Spring forward with greens, turnips and leeks

TurnipsWithout wishing to follow the example of a minister in government, suggesting that we eat turnips instead of tomatoes (because of food shortages),  this is a blog by Susan Aldridge which is very seasonal.

We’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

HRT over the counter?

Dee Murray, CEO and founder of Menopause Experts Group, said: “Getting access to HRT without a prescription will be a positive for self-educated women who have found themselves let down by haphazard menopause knowledge among some GPs.

‘Women need professionals to answer serious questions for them about HRT, like will they be on it for life? What age should they start it at? What are the increased risks?

‘It takes time to get the dosage of HRT correct, and every woman is different, plus it can take three months for the medication to take full effect,’ Dee Murray added.

There’s no doubt that some women really suffer with the menopause and find life impossible while they are experiencing hot flushes, anxiety, aches and pains and night sweats.  They become desperate to do something about it, so they go to the doctor. Many GPs will recommend that they go on HRT. How wonderful, all the symptoms go and they feel like a human being again.

But what you may not realise  is that when you come off HRT in your 50s, 60s, or even 70s, you  get all the symptoms of menopause back again. So now you’ve got much older and you are supposed to cope with the hot flushes, anxiety and night sweats. That could be an even worse time to go through it.

Many older women who have been on HRT for 20 years (more than even the manufacturers now recommend) struggle to come off it. People who do come off HRT after any amount of time often find that their symptoms are much much worse and they become depressed as well.

It is possible to deal with menopause in a natural way – through nutrition (for example eating lots of soya), through appropriate supplements (especially made supplements for menopause) or with herbs such as Red Clover or Sage – they get it over with without too much pain and they never have to go through it again.

Interfering with nature can prove problematic There is a very good reason for the menopause because your body is past its childbearing age.  Admittedly there are some women who find that it menopausal symptoms are ruining their lives and HRT is the only answer.

Read: Coping with Menopause without HRT

What is yoga?

Guest blog by Richard Kravetz:  A wonderful Indian Swami I had the privilege to meet on my first trip to India talked about happiness and sadness as impermanent states and that we yearn for the former to remain and the latter to end. I believe that when these dips occur a spiritual connection can help to redress the balance and bridge the gap.

Yoga is a way of life and helps to achieve calmness of mind and equanimity. A yoga class can be a place of refuge from the chaos of everyday life, where you can spend quality time in a safe place. It can raise spirits and induce a feeling of well-being.

People are generally hard on themselves and suffer pain, stress, fear, and ailments that are undesirable but both yoga and meditation are powerful antidotes. You owe it to yourself to delve deeper and receive the goodness we deserve and need.

In Sanskrit, the term ‘yoga’ stands for ‘union’. A yogi’s ultimate goal is to be able to attain this ‘union’ with the eternal self with the help of the physical and mental exercises.

In the west yoga is primarily considered to be physical, but there is an increasing trend towards viewing yoga as a preparation for meditation (stillness of mind). Meditation is a wonderful practice where words have no relevance, and being present without distraction is the aim.

Regular meditators talk about experiencing a higher state of consciousness and a movement towards a blissful state or Samadhi – see below. In yoga there is a word “Sankalpa” which means an intention to change something in your life. If you concentrate on this during meditation it helps to sow the seed inside you and strengthen your resolve.

Yoga philosophy is a valid discipline of Indian metaphysics (Brahma Vidya). It is the result of human wisdom and insight into physiology, psychology, ethics and spirituality combined and practised over thousands of years for the wellbeing of human beings.

The knowledge of yoga and its practices was systemised by Mahirishi Patanjali who encapsulated them in his Yoga sutras known as the 8 limbs of Yoga.

  • Yama – eternal Vows, how we can be at peace with ourselves.
  • Niyama – observances, how we interact with the world.
  • Asanas – postures to keep the body strong, flexible and without tension.
  • Pranayama – breathing exercises, and movement of prana.
  • Pratyahara – movement of the senses towards silence.
  • Dharana – concentration and cultivating inner awareness.
  • Dhyana – sustaining awareness for meditation.
  • Samadhi – transformation, blissful state.

The essence of Samadhi is by cleansing the mind and controlling thought processes allows one to return to that primeval state, when the individual self was nothing but a part of the Divine Self. The aim is for the yogi is to be able to perceive the world in its true light and to accept that truth in its entirety.

Richard Kravetz is a British Wheel of Yoga teacher, who runs yoga classes in London for adults, workshops, weekend retreats and special needs classes for children and adults. Contact him at www.yogaforall-uk.com,  or visit: www.yogaforall-uk.com

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.

Government pressured over Vitamin D for COVID

Sun skyThe government is being pressured about Vitamin D deficiency in  people with Covid, and many experts believe it should be recognised in the treatment of the virus. LBC reports that  Professor Angus Dalgleish, Professor of Oncology at St George’s, University of London, has seen data this weekend (9/10 January 2021) that Finland has one of the lowest infection rates. It is also the only country that provides Vitamin D.  Professor Dalgleish said, “Why haven’t they (the Government) addressed this one thing that if you do get infected then it is the most effective way of making you least likely to go to hospital and dying?”

An article in the Observer magazine indicated that David Davis, MP has been pushing Matt Hancock to recognise Vitamin D’s role in Covid and how many of those who have died had low levels.  He wants there to be a free supplement scheme to provide Vitamin D to British people, because deficiency can lead to catching Covid-19 more easily, and getting a serious case  and potentially dying.

Vulnerable people, particularly the elderly, are now being offered Vitamin D supplements.  Known as the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D is made in the body when the skin is exposed to the sun.  those who live in care homes often stay inside all the time and are deficient in Vitamin D. The rest of us think we top up in the summer, but only if we expose our skin to the sun and by the autumn the levels are diminishing.  This year many people have been shielding inside from COVID-19 and have not had much exposure to the outdoors.

There have been reports and research that those low in Vitamin D are more at risk when they catch COVID, and as dark skin absorbs less of the vitamin than lighter skins, this is a particular problem for the BAME community.

Nutritionists advise that taking Vitamin D, Vitamin C and zinc can help the immune system to cope with viruses better.  In theory, you can ask your doctor about having a Vitamin D test, but at the moment this is unlikely to be done if you don’t have a related health issue.It should be said that the levels being handed out by the Government are quite low – 10 micrograms (400IU), which is the minimum amount required. You can safely buy 1,000 iU in spray or tablet/capsule form.  (See recommended properties at the end of this post).

Why we need Vitamin D

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.

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 with the sun, 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 www.superfooduk.com and put in the Healthy Soul promotion code: HSoul1 to get a 5% discount.


See Vitamin D deficiency due to lack of sun