Monday, 28 January 2013

Another recipe? I am ON FIRE!

Well, not even I could have predicted that I'd be sharing another recipe so soon after Saturday's noodles!

But I am! I had some parsnips that wanted using (is it just me, or is roasting parsnips to PERFECTION virtually impossible?) and yet again, the drive to come up with something that was 'cold lunch' friendly made me get creative with far more success than I'd usually expect.

I have heard of but never once before tried a savoury muffin. But I could totally see how they could be a great vehicle to squeeze in plenty of nutrition for a quick 'grab and go' lunch. And with the busier than usual days my business has been seeing lately, this is exactly what I need.

I used this carrot and coriander muffin recipe as a basic blueprint for my recipe. It is paleo, gluten-free and dairy-free. It would be great to experiment with egg substitutes to see how well this recipe 'veganises' too. If you experiment and find out before me, do let me know!

Other future experiments would/will include the addition of spinach and/or nutritional yeast.

I ate one warm from the oven, and another cold today at lunch, both tasted fab! Oh, and the parsnip flavour came through just enough for me to REALLY enjoy them, rather than the touch-and-go experience that comes with my family's history of parsnip preparation.

They are not a low calorie choice, but they will supply you with a good dose of healthy fats, fibre, protein and veggie goodness. To be honest, they could easily be fitted into a calorie controlled diet as they do such an amazing job at keeping you full. Your chances of reaching for mid afternoon calories deplete considerably when you eat a nutrient rich diet :-)

So, if you're here for the recipe, I suppose I had better hand it over!

Savoury Parsnip Muffins (6 muffins).

5 Small parsnips (2 large would probably be enough if that's what you have) - peel and grate them
3 Free range eggs
100g ground almonds
4 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 Tsp baking powder
1/2 Tsp dried basil
1/2 Tsp of any other dried herbs/flavours - I sprinkled in some Penzey's mural of flavour herbs that Emma brought me back from the US. Other complimentary flavours could include nutmeg, dill or thyme.
A small handful of walnuts/other nuts/seeds to scatter on top

First, heat your oven to 180 and grease/line 6 muffin 'holes' (is there a technical name for them?)

Gently beat the eggs, then stir in the grated parsnips. Then add in the rest of the ingredients (except the nuts/seeds) and combine until you have a slightly lumpy batter

Divide the mixture between the 6 muffin holes (the more I write it, the more wrong it seems!) and artistically scatter with nuts/seeds.

25 minutes in the oven should see them rise just enough and cooked through - check with a skewer/pointy knife. Leave them in the tray (is muffin tray hole more appropriate?) for a few minutes before letting them out to cool properly on a cooling rack, unless you want to eat them warm of course!

I'll catch up again in a day or two, my dears! Hope your are all keeping fit and healthy and warm!

Hannah xx


Saturday, 26 January 2013

Finally, a RECIPE! Coconut Almond Thai Noodle Sauce

Hello :-)

I've not posted a proper recipe on here for ages! Most of my latest kitchen creations just haven't been recipe share material - despite being tasty, they have typically been a cobbled together mess from my fridge and cupboard staples. But I finally got something together this morning while I was desperately scratching around to assemble ANYTHING faintly palatable for my lunch!

Working in my juice bar all day means that I have to prepare lunch in advance and refrigerate it til I scarf it down on the sly between my lunchtime customers. I have relied a lot on pitta breads, which I love, but they aren't the most creative option and are rather easy that it leads me neglect the stuff at the back of my cupboards. That changed this morning.

A can of coconut milk has been calling my name from said cupboards for a while. I've resisted opening it til now...once it's open, I have to use it - then there's the risk that whatever I try to make won't live up to my expectations and that would make me sad. But I finally sucked it up and got over myself as I have done in the past.

I open the can. I knew to expect a layer of coconut cream and skim this off to save for baking (YES YES YES). I started skimming...a bit deeper....deeper.....until the final inch of the can which broke through to a small amount of coconut water! Right.....I guess the freezing cold temperatures in my flat must have had some effect. No matter, I just dumped the entire contents in a dish and softened it a little with a fork until it looked vaguely usable.

I also have a few bundles of buckwheat soba noodles in my inventory. I love that I can get these super cheaply from my local Asian food shop, and as noodles go, they have minimal ingredients and a good amount of protein.

Also in my culinary inventory.....lime, ginger, dried herbs, almond butter, soy sauce, frozen veggies, garlic....mmmm, perhaps hold the garlic given James' latest complaints of me stinking permanently of garlic. Well, that's hummus I guess :-P

This recipe might be a bit more follow-able if I lay it out in a normal format! Here you go:

Coconut Almond Thai Almond Sauce (with noodles and veggies)
Vegan and GF (check your noodles are GF)

Serves 1*


1/4 400ml can of coconut milk (or 100ml of whatever it was I had after the aforementioned mashing)
1 Tsp natural almond butter (I bet peanut butter would work well too)
1/2 Tsp grated ginger root
1/2 Tsp dried basil (I expect coriander could work too)
1 Tsp soy sauce
The juice from 1/4 of a lime

60g Dried buckwheat noodles

As many frozen veggies as you like - I had a carrot, pea, sweet corn and green bean mix.

First prepare the noodles til soft, by boiling over the stove, or immersing in hot water from the kettle in a shallow dish (covered). With the kettle method, I find it helps to drain the noodles after 3 or for minutes and then repeat with fresh hot water, to stop the noodles getting starchy.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, blender, or as I did, in a clean protein shaker cup with an immersion blender(!) whizz all the sauce ingredients together. If your coconut milk/cream is really thick, thin with a little water. Easy.

Cook your frozen vegetables - I steamed mine in the microwave, then rinsed with cold water to prevent them over cooking.

Combine the 3 components together and eat straight away, or cover to save for lunch like me as the noodles are perfectly enjoyable eaten cold. The texture is quite thick and claggy, I actually found that aspect kind of comforting.

*one thing though, unless you are really hungry (like me), it probably makes too much sauce for some. Feel free to share the same quantity of sauce between 2 servings of noodles and veggies to make enough for one other lucky person :-)

I was so pleased to be able to get a lunch together that I am happy enough with to share with you! It really hit the spot at lunchtime, and the fresh, clean ingredients gave me that clean-eating halo.
I am proud enough of it that I will share it over at Wellness Weekend and Healthy Vegan Friday.

Do you have any other cold (unusual) lunch options you'd like to inspire me with? Comment below!

Speak again soon,

Hannah xx

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Being 'weird'

Hello again :-)

After my run of posts at the weekend, I have found myself low on inspiration for posts again....kind of. I think I'm also running low on the confidence to post anything I want on here, yet I SHOULD be able to do that with utmost confidence, it's MY flipping blog!

It's the same kind of lack in confidence in something that that's been niggling me for a little while now, and probably for a long time before that, I just didn't realise it until recently...

I too often feel that the differences in my lifestyle compared to most people (what I do, what I eat) are looked down on, or people think of me as strange because of my habits. I get really upset and feel physically stressed when I feel I am being judged as weird or perceive pressure to conform to more typical habits. I want to be me, but there is a barrier that makes it frightening to fulfil it, and I need to start breaking this down.

Why shouldn't I be me? Why can't I chose to workout alone rather than slump in front of the telly with my family? Why shouldn't I openly prepare whatever food combinations I like and eat them in front of other people? (For example, serving curry on noodles, blending greens in a smoothie, and stirring egg into my porridge - which IS lush, I swear!)

The truth is, the only reason I don't always be myself is because I'm scared of being the weird one. For example, it took a LOT of guts for me to 'out' myself as vegetarian, and it took the distance of me being away at university to finally cut out meat and then tell the parents over the phone a few weeks later. Being different was scary, I'm the only person in my entire family that doesn't eat meat (that's taking it as far as 2nd cousins guys, after that, I don't know).

I often catch myself apologising or having to explain away my lifestyle choices. I shouldn't have to do this. I want to start having more confidence to openly live alternatively, and not have my habits dictated by what is and isn't 'normal'.

I'm not sure what my next steps are to achieving this kind of confidence, though. I suppose just keep on doing what I do, resisting the barriers, and eventually those around me will come to accept my unusual habits as typical to expect from me. My brother has severe autism and learning difficulties - we don't expect 'normal' from him and we all embrace the characteristics that we know to be typical of him even though we don't behave in the same way.

Ok, it's an extreme comparison, but I'm just waiting out for the day for when those around me accept my 'weirdness' as normal and don't bat an eyelid or expect me to justify it....

....Or, perhaps, they already do, and I just need the confidence to realise that others accept me.

If it's the latter (and I grudgingly suspect it may be!), then I need to work on my confidence. Any tips?

Thanks for reading my little vent of frustration :-) I'll be back with something fitness/food focused soon!

Hannah xx

Sunday, 20 January 2013

10 Tips to go Big on Health on a Small Budget

Hi gang, this is another post inspired by my friends from My Fitness Pal!

Both James and I have a keen eye for keeping track of our household budget, especially when it comes to feeding ourselves. We both have different dietary needs that should typically result in a large bill: James strives for high calorie meals, typically containing meat to support strength and muscle gains, whereas I intake fewer calories but seek out higher quality and speciality health giving products. However, our experiences over time have shown us how we can shrink our spending without compromising our daily eats.

1. Use discount supermarkets for basics. We love Lidl and Aldi's range, though they often get a bad rap compared to the more mainstream options as cheap is associated with poor quality. The quality, we find, is just as good if not better. These companies afford to sell more cheaply because of lower overheads (e.g. cheaper rent, charging for carrier bags, shorter opening hours). Our favourites from these companies are oats, breads, herbal teas, dairy products and frozen vegetables. 

2. Design your weekly meals around what is on offer. For example, when I last saw sweet potato on offer, I bought a whole load and batch cooked it all with lentils to freeze for dinners throughout the month. James does the same when he sees a special deal on the meats he prefers, and will rarely buy a product without a 'special offer' ticket intact!

3. Don't fall for the convenience of overpriced jarred sauces and ready meals. It is far too easy and dramatically cheaper to make your own from know by know how I love my homemade frozen ready meals! And what is so effing difficult about by a carton of chopped/sieved tomatoes and stirring in some herbs and spices?! Granola cereals, energy bars and nut/grain milks can also be made from scratch at a fraction of the price of a ready-made version, it just takes patience and practise.

4. Talking of making the most of offers and making from scratch, you can make this a fun, hassle-free experience by setting aside some time in the week to plan and prepare as much as possible.

5. Make use of Asian/ethnic supermarkets for your bulk needs - especially meat-free staples like dried beans, lentils, rice and noodles, and get the best value by buying the largest packages your kitchen will allow. Plus, there is so much variety and inspiration to be had here! Herbs and spices can also be bought for better-than-supermarket value, as well fresh chillies, ginger, garlic and exotic fruit and vegetables.
6. When I want to include a more expensive product for its health benefits (and yumminess, of course!), like quinoa for example, I do a 50:50 blend with a similar products (e.g. rice or millet) so that I can reap at least some of the benefits without having to restock as often. Also, try a 50:50 on milk and water for oats, or stock powder/bouillon and mixed dried herbs.
7. Search online for wholesale prices or cheaper specialist products. Sports supplements are important to James and I so we always check MyProtein's price beater for the best deals on protein powder, and they have also proved to be the cheapest option we can find for natural nut butters.
8. When I get to shop at the farmer's market, which can be a little more expensive than usual, I spend my money wisely on unusual vegetables that I can make the most of it's value with (like this round courgette) or look for the produce that has had a good harvest as the farmers will have a more competitive price to clear their surplus stock.
9. In a similar vein, don't underestimate local/independent grocery stores - sometimes they find themselves overstocked because they get a special deal from their wholesaler and then have to reduce the price to clear the shelves for new products. For example, I recently got a 500g jar of organic extra virgin coconut oil from an independent health shop for less than £7 - easily the best value I have ever come across! See if they promote the deals on twitter or facebook so you know about it ASAP.
10. Although we love a special offer, we are always sure to check that that is what we are in actual fact getting, by checking the price per 100g. You can then double check this against a comparable product that may not have that special offer ticket but actually be better value. Also, ask yourself how a large 'value' pack will be used - you don't want to pay a higher outlay only to waste half the product.
So, those are our healthy groceries on a budget tips - meat-less and meat-eater friendly! Feel free to share your own below!

Now, go spend those pennies wisely!

Hannah xx

Saturday, 19 January 2013

January Energy Boosts

Hello again, friends, sorry its been a week since last writing. I have been desperately wanting to write but could find nothing worthy of writing. Most of my recent kitchen creations, although very edible (in my opinion) and healthy, didn't quite hit the mark for recipe share-age. So I reached out to my friends on MyFitnessPal, and they came up trumps with suggestions for me.

First up, how can we energise ourselves in January? Finding the mental energy let alone the physical energy to get yourself going in chilly winter months is a huge hurdle and barrier to hitting your health goals. Does ditching a healthy hearty lunchtime salad for the less healthful but far more comforting dishes sound familiar? Ever set an early alarm with the intention of a morning workout but decide that it REALLY isn't worth the chill, or depriving yourself of an extra snuggly half an hour? (guilty!)

So how can we keep healthy habits in check when our energy levels are face planting?

Here are some habits that I'm trying to engage in to give me a bit more of a boost:

1. More snacking. The temptation when reducing calories post-indulgence is to cut out the snacks. But going longer than your body is used to without fuel can cause your blood sugar to crash and fling you head first into a pile of chocolate! Take time to prepare and plan snacks and choose healthy but filling options. Lately I'm loving apple slices and almond butter mid-morning as the apple's sweetness and the nut butter's fat and protein curbs cravings, and a large veggie juice in the afternoon fills me up by feeding my body on a cellular level, perfect to pump me up for the gym.

2. Warming one-pot meals. I love making big batches of soups, chillies, curries and casseroles that I can also portion and freeze so that I always have a 'ready meal' to turn to when my motivation to cook a healthy meal and chop vegetables is low. I always try to cook with a pulses, lots of vegetables, and a starch or grain so that the meal is complete, filling and nutritionally rich. Using plenty of herbs and spices (many have extraordinary health benefits) makes the dish exciting! Pictured is a recent one-pot slowcooker creation (not quite shareable yet!) of chickpea, tomato and veg 'risotto soup', sprinkled with nutritional yeast. I have 7 portions left in freezer :-)

3. Chose exercise options that make you accountable. It will be a lot harder to change your mind on a preplanned workout when you have a vested interest in seeing the workout through. For example, arrange to meet a friend to workout, sign up for a class, buy yourself new workout gear, plan/prepare yourself a delicious post-workout meal that cannot be eaten unless you exercise!

4. Choose healthier hot drinks. Warm yourself up from the inside and hydrate yourself at the same time by choosing a more detoxing option of green or herbal tea or hot water and lemon/ginger, rather than a creamy coffee or hot chocolate. I also find that these choices curb cravings too, and keeping hydrated is important can help when you feel lethargic.

 So, I have come up with 4 things, what else can you think of to warm you up and stay energised when it's cold/wet/snowy?

Keep warm guys, and stay safe on the snow and ice :-)

Hannah xx

Friday, 18 January 2013

Stomach Migraine

Hello friends, sorry to have been AWOL in the last week or so.

There I was with some pretty good posts lined up for you, inspired by some health and fitness buddies of mine on My Fitness Pal. Then I got poorly and that's as far it got. I will return to those in the next few days.

On Tuesday night I started to experience a bit of discomfort in my upper abdomen which made me feel a bit uneasy. It had been a year since I last experienced this, and up to that episode in January 2012 these twisting stomach aches had been a fairly frequent occurrence, and the return of the familiar onset told me that my well being for the next few days was decided, and there was nothing I could do about it.

In the early hours of Wednesday and throughout the day I was riddled with severely painful stomach cramps – I could physically see my stomach spasming when I took a bath! And I also experienced extreme nausea and vomiting. I eventually managed to eat something in the evening despite having no appetite, primarily so that it would be safe for me to take some strong painkillers. I was uncomfortable in the night but managed to sleep, then Thursday came and my stomach was still extremely sore throughout the day and I had a little of my appetite return, and I went to work. Running my own business means I kind of have to if I can at all manage.

And now it is Friday and I’m sitting in my shop writing this with my tummy feeling rather battered and bruised inside, but much more myself and woke feeling hungry and thirsty for the first day since Tuesday. Mind you, I need not really open the shop today, it’s snowing pretty heavily – not really juice or smoothie weather I’ll admit – so I’m predicting a dead day today. At least it gives me the chance to catch up on some reading and writing WOOHOO!

Anyway, being unwell is of course going to cause a lot of burning questions in the mind of someone who takes their health seriously. As I mentioned, this is not my first experience of this and I have before been tested from head to foot for intolerance, tumours, infections, viruses etc. anything that could cause this kind of discomfort, all drawing a negative.  My own research in the past has suggested to me that I may suffer abdominal migraines, and my more recent research as good as confirms this. I haven’t been formally diagnosed, but very little is known about it for it to be diagnosed anyway. Anyhow, I fit all the diagnostic criteria according to the International Headache Society's International Classification of Headache Disorders-II (ICHD-II):

An idiopathic recurrent disorder occurring primarily in children and characterized by episodic midline abdominal pain manifesting in attacks normality between episode intensity and associated with vasomotor symptoms, nausea, and vomiting.

  1. At least five attacks fulfilling criteria B-D
  2. Attacks of abdominal pain lasting 1 to 72 hours
  3. Abdominal pain has all the following characteristics:
    1. Midline location, periumbilical or poorly localized
    2. Dull or "just sore" quality
    3. Moderate to severe intensity
  4. During abdominal pain, at least 2 of the following:
    1. Anorexia
    2. Nausea
    3. Vomiting
    4. Pallor
  5. Not attributed to another disorder; history and physical examination findings do not suggest gastrointestinal or renal disease, or such disease has been ruled out by appropriate investigations
N.B. In this case, 'Anorexia' means loss of appetite, not Anorexia Nervosa, the psychological disorder.

The only unusual thing about my experience of the condition is that I am not a child, nor do I have any family history of migraine (head or abdominal), though my brother does have epilepsy which is said to be related to migraine.

My next steps were to find out the causes of the attacks – what processes in the body occur to bring the attacks about. Unfortunately little is known about this, though dietary triggers like caffeine, dairy, MSG, nitrates in preserved meats, and *gasp* chocolate have been implicated. Also, it is thought that a deficiency in the neurochemical serotonin could cause it. This chemical is typically associated with mood disorders, like depression, which makes me wonder if using antidepressants could be a solution?
 If my suspicions are correct, then it is good to know that there is some knowledge out there somewhere about it, and it’s not just some ‘unknown’. It’s also reassuring to know that my previous testing doesn’t suggest something more serious.

Anyway, I just wanted to put this out there as both an explanation for my whereabouts, and also if my experience sounds familiar to you, that you might be able to look into abdominal migraine more deeply and get some answers. I am not trying to offer medical advice (though I recommend seeing a doctor to confirm that it is not something more serious), just share my experience.

Right, now that I have made my excuses, I had better get back to work go back to some of the posts I had in the pipeline before falling unwell :-)

Speak again soon,

Hannah xx

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

What's New? And the simplest EVER pancake recipe!

We are one week into 2013, and I've already been busy making discoveries in the kitchen and gym. The thing with incorporating health and fitness behaviours into your routine, is that you make yourself a lot of lists and schedules to focus you and remind you to stay on track, and it takes away some of the pressure of having to make conscious health/fitness decisions on a daily basis. This is a good thing, but I always find that despite organising myself pretty thoroughly, my routine will inevitably evolve, new habits (mostly-healthy) will be introduced, and older ones that are nonetheless healthy fall by the wayside. If you read something or learn something about yourself that you like, it will be repeated whenever possible, kicking out the old stuff and producing a routine evolution. Here are some recent evolutions for me, in the last week alone:

- I started the Plank-A-Day challenge, where a plank is held (from the elbows, for me) for as long as possible. The goal each day is to beat yesterday's time. My day 1 (3rd Jan) was 2 minute 10 seconds, but 5 days on and I hit 3 minutes 20 seconds this morning!

- One of the last Elf 4 Health challenges was to find out how fast you can run a mile. I had no idea what to expect of my time, but I got a mile down in 7 minutes 25 seconds. I have provisionally decided to check my 'fastest mile' time on a monthly basis to see how my pace is improving! I want to run more 10K races this year (with the hope of raising more for charities) and I also want a sub 45 minute time in there, given my 50-51minute time at last year's Race for Life

- I learnt how to make heart shaped eggs! My friend Leila explained to me how she often zapped an egg in the microwave to then add to her sandwich with any other fillings she like. Now, I got some super cute heart shaped ramekins for Christmas, that I have used to scramble eggs in (one at a time or it gets messy) I end up with 2 heart eggs to cram into a whole wheat pita bread with salad, for a great healthy and filling lunch.

- I made 'The Vegan Chickpea' Sunshine Burgers. I think sunshine burgers are a brand of American veggie burgers (?) but the homemade version incorporates store cupboard staples into a non-soggy veggie burger that bakes in the oven, doesn't ask for breadcrumbs, eggs, oil or cheese to bind, freezes excellently and reheats in the microwave perfectly! I made a double batch, enough for 3 two burger servings. I've never had much success before with meat-free burgers but I can see them becoming a go-to recipe that I can make in a high volume, freeze and reheat.
- I made pancakes! I'm so much a porridge (or oatmeal to US readers) girl, especially when I need warming up in the morning, but I was craving pancakes thanks to about a billion bloggers (Kiss my Broccoli, Kylie and Bex especially) so I HAD to make some of my own. I can't remember exactly where this recipe came from as it is nothing like those of the blogs that inspired me (perhaps you've stumbled across this winner before and can remind me?) My recipe used essentially 2 ingredients, but were fully prepared with 4 ingredients. I'll stick the recipe at the bottom of this post.

- I joined twitter! I blog for my business and now I have the bug/the hang of it, I wanted to start tweeting for myself and my blog. It's @HanDoesHealthy if you wanted to follow me, and I'll more than likely follow you back :-)

So there you go, some recent 'evolutions'! Do you find the same thing happening with your routine? What changes has your life seen in 2013 already?

Catch you again,

Hannah xx

P.S. Here's the pancake recipe (if you can call it that, it's so blooming simple!)

Ingredients (single serving)

2 medium eggs (free range and/organic if you can)
1 small banana (the ripest in your fruit bowl)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1 tbsp coconut oil (or any oil/spray you like to cook with)

Make it:

Mash the banana and and whisk the egg until frothy, then incorporate the two with the vanilla if using. I actually just bunged all the batter ingredients in a protein shaker and blitzed with my immersion blender.

Heat your oil in a frying pan (medium-high) then add a third of the batter. Flip it when you can see that the topside of the pancake has firmed up. I was impatient and flipped the first 2 too soon causing the batter to splurge a little...doh! Repeat until you have 3 pancakes.

You can also top these with any extra fruits/nuts,/seeds/nut butters/sauces you fancy. I was in a rush and had them just as they are - they were still delicious and their high protein content really kept me going.


Friday, 4 January 2013

Veggie Geek!

Ok, yesterday I geeked out hugely! Veggie style!

My postman came through the door (of my shop) with the amazon package i hadn't been been expecting until next week. I couldn't hold back my cheesy geeky grin (I bet they get that a lot when handing over parcels- I should ask James about that, he's doing some post delivery work at the moment!)

Since my eating style has kind of evolved into this 70-80% vegan deal, I wanted to get some inspiration. Plus I had an amazon voucher for trading in a bunch of university textbooks, so it was essentially free....

First on my list was 'The Happy Herbivore Abroad' by Lyndsay Nixon, which my Christmas 'elf4health' Diana is recommending and hosting a giveaway for right now on her blog. The simple and accessible recipes inspired by cuisines from her world travels are supplemented with photos and stories of the recipe's origins and the people she's met plus extra cookery tips. They are all vegan and despite most recipes being low-fat which is less my style, adding fats like avocado or a sprinkling of seeds is doable to complete the meal. Oh, and her little logo of an elephant carrying a leaf is just too cute!

After some browsing on amazon, I came across 'Veganomicon' by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. It sounds like, and it probably is, the HOLY GRAIL of animal-free cooking! Over 250 recipes, with some incredible chapters on preparing everyday staples. And their writing style is just so readable! There are few photos, which will mean that when I try to recreate a recipe I will be doing so blindly...but that's ok, it will allow me to get creative, and all the more room for recipes! The recipes are more complex than Lyndsay's book, but I think a culinary challenge to push me will be good. Plus, there is a recipe and serving ideas for homemade seitan, which is a rediculously high protein soy-free food made from wheat gluten that I foresee becoming a staple in my diet. While gluten is a trouble for some, I don't think it upsets me. I find soya milk, soy isolate powders and fermented soy products sometimes can, especially if had frequently or in large amounts, so seitan would be a better option.

I can't wait to share my favourites from these books with you! Also, as I never strictly follow a recipe, I look forward to making these my own!

What are your favourite cookery books, meatless or otherwise? Oh, and have you ever had seitan?

I'm going back to reading now!

Hannah xx

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Fat makes you fat...

Is one thing you will NEVER hear me say. Those 3 words, 'low fat diet' chill me to the bone. And if someone were telldiscovered at is fattening, you could expect an absolute mouthful back at you...of words that is...not the food...ok perhaps a bit of food as well...

My diet is pretty fat-centric, sometimes as much as 40% of my caloric intake will come from fats, and here are some reasons why it will stay that way -

- It's tastier. Scientists have recently discovered our sense of taste for fat, and it makes sense from an evolutionary perspective that we SHOULD like the taste of satisfying, high energy foods like fats. Besides, eating the flavour-less fat-free version makes it more likely that we will only overeat anyway to try to get the same satisfaction.

- I find them more filling. I'm not sure if its the psychological feeling of satiety or physical, or a combination of both, but I know that adding fat to my breakfast has been an absolute winner in terms of keeping my happy until lunch.

- Fats support neurological and nerve function. Each brain cell/nerve is insulated by a fatty sheath called myelin, which prevents electrical currants sparking off, so having enough fat to enrich this sheath will help keep the signals clear and sharp. This is why a high fat diet is often called upon for individuals with epilepsy, as seizures are essentially caused by abnormal neural firing.

- Fats help your body absorb vitamins. Vitamins A D E and K are fat soluble, which means they rely on fats to get around the body to do their job. If you eat more fat, you will reap the benefits of higher levels of these vitamins (e.g. Better hair and nails, better eyesight, better neurological function). If you think you might be deficient in any of these vitamins, talk to your doctor about increasing healthy fats as part of your treatment.

- Its good for my delicate digestive system. Healthy fats keep your liver healthy and stimulate healthy production of digestive enzymes (source). I love flaxseed for this in particular which I posted about here

This isn't an exhaustive list, and neither is this list of my favourite healthy fat sources:

- coconut oil (more on this later)
- nuts and nut butters
- avocado
- flax and chia seeds
- whole cows milk
- whole eggs

If you want to read more, I definitely recommend these posts (1, 2, and 3) from Michelle at Peachy Palate
- I learnt SO much!

Obviously, if you have specific health or dietary needs to do with fat consumption, such as high cholesterol, check with a dietician to make sure you get the most out of your dietary fats.

So now you have a perfect reason to enjoy your fats as well as your veggies!

Hannah xx