Pack in more proteins

PulsesI’ve been reading an interesting article in New Scientist, based on Eat Like the Animals: What Nature Teaches Us about Healthy Eating by David Raubenheimer and Steven J. Simpson. The authors talk about their research into animals and humans which, put simply, suggests we should stop worrying about counting fat and carb calories and focus more upon the protein content of our diet, writes Dr Susan Aldridge, HS guest blogger and  freelance writer and editor based in London, with an interest in medicine, health, science and food/nutrition. 

We have evolved to have not one, but five basic appetites to fulfil our health needs. These drive our intake of carbohydrate, fat, protein, calcium and sodium. In an obesogenic environment (where protein is ‘diluted’ by fat and carbs), people may tend to over-consume fat, carbs and highly-processed foods (which ‘taste like’ protein) in order to get enough protein, say Raubenheimer and Simpson.


How much protein do you need every day? Find out your basic calorie need (depending on gender and age) and the percentage of this (15-20 per cent, again depending on age) and divide this by 4 to get the number of grams of protein you should try to consume per day. There are plenty of online tools to help you do this.
My daily protein requirement came out to 68g, so I’ve put together three recipes to help achieve – even exceed – this. I didn’t eat them all on one day! They’re just some ideas to help pack in more protein, other than the obvious ones of adding more eggs, fish and pulses.

Protein smoothie

I hadn’t tried protein powders before. They come in a variety of flavours that blend well with berries and peanut butter (more protein!) to make a filling smoothie that could be a meal in itself.

Serves one
150g carton raspberries
One sachet organic whey protein powder – I tried creamy cacao flavour
One tsp. chia seeds
Half tsp. matcha powder
One tsp. cacao powder
One tsp. linseed meal
One tsp. turmeric latte powder
One dsp. peanut butter
250ml almond milk

Blend and thin to desired consistency with more almond milk.
Protein content 33g per serving.


Hummus with walnuts and quark

This makes a chunky dip which is a cross between traditional hummus and a Middle Eastern dip called muhammara which contains pomegranates and walnuts. The kefir quark gives a nice tang and protein boost.

Serves six

One can chick peas, drained
100g kefir quark
25g walnuts
One tbsp. flax seed oil/extra virgin olive oil
One tbsp. pomegranate molasses
One tbsp. tahini paste
Two tbsp. flax seed oil
One pack (100g) pomegranate seeds
Three cloves garlic

Blend all ingredients in a food processor. Contains 10g protein per serving (about twice as much as regular hummus).

Salad with black lentils

Lentils and beans are high protein – combine the two in this special salad and add colour and flavour with the other ingredients.

Serves four
150g black turtle beans, cooked, drained and cooled
150g whole olive green lentils, cooked, drained and cooled
80g pomegranate seeds
150g pack of barrel aged feta, cubed
Olives (your favourite deli blend)
Two avocados, peeled and sliced
Green leaves (I used watercress and baby kale)
100g walnut pieces
Dressing: blend flax seed oil, balsamic vinegar and pomegranate molasses
Combine all ingredients and toss with the dressing. If keeping for a second day, add the second avocado then to prevent browning.
Protein content 30g per serving.

Soft fruit in season

nectarinesThe stone fruits – plums, nectarines, peaches and apricots – are in season now, so make the most of them while you can. Members of the Prunus genus (part of the Rose family), these delicious fruits are rich in vitamins, fibre and antioxidants, according to HS guest blogger, Dr Susan Aldridge,  freelance writer and editor based in London, with an interest in medicine, health, science and food/nutrition. Beta-carotene gives apricots and peaches their yellow colour, while anthocyanins make plum and nectarine skins red. The stone fruits, although sweet, are classed as low to medium glycaemic index and so will help control blood sugar.

Of course, taste and texture of stone fruits can vary – we’ve all had a ‘woolly’ apricot or a tasteless peachy. To avoid disappointment, don’t buy pre-packaged fruits that may have been picked early and stored for a long time so the ripening process is arrested. Try an independent greengrocer and buy individual fruits instead. And it’s a good idea to check the origin of the fruits and go for a grower as local as possible (even if that’s not in the UK) for better texture, aroma and flavour.
For a very healthy snack, team stone fruits with nuts – apricots and brazils, peaches and walnuts and so on…and maybe add in some cheese to make a light and easy picnic meal (apricots and Manchego is a pa recommend apricots and Manchego). And I’ve put together three recipes to make the most of these seasonal soft fruits.

Peach melba smoothie

Till now, I would never put a peach in a smoothie. Why? On a trip to the Soviet Union in the 1980s, I was offered ‘peach nectar’ and have never forgotten the grey-beige colour and gloopy texture. I’m glad I decided to drop this prejudice, because the following smoothie, which brings together the peaches and raspberries of a classic Peach Melba dessert, is a lovely pink-orange colour and tastes delicious.

Serves one
250g carton of raspberries
Two peaches, stoned and sliced
One tsp matcha powder
One tsp chia seeds
One tsp cacao powder
One tsp linseed meal
One tsp turmeric latte powder
Nut milk (I used cashew nut milk) to top up
Blend all ingredients. I left this overnight in the fridge and it was fine the next morning but I suggest not leaving it longer than that as peaches do brown.

Nectarine Greek salad

I know some people think fruit in salad (apart from fruit salad, of course) is a bit weird but, trust me, this works.

Serves four (or two people twice – leave the salad without dressing, nectarines and avocado in the fridge overnight and add them in the next day)
Two nectarines (I used one yellow fleshed, one white fleshed), sliced
One pot of deli olives
Two peppers (yellow/orange, red/orange), chopped small
One red onion, chopped
250g feta cheese, cubed
100g plum or cherry tomatoes, halved
Half cucumber, sliced

Flaxseed oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and fresh basil and mint to dress.
Mix all ingredients and toss with dressing and herbs.

Summer fruit crumble

I’m always experimenting with crumble mixes – different flours, sugars and additives, such as nuts and oats – and I think this one works well with the seasonal stone fruit mixture.

Serves four
Two peaches, stoned and sliced
Six plums, stoned and sliced
Two nectarines, stoned and sliced
Ten apricots, stoned and sliced
One tsp. cinnamon
One tbsp. sugar
One tbsp. coconut blossom nectar
For the topping:
30g nuts, chopped
40g oats
100g spelt flour
75g butter
One tsp. cinnamon
One tbsp. sugar
One tbsp. coconut blossom nectar

Mix the chopped fruit with the sugar. Rub the butter into the crumble mixture to create a rough crumb. Then top the fruit with the crumble and bake at 180oC for 20 minutes or until browned.

Vitamin D levels too low in many Covid-19 patients

Sun skySadly the number of black men who have died in the UK from Covid-19 is the highest of all.  The link between Vitamin D and BAME people has been made, as darker skins absorb less Vitamin D than whiter skin. This is well suited to hot countries, but not for the British climate where it is possible not to spend time in the sun for six months a year. Vitamin D is made in the body when bare skin is exposed to sunlight.

Research into the link between Vitamin D levels and death from Covid-19 has been carried out by Indonesian scientists, and also jointly by researchers at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, and the University of Liverpool, UK,  but  findings have not yet been finalised or verified.  The  Indonesian research studies suggest that almost all (98.9 per cent) of the Covid-19 patients  who were deficient in Vitamin D died of the disease. The  Indonesian scientists analysed the hospital records of 780 people who tested positive for Covid-19.  Of those people who had enough Vitamin D in their systems only 4.1 per cent of cases led to death.

NICE (National Institute for Health & Care Excellence in the UK) said the following about these trials: ‘There is no evidence to support taking vitamin D supplements to specifically prevent or treat COVID-19. However, all people should continue to follow UK Government advice on daily Vitamin D supplementation to maintain bone and muscle health during the COVID-19 pandemic’.

In climates like that of the UK, it has been shown that many of us are deficient in Vitamin D by the end of the winter. Vitamin D is produced in the body when it is exposed to sunlight. To get enough sun you need to have your skin exposed and be in it frequently. Therefore, it’s not a question of how sunny it is, but whether you are exposed to it.  If you spend your days inside or if your skin is usually covered up when you are outside you won’t benefit.

In theory, you can ask your doctor about having a Vitamin D test. This vital vitamin is responsible for maintaining healthy bones and teeth, effective muscle function, and keeping the heart and nervous system healthy, and enabling the blood to clot properly.  Vitamin D has also been linked to preventing colds and maintaining a healthy digestive system.  If you cannot get a Vitamin D test from the doctor you could pay for one.  Yorktest do an Essential Health Test which includes Vitamin D levels.

Our Vitamin D levels are very low at the end of winter but they are particularly low among Asians living in Britain all the time. In fact there is talk that rickets has returned among some Asian children.

Of course this takes common sense – being out in the sun for hours on end so that your skin is going pink and getting sore is crazy. But having a healthy amount of sunshine as often as possible is good for you.

You can take Vitamin D supplements, and this is certainly a good idea in winter, and you can get it from food – oily fish, fortified cereal, dairy products and fortified margarine. But it is natural to have sunlight on our bodies. It’s good to be cautious but not extreme!

You can either take a daily spray of Vitamin D: Better You DLux 1000iu D3 spray (15ml),

or tablets/capsules:

Better You DLux 1000 oral vitamin D3 spray 15ml.

FSC Vitamin D 2500Iu 60 Tablets.

Health Aid Vitamin D3 10,000iu, 30 vegicaps.

Higher Nature Vitamin D 500iu, 60 capsules.

To purchase these, go to and put in the Healthy Soul promotion code: HSoul1 to get a 5% discount.


See Vitamin D deficiency due to lack of sun

Holistic approach to osteoarthritis

The reason IOA Knee Pain logo wrote the book One Step Ahead of Osteoarthritis was because I had OA myself and had taken an overall approach to managing it, which has worked well for me.  While supplements are incredibly valid, it’s about more than taking turmeric or glucosamine and encompasses a range of measures that we can all do.

These include:

  • Exercise in general and exercises specifically to help the knees, the hips, the hands.
  • Making dietary changes.
  • Managing weight and at least getting down to your BMI (body mass index).

Those are the three pillars of managing osteoarthritis, but there is so much more you can do too.

A website devoted to osteoarthritis in the knee ran a blog written by me: entitled How I stay active with osteoarthritis.

The merry month of May

Spring flowersSpring is here – and so are we! Still in lockdown, so let’s see this as an opportunity to think about healthy eating and try some new things. While I’m not going to make any claims about boosting immunity, this month’s recipes do have that in mind.

Blueberry smoothie

This smoothie contains three immune-boosting ingredients – blueberries, cacao powder and turmeric. Warning – this looks like a muddy sludge, but it is delicious.

Serves one
200-400g blueberries
One tsp cacao powder
One tsp turmeric latte powder
One tsp chia seeds
One tsp linseed meal
Half tsp matcha powder
Whizz all the above with coconut/almond milk in a Nutribullet and drink immediately.

Lockdown pasta

I’ll admit, I’d been planning to share a more original recipe but I looked in the store cupboard and saw – a lot of tins and pulses. So, here’s a simple pasta dish packed with vegetables and protein. The sauce will serve two for two days – on the second day I stirred in a bag of spinach and added a tin of baked beans while re-heating. The vegetables can be varied, of course, but try to find four different ones.

Serves two over two days
Two large carrots, chopped
Two peppers (red/green/yellow/orange) chopped
Four sticks of celery, chopped
Three cloves of garlic, crushed
Two onions, chopped
100-200g dried red lentils
400g tin kidney beans/chick peas
One tbsp. dried mixed herbs
Two tsp. chilli flakes
600g tomato pasta sauce

Cook the vegetables in olive or coconut oil until soft, then stir in the lentils and add the tomato sauce, herbs and chilli flakes. Cook until the lentils are soft (about 20 minutes) and add in the beans/peas. Heat everything together for about 10 more minutes, while cooking pasta. Serve with half the sauce and save the rest to reheat.

Bank holiday salad

There are two bank holidays this month, so let’s celebrate with a healthy seasonal salad. For salad dressings, I’m using triple the amount of immune-boosting garlic. It doesn’t matter – you’re not getting close enough to anyone except your ‘household’…
I am starting a collection of mint plants this year – in this recipe I used a mixture of apple and chocolate mint.

Serves two (with a serving for the next day)
Two bunches of asparagus, cooked and cooled, then chopped
Broad beans (you may need to seek these out a specialty greengrocer – otherwise fine to use frozen) shelled
Four to six carrots (if you’re at that specialty greengrocer, see if you can pick up some purple/yellow carrots to add extra colour),
One bag  lambs lettuce
Peas, shelled
Mint, chopped
Mixed radishes, sliced
For the dressing, bash three cloves of garlic with herby rock salt to make a paste, then whisk with mustard, cider vinegar and flax seed oil.
Mix all the ingredients and toss with the dressing.