Food and Fitness Tips

Happy Thursday All!  It’s Friday Eve!

Chef P has the day off tomorrow so we’re heading to Borough Market in London by train!  We were there just before Christmas last year, so at least I know what to expect and what I can get there!

I’ll talk about that in another post, but for today, I’m going to give you some food and fitness tips and just some general well-being tips; well probably more food tips, but it’s nice to throw something different in once in a while. 🙂

Stop-Smoking-Aids¤ Stop Smoking!  Probably the number one thing you really should do.  Women who stop smoking by the age of 30 reduce their risk of dying of tobacco-related diseases by 97%.  Quit by 40 and your risk is reduced by 90%.  Stop Smoking Day here in the UK is March 13….next week.  What a perfect time to give it up for good!

¤  Drink your H2O.  Water is a secret weight-loss weapon.  Dehydration slows your metabolism and stops fat burning.  But 10 minutes after drinking 500ml/17fl oz. of cold water, your rate of calorie burning rises by 30% and peaks after 30 minutes.  Nearly half of that comes from your body trying to heat the water.

¤ Enjoy your food.  Don’t just woof it down!  A recent paper published in Obesity found those who chewed their food properly, keeping it in their mouths for up to eight minutes(!) before swallowing, ate less.  Chewing properly also helps release nutrients from the food, so you don’t need to eat as much to absorb the right amounts.

pasta¤  Eat Pasta!  White pasta has an undeserved bad image:  The Mediterranean diet uses white pasta and is one of the healthiest diets in the world.  It proves you don’t have to give up your favorite foods to eat healthy.  Pasta is high carb, but low on the Glycemic Index, because the starch molecules are encapsulated in a unique way in the pasta dough.  However, don’t overcook it as this breaks down the structures, raising the GI.

¤ Keep a food diary.  Keeping a food diary can help you lose weight.  If you’ve had a bad week, you can go back and pinpoint where you screwed up it went wrong.

¤ Cut down on the saturated fats.  Yes, we’ve heard this before, but this is great for keeping your heart healthy.  Even though you cut out the saturated fats, your body still needs fat so you need to consume the good ones, in particular the oils found in avocados, nuts, sees and evening primrose oil.

¤ Try coconut oil.  Coconut oil is great in food and has so many benefits.  It doesn’t degrade at high cooking temps, unlike many other oils and you can even use it in smoothies.  It’s high in lauric acid – a good thing (a type of saturated fatty acid – also a good thing), which can speed up metabolism and great for your joints.  Go for an extra-virgin, raw, cold-pressed oil to really benefit your health.

nocake¤ Crave a dessert after dinner?  Brush your teeth after eating.  The taste of the toothpaste and the time it takes distracts you, so your craving goes away.  Pop a toothbrush in your bag if eating out.

¤  Avoid drinking water with dinner.  Too much fluid can dilute the digestive enzymes in your mouth and stomach, making them less effective.  Aim to drink 30 minutes either side of your meal.  An occasional glass of wine with dinner is fine, but sip it slowly to make the most of it.

sleepy_cat¤ Get some sleep!  Lack of sleep contributes to obesity as it affects the amount of calories we eat the next day.  Different hormones affect men and women after a poor night’s sleep.  The hormone ghrelin rises in men, increasing their appetite, and the satiety hormone GLP-I falls in women, so they don’t feel full after eating.

Is your Diet making you FAT?

Well here we are, the second month into the new year and swiftly approaching the third already.

Can you believe it??

Before you know it, the daffodils will be popping up, the leaves on the trees will be sprouting again and everything will be turning greener and springing into life.

So here’s a question for you…How many of you have fallen off the diet wagon already?  Come on now, raise your hands….let’s see…1…2….3,4….5…….6….hmmm….thought so.  Don’t worry, my hand was partially up.  I haven’t been totally bad, but haven’t been totally good either.

I was reading an article over the weekend that talks about the diet mistakes we make and they’re making us fat instead of the other way around.  I admit to sort of doing the second one.  How many of these are you guilty of?

SKIPPING BREAKFAST

smily-breakfastSome think that not eating breakfast encourages your body to burn fat when in fact, thin people eat breakfast; fat people don’t.

Not eating breakfast leads to overeating later on as your blood sugar drops mid-morning, making you crave foods that aren’t healthy such as that double mocha and Danish.  Plus, you are more likely to binge at night as your body plays catch-up on missed calories, making you more likely to store the calories as fat.

So what should you do?  Any form of protein in the morning ~ plain yogurt with berries, an omelette, smoked salmon or sugar-free muesli with nuts ~ makes for a breakfast of kings, thin ones!  Can’t face having breakfast?  Eat a handful of walnuts or almonds about an hour after waking should be enough to stop you bingeing later.

WEEKEND BLOWOUT

nocakeIf you eat healthy all week, is it fine to treat yourself at weekends?  Even after 5 days of restraint, two days of freestyle carbicide will make you gain weight. (What’s carbicide?  Eating every bad carbohydrate within reach!)

Let’s say you eat and sensibly manage your carb intake during the week and then binge on lasagna, burgers, bread, cakes, ice cream, etc., over time, you could gain 10 lbs. or more.  Carbs are first stored as glucose and water, but will turn into fat if it isn’t worked off, so you’ll need to do extra exercise during the week.  Many people equate the weekend with being relaxed so therefore, they relax their eating habits.  If you feel compelled to overeat on the weekends, then it suggests the way you’re eating during the week isn’t satisfying you.

So what should you do?  Pepper your working week with small amounts of what you fancy, such as a small glass of wine, a piece of dark chocolate or a bite or two of cake.  If you end up having a big greasy breakfast on Saturday morning, make sure the rest of your meals for the day are healthy.  If you say to yourself ‘oh the damage has been done and I may as well continue for the weekend’, then you’ll gain back weight.  That’s how fat people think.

DIET DRINKS

Diet drinks have no calories so they won’t impact on your weight, right?  Wrong!  People who drink diet sodas are fatter than those who don’t.

Diet drinks feed a sweet tooth as, gram for gram, artificial sweeteners can be 13,000 times sweeter than sugar.  When your body receives a sweet taste without the expected calories, it triggers sweet cravings that make you eat more.  Sweeteners have also been shown to have a similar effect to real sugar on blood glucose and insulin levels.  One study found that a high intake of diet drinks could increase the risk of developing type-2 diabetes by 67%.

So what should you do?  Drink water or soda water with fresh lime or lemon or have some decaf or herbal tea or coffee.  If you want something sweet, coconut water with nothing added is a natural, healthy choice.

BUT IT’S HEALTHY!

Just because a food is healthy, doesn’t mean you can eat it in excess.

Hummus, pistachios and peanuts contain healthy fats but come will mega calories and often fail the ‘eat just one’ test.  Such foods can act as triggers for those with a tendency to overeat.  A food labeled ‘healthy’ doesn’t give you the option to just completely ignore calories.  Beware of cereals, snack bars and drinks that present themselves as healthy that are anything but.  Most people know that if sugar is listed in the first few ingredients, then it’s best to put it back on the shelf.  However, you do need to be aware of the sneaky ways that manufacturer’s list sugar on ingredients.

So what should you do?  No matter how healthy they are, don’t keep foods around that you find irresistible.  Things like raw almonds or Brazil nuts are a better choice than something like wasabi nuts.  If you find it difficult to have only 1-2 teaspoons of hummus with your veggies for a snack, then choose something else.  Avoid so-called healthy foods with ingredients such as corn syrup, maltose, dextrose, sucrose, fructose or any other word ending in ‘ose’.  Some foods produced by weight-loss programs can be high in sugar, artificial sweeteners and refined carbohydrates, which increase appetite.

FAT PHOBIA

OliveOilDon’t avoid fat if you want to lose weight.  Successful dieters get 30% of their daily calories from fat.

Studies show that the tiny 10% of people who lose weight and keep it off eat moderate amounts of good fats.  Fat is highly satiating and keeps you feeling fuller longer.  When dieters avoid fat, they are hungry all the time.  An obsession with low-fat products merely fuels a craving for fatty foods and that’s why they end up stuffing themselves with cakes and ice cream.  Low fat food is pointless because when the fat is removed, it is replaced with something else to retain taste and texture and that is usually sugar and flour, which provide calories but not very good nutrition.

Fat also provides essential vitamins A, D, E and K.  Unfortunately, we are now deficient in many of these thanks to the low-fat message, especially vitamin D, which is one of the reasons behind the re-emergence of rickets.

So what should you do?  Make sure you eat plenty of good fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids as there is evidence that these help the body burn fat.  Oily fish, coconut oil, walnuts and flax seeds are all good sources.  Put a small bit, about a 1/2 teaspoon of butter in your morning porridge or on your steamed veggies.  Try drizzling extra virgin olive oil on your veggies also as it gives them a nice added flavor.

HOW SUCCESSFUL DIETERS KEEP THE WEIGHT OFF

MaxineDiet90% of people who go on diets regain the weight within a year.  The US national Weight Control Registry studied the habits of the 10% of people who did keep off anything from 30 lbs. to 300 lbs. for five years or more.  Here’s what they did:

78% ate breakfast every day.  75% weighed themselves at least once a week.  62% watched less than 10 hours of TV a week.  90% exercised moderately for an hour every day (most chose walking).

IN CONCLUSION…

The only diets that have been proven effective for long-term weight loss in randomized controlled studies are those that focus on higher amounts of protein and vegetables, and limit carbohydrates to those with a low glycemic index (GI).  GI is a number rating out of 100 that refers to how quickly a particular food causes spikes in blood sugar.  Low GI is considered 55 or under.

Gives you some things to think about, eh?

  Terri  

Pork and Pepper Stew ~ South Beach Diet

Happy Friday Eve!

As most of you know, I’m back on the wagon again with trying to eat properly and follow SBD.  I have a couple of the books including the original from when the diet first came out, along with a copy of the ‘Supercharged’ and the SBD Cookbook (orange cover).

I decided to get another of the cookbooks as I wanted to get some new recipes, so a couple of weeks ago, I ordered the SBD Super Quick Cookbook (gold cover).  I love it!  It’s got so many great recipes in it.  I’ve only had the book a little over a week and I’ve made eight recipes from it already!

On Tuesday, I made this Pork and Pepper Stew.  I prepped all the meat and veg early in the day to make my life easier when it came time to cook.  I used my heavy cast iron pot with a lid and it filled it about 3/4 full.  I also did a couple of substitutions because I either didn’t have an ingredient or chose to use the variation given in the recipe.  I also added mushrooms to bulk it up a bit more.  I also used Knorr pork cubes instead of chicken broth which gave it a bit of smokiness.  This had a delicious flavor and made the kitchen smell yummy!

I’ve noted my changes in the ingredient list.  It looks like a long list of ingredients, but not too bad.

PORK AND PEPPER STEW

4 tsp olive oil

1¼lbs/568g boneless pork loin chops, well trimmed and cut into 1 inch/2.5cm chunks

1 large green bell pepper (I used an orange one for color)

6 scallions/spring onions, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 Tbsp whole wheat flour (I used gram/chick pea flour)

3 C/710ml chicken broth (I used pork flavored stock cubes)

1/2 C/8 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro/coriander (I used fresh chives)

1 small pickled jalapeño pepper, finely chopped (I happened to have a jar of these!)

½ tsp ground coriander

½ tsp salt

10oz/283g frozen green peas, thawed (I used black eyed peas/beans and nearly double the amount)

3-4 mushrooms, sliced (my addition so this is an optional ingredient)

1 Tbsp lime juice

4 Tbsp shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese (I just sprinkled on some Parmesan ~ don’t know if Monterey Jack is available here, but you could use reduced-fat cheddar)

**************

In a nonstick Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the pork in batches and saute just to color it, about 2 minutes total.  Transfer to a bowl.  Don’t put all the meat in at once or you’ll end up steaming the meat instead of browning it.

Add the bell pepper, scallions and garlic to the pan.  Stir until the pepper begins to soften, about 3-4 minutes.

Sprinkle the veggies evenly with the flour and stir to combine.  Gradually stir in the broth.

(recipe instructions) Add the cilantro, jalapeño, coriander and salt.  Return the pork to the pan.  Bring to a low boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat and simmer until the pork is cooked through, about 5 minutes.  Stir the peas and lime juice into the stew.  Divide the stew among 4 bowls and sprinkle each serving with 1 Tbsp of cheese.

(my instructions) Add the cilantro, jalapeño, coriander, salt, beans and mushrooms.  Return the pork to the pan.  Bring to a low boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat, cover and simmer about 60-90 minutes.  Stir in the lime juice.  Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan.

I prefer to cook a stew for a while to allow the flavors to meld together, but the choice is yours.

Pork & Pepper Stew

This is a Phase 2 recipe, but the variant reads that it can be changed into a Phase 1 recipe by substituting beans for the peas and leaving out the flour.

Hope you enjoy!

♥  Terri  ♥

What to do with…Eggplant/Aubergines

eggplant cartoonEggplant or Aubergine, whichever you call it, have a beautiful shiny, dark purple skin and a taste characteristic of Mediterranean cuisine.

Where did the name come from?

Some 18th-century European cultivars were yellow or white and resembled goose or hen’s eggs, hence the name “eggplant.”

In the western Mediterranean, the Catalan word was albergínia which was borrowed by French as aubergine, which was then borrowed into English.

 

To salt or not

The raw fruit can have a somewhat bitter taste, but becomes tender when cooked and develops a rich, complex flavor. Many recipes advise salting, rinsing and draining of the sliced fruit, to soften it and to reduce the amount of fat absorbed during cooking, but mainly to remove the bitterness.

Some modern varieties do not need this treatment. The fruit is capable of absorbing large amounts of cooking fats and sauces, making for very rich dishes, but salting reduces the amount of oil absorbed.   The eggplant can be peeled or not prior to cooking.

Buying and Cooking

EggplantWhen buying an eggplant, be sure to choose one that’s firm and heavy for its size.  The skin should be smooth and free of bruises or discoloration.  It’s best to store eggplants in the refrigerator until ready to use.

It can be stewed, deep fried, batter-dipped before deep frying.  It can be roasted in its skin until soft and the pulp scooped out and mixed with other ingredients.  It can also be hollowed out and stuffed with meat, rice or other fillings and baked.

Nicotine

The nicotine content in eggplant is higher than any other edible plant.  The amount of nicotine consumed by eating eggplant is nothing compared to being in the presence of a smoker.  On average, you would need to consume 9kg/20lbs of eggplant to ingest the same nicotine amount as found in a cigarette.

Ideas

So what do you do with eggplant now that you know stuff about it?

Slice into rounds, saute in olive oil, serve hot, warm or cold with yogurt, garlic & dill sauce.

Cut thin slices and make little rolls with a slice of fresh mozzarella, a sun-dried tomato, and a piece of roasted red pepper. Put rolls in a serving dish. Cover with a creamy cheese sauce or tomato sauce and bake at 350°f/180°c for about 30-45 minutes until bubbly.

You can also try out my recipe for Eggplant Lasagna if you want something hardy!

Cubed eggplant can also be added to stews and soups and is quite popular in Indian cooking.

So go get yourself some eggplant and whip up something different for dinner tonight!

♥  Terri  ♥