Thursday, 31 July 2014

Tomatoes in season with pumpernickel

Just eaten the most glorious lunch. I drizzled olive oil onto pumpernickel and let it to soak in a little bit, then I microwaved a big handful of tomatoes straight from our plants in the greenhouse. These tomatoes are tiny, yellowish and each mouthful is a burst of sweetness. Once the tomatoes were soft I mixed them with hard boiled eggs and mashed them together. Then I piled the result onto the bread and it tasted beautiful. Washed down with Pukka cardamom and ginger tea, this was a lunch to remember!

We have lots of Kale which needs to be used up. It is growing too fast to keep up with. Anyone got any kale recipes which can make this great yet difficult to make interesting vegetable appetising and different? Am struggling to do something inspired with it! 

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Food hourglass mixed day

Oh I started out well. I had a dollop of oatmeal flavoured with cocoa, accompanied by blueberries and walnuts. Then at 10.30 I had a slice of pumpernickel with tomato. At lunch time I had two hard boiled eggs with more tomato and a peach. Then I was asked out for tea. I had salmon, carrots and Swiss chard (so far so good) a glass of red wine (great), then they served potatoes ( not so good but manageable). After this we had pear tart with ice cream (disaster but tasted heavenly), I also had another large glass of red wine (now not so good). 

I am home now, having enjoyed every minute of our evening, planning how to say no to the extra wine, the potatoes and pear tart the next time...maybe there are just some times you have to say yes.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Food hourglass and mushrooms

I've been re reading the Food Hourglass section on mushrooms. Mushrooms are apparently a really good anti cancer food. If you eat just a few mushrooms a day you dramatically reduce your risk of developing cancer. If you combine eating mushrooms with drinking green tea the cumulative effect reduces the risk further.

Just as a quick example, a woman can reduce her chances of developing breast cancer by 89% if she drinks green tea and eats a few mushrooms every day. If a tablet could be proved to do that we'd pay a fortune for it.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Fish and chips

I have just one thing to say today. Fish and chips out of paper, looking over Sandsend Bay. It was a moment of madness.

The view on the other hand was spectacular, the sea a deep green under threatening cloud and the sun cutting across like bars of gold.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Health benefits of juicing

I have been going mad with the juicer. Juice every day, usually a great mix of fruit and vegetable. My favourite veg juices are beetroot, carrot and spinach, but they are enhanced by the addition of apple or orange juice with a half lemon for sharpness.

The only problem with drinking fresh juice every day is that according to the bible that is The Food Hourglass, once I have liberated the juice from the fruit, the fibre is gone, and the sugar absorption rate shoots up.  Therefore it is not such a good thing? I am a bit confused about this. Perhaps I need to up the veg element and tone down the fruit. Perhaps also I need to make sure I eat something with fibre in it at the same time as drinking the veg juice.

It seems that some foods are better for us when they are consumed whole. So although the juicer is great, it's better still to eat the whole fruit. Vegetables which have a lower sugar content however are fine when they are separated from their fibre, so juicing them is good and they can be a great source of nutrition.

Still such a lot to learn!

Friday, 25 July 2014

Food advertising

Beware adverts that tell you certain cereals are healthy. I have just read about a particular brand of cereal which is aimed at people who want to lose weight. So you should eat this when you are trying to lose weight, yes?


In Britain this cereal is 17% sugar. (It has different amounts of sugar in different countries). That's a lot of sugar. It won't satisfy your hunger for long or make you slim, in fact it is very likely to make you hungry shortly after eating it. Because you will be more than peckish, you will eat anything you can get your hands on. That's probably a doughnut, crisps, or a 'healthy' piece of sugar laden flapjack. The sugar in the cereal will make you fat and the snack will make you fat. (That's fat, not thin).

I've got to drum it into my poor brain that the main motivation of the people behind adverts is not people's health but money. They will tell you whatever makes you buy their stuff. They can't tell a blatant lie, so they imply things, they omit information, they present an image you associate with the product without having to say the lie. Which, in the case of today's specially chosen cereal is:

'If you eat this sugary carbohydrate, you will get a great figure, a red dress and lots of beautiful friends.' 

It would be laughable if thousands of us didn't fall for it every day.

 (Do you know what it is yet?)

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Sugar addiction

Today I bought a book called 'The Sweet Poison Quit Plan' by David Gillespie. This seems to embrace the same ideas as The Food Hourglass. We eat far too much sugar and it makes us fat and unhealthy. 

 Mr Gillespie promises in his intro to show me ways of breaking my sugar addiction. I think that I am well on my way to breaking my addiction already and this will help me on my way. He talks not about giving up sugar, which makes it sound as though I will be depriving myself of something nice, but of breaking my addiction. This makes it sound as though I am moving towards something nice. 

One of the things I really like about the introduction is that Mr G recognises how difficult it is to get through sugar withdrawal when we live in a society where almost everyone else is addicted to sugar. It's isn't like giving up nicotine where there are a few obvious things to steer clear of. As I said yesterday- sugar is everywhere. We even eat it when we are sure we are avoiding it, because it hides in food like a stealth missile. 

There are recipes and other great aids to getting on the right track. There is chemistry, biology and a great dollop of psychology. And all from a lawyer! I've got to read this!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Sugar everywhere!

I was thinking about our society and how we view snacks. Often we will go for a coffee and there will be a number of different ways to introduce a small yet significant boost of sugar into our system, via a biscuit or a piece of cake.

 The thing is, what if you want a small interesting taste of something non sugary? Where is the alternative in most retail outlets? You could opt for crisps, but they are loaded with fat and salt, and also are so easily broken down by the body to release sugar, we may as well eat sugar from a spoon. 

What we need is a radical rethink. If I came to pay for my coffee and there was a bite sized rye with a slice of cheese, or a tomato stuffed with hummus and parsley in a cooler I would choose that. It would satisfy that desire for a little taste treat. We need to wean ourselves off the relentless sugar train.

I had a drink in a cafe with my parents today. They chose Lipton iced lemon tea. A refreshing choice in the sweltering heat. After they had drunk it, we looked at the label and found that each bottle contained 34 grams of sugar- well over an ounce of sugar in a short drink that didn't taste particularly sweet. It's outrageous. I can imagine a time in the future when packaging such blatantly unhealthy stuff will be seen by everyone as a moral if not an actual crime. People are often in too much of a rush to check labels but really aught to make the time. A cup of herbal tea is just as refreshing but has no sugar whatsoever!

Monday, 21 July 2014

Sugar free carrot cake

Here is my own recipe for carrot cake -the food hourglass way!

Sugar free carrot cake

125 grams buckwheat flour
2.5 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
70 grams crushed walnuts
80 grams dates (medjool are good)
3 ripe bananas
3 eggs
80 grams soya yoghurt
50grams rapeseed or olive oil
100 grams grated carrots

Mash the bananas.

Warm the dates in a pan on low heat with the oil for about two minutes then add to the banana mixture. Add eggs and soya yoghurt, then blend until the dates are roughly chopped. Add carrots and stir. In a separate bowl , mix the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and walnuts. Add the two mixtures together. Pour into a 2lb loaf tin which is lined with baking parchment.

Bake in an oven at 160  deg C fan, 180 deg C, 350 deg F for around 35-40 minutes.

This makes a moist, lovely cake and is very moreish!

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Chai spiced hazelnut milk

We have had storms, lightening and weather which alternates between humid and chilly. On the chilly days my clothes seem to be too flimsy and I spend the whole day refusing to wrap up warmly. It's summer for goodness sake! When it's not quite cold enough to light the fire but you need something comforting, how about this chai spiced hazelnut milk? It gives you ten minutes of Christmas. You can almost see the fary lights twinkling. Better shared with a friend.

Hazelnut chai

2 cups hazelnut milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Dash of cloves (a good pinch)
Dash of ginger

Pour the hazelnut milk into a non stick milk pan. Sprinkle in the spices and heat gradually stirring all the time. When the milk begins to form small bubbles on the surface it is ready to pour into two large mugs. Don't let it boil. The hazelnut milk is naturally rather sweet and so it doesn't need any added sweetness. It tastes aromatic and gorgeous. You can drink it looking out at the lightening and feel safe and cosy inside.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Another great brownie recipe and a few thoughts on swimming

You may like to try this recipe which uses beetroot and sweet potato along with dates to give it that sweet kick. It's full of nutritious and easy to find ingredients. It's an ideal way to end a meal or to have as a standby snack for those peckish moments between meals. It is also supremely food hourglass friendly.

Sweet potato and beetroot brownies

I'd like to put in a word for swimming today. I have been going to my local pool a couple of times a week, and have deliberately not tried to complete more and more lengths, to go faster or to improve dramatically in any way. I have gone along for the sheer joy of moving through water. When I have stopped competing with myself or feeling that I should do better, I have been able to enjoy the sun shining, allow the gap in my mental chatter and just be. Despite this, I have noticed that I am getting stronger and faster. Which just goes to show that life sometimes looks after itself without me interfering. Perhaps I could take this lesson and apply it to other areas of life?

Friday, 18 July 2014

Illness and attitude

Just a quick post tonight. We are with family. They are cooking some amazing thai concoction and I have been reading an article on the history of our attitude to illness, specifically cancer.

When my grandfather died I was 11 years old. He was in his early sixties. He came to visit and I remember a thin pale man and a milk pudding only he was allowed to eat. Later, a phone call in the afternoon, my father's quiet voice, understanding, trying to help the person at the end of the phone tell the terrible news they had to tell. People were afraid of cancer, they spoke about it in hushed tones, or they didn't talk about it at all.

Someone very close to me was diagnosed with cancer a few years back. We talked about it. It wasn't a dark cloud to avoid, but something to understand, like an uninvited difficult guest at a party, something to get to the bottom of and work alongside. Treatment, wonderful drugs that didn't cause sickness, a gradual improvement and life went on, if a little more slowly.

Illness is no longer the taboo it was. So many diseases if not curable, are manageable, they have a human face.

When people have experienced an illness that has brought them or someone they love close to death, it changes everything. Then they sometimes find the strength to change lifestyle habits that were making them unhealthy. If your dad dies of lung cancer, it's a whole lot easier to give up your 20 a day habit.

I look at the precious people I have in my life thanks to medical progress and I feel I am honouring them by giving my body the best fuel I know how, and cooking food hourglass food for them whenever they let me. Because selfishly, there are many more happy days I want to share with them - many more happy memories waiting to be made.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Food hourglass cupboard staples

There are now certain foods that I try not to run short of, food hourglass staples that can see me through any crisis, when there is nothing else healthy in the fridge and the Indian meal for two beckons from the freezer. 

Buckwheat flour has become a surprising favourite. It produces a soft, springy texture in cakes and is absorbed more slowly that white or wholemeal wheat flour. It feels fine and silky in its raw state, a little like cornflour. I make sure I always have a bag of it handy.

Rye flour for bread and heavier than usual but delicious savouries.

Fresh bananas and dried dates are a good start for almost any sweetmeat. Cakes or brownies all benefit from the fruit sugars in either and most food hourglass desert recipes feature either or both.

Oils- avocado oil, rapeseed oil, olive oil, coconut oil.
Regular fresh supplies of salad ingredients- leaves, spinach, tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, red cabbage, celery, fennel, spring onion, carrots, beetroot, parsley and herbs. 
Soya yoghurt and tofu
Quorn, (mince and fillets).
Free range eggs
Fresh fruit and vegetables, dark fruit and green veg particularly -bought in two or three times a week, for main meals and juicing
Dark chocolate and cocoa
Fresh ginger
Lentils and beans
Chilli flakes, peppercorns
Soya, hazelnut, hemp and oat milk.
White tea and green tea
Lemons and limes for tea, juicing, salad dressing and generally zinging things up.
Walnuts, hazelnuts, other mixed nuts, peanut butter

Not an exhaustive list, but a good start!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Legumes. What are they and why should I eat more of them?

Earlier in the blog I talked about increasing consumption of legumes. These are foods such as beans, peas and lentils. So why are these food better for us than our more usual potato, bread or rice? Well, because they are not quickly absorbed by the gut, they keep blood sugar stable. They also reduce our capacity to produce excess protein. Producing proteins in excess leads to ageing. Mice on a diet low in methionine lived longer. Methionine is a starter amino acid for protein production. Legumes have only very small quantities of it. 

A study showed that people who substituted a portion of rice, bread or potato for beans, peas or lentils every day had a 35% less chance of getting metabolic syndrome. This is where blood pressure is high, the person becomes resistant to insulin and becomes overweight.

So the science points to eating more peas, beans and lentils. It is relatively easy to substitute a portion of legumes for rice, pasta, bread or potato every day. In fact, we can cook legumes in a way which gives them more flavour than the rather bland carbohydrates we are used to eating. A helping of green broad beans, for example, lightly steamed then quickly stir fried in avocado oil with a few chilli flakes, a dash of sea salt and a dusting of freshly ground pepper is a worthy competitor against pasta or rice for taste any day.

I have experimented with different ways of making legumes a little more interesting, and now, I don't see the gap where I used to think the potato, rice or pasta should go. It's a case of doing it and changing those patterns of a lifetime. I am definitely starting to get there.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Glycaemic Index and why it's important for your health

The core of the food hourglass message seems to be about how quickly sugars are absorbed by the body. With this in mind, Dr Verburgh has drawn up a simple list of foods that have a low glycaemic index (GI). The GI of a food tells us how quickly the sugars are absorbed into the body through the digestive system. The higher the number, the faster it is absorbed.

Right at the top of the list (or should that be the bottom?) are foods like lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, courgettes, onions, garlic, tomatoes and aubergines. The sugars in these foods take a long time to get into your blood after you have eaten them. If you eat them along with other foods that have a slightly higher GI the release if sugar into your system is moderated. Which mean less insulin peaks, which means the body isn't put under as much strain. 

Still very low in the rate of sugar absorption are, tofu, walnuts , apricots, soya beans, cherries, plums, grapefruit, dark chocolate and fructose (fruit sugar). These all have a GI of about 20 or less. Apples, oranges, peaches and pears have a slightly higher GI, but at between 30 and 35 they are still good. 

If we compare this to the GI of chips which is a massive 95, the foods above are all good. When we eat chips the sugar is absorbed faster than eating granulated sugar. I know it sounds mad, but sucrose, which is the sugar we stir into our tea, has a GI of 70. Mashed potato which you may think would be much better, isn't. It has a GI of 90. That's a faster absorbing food than white bread which has a GI of 70. When we eat chips we might as well inject pure sugar into our veins and wait for our poor pancreas to go into overdrive. Diabetes here we come.

In brief, the carbohydrates to keep away from or at least keep to a minimum are mashed and chipped potatoes, white and brown bread, white rice, biscuits, processed cereals such as cornflakes (a GI of 85, again, higher than sucrose) and crisps. To be eaten with caution are brown rice (60), white pasta (55), wholemeal pasta (50).

Rye flour has a lower GI than wheat flour, and so if you feel you really must eat bread , then rye bread is better, with a Gi of 40. That's getting close to the Gi of citrus fruits. When you have eaten it for a while, its close and nutty texture is far superior to the fluffy, white, tasteless confection that is white bread. Honestly, give it a week or two and you'll prefer it. 

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Oatmeal health benefits

The food hourglass diet advocates against fast absorbed sugars which includes most cereals. The carbohydrate in breakfast cereals and bread is quickly turned into sugar and absorbed through the intestine walls. This as we have read cause spikes in blood sugar and consequent lows which are not good for us and encourage us to eat the wrong things. 

Oatmeal however is a good cereal. This is because oatmeal contains a large amount of fibre which slows down sugar absorption. A study showed that when diabetes patients ate oatmeal porridge they needed to inject 40% less insulin. This is a dramatic result from such a small lifestyle change. 

Oatmeal also has a positive affect on the metabolism. It has been shown to slow down hardening of the arteries and lowers blood pressure. It is a great substitute for toast in the morning.

I have experimented with oatmeal porridge to make it more interesting and tasty. The plain oatmeal is actually rather sweet without any additions, particularly when the porridge is made with hazelnut milk which is naturally sweet too. 

A basic recipe for oatmeal porridge

42 grams oatmeal
430 millilitres soya, or other non dairy milk.
Pinch salt

Put the oatmeal, salt and milk into a pan and bring to simmering point, stirring all the time. Simmer gently for about 15 minutes, or until the porridge is thickened and the grains are soft. This makes 2 good sized portions. I often make twice the recipe and keep the porridge in the fridge.

You could try adding
Two teaspoons cocoa powder ( high cocoa solids) or a handful of defrosted frozen blueberries.( These are soft and will mix into the porridge giving  a sweet and fruity flavour). If you use fresh blueberries add them a couple of minutes before the end of cooking. Raspberries are also good.

Oatmeal porridge can be eaten any time of day for a treat or a desert with fruit and soya yoghurt. If it is eaten as a snack it won't lead to sugar cravings and will help fill the gap until meal time.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Food hourglass- how do I feel?

It's time for an update. I've been following the food hourglass way of eating since the end of May which is long enough to notice any changes. I haven't weighed myself in all the time I have been doing this food hourglass thing. This is partly because I don't want to weigh myself, find I don't weigh any less, or worse, that I weigh more than before food hourglass; and partly because this wasn't why I started to follow the diet. My motivation was about health and feeling good. Well today I weighed in at 12 st 2lb. So in fact I have lost a little weight. Which I think for me is good. I was eating the wrong things before and I had a sedentary life which added up to extra weight my health could do without.

How do I feel? Well, I have to take out of the equation that I am not feeling too great because of  pain which is under investigation. (It doesn't make me feel ill, but it affects my concentration and my stamina). That said, one of the most obvious differences is that when I breathe it feels like a lung full of mountain air, clear and easy. I have had a minor cold during the few weeks since food hourglass (FH) but it didn't affect my chest at all, none of the congestion I might have expected. It's like yoga breathing -but all the time. I think that is probably due to cutting right back on cows milk and yoghurt.

The second thing is that my energy levels are much steadier than they used to be. I don't get cravings for the wrong kind of food, and I can now recognise this as false hunger, rather than real. If I eat the wrong kind of stuff, which I have done on quite a few occasions, I am quickly reminded of that blood sugar roller coaster and it makes it all the easier to get back on the FH track.

The other big thing is that my taste buds seem to have undergone a complete overhaul. They taste things differently. It's as if they were numb on sugar overkill before - all those heightened flavours which really are chemical yuck. Now I can enjoy the complexity of food that hasn't been artificially stuffed with monosodium glutamate, salt, sugar and other stuff I don't need. The subtlety of flavour has really come out. Savoury things are far more appealing.

I've upped my exercise levels, which really hasn't been too onerous because I was always pretty active, I'd just let things slip. So I am enjoying swimming a couple of times a week, I'm doing a bit of steady circuit training and getting out for a walk.

It's a recipe for life and I intend to give it my best shot. So far, so good.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Sweet potato soup with ginger, coconut and chilli

Here  is a great food hourglass recipe I devised myself which is good on day one and seems even better day two when the flavours have mingled. You will need a blender.

Sweet potato soup with ginger, coconut and chilli

2 tablespoons coconut oil ( or use olive oil, but add 2 tablespoons coconut cream when prompted)
1 onion, peeled and chopped 
I tablespoon finely grated ginger
2 cloves garlic
1 large sweet potato peeled and chopped into smallish cubes
Three vegetable stock cubes dissolved in two pints of water
Half to 1 teaspoon chilli flakes (to taste)
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

Fry onion in coconut oil  (or olive oil if using) on medium heat for about ten minutes until starting to brown. Add ginger, garlic and chilli and fry for a further two minutes. Add the chopped sweet potato and stock. Reduce heat to a simmer. Put on the lid and leave for 15 to 20 minutes until the sweet potato is soft when pricked with a fork. Check from time to time and if the mixture is simmering dry, add a little water. If you used olive oil now is the time to add the coconut cream. Stir in until melted.

Take off the heat and blend  until smooth. Season well with sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste, add boiling water if the mixture seems a little too thick and serve with chunks of rye bread and cheese.

This is delicious and even nicer if you eat with friends. I took this to my friends Nicola and Pascal for lunch and we ate it with French cheese. They are editors and publishers. You can see their website at

Bon appetit!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014


There are days when I find it easy to eat the way I should. Inexplicably there are others, thankfully few, when I find it much harder, when I make myself choose the right things to eat rather than delight in them. I guess other people have this problem too. It's easy to drift with any eating plan, exercise plan, any plan. The first few days and perhaps weeks are great because we are fired up, obsessed, bought into the whole thing. Then words like 'treat' and 'deserve' start to roll off the tongue and we are lost.

Eating out can be easy, but sometimes, like today it wasn't. There was only fast food about. Plan better I hear you shout. That's right. I should have realised I would need to eat before I reached home. As it is, I succumbed to saturated fat, white bread, nothing green or crisp, just flabby grunge. On the other hand, this morning I ate strawberries, blackberries and chocolate oatmeal porridge with a small handful of walnuts. Now I am home I have eaten chicken and salad and now I am drinking white tea. So perhaps not all disaster.

I think the secret to success is perhaps not so much a secret at all. 

It is as simple as get started, keep at it, fall down, get up, try again.

What helps us to keep trying when we are tempted to throw in the towel? Personally I think it has a lot to do with self worth. I want to eat the food hourglass way not because someone else will praise me, or think I look great, though these are pleasant side effects. I do it because I want to feel healthy. I want to be healthy. If my body is going to carry me through all the ups and downs of life it needs the right fuel. It really is a temple. If I don't believe that, after the initial commitment wears thin, the desire to give in will be almost irresistible. 

As some wise person said:

Ever failed. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. 

Monday, 7 July 2014

Food hourglass nut roast

Here is the the nut roast recipe I promised last week. It turned out great and is delicious as a main meal, hot, or as a cold pate.

Food hourglass nut roast

1 onion
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 leek
2 celery stalks
2 courgette 2 vegetable stick cubes dissolved in three tablespoons of hot water
1 tin black, brown, or black eyed beans
50g rye flour
120 grams ground hazelnuts
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons parsley
I tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

First heat oven to gas mark 5 180C or 160 for fan ovens
Then rub the inside of a 2lb loaf tin with olive oil, then shake 2 tablespoons of rye flour into the tin and tip it around until the  inside has a fine coating of flour. Discarding any excess.

Fry onion for five to ten mins until starting to brown, add garlic and fry for  two minutes, add leek, celery and courgette all chopped fairly small. Add the dissolved stock cubes to the pan, stir, then turn down heat, cover pan and allow to sweat for a further ten minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Add a dash of water if the mix looks like sticking.

Mash the beans and add to the onion mix with the flour, nuts, eggs, parsley and rosemary. Season well with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Mix thoroughly then turn into the 2lb loaf tin.
Place on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for about an hour or until the nut roast is set and slightly browned on top.
 Serve hot with a large helping of spring greens or broccoli, carrots and onion gravy.
Eat the next day in rye bread sandwiches, or with a salad of rocket, baby tomatoes, cucumbers, a few sprigs of parsley and a few plump sultanas if you like them. Dress with rape seed oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon well seasoned with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. 

I tried this last week and it was glorious. If you can't get ground hazelnuts, experiment with other ground nuts. They work almost as well, I just love the sweet full bodied taste of the hazelnuts.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Are milk and yoghurt healthy?

Today I've been talking with Dr Verburgh about milk and yoghurt. Apparently we find it difficult to digest milk products. (Cheese is the exception). If we drink a lot of milk we run a higher risk of developing Parkinson's disease. Women also have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer if they drink milk daily. Milk is also linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer.

But doesn't milk contain healthful calcium?  Actually vegetables also contain large amounts of calcium. Kale contains about four times as much calcium as milk. Vegetable calcium can strengthen bones and therefore protect against osteoporosis. We have been brainwashed by advertising to assume that milk is the best source of calcium. The less desirable effects of milk on the system outweigh any benefit. 

Yoghurt upsets the gut and does not help the digestive system. So all those adverts which promote yoghurt as healthy, in fact almost as a medicine are hype and nothing more. Cheese however is fine because it is already partly pre digested.

Overall it seems better to replace milk and yoghurt products with nut milk, soya milk, oat or hemp milk, soya yoghurt and tofu. 

I realise that I need to research more recipes that feature soya products such as tofu. I have always regarded tofu as bland and uninteresting. Now I know how good it is for me, I need to find ways to jazz it up. 

Oh incidentally, bravo Djokovic but all praise to gracious Federer. What an amazing and humbling match to watch. They both deserve so much respect. Roll on next Wimbledon.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Shared meals and tennis

A lovely day today. Breezy, spots of rain, but not enough to spoil anything. My sister Lucy and I had lunch outside her house looking over the view of fields and woods. I'd made sweet potato soup with coconut and chilli and we ate it with rye sourdough laced with walnuts and pumpkin seeds. At least I did, Lucy wimped out and had bought wheat wholemeal. Then Rob, James, Lucy and I visited our parents house for tea. I had to put away the food hourglass plan because my mother had made the most glorious gooseberry pie with 100% white flour pastry. We had that with a blob of custard each and it was wonderful. The rest of the meal was pretty good, food hourglass speaking. We had lots of salad, lean meat, eggs, quorn fillet and giant beans in tomato sauce.

After the meal, (washed down with a nice red wine) we watched the tennis men's semi finals which had been recorded earlier in the day. Fabulous. Can't wait for the final Sunday.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Can alcohol be good for me?

I understand that alcohol, though enjoyable, is not that great for people. I always thought that generally, it would be best to avoid it.  However, it seems a shame to cut it out all together if I don't need to.

Today, Dr Verburgh has been warning me about the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption, but also suggesting that some alcohol in moderation is actually a good thing.

Taken to excess, alcohol damages the liver, causing cirrhosis, so far no surprise. Alcohol damages the intestinal walls and stomach wall. After a night of excess drinking our stomach would look swollen and sore if only we could see it. With prolonged excess consumption the gut cannot cope with the usual bacteria that is found in the intestines and so toxins leak out into the blood stream. The liver has a hard job dealing with this extra workload and produces inflammatory substances as it would for an infection. These inflammatory substances damage the liver. So the liver sets about damaging itself.

Excess alcohol can also damage the heart, pancreas and the brain.

Even if we don't drink to excess, occasional over indulgence is not good for us either. Alcohol is broken down by the body and produces acetaldehyde, which is the substance that gives us that hang over feeling. It also damages cells which age more quickly. Which means we age more quickly.

But if we stick to a glass of red wine a day we could be doing ourselves more good than harm. This moderate intake of alcohol is good for the blood vessels and protects the heart. The consumption needs to be spread out however.  Drinking seven glasses on friday night and none the rest of the week will not have the same effect. Actually, although studies have shown that red wine is slightly better for us than other alcohol, the protective effects are clear however the alcohol is taken. Wine, beer and spirits all have this protective effect when taken in moderation.

I've been drinking a glass of red wine most nights with my evening meal. The only danger is that once the bottle is open, it easy for one glass to turn into two, and as a woman, that doubling of intake can make all the difference between protecting my health and increasing my risk of ill effects including breast cancer. So the one glass a day comes with a health warning.

 I've also started to have the wine in a small glass so that it is full with a small measure. Some of the wine glasses produced today are so big they can easily fit two measures, and we can kid ourselves that we've only drunk one glass.

I have found that I can really savour a glass of wine knowing that I won't be pouring another. I also put the bottle away when the glass is poured so it's out of sight. I usually have another non alcoholic drink ready for after the wine is finished so that I don't get lazy and just have more wine. So far it's working fine.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Why artificial sweeteners are bad for you and respect for Kyrgios!

What can we safely drink? What will keep our blood sugar steady and not cause damage? How about artificial sweeteners? Dr Verburgh tells me that diet drinks are a no no.

Artificial sweeteners are not good for us, in fact they actually, wait for it, make us put on weight. How is that? Diet drinks contain virtually no calories so logically they should help us lose weight, not gain it. 

Well, aspartame for example causes metabolic changes. Sugar is removed from the blood and stored as fat. Studies have also shown that artificial sweeteners increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Dieters and healthy eaters are unlikely to wish that on themselves. 

In Japan where very few soft or diet drinks are consumed, people tend to have a longer and healthier life than in America where consumption is rife. Of course, there are also other lifestyle reasons why this happens. However, consuming these heavily advertised over flavoured drinks plays a big part in some countries having a poor health and longevity record. 

I've been watching Wimbledon this week and have just finished watching the match between Nadal and Kyrgios. I had to google the Australian's name because I had never heard of him. He just kept on playing great tennis in the face of whatever was thrown at him. Kyrgios was heroically fearless and single minded. For a nineteen year old that shows incredible control over the secret internal voice that would have him believe he couldn't do it. Even his mother thought he didn't stand a chance against the genius of Rafa.

Keeping to the food hourglass principles is as simple as making great decisions every day. Whatever life throws at you, don't give up. Practice makes you into a winner. The prize is a longer, healthier, and hopefully happier life. Now isn't that better than some old piece of plate?! :)