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April 2019


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Makes 4 large portions

This one has been around for years but I have just never actually written it down. So finally, it’s here, it’s chunky and it’s packed with colour and goodness. I mostly use standard lasagne sheets, although sometimes opt for the green spinach ones just to mix it up a little. For the mash layer, use any root veg you fancy too! It’s also better if you make it the day before, and even nicer cold.

Lasagne sheets
150g spinach
200g ricotta cheese
1 medium carrot
1 small sweet potato
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 200g tin of sweetcorn
2 teaspoons paprika
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons veggie Worcestershire sauce (Biona do a good one, you can use Lea & Perrins if you are not vegetarian it just contains fish)
Rapeseed oil
Olive oil
2 teaspoons butter
50g/ 1/3 cup plain flour
150ml milk
100g cheddar cheese (grated)
1 medium tomato
Dried oregano
L22mm x W17mm x D6mm sized dish

Preheat your oven to 180C

Layer 1
Roughly chop the carrot and sweet potato, leaving the skins on for extra fibre.
Boil both together until soft (around 15-20mins). Drain.
Season with salt and pepper and 2 tsp of olive oil, then roughly mash.

Layer 2
Add 1 tbsp of rapeseed oil to a large frying pan with the heat on medium.
Add the onion and garlic and fry for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the paprika and continue to cook for 10 mins, turn the heat down if it starts to stick.
Add the sweetcorn, tinned tomatoes and Worcestershire sauce and mix together. Season with salt and pepper.
Add 100ml of water and simmer for 15 minutes

Layer 3
Place the spinach in a saucepan on a low heat and add 1 tbsp of water.
Once wilted, drain any excess liquid and add the ricotta. Mix together. Season with pepper.

Cheese sauce
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat.
Once melted add the flour and mix until it forms a paste. It may go into lumps which is fine, these will dissolve when the milk is added.
Whisk in the milk and keep whisking until all the lumps have dissolved and it starts to thicken. You may need to add a little bit more milk if its gets very thick.
Add half the grated cheese and stir until melted.

Place a tiny amount of the tomato mix on the very bottom of the dish, this is so the bottom layer of the lasagne cooks. It shouldn’t even cover the bottom of the dish.
Then place a single layer of lasagne sheets on the bottom, break them with your hand if you need to, it’s always a bit like a jigsaw!
Place a layer of the carrot and sweet potato mix on top, use all the mixture. Top with cheese sauce.
Cover with lasagne sheets and press down firmly.
Use half the tomato mix and spread evenly on top. Top with cheese sauce.
Cover with lasagne sheets and press down firmly.
Place a layer of the spinach and ricotta mix on top and press down, use all the mixture.
Cover with lasagne sheets and press down firmly.
Use the remaining half of the tomato mix and spread evenly on top.
Cover with the cheese sauce and grated cheese. Top with sliced tomatoes and sprinkle with dried oregano.
Baked for 30 mins or until golden.

Serve with a delicious green salad.

#12 Fructose makes you fat

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SUNDAY SHUTDOWN #12 Fructose makes you fat. But does it though?

It is a commonly asked question that the consumption of fructose contributes to weight gain or is even solely responsible for gaining fat. That for some reason, fructose is worse for you than glucose or lactose. It is highly likely this has stemmed from the rise in overweight and obesity over the last 20-30 years in line with an increase in consumption of fructose, most notably found in fizzy drinks.

Fructose is a form of sugar and is commonly found in fizzy drinks, fruit, agave, honey, salad dressing and desserts. The body cannot use fructose as an energy source straight away and therefore it must break it down into glucose which can then be used for energy or be stored in the liver or muscles.

But does it make you fat?

In a review of the evidence relating to high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and weight gain conducted in 2007 it was concluded that HFCS does not contribute to overweight or obesity any differently to energy being provided from other food sources. This study was conducted in the USA by an exert panel pulled together by The Centre for Food, Nutrition and Agriculture Policy.

That being said, Morenga et al, 2013, found that consumption of fizzy drinks is related to weight gain, however when this was adjusted for total calorie intake, the statistical significance of this link became weaker. Basically, when they adjusted the diet for calories from other sources there was no observed difference in weight, irrespective of where the calories came from.

More recently, Rosset et al., 2016, investigated if fructose is more involved in cardiovascular and metabolic diseases than calories from other macronutrients, such as protein and fat. They found that there is strong evidence to suggest that sugar consumption is high in obese patients. However, excessive consumption of fructose or sugar, independent of overconsumption of total energy is not solely responsible for weight gain.

The over-riding evidence on “fructose making you fat” is not conclusive. To further add to this, as humans we very rarely consume fructose on its own, we consume foods which contain a variety of different sugars and other nutrients like protein and fat too.

When it comes to fat loss or gain it all comes down to energy balance, which means calories in versus calories out. If you are consuming an excessive level of fructose and have been gaining weight, it’s the total over consumption of calories (or food) driving the gain, rather than the fructose itself.

#11 Food Intolerance Tests⠀

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SUNDAY SHUTDOWN #11 Food Intolerance Tests

These are on the rise, in most cases you just “simply” take a blood sample and send it away and you’ll receive a list of all food and drink products you are sensitive or intolerant too. I was recently emailed by another new company asking if I wanted to work with them. The answer was a firm no.⠀

The research in this area is so new and I am confident that when it’s 100% there it will revolutionise the way we understand our body’s response to food. It will, in fact make personalised nutrition, personal. ⠀

But for now, the information provided is not based on sound human clinical research. Warning: We will now get a bit technical. There are a few different approaches which claim they can help, Kinesiology, IgG testing (this is the most common) and Mediator Release Testing (MRT) – thanks @martinnutrition for the clarity here. IgG tests will take a blood sample and test for IgG responses to certain foods, the thing is IgG antibodies will be present if you have consumed said food. Which really isn’t helpful, as you are left with results telling you to cut out eggs and dairy when you’ve been consuming them your whole life with no physical responses. ⠀

The only test that has any weight here is the one relating to lactose intolerance which tests to see if you have the enzyme than breaks down lactase (a protein found cows milk). That is valid. ⠀

Some also claim to tell you which exercise is ”best suited” to you. Our bodies are made up of hundreds of thousands of genes, yet these tests don’t go through every single one. Just imagine checking some, and then creating advice based on them. What about the other couple of thousand then? What about their impact. This gene says you will be best suited to running, but there could be one out there that says your legs muscles actually are better suited to cycling, they just haven’t discovered that one yet ?‍♀️ and most importantly what if you hate running, or cycling and love weightlifting. You should do weightlifting.

Rather than spend a couple of hundred pounds on this, speak to a qualified professional who can tailor your advice to your lifestyle & what you like!

#10 Eggs⠀

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Hit the headlines yesterday (16 March 2019) with claims eating them increased the risk of heart disease and early death. This causes problems for a number of reasons.

Claiming that consuming one particular food causes early death or any specific health problem is misleading. And actually in almost all cases impossible.

This kind of language further demonises foods which isn’t helpful. We should be focusing on foods we want to include rather than being restrictive.

Eggs contain cholesterol which has been shown not to impact blood cholesterol in the majority of people. High blood cholesterol is linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

So what’s important when trying to reduce your blood cholesterol is replacing some of your saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats to increase the ratio of poly to saturated. It’s not just about removing saturated fat but substituting…⠀
?Sat fat think red meat, coconut oil, butter, fried foods⠀
?Polyunsaturated fat think oily fish (salmon, trout, mackerel), rapeseed oil, walnuts and chia seeds.⠀

All in all. Keep eating eggs. There is no recommended limit, eat as many as you like in the context of a balanced diet. Eat more ?foods and less ?foods.⠀

 #9 Protein powder will make you too bulky?⠀

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SUNDAY SHUTDOWN #9 Protein powder will make you too bulky?

This one is predominantly aimed at my lady followers because it’s something I get asked and want to set the record straight.⠀

Protein powder (whey or vegan) is an easy, convenient way to add protein into your diet. Most people can’t even manage a decent amount of protein at every meal and for people with specific diets (like vegan, veggie or certain intolerances) it can be more difficult to “think” up what to eat.⠀

For those of you who exercise, do classes, run, cycle etc regularly and are maybe training for an event your protein requirements will be higher than the general population. This also applies for the elderly population too (to prevent sarcopenia/muscle wastage).

When you train you are effectively breaking down your muscles and you need protein to build them back up and make them stronger. Protein must be part of your recovery.⠀

For someone moderately active or training for an endurance event research suggests 1.2 – 1.7g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. I’ll let you do the maths on that yourself ?. If you aren’t that active I’d be aiming for at least 1g per kilogram body weight and above. ⠀

How to use it?⠀
Add to shakes⠀
Mix with yoghurt and add some fruit⠀
Add into overnight oats⠀

You can get all the protein you need from food, but quite frankly most of us don’t have time to prepare it, pay for it or be organised enough. Convenience is ok sometimes.⠀

And please, do not worry. You will not look like the hulk from having it occasionally, even daily. In order to get jacked you need to consume more than the above mentioned figures, lift extremely heavy weights quite often and possibly dabble in steroids.

#8 Turmeric

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This recent craze has seen turmeric appear in everything from hot drinks and juice shots to salads to flavoured pastries.

Turmeric has been used in Asian culture, medicine and cuisine for centuries and has somehow made its way into in our lifestyle as a “healer” with its main claim to fame being as an anti-inflammatory. This is because it contains an active compound called curcumin. Research into curcumin (which makes it yellow) is ongoing at the moment but there is no concrete science behind its benefits in humans.

The majority studies that have been completed on the benefits of curcumin have been done in a lab. Not in humans. There is however more research being completed on its role in IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and head and neck cancer. Any studies that have been done in humans used curcumin in conjunction with actual medicine, not as a replacement.

A few things to note here. Whilst it’s been used in other cultures that does not mean it will have the same effect on our population, we live in a modern world versus a world with less stress, less processed food, more fruit and veg and more social time around meals. It’s not the turmeric that make these populations healthy, it’s their lifestyle as a whole.

The amount of turmeric you would need to consume to obtain the suggested health benefits of the curcumin is a truckload ???. For perspective any positive change seen in the studies above were seen with 3 grams of curcumin, we might add one teaspoon of turmeric to a drink, which is about 5 grams and that only contains around 100milligrans of curcumin. ?‍♀️

If you like the flavour there is 100% a good reason to include it IN YOUR FOOD. For flavour. Because you like it.
It will not prevent you from gaining weight, having a stroke, stop cancer growth, or detoxify your body and boost your metabolism.
Verdict – Turmeric, always for a curry, never for a latte. Enjoy it in your diet but don’t add it to everything in sight.

#7 Kale

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To begin with I’m going to get my biases towards kale out in the open. I just don’t like it. Therefore I pretty much never eat it. Cooked, raw, blended, whole or as a “crisp” it’s not for me. There that’s done.

But this week it was brought to my attention that people are suggesting eating raw kale is “bad” for you and you should steam or boil it before eating it ?‍♀️⠀

So firstly, how much kale do you actually consume in a day? I’m tipping a handful or two. And not everyday. Of course, please correct me if I’m wrong.

The time, stress and washing up it will take for you to steam it before you eat it or add it to your smoothie is likely to cause you more frustration that just eating it as is.

So where has this come from? Kale hails from the brassica family, like cabbage, and contains fibre, the stuff that bulks out your ?. We can’t digest fibre in the usual way but the bacteria in our gut ferment it and that’s how we get energy from it. It also releases ?

The outlandish claims around bloating relate to the fact you’d need to consume an extreme amount of kale (like kilograms of the stuff) on a daily basis which we simply don’t do.

Oh, and another thing, it won’t suppress your thyroid and mineral absorption won’t be enhanced if you cook it. If anything, having kale or spinach with something rich in vitamin C like lemon, lime or peppers will do you better. That’s been shown to enhance iron absorption.

The chances are there are far more dietary improvements you can make than cooking your kale before eating it. Simply eating more veg in the first place is a good place to start.

So, unless you have a specific gut issue then kale is fine just how it is, cook it if you prefer it that way, blend it if you want. Just don’t get hung up on the minute details.

#6 Slimming World

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SUNDAY SHUTDOWN #6 Slimming World

Yep that’s right. Any business that teaches you to allocate foods as good or bad, syn or free, green or red, A or B is basically giving you a false idea of what food really is. Why not spend your time and money learning which foods are actually beneficial for your health than assigning them a category? Just an idea…⠀

I know countless people who have attended SW, got results, put the weight back on, gone back to SW and so on and so on. It’s a cycle many have been going round for years. This happens because they aren’t educated on how to manage their diet in a sustainable way that suits their lifestyle with habits they can keep. ⠀

Foods are only kept in check when “at SW” and then once you hit goal it’s all or nothing. You see, there isn’t a finish line with health. There isn’t an end goal. If you need to change it needs to be forever and it’s going to take a while to learn the best way of doing things.

Context also matters massively, which is also why classifying foods in this way is really pointless. How is one food #bad for the entire population no matter your age, gender, activity level or goal?

Also unlimited chips, what does that do to your mindset and your hunger? “Oh I can’t have my favourite most delicious chocolate today but it’s fine because I can eat 25,000 chips because they are free?” How is that creating a #healthy relationship with food?

In positive news SW have created a community so credit where it’s due because the support and motivation you get from others is crucial.

My advice. Save your money, invest it in something that will help you learn and change your mindset to something more long term. Ask yourself why you keep going back and are you really feeling that good about yourself? Maybe move out of your comfort zone if it’s not working. Again, just an idea…

#5 Aloe Vera (AV)⠀

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You know the plant and stuff you put on your skin when you get sunburnt.⠀

Over recent years food innovation has seen this hit the shelves as a bottled drink. Claims include:⠀
▪️ Helps reduce acne⠀
▪️ Reduces risk of developing stomach ulcers⠀
▪️ Aids digestion⠀
▪️ Antibacterial properties⠀
▪️ Is “extra” hydrating ⠀

Aloe Vera should only be used to treat sunburn. For other dermatology and skincare advice head over to @anjalimahto although I’m almost certain she doesn’t advocate drinking AV to assist in your skincare regime.⠀

Things that may aid your digestion include chewing your food, eating slowly, stopping when full and consuming lots of fibre. ⠀

Extra hydrating is not a thing. If you need to drink more the colour of your pee will alert you to that. By drinking AV it doesn’t mean you will be extra hydrated.

There is no science confirming it reduces your risk of stomach ulcers. ⠀

Basically it’s a sellout. It won’t improve your “health” anymore than having a normal cuppa or a glass of water. If you are trying to lose fat it’s also just extra calories. ⠀

Would you drink sunscreen if they made that into a drink? Done.

#4 CARBS Are they good? Are they bad?

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SUNDAY SHUTDOWN #4 CARBS Are they good. Are they bad?

Firstly it’s imperative to point out that no one food, or food group is good or bad. Challenge yourself with this thought every time you think something is either one. ⠀

We need carbohydrates to function normally. Sugar is the simplest form of carb. Starch (which we find in potatoes and grains) is a more complex type of carb and our body breaks that down into sugar which we then use as energy. Fibre is a type of carb, but we can’t break it down fully which is why it works its way through our body and leaves as poop!

It is near on impossible to cut out carbs in total. And anyone who says that they have is lying. ⠀

?enjoy more starchy carbs, potatoes, whole grain breads, pasta, rice, couscous⠀
?eat fruit and veg. More often than you currently do.
?leave the skin on folks.
?absolutely still enjoy cakes, cookies, ice cream, chocolate and anything else with sugar added to it. Just be sensible about how often and how much. If you are eating these foods more often than the ones above it may be time to re-asses the balance.

People have the misconception that when they cut out carbs, they will lose fat easier and faster. When there is no scientific research at all to suggest this. Losing fat all comes down to being in a calorie deficit. The chances are by reducing your carb intake you are in fact also just eating less food which = a calorie deficit.

Think about what happens when you are told you can’t have something? You want it. That’s what happens when you try to cut foods out of your diet because you think they are “bad”. And we all don’t need any extra pressure in our already pressurised lifestyles!

Carbs are our friend, we need them to be healthy. So rather than cut them out or fear they are bad, enjoy them like every other food.⠀