up by science:

1. Hemp Seeds Are Incredibly Nutritious
Technically a nut, hemp seeds are very nutritious. They have a mild, nutty flavor and are often referred to as hemp hearts. Hemp seeds are rich in healthy fats and essential fatty acids. They are also a great protein source and contain high amounts of vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc

2. Hemp Seeds May Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease
Hemp seeds are a great source of arginine and gamma-linolenic acid, which have been linked with a reduced risk of heart disease.

3. Hemp Seeds and Oil May Benefit Skin Disorders
Studies have shown that giving hemp seed oil to people with eczema may improve blood levels of essential fatty acids. It may also relieve dry skin, improve itchiness and reduce the need for skin medication. Hemp seeds are rich in healthy fats. They have a 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, which may benefit skin diseases. In some cases, this may provide relief from eczema and its uncomfortable symptoms.

4. Hemp Seeds Are a Great Source of Plant-Based Protein
About 25% of the calories in hemp seeds come from protein. Hemp seeds contain all the essential amino acids, making them a complete protein source.

5. Hemp Seeds May Reduce Symptoms of PMS and Menopause
Up to 80% of women of reproductive age may suffer from physical or emotional symptoms caused by premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Hemp seeds may reduce symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and may also positively affect symptoms of menopause.

6. Whole Hemp Seeds May Aid Digestion
Whole hemp seeds contain high amounts of fibre, both soluble and insoluble, which benefits digestive health. De-hulled hemp seeds have had the fibre-rich shell removed, and therefore contain very little fibre.

Although hemp seeds have not been popular until recently, they are an old staple food and people are now realizing their excellent nutritional value. They are very rich in healthy fats, high-quality protein and several minerals.

However, hemp seed shells may contain trace amounts of
THC (< 0.3%), the active compound in marijuana. People who have been addicted to cannabis may want to avoid consuming hemp or hemp seeds in any form.

Overall, hemp seeds are incredibly healthy. They might just be one of the few superfoods that are actually worthy of their reputation."

These words are just a snippet from an article on Authority Nutrition site, you can read the full article, with all related links

You will find a variety of recipe ideas, articles etc. within this blog, and 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, 17 July 2017

Sugar is poison. My heart attack has finally opened my eyes to the truth

Giles Fraser

I am now a member of the zipper club. I know, I thought it sounded rude too. But apparently it’s the club name for those of us who have a scar right down the middle of our chest. I have one down my leg too, from groin to ankle. And as I spend time recovering from a heart bypass operation – mostly doing very little, watching the cricket, reading the paper – I have started to reflect on my condition. How did it come to this? How did the arteries of my heart become so clogged with gunk that I may have been just weeks from meeting my maker?

“Diabetic,” they said. “Pah,” I thought. I don’t feel any different. I just get up to pee a bit more at night. Some biochemical medical problem just seemed a bit too elusive, abstract, distant. I mean, when Diane Abbott blamed a bad interview on diabetes, who really took that seriously? Earlier this year, I was sent on a diabetes awareness day and spent the time looking out of the window, bored. They tried to explain it to me but I wasn’t concentrating.

Well, now that someone has sliced through my breastbone as they might a Christmas turkey, the whole thing doesn’t seem quite so distant. And suddenly – and unsurprisingly – I am concentrating. All ears to, and pretty evangelical about, the evils of sugar. Sorry to have doubted you, Diane.

Back in September 2016, the Journal of the American Medical Association published papers, discovered deep in the Harvard University archives, that demonstrated how the sugar industry has been manipulating research into heart disease for years. These papers revealed that the purveyors of this white poison – in behaviour straight out of the tobacco industry playbook – had been paying Harvard scientists throughout the 1960s to emphasise the link between fat and heart disease and ignore the connection with sugar. Since then, Coca-Cola has funded research into the link between sugar and obesity. And the confectionery industry has paid for research which “demonstrated” that children who eat sweets are thinner than those who don’t.

As I write, my son returns from the shops, perfectly on cue, laden with a chocolate bar, a full-fat Coke and a packet of lollipops. I want to tell him that Willy Wonka is a death-dealing drug dealer. But I bite my lip for now. He will think me a crank. Everything he likes has sugar in it. That’s my fault – he got hooked on sugary breakfast cereals as a child. As Gary Taubes explained in his remarkable book The Case Against Sugar, published last year, it has “assimilated itself into all aspects of our eating experience”. Advertisements have normalised the omnipresence of sugar as a part of a balanced diet. And my son’s brain has become accustomed to the dopamine it releases. He has become an addict. Most of us are addicts.

In 1996, 1.4 million people in the UK had diabetes. Since then the figure has trebled to over 4 million. Diabetes now gobbles up more than 10% of the NHS budget, with that percentage set to rise steeply in the coming years. The World Health Authority published a major report on global diabetes last year. Its figures show that the number of people with diabetes has gone up from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. This is not just a matter of bad individual choices. You can’t dismiss this as the aggregate of many millions of singular decisions, each one nothing more than a matter of weakness of will and responsible for itself alone. This has become a global epidemic.

For the last 30 years I have built a pretty effective protective shell against fat-shaming. I would probably have taken losing half a stone if offered, but I wasn’t especially unhappy with my body shape. But now I see things differently. Now I see a multibillion-dollar industry that makes its profits by keeping us obese and in the dark about why. After my operation, I cut out sugar and carbohydrates as best I could. I have lost 10 kilograms in the five weeks since. And I plan to lose a lot more. It’s not a diet – I hate diets. It’s a form of protest. The scales have fallen from my eyes. Beware the candy man.


Some Health Benefits of Eating Cucumber

Rachael Link writes:
"Though commonly thought to be a vegetable, cucumber is actually a fruit. It’s high in beneficial nutrients, as well as certain plant compounds and antioxidants that may help treat and even prevent some conditions.
Also, cucumbers are low in calories and contain a good amount of water and soluble fibre, making them ideal for promoting hydration and aiding in weight loss. This article takes a closer look at some of the top health benefits of eating cucumber.

1. It’s High in Nutrients
Cucumbers are low in calories
but high in many important vitamins and minerals.
One 11-ounce (300-gram) unpeeled, raw cucumber contains the following
Calories: 45
Total fat: 0 grams
Carbs: 11 grams
Protein: 2 grams
Fibre: 2 grams
Vitamin C: 14% of the RDI
Vitamin K: 62% of the RDI
Magnesium: 10% of the RDI
Potassium: 13% of the RDI
Manganese: 12% of the RDI

Although, the typical serving size is about one-third of a cucumber, so eating a standard portion would provide about one-third of the nutrients above.

Additionally, cucumbers have a high water content. In fact, cucumbers are made up of about 96% water

To maximize their nutrient content, cucumbers should be eaten unpeeled. Peeling them reduces the amount of fibre, as well as certain vitamins and minerals

Summary: Cucumbers are low in calories but high in water and several important vitamins and minerals. Eating cucumbers with the peel provides the maximum amount of nutrients.

2. It Contains Antioxidants

Antioxidants are molecules that block oxidation, a chemical reaction that forms highly reactive atoms with unpaired electrons known as free radicals. The accumulation of these harmful free radicals can lead to several types of chronic illness.

Summary: Cucumbers contain antioxidants, including flavonoids and tannins, which prevent the accumulation of harmful free radicals and may reduce the risk of chronic disease.

3. It Promotes Hydration
Water is crucial to your body’s function, playing numerous important roles
. It is involved in processes like temperature regulation and the transportation of waste products and nutrients. In fact, proper hydration can affect everything from physical performance to metabolism.
While you meet the majority of your fluid needs by drinking water o
r other liquids, some people may get as much as 40% of their total water intake from food. Fruits and vegetables, in particular, can be a good source of water in your diet.
In one study, hydration status was assessed and diet records were collected for 442 children. They found that increased fruit and vegetable intake was associated with improvements in hydration status
Because cucumbers are composed of about 96% water, they are especially effective at promoting hydration and can help you meet your daily fluid needs

Summary: Cucumbers are composed of about 96% water, which may increase hydration and help you meet your daily fluid needs.

4. It May Aid in Weight Loss

Cucumbers could potentially help you lose weight in a few different ways.
First of all, they are low in calories.
Each one-cup (104-gram) serving contains just 16 calories, while an entire 11-ounce (300-gram) cucumber contains only 45 calories
This means that you can eat plenty of cucumbers without packing on the extra calories that lead to weight gain.
Cucumbers can add freshness and flavour to salads, and side dishes and may also be used as a replacement for higher calorie alternatives. Furthermore, the high water content of cucumbers could aid in weight loss as well.

Summary: Cucumbers are low in calories, high in water and can be used as a low-calorie topping for many dishes. All of these may aid in weight loss.

5. It May Lower Blood Sugar
Summary: Test-tube and animal studies show that cucumber may help lower blood sugar and prevent diabetes-related complications, although additional research is needed.

6. It Could Promote Regularity

Eating cucumbers may help support regular bowel movements. Dehydration is a m
ajor risk factor for constipation, as it can alter your water balance and make the passage of stool difficult. Cucumbers are high in water and promote hydration. Staying hydrated can improve stool consistency, prevent constipation and help maintain regularity.

Summary: Cucumbers contain a good amount of fibre and water, both of which may help prevent constipation and increase regularity.

7. Easy to Add to Your Diet

Mild with a distinctly crisp and refreshing flavour, cucumbers are commonly enjoyed fresh or pickled in everything from salads to sandwiches. Cucumbers are also often eaten raw as a low-calorie snack or can be paired with hummus, olive oil, salt or salad dressing to add a bit more flavour. With just a bit of creativity, cucumbers can be enjoyed in many ways.

Here are a few recipes to help incorporate cucumbers into your diet:

Baked Cucumber Chips - see here
Tomato and Cucumber Salad - see here
Strawberry, Lime, Cucumber and Mint Infused Water -see here

Summary: Cucumbers can be eaten fresh or pickled. They can be enjoyed as a low-calorie snack or used to add flavour in a variety of dishes.

The Bottom Line

Cucumbers are a refreshing, nutritious and incredibly versatile addition to any diet. They are low in calories but contain many important vitamins and minerals, as well as a high water content. Eating cucumbers may lead to many potential health benefits, including weight loss, balanced hydration, digestive regularity and lower blood sugar levels."

Rachael's full article with all information / research links is here

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.

All the best Jan

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Lamb casserole with a mix of green vegetables

When my Dear Mum cooked her casseroles she always said they tasted better when cooked 'slow and low', and this is quite often the case! Our Mums and Grandmothers used to know a thing or two about cooking delicious home cooked real food ... well mine did, I hope yours did too!
Now this casserole dish of tasty lamb and mixed green vegetable does contain some frozen vegetables mixed with fresh, and it works well. Don't worry if you haven't got the exact green vegetables, I always say a recipe can be adjusted slightly to suit what you may have readily available.

If you'd like to give it a try here is what you will need for four people:

Serves Four
50ml oil
500g Diced lamb 
100ml white wine
200g frozen peas, thawed
200g frozen baby broad beans, thawed
150g asparagus spears, trimmed 
150g green beans, trimmed
50g mangetout
600ml (lamb) stock 
1 bay leaf
a few sprigs of thyme

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C. / 300°F. / Gas Mark 2

2. Heat the oil in a large casserole dish set over a moderate heat until hot. Season the diced lamb
and sear in batches until golden brown in colour all over. Remove from the dish and transfer to a colander sat on top of a bowl. Deglaze the base of the dish with the white wine and let it evaporate away almost entirely.

3. Add the lamb back to the dish along with the bay leaf and thyme. Cover with the stock and bring to a simmer, then cover with a lid and transfer to the oven to finish cooking. Cook the lamb for 2 hours until tender and easily pulled apart between your fingers. Remove from the oven and set the dish over a very low heat.

4. Add the asparagus
and green beans, then add the peas and broad beans after 2 minutes. Add the mangetout after a further minute, then adjust the seasoning. Remove from the heat and serve immediately.

Freezing and defrosting guidelines
Once the dish has cooled completely, transfer it to an airtight, freezer-safe container, seal and freeze for up to 1-3 months.
To serve, defrost thoroughly in the fridge overnight before reheating. Loosely cover with foil and bake until dish is thoroughly heated through. Reheat until piping hot.

Per Serving
Carbohydrate 13.7g Protein 34.9g Fibre 10.1g Fat 24g 
From an original Tesco real food idea here

Did you know that mangetout are also known as the snow or sugar pea, mangetout are a flat-podded variety of pea, eaten whole while the peas within are still very small – hence the French name, which means ‘eat everything’. Crisp and sweet, they can be served raw, or lightly steamed, boiled or stir-fried.

Mangetout are in season from June to September. Look for firm, vibrant green pods that aren’t limp or discoloured.

Mangetout will remain crisp and fresh in the fridge for up to three days. They can be blanched and frozen, but may lose their characteristic crunch when defrosted.

A variety of recipe ideas and articles are found within this blog, and 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

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Radiohead - Creep

My favourite Radiohead track, have a good weekend folks

Van Morrison - Someone Like You

The last song featuring Joe Cocker, was written by this guy, Van Morrison. Someone like you, tells my story in a way, I waited a long, a very long time, to find Jan. Eddie

Joe Cocker - Into The Mystic

Saturday night again so soon, and music night again on this blog. Joe Cocker never had the best of voices, but was one of the greatest singers of my generation, a man who truly lived the song. Sadly, Joe passed away far too early, but his music will out live all of us. Eddie 

Enjoy a Sundae on Saturday !

Why not enjoy this low carb sundae on a Saturday! In fact you could enjoy it any day of the week. This dessert is 8.3g carbs per serving and is a delicious mix of layered raspberries, blackberries, chocolate cream and coconut. This recipe suggestion could fit very well into your menu plans...

Serves 4 - 5
500ml double cream
3 tbs cocoa powder
2 tbs stevia or sweetener of choice
1 cup raspberries
1 cup blackberries
shredded coconut flakes

Whip the cream, cocoa powder and stevia together until quite firm, but do not over whip the cream or it may split.
Choose wine glasses or tumblers and start to layer the chocolate cream alternately with the raspberries, blackberries and shredded coconut.
Continue until you have at least 4 layers.
Top the sundae off with more raspberries, blackberries and coconut flakes.

Serving size: 1 sundae
Calories: 423 Fat: 42.4g Carbohydrates: 8.3g Sugar: 4g Fibre: 3.4g Protein: 1.1g

Recipe idea from Libby

Hope you enjoy your sundae ...

Have a great weekend too.

All the best Jan

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Chicken with baked chicory in a sage and Dijon mustard sauce

A lovely creamy chicken dish that can be enjoyed anytime, but also makes a nice dinner party meal, green beans are a perfect accompaniment ... 

Serves Four
3 head of white chicory

1 tbsp. olive oil

3 tbsp. dry white wine, chicken stock or water
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts

25g butter
1 shallot
, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
For the sauce:
25g butter

1 tbsp. plain flour
300ml milk

150ml crème fraîche or soured cream
4-6 sage l
eaves, chopped
2-3 tsp smooth Dijon mustard

2-3 tsp grainy Dijon mustard

50g grated
Gruyère or Cheshire cheese

1. Preheat your oven to fan 180C/conventional 200C/gas 6. Trim away the stalk ends of the chicory, discard any limp or tired outer leaves, then cut the vegetable length-ways into quarters. Pour the oil over the bottom of a large shallow baking dish and arrange the sections of chicory, cut-side up, in a single layer. Pour over the wine, stock or water and cover with foil. Bake for 10 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

2. Slice the chicken into strips 1cm thick. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a large frying pan until foaming, add sliced chicken and cook for 4-5 minutes or until the chicken is just turning golden brown. Stir in the shallot and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Remove the dish from the oven and add the chicken mixture to the chicory. Replace the foil and set the dish aside while you make the sauce.

3. Melt the butter for the sauce in the frying pan (no need to wash it) then stir in the flour. Gradually pour in the milk, stirring all the time until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in the crème fraîche or soured cream and sage with 2 tsp each of both mustards. Taste and add extra mustard plus salt and pepper if you think they’re needed

4. Pour the sauce over the chicory and chicken and sprinkle cheese on top. Bake, uncovered, for a further 25-30 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the top is golden.

Nutrition Per Serving:
32g Fat 11g Carb 42g Protein

From an original idea here

Chicory is also known as endive, and is a forced crop, grown in complete darkness, which accounts for its blanched white, yellow-tipped leaves. It has a distinctive, cigar-like shape, about 12cm long, and the crisp leaves have a mildly bitter flavour. You can read more about it, on this post, here

A variety of recipe ideas and articles are found within this blog, and 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

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Sponsorship of National Health Organizations by Two Major Soda Companies



Obesity is a pervasive public health problem in the U.S. Reducing soda consumption is important for stemming the obesity epidemic. However, several articles and one book suggest that soda companies are using their resources to impede public health interventions that might reduce soda consumption. Although corporate sponsorship by tobacco and alcohol companies has been studied extensively, there has been no systematic attempt to catalog sponsorship activities of soda companies. This study investigates the nature, extent, and implications of soda company sponsorship of U.S. health and medical organizations, as well as corporate lobbying expenditures on soda- or nutrition-related public health legislation from 2011 to 2015.


Records of corporate philanthropy and lobbying expenditures on public health legislation by soda companies in the U.S. during 2011–2015 were found through Internet and database searches.


From 2011 to 2015, the Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo were found to sponsor a total of 95 national health organizations, including many medical and public health institutions whose specific missions include fighting the obesity epidemic. During the study period, these two soda companies lobbied against 29 public health bills intended to reduce soda consumption or improve nutrition.


There is surprisingly pervasive sponsorship of national health and medical organizations by the nation’s two largest soda companies. These companies lobbied against public health intervention in 97% of cases, calling into question a sincere commitment to improving the public’s health. By accepting funding from these companies, health organizations are inadvertently participating in their marketing plans.


Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Beef Bourguignon ... low carb and delicious.

Regular readers may have already seen and tried this lovely low carb dish, it's one of our favourites, but you can never have too much of a good thing - can you? It is delicious, why not give it a try.


Serves Two
250 grams of diced braising steak
A handful of shallots
A handful of button mushrooms
50 grams of smoked bacon lardons
1 teaspoon of mixed dried herbs
1 bay leaf (optional)
2 beef stock cubes
1 large glass of red wine
Salt and pepper to taste
1 table spoon of olive oil

Heat the oil (to medium heat)in a frying pan. Add the shallots and mushrooms, fry/saute until golden brown, Remove from pan into oven proof casserole dish.

Add bacon lardons to pan and cook until they are lightly browned, add to casserole dish.

Finally put diced beef into frying pan and lightly brown each side of cubed beef then put into casserole dish.

Make up the beef stock to approx. half to three quarters of a pint, but the red wine should make up about half of the liquid.Bring to a gentle simmer in the frying pan and add the mixed herbs, salt and pepper to taste.

Pour over the ingredients in the casserole dish, add your bay leaf (optional). Cover and cook for approx two to two and a half hours at Regulo 4 Electric 180 stirring after the first hour. Serve with steamed broccoli and white cabbage or vegetables of your choice.

Delicious, very easy to make and very low carb.

Hope you enjoy it.

All the best Jan

Monday, 10 July 2017

Red Fruits and Vegetables : Take Five

Fruits and vegetables come in all the colours of the rainbow, and I really enjoy eating them. Not only do they taste great, they are nutritious and help make your plate look so colourful. I thought to myself, choose a colour and then name five of your favourites, so here goes ...

Radish - read more here

Radicchio - read more here

Red Pepper - read more here

Red Tomatoes - read more here

Raspberries - read more here

These are just five and there are more, perhaps you have a favourite red vegetable or fruit?

All the best Jan