Spring forward with greens, turnips and leeks

TurnipsWe’re in Lent. Dry January and Veganuary are behind us – so what to give up now? I grew up with Lent (though I haven’t observed it for many years) and the last thing I remember giving up was sugar in tea – not a bad idea if you want to manage your weight and avoid type 2 diabetes. But let’s think in terms of adding something to our diets, instead of giving up, says Healthy Soul guest blogger, Dr Susan Aldridge, freelance writer and editor based in London, with an interest in medicine, health, science and food/nutrition.

What’s in season, what’s often neglected? I decided to go for spring greens, turnips and leeks ¬– all highly nutritious but maybe overlooked as healthy choices.

 

Spring green juice

Serves one
One head of spring greens, roughly chopped
Two handfuls kale, roughly chopped,
One lemon
One grapefruit, peeled
One cucumber, chopped
Three celery stalks, chopped
One inch turmeric root, chopped
One inch ginger root, chopped

Juice all ingredients except the lemon. I think it’s best to squeeze the juice into the prepared juice before serving.

 

Turnip and butter bean mash

There are many healthier alternatives to traditional potato mash, and turnips and butter beans make a surprisingly delicious combination. Turnips are less starchy than potatoes, if you’re looking for lower carb choices. They have a moderate glycaemic index (GI) at 62 (potatoes have a GI in the high 80, while butter beans have a low GI of 31.

Serves two to three
Around eight small turnips, peeled and chopped
400g tin butter beans, drained
Small piece of butter (or you could use crème fraiche or cream to make the mixture smooth and creamy)
One tbsp. mustard (I used horseradish mustard)
Freshly ground black pepper.
Boil the turnips till tender, then mash with the butter beans, butter and mustard till smooth. Season with black pepper. This reheats well in the microwave.

 

Super stir fry

Serves two
One head of spring greens, chopped
One bunch leeks, chopped
Sliced mushrooms
Two sliced red peppers
One small pineapple, peeled and sliced
One inch ginger, peeled and chopped
Three large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
One tbsp. peanut butter
One tbsp. soy sauce
One tbsp. juice from the pineapple
Lemon grass paste
Fry the ginger and garlic in coconut oil till soft, then add all the vegetables and stir fry for a few minutes before adding the peanut butter, soy sauce, lemon grass paste and pineapple juice to make a sauce. Add more liquid if needed. Stir fry till all cooked and heated through. Serve with high-protein noodles.
Next month: Some healthy Easter treats

Vitamin C fights all viruses

orangesIn China there is a trial going on with intravenous Vitamin C 24g or 24,000mg daily for 120 hospitalised coronavirus patients. We all know about Vitamin C and many take it when they are getting a cold. What is less known is that the NHS advises people to take 40mg a day, which is quite low. Supplements range in their strength but it’s quite common for people to take 500mg or 1,000 mg a day. There is not a problem with overdosing, because excess is excreted, but if someone is taking too much for their own body(as we all vary) they could have diarrhoea.

Thomas E. Levy, MD, JD, a US cardiologist, claims that Vitamin C can kill any virus if taken in the right quantities, including measles, mumps, rubella and  serious illnesses such as malaria, tetanus, dysentery, Ebola and many life-threatening viruses. To treat some of these with Vitamin C, it would need to be administered intravenously at high levels. This is hard to come by in Britain as it’s unlikely to be undertaken in the NHS and would have to be paid for.

Levy also states that Vitamin C has the power to reach embedded toxins and infections at cell level and destroy them.  Other toxins that it can kill are:

  • Snake and spider bites, etc.
  • Alcohol
  • Barbiturates
  • Toxic mushrooms
  • Heavy metals

For most of us the main concern, if we are lucky, is to minimise colds and flu and taking Vitamin C daily is a good start. If a cold starts to niggle it’s worth upping the dose because it can stop it before it takes a hold.

The market for Vitamin C is quite complex to the average consumer.  There is Vitamin C which is ascorbic acid, made synthetically and this is a good way to take it. Dr Levy advises that while ascorbic acid itself can upset stomachs in some people, sodium ascorbate does not have this effect.  He guards against taking potassium ascorbate or calcium ascorbate as too much of these minerals can be harmful to some people. Liposomal Vitamin C is also an effective way of taking it –  a gel that  you put in a small glass of water.  Try Altrient Liposomal Vitamin C, 1000 mg.

And then there’s natural Vitamin C from fruit and plants, such as Cherry Active from Montmorency cherries and Nature C from A. Vogel.  If under threat in winter from viruses, it’s best to choose the Vitamin C that can give you the highest reasonable dose (say, 1,000 mg although some people take more).  See: Colds, Coughs and Flu.

Get 5% discount from www.superfooduk.com with the code: HSoul1. 

Back to the ubiquitous Coronavirus (or COVID-19)  the China Daily reported recently that more than 85 per cent of novel Coronavirus pneumonia patients nationwide have received Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as a means of treatment, according to the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine. They have also reported that around 87 per cent of patients taking TCM medication have recovered or been discharged from hospitals.

It’s very difficult to know who to believe in this day and age of fake news as reports of Vitamin C being effective have been hotly disputed. All people can do is make up their own minds.

Celebrate February with celery

celeryFebruary marks the end of the British celery season (although imported celery is, of course, available year round), so grab some while you can, writes Dr Susan Aldridge, freelance writer and editor based in London, with an interest in medicine, health, science and food/nutrition.

Celery is 95% water – and the rest of it is rich in vitamin C, minerals, soluble fibre and anti-inflammatory antioxidant phytochemicals. It’s valued in traditional Chinese medicine for treating high blood pressure. Of course, celery is an ideal healthy snack – portable, crunchy and with a handy groove that you can fill with peanut butter, cream cheese or a dip. Here are a few more ideas for adding more of this low-calorie (10 calories a stick) nutrient-dense vegetable to your 5-a-day (or more!) fruit and veg a day intake.

Classic celery juice

Celery has an alkalising effect so, so look no further for a lovely green juice recipe if you’re interested in this potential health benefit. By the way, I’ve started to add turmeric root alongside ginger root to all my vegetable juices.
Serves one
One cucumber, roughly chopped
Several sticks of celery, chopped
Big bunch spinach
One inch of turmeric root, peeled and chopped
One inch of ginger root, peeled and chopped
Juice all ingredients and drink immediately.

Celery and lentil soup

This main meal soup is a great winter warmer. I got the idea from a talk by Professor Mike Lean of the University of Glasgow about a ‘traditional Scottish’ low-calorie diet consisting of porridge and lentil soup (which he hopes will put type 2 diabetes into remission). You can keep it simple with just celery and lentils, or add any other vegetables you happen to have hanging around (I found a parsnip at the back of the fridge).

Serves four
250g red lentils
One head celery, chopped
One tbsp. dried mixed herbs
One tsp. chilli flakes
One litre of vegetable stock (you can use more, or less, depending on how thick you would like your soup to be)
Tomato puree

Cook the celery with the herbs till soft, then add the lentils and stock. Cook until the lentils are soft, then liquidise and add tomato puree to taste.

Crunchy salad

The point of this salad is to combine celery with some other crunchy ingredients. I was going to add peanuts for even more crunch, but decided to use them in the dressing to give an Oriental kick.

Serves four
Celery sticks, finely chopped
One red pepper, finely chopped
Two carrots, grated
Small white cabbage, grated
One cup of pomegranate seeds
One pineapple, sliced and diced
Dressing
One tbsp. peanut butter
Flaxseed oil
Soy sauce

Whizz the peanut butter, oil and soy sauce in a food processer to make the dressing. Mix the other ingredients and toss with the dressing.

Next month: Spring forward with greens, turnips and leeks

December: Some healthy comfort food for the festive season

Cranberries ChristmasHad enough of Christmas food ads already? Let’s plan ahead and make sure to include some healthy home-cooked dishes amid the festive frenzy. I recently had some very delicious mulligatawny soup at a posh Indian restaurant and decided to recreate it (particularly as I’ve just been at a conference where the health benefits of lentil soup were being promoted), writes Dr Susan Aldridge, freelance writer and editor based in London, with an interest in medicine, health, science and food/nutrition. At the same restaurant, I had some amazing spiced roast potatoes, so decided to recreate those too, with a healthy twist. And, as always, let’s kick off with a seasonal juice recipe.

Winter boost juice

If you’re partying a lot – be it the office do or a family dinner (or, of course, both), it’s a good idea to juice a lot as well. Fresh cranberries are in the shops now, grapefruit is in season and it’s always good to top up with pure pomegranate juice.

Serves two
Three red grapefruit, peeled and segmented
One carton fresh cranberries
Two inch ginger root, peeled and chopped roughly
Pure pomegranate juice
Juice the grapefruit, cranberries and ginger, pour into two glasses and top up with pomegranate juice.

Swede and Leek Mulligatawny soup

Serves two to three
Parsnips, swedes and turnips are in season and are a great source of fibre, vitamin C and antioxidant phytochemicals, while leeks are prebiotic, which support the health of the gut microbiome.
Half a swede chopped (or substitute turnips, parsnips)
One large leek, chopped
One large onion, finely chopped
100g or so of lentils (reduce or omit for a thinner soup)
Two inch piece of root ginger, grated
Four cloves of garlic, chopped
One tbps. curry powder
500ml (or more to top up) vegetable stock

Tomato puree

Cook the swede, onion, garlic, ginger and leek in coconut oil until soft and add the curry powder and lentils. Cook for a further five minutes, then add the stock. Simmer until everything is soft then add tomato puree to taste, liquidise (add more stock if too thick).

Turmeric and rosemary roasties
Serves two

Serve with a roast/Christmas dinner or in wedges with dips for a buffet.
500g roasting potatoes, whole, halved or cut in wedges
One tbsp. turmeric powder
One tbsp. chopped rosemary
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C. Boil the potatoes till tender, drain and shake them around a bit in the pan. Heat one tbsp. coconut oil in a saucepan. Toss the potatoes with the turmeric and rosemary in the oil till coated. Cook in a foil lined tray in the oven for 30 minutes or until they’re crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.
Next time: It’s a citrus New Year…

Nutritious Christmas food

turkey dinnerTurkey is a great source of lean protein. It is also low in fat and low in calories – just what you need this festive season! It is also high in selenium, which supports metabolism, zinc that help to boost our immunity and vitamin B6 essential for energy production.

Turkey is also packed with tryptophan, according to Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading nutritionist (www.marilynglenville.com).

‘Carb cravings are a sign of low levels of the amino acid – tryptophan, which is necessary for the serotonin production, a ‘happy’ brain chemical. It plays a crucial role in sleep and waking cycles as well as digestion. A lack of it can lead to low mood and anxiety. Instead of reaching for stodgy carbs go for turkey – it’s packed with tryptophan!’ says Dr Glenville.

Brussel sprouts

Brussels sproutsNot the most popular of vegetables they are in fact really good for you.

Brussels sprouts are cruciferous vegetables that are packed with vitamin K, vitamin C, folic acid, calcium and magnesium. They can also help to avoid the mid-afternoon slump on Christmas Day, as they are packed with B Vitamins, essential for energy.

 

CinnamonCinnamon

‘Cinnamon is one of nature’s most revitalising herbs. Filled with potent antioxidants – more than almost all other spices and herbs – it may help to reduce signs of ageing, boost metabolism as well as aid digestion, gently warming your stomach, supporting the breakdown of your food more efficiently.’ explains Dr Marilyn Glenville.

Cinnamon also has the ability to regulate blood sugar levels, so adding it to your café latte, smoothie, or dessert is always a good idea.

Nuts

‘Nuts are packed with goodness, high in essential nutrients especially the minerals and vitamins. They are also protein-rich so are broken down more slowly and therefore stay in the stomach longer, making us feel fuller and snack less,’ Dr Glenville tells us.

‘They also help to balance your blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity, which is an essential part of healthy weight loss and management. Nuts are high in calories, so don’t gorge on them, but allow yourself a healthy decent handful a day.

‘Make sure they’re raw and unsalted to get the maximum benefit from the delicate oils they contain.’ says Dr Glenville.

 

Mulled red wine

‘Red wine is a good source of resveratrol. This powerful antioxidant, which can be found in the skin of red grapes, berries, cocoa and red wine, is produced in plants to defend them from invading microorganisms.

It can not only protect you from damaging free radicals but it also boosts cell replication. By promoting a healthy, inflammatory response in our body it delays premature aging process and turn excess flab into calorie-burning ‘brown fat’. If you are not a big fun of red wine but want to stay healthy, keep radiant skin and look fabulous this festive season go for a supplement with resveratrol.

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