Simple, quick and cheap food I love

If you want some inspiration for simple, healthy, quick and cheap food, here are some of my personal favourites.

– Turkey, brie and grape salad or sandwich. I like to choose good quality free-range, and preferably organic, turkey breast slices, a small block of brie and a handful of grapes (black grapes are my favourite because of the sweet flavour and extra antioxidants). Place the turkey on a sandwich, then slices of brie ontop, and finish with grape halves and baby spinach leaves, or use these foods in a salad if you want to cut down on wheat. It is so delicious and doesn’t cost much because you only use a small amount of each ingredient- a sample size of brie will do, a couple of slices of turkey and about 8 grapes, so you’ll be able to get a couple of meals out of it!

– Egg, chilli flakes and beetroot on corn crackers. Corn crackers are really versatile and should be in the cupboard of everyone who wants to cut down on wheat. One of my favourite ways to eat them is topped with scrambled egg with a pinch of chilli flakes and beetroot on the side.

– Mackerel with sweet potato and a good salad. Mackerel is an amazing food, it’s one of the cheapest fish you can buy, with one of the lowest levels of mercury. It is caught wild without all the health issues that arise from farmed fish, is high in nutrients including vitamin D and omega 3, and tastes simply delicious. Sweet potato is a great alternative to normal potato, with extra antioxidants and vitamin C, and the salad contains even more vitamins, fibre and raw goodness. Make a great salad by experimenting with colour and texture- mix green leaves with red tomatoes and yellow peppers or sweetcorn, for example.

– Chicken and mixed salad leaves on pitta bread. Take some wholewheat pitta bread (really cheap), some good quality chicken drumsticks (another cheap way to get meat) and some mixed salad leaves. I like to add a thin slice of cheddar as well. Mix the salad leaves up in a bowl adding a drop of honey, the magic ingredient that turns this into something special. Toast the pitta bread until it puffs up, break it open, place warm and freshly-cooked chicken meat inside, then the cheese, then the salad leaves, and a dash of mayonnaise if you like. Take a bite and come back and let me know what you think!

Do you have any recipes you’d like to share?

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The benefits of cinnamon

All spices have great health properties, and cinnamon is no exception to this. Did you know that just a quarter of a teaspoon of cinnamon a day can lower your blood sugar? Put it on some fruit, on a sweet potato or in a glass of warm milk for a delicious and healthy way to help control your sugar levels.

Cinnamon is also anti-bacterial and an anti-inflammatory, helps relieve congestion when you have a cold or the flu, aids the digestive system, protects the teeth and prevents infections (particularly those of the urinary tract).

Just one thing, though- make sure you get real cinnamon. Here’s a helpful webpage to help you tell the difference: http://www.ceylon-cinnamon.com/Identify-Cinnamon.htm

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Stress and anxiety

We all suffer from stress and anxiety from time to time. These afflictions can cause a whole host of problems such as headaches, panic attacks, uncontrollable thoughts and insomnia. In fact, did you know the symptoms of stress can be any of the things on this list? http://www.nomorepanic.co.uk/articles/symptoms/

If you feel as though you can’t cope, it goes without saying that you should see your doctor. But if you just need a bit of calm in your life, here are some things that have helped me.

– Lavender oil. This smells wonderful. You can simply smell it if you’re feeling stressed and it will aid relaxation, but you can also put it in an oil burner, drop it on your pillow before you go to sleep or rub some onto your pulse points.

– Bach’s Rescue Remedy. This is a very popular non-addictive herbal remedy that helps to calm you down. You can place four drops on your tongue directly or dissolve them in a glass of water.

– Don’t feel that you have to focus on negative thoughts. You don’t need to ruminate or analyse, just let them go. Keep your mind on positive things and your thoughts will head in that direction. Don’t allow yourself to be dragged to a place you don’t want to be in. You can’t control what goes through your mind, but you can control what you hold onto.

– Exercise. Exercise helps to improve your mood and is the only way to get rid of excess adrenaline caused by stress. It’s even been labelled as a ‘wonder drug’ for stress, depression and anxiety, more powerful than medication. As you exercise, not only will the negative feelings decrease, but the ‘happy hormones’ such as serotonin will increase. We were made to move, a lot- the more you stay still, the more claustrophic you will feel. Get your blood and lungs working and help to clear your mind.

– Watch what you eat. Diet can really affect your mood, and your mood affects your thoughts (and vice-versa). Processed, refined products such as white sugar and white flour aren’t great for your happiness levels, even though you may be craving more biscuits and cakes when you’re feeling down. Have some dark chocolate, which does increase the serotonin in your body, and make sure you have a good, fresh, natural diet. Particularly pay attention to B vitamins- you may want to get a vitamin B complex to help pick you up if you’re not sure you’ve been getting enough from your food. Love your food, do yourself healthy, delicious meals that you really enjoy and feel spoilt with. It doesn’t have to cost any more than usual and it’s the little, everyday things like this that make a difference and get you smiling.

– Spend time with others. Whether it’s family, friends or simply talking to other people more at work it will help to make you feel more grounded, confident and less focused on your own life. You might want to consider joining an activity group  you are interested in or getting into volunteering to bring something new into your life. We were made to be social and communicative, and loneliness or isolation can cause a lot of emotional problems, so nip it in the bud as soon as you can.

– Spend time with nature and animals. If you have a pet, looking after it is proven to help decrease your stress levels. So also is walking in nature, looking at the beautiful scenery around you and taking in some fresh air.

– Count your blessings. It’s an oldie, but a goodie. Count them on your fingers, get to ten!

Any more tips for cultivating a more positive, content mind? Please share them here.

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Dry skin brushing

Here is a simple technique with some amazing health benefits. All you need is to buy a good-quality body brush (cactus hair is recommended) and just use it to invigorate your skin before a shower. It will draw toxins out of your skin, so it’s important to have a shower after you dry-brush.

How do you start? Well, start from the soles of the feet and work your way up. Always help the blood and lymphatic system out by stroking towards your heart, not away from it. Dry-brush the soles of your feet and then, in upward strokes, go up your ankles, lower leg, knees and upper leg, trying to touch every bit of skin. Repeat with the other leg, brushing upwards all the time, until you get to your stomach, where you should gently brush clockwise (from your point of view, looking downwards). Brush up your back and your arms but as you get above the heart, brush down to the heart.

You can also dry-brush your face with a more delicate brush.

So, what does it do for you? Here are some of the biggest benefits to dry-brushing:

It encourages circulation and helps rid the body of toxins, as the skin is our largest organ and many toxins are released through it.

It strengthens the immune system, encourages healthy emotions and a calm state of mind.

It tightens the skin, helps reduce cellulite, gets rid of skin cells and gives you more of a glow.

It helps with muscle tone and regulating fat deposits.

You can find more detail on dry skin brushing here: http://www.jashbotanicals.com/articles/skin_brushing.html

I really recommend this technique, it’s so easy and incredibly helpful for the body!

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Drink healthy

You may be eating healthy meals and getting exercise, but you may still feel bored or confused when it comes to what you should be drinking.

Hopefully this will give you some inspiration!

Water

Yes, everyone knows water is the number one healthy drink, but what’s the best way to drink it? Apparently with a pinch of pink Himalayan rock salt! The rock salt gives the water essential minerals to help you recover any electrolytes lost, which is a more complete method of hydration.

It’s also really important to drink a glass of water after you wake up in the morning to cleanse before you eat your breakfast. Filtered water is usually recommended over tap water, which often has a lot of chemicals in it, or bottled water, which isn’t always regulated well and can contain residues from the plastic bottle it was kept in.

Coconut water is another option. Of course, it’s more expensive, but it has a lovely delicate taste and is naturally full of electrolytes to replenish your body.

Tea

Not just tea, but all kinds of infusions, such as camomile, nettle, dandelion… the list goes on. There are so many different flavours and so many different benefits to gain from drinking herbal teas. The warmth is also great for cleansing and relaxing your whole body. Whether you have a cold (lemon and ginger), are feeling stressed (camomile), or simply have a bit of a sweet tooth (liquorice and peppermint), there’ll be a tea for you. Well worth experimenting with the different types on the market. I’ve done a seperate post all about my favourite teas- check it out for more information.

Fruit juice

I actually added this one in because most people think it’s a healthy drink. However, there’s an awful lot of sugar in fruit juice, and if it’s concentrated and pasturised too you’re not really getting much nutritional benefit at all. Juice your own, or try vegetable juice which has less sugar.

Vegetable juice

If you’re serious about a natural, healthy lifestyle, it’d be a good investment for you to get a juicer and to read up about vegetable juicing, which is a great way to give yourself an extra boost of all the nutritional properties of vegetables. No matter what you’re looking for, there will be a vegetable juice that will hit the spot, and there are loads of dedicated communities of juicers online who will give you advice and recipes.

What’s your favourite healthy drink? Let me know!

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The benefits of rosehip oil

Rosehip oil is absolutely great to use on your skin, and yet a lot of people don’t know about it. I use an organic, cold-pressed rosehip oil on my skin as a natural moisturiser every night after I take off my makeup, and here’s why!

– It is full of antioxidants such as vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E which protect your skin from aging, sun damage and free radicals.

– It is high in essential fatty acids including omega 3 which help to retain your skin’s youthfulness and vitality, encouraging cell regeneration and collagen production.

– It is often used as a treatment for skin issues such as eczema, acne, sunburn, photo-aging and scars. In fact, using rosehip oil on the skin every day for 5 months visibly reduces sun damage to your skin- one of the only treatments that actually reverse photo-aging!

– It also contains tannin which helps to reduce the size of large pores.

I would recommend you go for an organic, cold-pressed rosehip oil in a glass bottle to maximise the benefits you will get from this wonderful moisturiser. Make sure you put the lid on after you’ve used it each time and use it up within 6 months so it retains its nutrients.

Do you use rosehip oil? What do you think?

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Reducing the amount of pesticides you eat

Now, of course eating organic foods reduces the amount of pesticides you eat. Eating organic also reduces the chemicals the workers are exposed to and reduces the impact of chemicals on the environment and wildlife. Organic food is also often reported to have more nutrients than conventionally-produced food. However, sometimes organic isn’t available, or you can’t afford to buy the organic version of everything you need. Never fear- some fruits and vegetables retain less chemicals than others, so you can still reduce the amount of nasties you are being exposed to.

Fruit

The fruit with the least amount of pesticides present are pineapples, mangoes, cantaloupe, kiwi, watermelon and grapefruit.

The fruit with the most amount of pesticides present are apples, peaches, strawberries, nectarines, grapes and blueberries. You might want to make the extra effort to buy these organic.

Vegetables

And for vegetables, those with the least amount of pesticides on are onions, sweetcorn, avocado, asparagus, sweet peas, aubergine, cabbage, sweet potatoes and mushrooms.

The vegetables with the most amount of pesticides are celery, spinach, bell peppers, potatoes, lettuce and kale. Again, these may be the ones you’d like to make extra effort to buy organic.

Fruit and veg washes

Did you know you can buy special washes, natural and organic, that safely remove chemicals and other nasties from your food? I didn’t, until I accidentally came across this one day in my local health food store: http://http://www.leafliving.com/store/bentley-organic-salad-fruit-and-veg-wash-500ml/ This might be another option for you, and is also great for washing organic produce to get rid of any possible residue of fertiliser. These washes are really cheap and last for ages! There are many different brands selling these washes, so have a look around and see which suits you.

Read about the list of foods with the most pesticides in more detail here: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/

and here: http://www.mindfulmum.co.uk/2009/healthy-baby/nutrition/top-10-uk-fruit-and-vegetables-to-buy-organic-for-baby/

Happy eating!

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