Vegetarian Moussaka and going meat free for a week.

This week we went Vegetarian for National Vegetarian Week. As a family we always have at least 3 meat free meals a week, so this was a good chance to unleash some new recipe ideas. To be honest I don’t think the family really noticed the lack of meat, though they would do if carried this on for a few weeks. I love vegetarian meals and would probably be one if I wasn’t cooking for the whole family. Eating more plant based meals is better for the environment, a more sustainable way of eating and has some fabulous health benefits too.

Our week of vegetarian meals:

Vegetarian Moussaka, Leek and Stilton Risotto, Courgette and Lentil Lasagne, Vegetable egg Stir fry rice, Quorn Bolognaise and Roasted Veggie Pasta.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The moussaka is something I’d seen a variation on in a gluten free recipe book that I’ve had hanging around for ages. I used soya milk to make it lactose free for my boy – omit the cheese to make it dairy free. A few adaptations made this a super simple meal that is going to stay on our meal list.

 

Vegetarian Moussaka
Serves 4
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
494 calories
81 g
19 g
12 g
15 g
4 g
509 g
124 g
13 g
0 g
7 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
509g
Servings
4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 494
Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 12g
19%
Saturated Fat 4g
21%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Cholesterol 19mg
6%
Sodium 124mg
5%
Total Carbohydrates 81g
27%
Dietary Fiber 7g
29%
Sugars 13g
Protein 15g
Vitamin A
30%
Vitamin C
35%
Calcium
24%
Iron
10%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 2 tsp olive oil
  2. 1 large aubergine
  3. 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  4. 1 medium onion, chopped
  5. 2 tbsp white wine
  6. 150g mushrooms, chopped
  7. 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  8. 1 tbsp tomato puree
  9. 1 tbsp chopped chives
  10. 1 tsp paprika
  11. 1 1/2 cups of uncooked rice
Sauce
  1. 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  2. 1 tbsp cornflour
  3. 400ml soya milk
  4. 40g grated cheese
Instructions
  1. Slice the aubergine, onion and garlic.
  2. Saute onion and garlic in the olive oil on a medium heat.
  3. Add 2 tbsp white wine and the mushrooms, cook for a few minutes to soften.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, puree, chives, paprika and rice.
  5. Stir and simmer for 10 minutes whilst you make the sauce.
  6. Heat the oil, add cornflour and turn the heat low.
  7. Add 1/3 soya milk and stir well, add the rest of the milk and increase the heat to medium, carry on stirring as the sauce thickens.
  8. Layer the rice mix with the aubergine, then the rice and the aubergine.
  9. Top with the sauce and sprinkle the cheese.
  10. Cook in the oven at Gas Mark 5 for 30 minutes.
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calories
494
fat
12g
protein
15g
carbs
81g
more
Dietitian UK http://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/

Coeliac Disease: The Facts and Frustrations.

Coeliac Disease is often referred to as a gluten intolerance or allergy. Which makes sense as the treament for it is to follow a strict gluten free diet. However it is actually an autoimmune disease, which means it is a disease in which the body produces antibodies and  attacks it own tissues. In the case of coeliac disease there are 3 antibodies produced in response to gluten and these can be tested for: 

  • anti-tissue transglutaminase (tTG) antibodies
  • endomysial antibodies (EMA)
  • deamidated gliadin peptide (DGP) antibodies

The immune response leads to damage to the villi in the intestinal linings. The villi are where nutrient absorption occurs, they produce enzymes that help digest carbohydrates and proteins, they absorb nutrients into the capillaries around them so the nutrients can then go to the blood stream. Destruction of the villi means that there is firstly less surface area available, so less absorption of nutrients occurs. Secondly the enzymes are not there to digest the food. This may mean that you eat food but just don’t absorb it, instead you excrete it, leaving you lacking nutrients and suffering with digestive symptoms such as abdominal pain and diarhoea. Over time this can have a major impact on your body and be very confusing. If you know you are eating a well balanced diet but you are showing symptoms of nutritional deficiencies or digestive problems this is definitely the moment to see your GP and get advice.  

 

The treament for Coeliac disease is a lifelong strict gluten free diet. This is not a fad diet, or a “choose to be gluten free for a while diet” but a gluten free diet that has to be followed to the letter. I’m not a coeliac but I can’t eat wheat, it won’t harm my villi but it can cause me to be unwell for a few days and is linked to a some digestive issues I have. When I eat out I have to double check and often I find things on my plate than I can’t eat! This can be very dangerous for a coeliac. Even a few crumbs of gluten can cause problems. When on a gluten free diet the villi should recover and nutrients should start be be better absorbed. 

What can be frustrating is that Coeliac disease is under-diagnosed and so there are people with it who have no idea. The rise in gluten free diets also means that there are more gluten free options around, but sometimes it can take aware from the severity and the need for a strict gluten free diet. I’ve seen quite a few places advertising gluten free foods with statement such as “we cannot guarantee these foods are made in  an area free from gluten”. So gluten free food that is not suitable for a coeliac! 

Coeliac Awareness Week is a great time to spread the word and to get people knowing more about these issues so please share and get talking.

Chocolate Granola Baked Apples

Granola is one of those foods that I could easily eat quite a lot of, though I tend to not eat it as a cereal but add it to dishes. I love the crunchiness and the variety it gives to transform your simple fruit and yoghurt into something more exciting. However granola is usually high in sugars and the amount of fruit, nuts and seeds is surprisingly low. If you have the time you could of course make your own, but you have to watch it carefully when it bakes. With my current tribe of small people I would be sure to burn it! 

So I was most delighted to be sent a pack of granola to try out, especially when it was chocolate granola. Such a hard life. 

Lizi’s granola is something I’ve recommended to some clients in the past due to it’s low sugar content and low glycaemic load (GL). The GL is a measure of how much a portion of a food affects your blood sugars. The GL for this granola is 6.6 for a 50g serving. Generally a low GL foods is one under 10 and you want to keep your GL to under 100 per day. So this granola is definitely a good option if you want a not too sweet, crunchy hit with a chocolately taste. It uses dark chocolate (which I love), some may say there is the added benefit of polyphenols and antioxidants but at only 5% dark belgium chocolate you won’t be getting much per 50g serving.

Here is how we enjoyed the granola – baked apples with chocolate granola. Instantly renamed big gruffalo crumble by the toddler boy. He calls any fruit crumble a gruffalo crumble, completely my fault for starting that one. 

“Now my tummy’s beginning to rumble, my favourite food is gruffalo crumble”

Chocolate Granola Baked Apples
Serves 4
A quick, simple dessert that is great to perk up your midweek meals.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
166 calories
32 g
8 g
5 g
2 g
2 g
196 g
4 g
22 g
0 g
2 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
196g
Servings
4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 166
Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5g
8%
Saturated Fat 2g
11%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 8mg
3%
Sodium 4mg
0%
Total Carbohydrates 32g
11%
Dietary Fiber 5g
21%
Sugars 22g
Protein 2g
Vitamin A
4%
Vitamin C
14%
Calcium
2%
Iron
3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 4 apples
  2. 4 tsp raisins
  3. 4 tbsp granola
  4. 1 tbsp butter
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5
  2. Cut the apples in half and cut out the core, this will leave a hole you can now fill.
  3. Fill the apples with the raisins, dot with a little butter and press the granola over the top.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Serve with Greek yoghurt if wanted.
beta
calories
166
fat
5g
protein
2g
carbs
32g
more
Dietitian UK http://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/
 Disclaimer: This granola was sent to me to review, this is not a dietetic endorsment but simply my own views on it. 

 

 

Carrot and Parsnip Cake

I’ve had a hankering for carrot cake for a few weeks after a conversation on social media about a bumper crop of carrots leading to recipes for carrot cake being posted. So when carrots were on offer and hubby came back with 3 bags of them plus 2 bags of parsnips it was suddenly my opportunity. Seriously, there are only so many things you can do with parsnips, so I thought why not try them in a cake. In that moment it felt like probable madness, however actually, you know what? The parsnips add a real kick to this cake. A warm earthiness and nuttiness that really adds to the sweetness of the carrots.

My main critic will always be my husband. He isn’t fobbed off as easily as the children, he has a sweet tooth and isn’t pulled in by any of the latest health trends or superfoods. So I tried him on one. He gave me the “what is it” quizzical expression which I interpret as “What the heck is the crazy woman now trying to give me”. To be fair, you can’t blame him, I am experimental in my approach and a fair few of these experiments just don’t work out. Upon trying it his response was “Actually that’s not bad”. Now for hubby that is a compliment. He isn’t overflowing with expression and excitement like me, thankfully or our house would be even more crazy! So this “Not bad” really meant “I wasn’t expecting it to taste nice but it is pretty good and I like it”. He agreed it was actually the parsnip that made it.

This cake is moist, light and a little to easy to eat. With 250g vegetables in it, it may feel pretty nutritious but you would have to eat a lot of cake to get a portion of veggie in! Having said that these will contain some vitamin A, some calcium and iron, so as cake goes, it is a good option. 

 

Carrot and Parsnip Cake
Yields 24
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121 calories
13 g
23 g
7 g
2 g
1 g
38 g
173 g
3 g
0 g
6 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
38g
Yields
24
Amount Per Serving
Calories 121
Calories from Fat 59
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 7g
10%
Saturated Fat 1g
3%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 23mg
8%
Sodium 173mg
7%
Total Carbohydrates 13g
4%
Dietary Fiber 1g
3%
Sugars 3g
Protein 2g
Vitamin A
22%
Vitamin C
2%
Calcium
5%
Iron
4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 150ml Rapeseed Oil
  2. 60g Brown Sugar
  3. 3 Eggs
  4. 150g Carrots (2 large)
  5. 100g Parsnips (1 large)
  6. 300g Doves Farm Self Raising Flour
  7. 1 tsp Mixed Spice
  8. 1 tsp Cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Peel and grate the carrots and parsnip.
  2. Mix the oil and sugar together. Add the eggs and mix.
  3. Next add the grated vegetables and slowly add the flour and spices in.
  4. Pour into a greased and lined loaf tin.
  5. Bake at Gas Mark 5 for 30-40 minutes.
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calories
121
fat
7g
protein
2g
carbs
13g
more
Dietitian UK http://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/

Is having a cuppa soon to be history?

Britain has historically had a love affair with tea. In fact it was the British who introduced it to India in order to compete with the Chinese production of it.  According to the recent Cost of Tomorrow report, people between the age of 50 and 64 spend £31.20 on tea annually, but for millennials this drops to £10.40. So are we drinking less tea? If so what are we drinking instead?

© Tatjana Grinberg | Dreamstime Stock Photos
© Tatjana Grinberg | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Currently, the average household spends £1,475 on tea over a lifetime and  £2,585 on coffee over the course of their lives, so coffee has definitely overtake in the hot drink department. Soft drinks have definitely increased with smoothies, fruit juices, fizzy drinks and milk shakes being more popular now. All of these contain more calories and sugar than your average cuppa. 

Sadly, coffee shop culture means we spend a lot on the treats that go with that cuppa. The Cost of Tomorrow report suggested we spend £11,520 on cakes, buns and biscuits to complement our favourite hot drinks; 4.2% more than we spend on fresh fruit (£11,034) over a lifetime. 

So the take home message on National Tea Day 2017? 

  1. It is perfectly safe to drink 2-3 standard caffeinated cups (400mg) of tea or coffee a day. If you are concerned about the caffeine then try herbal/fruit tea or decaff versions.
  2. Tea contains polyphenols and there are health benefits stated for dental health, diabetes, heart disease and cognitive function. 
  3. Tea is a natural sources of fluoride so has benefits for dental health.
  4. The polyphenols in black tea are thought to be responsible for the links between tea and reduced risk of cardivascular disease. 
  5. Soem studies show a reduced risk of diabetes with 2-3 cups of tea a day (presumably tea without sugar).
  6. With less calories and sugar (if you don’t add it by the spoonful) tea is a good option to be drinking, better than a fizzy drink. 
  7. Tea does hydrate you. Studies have shown it to be equivalent to water!
  8. Tea provides calcium (from the milk), manganese and potassium as well as flavanoids which are potent antioxidants. 

Now who is for a cuppa?

Chocolate: the good, the bad and the portion. 

Chocolate originates from cocoa beans from the Theobroma cocoa tree. The beans are fermented, ground and separated to cocoa butter and powder. 

Cocoa has been used for many used as a medical aid. It is rich in flavonoids which have potent antioxidant functions. These include being :

  1. Anti-inflammatory 
  2. Helping blood vessels to dilate so helping reduce blood pressure. 
  3. Increasing insulin sensitivity 
  4. Decreasing the risk of atherosclerosis. 
  5. Positive affect on cholesterol: increase HDL (the good guys) and decrease LDL oxidation. 
  6. A reduction in cardiovascular risk factors. 

However we don’t eat cocoa on its own. Milk chocolate has a variety of other ingredients added in. It is high in energy, free sugars and saturated fat. One point to note here is that not all chocolate is equal. The darker the chocolate (higher % cocoa) the higher the flavanol content and the less sugar. White chocolate is not actually chocolate as it doesn’t contain any cocoa powder or cocoa solids but cocoa butter mixed with milk and sugar. The chocolate in eggs can be of a lower quality with lower flavanols and mineral content so watch out! Check the cocoa solids. 

An easy way to remember a portion of chocolate is “the size of your index finger”. That is about 2 squares for a child and 4 squares for an adult. 

© Magdalena Żurawska | Dreamstime Stock Photos

So chocolate is something that can definitely be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet. The key is thinking about the quality of the chocolate you are having and the portion size. Space that chocolate out and enjoy it, rather than gorging on it all in one go.  Savour it and eat it mindfully, 

 

Eating Mediterranean to beat the bills

One thing I love about nutrition and dietetics is the conundrum that is complex science that usually translates down to simple health messages. The Mediterranean diet is a great example. The science behind how it all works on the body is long winded actions of  polyphenols and antioxidants. However you don’t really need to worry about all of that. What we really want to know is:

  1. What does the summary of the research say about the health benefits.
  2. How can I translate that into my everyday life.
  3. What do I need to eat and how often. 

A team from Ghent University analysed the research on the Med diet, looking at 8 meta analysis and 10 cohort studies, they founds some pretty huge results.  If we convinced 2% of the UK to eat a more Mediterranean diet it could lead to a saving of £1 billion. Increase this to 10% of the population eating more plant foods, olive oil, soya, nuts and seed would potentially save £5 billion.  Reductions through a decrease in hospital admissions, doctors bills and keeping people healthy to work more days a year. Isn’t it amazing that such simple changes can lead to such huge savings.

A summary of the research showed that a Med diet can:

  • Reduce diabetes risk by 26% 
  • Lead to a 42% reduction in CHD in men and 25% in women
  • 37% reduction in stroke
  • 33% reduction in breast cancer
Med diet reduces disease risk Women Men
Colon cancer

40%

44%

Stomach cancer

42%

29%

Lung cancer

25%

23%

Diabetes

28%

28%

Stroke

36%

9%

Prostrate cancer  

30%

Postmenopausal breast cancer

36%

 
coronary heart disease

4%

4%

Soya beans, soy products and tofu contain phyto-oestrogens. These are bioactive substances in plant foods that have naturally occurring oestrogen activity. Photo oestrogens have been widely studied and there is evidence they can help with menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats. Some bone sparing effects in osteoporosis and they may reduce the risk of certain cancers. They can reduce the risk of heart disease due to their cholesterol lowering effects. Eating more soy can displace the saturated fat intake from meat. 

 

 So the plan from this for you? 

Eat more fruit and vegetables – aim for over 5 portions a day if you can and include soy products in your eating (25g a day = 1 portion).

Eating to help in Chronic Fatigue

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.) is one of those areas that I didn’t ever set out to work in. It just came along and found me. An Occupational Therapist who I had worked with previously approached me and asked if I would be interested in joining their team. With every bit of work I take on I have to ask myself – is my heart in this. If the answer if No then I don’t accept it. Now my heart was very much in this, as years previously, as a teenager, my mum suffered from CFS. She went from being a very bubbly, energetic, full of life person, to someone who had to rest 95% of the time. Thankfully, she recovered and now lives life almost to the same capacity as before, perhaps with a bit more caution! So, working with this client group holds a special interest for me.

I work with South Coast Fatigue and Associates, a team who are full of care, in fact the most caring bunch I’ve worked with. Plus we have the most amazing Christmas meal ever! I don’t get to hang out in the office often but I feel very privilieged to be part of the team and to be trusted to give advice to the clients. This is a very vulnerable area, some people are literally bed-bound, others are able to do small day to day activities but there is a lot of loss, resting and frustration around. Everyone wants a magic fix and the internet abounds with diets that will cure, magic supplements and herbal remedies. This is where I come in.

I work on a 1-2-1 basis with people giving advice on IBS, healthy eating, weight loss, weight gain, special diets – whatever is needed. I also run a monthly nutrition group, which is usually a very interesting couple of hours due to all the questions people bring. So here are my top 5 tips on eating well for energy.

1. Eat regularly. Skipping meals is not a good idea. The body needs a energy to heal and to function. I completely understand that the nature of CFS means that sometimes people are too tired to prepare a meal, so this is where the planning comes in. Having instantly accessible healthy snacks that can be grabbed.

2. Focus on the balance and the portion control. I encourage people to fill their plates with 1/2 vegetables and then 1/4 lean protein and 1/4 wholegrains or starchy foods. If you are less active than before, then portions will need to reduce. This can be a tricky to work out, so I do sometimes recommend a portion plate.

3. Plan, plan and plan. Build up a folder of meals, recipes and snacks. Some that are fast to make (beans on toast, ready meals, tinned soup and a roll, hummus and pitta, peanut butter and rice cakes), some that take more preparation (jacket potatoes, fish cooked in a parcel, stir fry, pasta dishes) and some you can get help to bulk cook (slow cooker meals, bolognaise, fish pie). Then do an online shop and stock up the cupboards with easy meals.

4. Use the freezer. Frozen veggies and fruit are very nutritious and quick to use. They save peeling and chopping, which saves you energy and time. There is now so much variety in frozen vegetables, it isn’t all peas and sweetcorn. Bulk cooking meals and freezing them is also so useful so there is a stash of good food for days you need it.

5. Step away from the sugar. Although you may feel like you need a sugary boost to keep your energy levels high, that can lead to a sugar peak and crash effect. Instead fuel your body with low glycaemic index foods that will provide sustained energy over the day. Foods like oats, wholegrain bread, bulghar wheat, yoghurt, hummus, apples and nuts.
See this link here for a fact sheet and here for a table of the Glyacemic Index of Foods.

Vitamin D for under 4’s

I’m writing this post after a few people have asked me if they should be giving vitamin D to their children. The answer is Yes. In 2016 the guidance on vitamins D changed and now the recommendations are that everyone in the UK takes 10 mcg a day. Especially in the autumn and winter months.

Usually as a dietitian I would encourage people to get their nutrition from food first, but with Vitamin D it is hard to meet the bodies’ requirements through food and UVB rays alone.

The original Dietary reference values for vitamin D were set back in 1991 by COMA. It was thought then that people aged 4-64yrs would synthesise enough vitamin D in the summer months to cover their winter needs. A review by SACN in 2016, found this not to be the case. If you live in the UK it will come as no surprise to know there are not that may days in the year that we have enough sun at the right position for this is happen. During autumn and winter we definitely do not have the sunlight we need to make vitamin D. Those with darker skin tones may also not get from sun exposure in the summer so taking a supplement all year round is a good idea.

Bones, Bones, Bones.
Low vitamin D is linked to increasing the risk of rickets in children. In adults, vitamin D is shown to reduce fracture risk and falls in those aged over 50yrs living in the community. There is also a beneficial effect of vitamin D on muscle strength and function.

Vitamin D advice for children under 4yrs:

Children aged 1-4 years should take 10 mcg per day, all year round.
Babies should take 8.5-10 mcg per day as a precaution unless they are having more than 500ml of formula milk a day, as this is fortified.
Data for children under 4 yrs is limited so it is hard to know how much vitamin D should be recommended, SACN have been cautious and set a safe intake of 10 mcg.

You can buy Vitamin D supplements in liquid form from supermarkets, Boots, Superdrug and pharmacies. Good examples are Abidec and NHS Healthy Start vitamin drops.

 



Disclaimer: I was sent some Vitamin D supplements courtesy of SuperDrug, which has not affected my views in the post above.

Courgette and mushroom patties

I’m always after ways to get more veggies into the children and myself. Hubby likes to do his own thing at lunch, so I made these as a preparation for the toddler, baby and my lunches. They were fast to make and went well warmed up with a salad for lunch. Make a batch, freeze a batch and feel smug all week.

Courgette Patties 2

Courgette and Mushroom Patties
Yields 12
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
43 calories
6 g
17 g
1 g
2 g
0 g
53 g
34 g
1 g
0 g
0 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
53g
Yields
12
Amount Per Serving
Calories 43
Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 1g
2%
Saturated Fat 0g
2%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 17mg
6%
Sodium 34mg
1%
Total Carbohydrates 6g
2%
Dietary Fiber 1g
3%
Sugars 1g
Protein 2g
Vitamin A
3%
Vitamin C
11%
Calcium
3%
Iron
2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. Spray olive oil x 5 squirts
  2. 2 courgettes, grated
  3. 5 mushrooms, grated
  4. 1 garlic clove, crushed
  5. 1 beaten egg
  6. 2 tbsp parmesan
  7. 1/2 ball mozzerella
  8. 75g cornmeal
  9. 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 6.
  2. Saute the courgettes and mushrooms in a pan for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.
  4. Leave to cool a little and then mix in the other ingredients. It will make a thick batter.
  5. Drop large spoonfuls onto a greased and lined baking tray. It will make about 12.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes.
beta
calories
43
fat
1g
protein
2g
carbs
6g
more
Dietitian UK http://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/

Courgette patties 1 

Freelance Dietitian specialising in helping those with Eating Disorders and a Media Spokesperson for the profession.