Tag Archives: dietitian southampton

Lentil Lasagne and Lasagne made easy

Lasagne is one of those meals that is loved the whole family. Let’s face it, if you don’t love lasagne then you are very usual! Often seen as hard to make, time consuming and more comfort food than “healthy” I want to share my top tips for making it a standard weeknight family meal.

  1. Pack in the veggies. Lasagne does not have to include meat! I rarely use mince to make lasagne these days. Instead I use lasagne as a way to pack in the veg. You can use lentils, beans or tofu or quorn to get protein in. There is nothing wrong with using the normal beef mince but  if you are looking for more variety with meals or like us, are wanting to eat a greater range of plant based protein sources then it’s time to expand your lasagne repertoire.
  2. Making your own sauce doesn’t have to be complicated. As much as I love a white sauce, if I’m in a rush it always goes lumpy or I burn the bottom of the pan. One of my hacks is to use cottage cheese. Add a little natural yoghurt to thin it down and pour it on the top of the lasagne, top with grated cheese and the jobs done. I wasn’t convinced this sauce would pass the lasagne police in my house  but it did. Phew. The other easy alternative is to use a half fat creme fraiche, simple. 
  3. Embrace your freezer. I totally love my freezer, it saves me on a regular basis. Oh, and it needs defrosting, in case anyone fancies helping me with that. You can either make a double batch of the main filling and freeze it for another meal, or I like to make a whole lasagne and freeze it, makes me feel like a proper domestic goddess. Minus the tidy kitchen, mine is never tidy.
  4. Make ahead. I often make lasagne in stages. so I will either get the main filling out of the freezer and leave to defrost, or make the filling up and leave it. Then later I get a child to help me put it together, layering the filling, pasta and sauce. 
  5. Use pre-bought lasagne sheets. I know most people don’t make their own fresh lasagne sheets, but I sometimes do, it makes the lasagne SO good, literally the best lasagne. But it takes more time that I just don’t have that often. 
So why not transform your lasagne into sometime more inventive. It’s a forgiving dish. Here is a recipe for a wheat free, dairy free version I made this week:
 
 
 
Lentil Lasagne
Serves 4
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Cook Time
45 min
Cook Time
45 min
585 calories
89 g
13 g
11 g
35 g
3 g
533 g
221 g
14 g
0 g
7 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
533g
Servings
4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 585
Calories from Fat 94
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 11g
16%
Saturated Fat 3g
16%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 13mg
4%
Sodium 221mg
9%
Total Carbohydrates 89g
30%
Dietary Fiber 34g
136%
Sugars 14g
Protein 35g
Vitamin A
203%
Vitamin C
165%
Calcium
24%
Iron
49%
* 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. 1 onion
  2. 2 garlic cloves
  3. 3 carrots
  4. 2 peppers
  5. 1 medium courgette
  6. 1 tsp olive oil
  7. 2 cups of dried lentils
  8. 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  9. 1 tbsp tomato puree
  10. 250ml stock (I used homemade chicken stock but you could use a stock cube and water)
  11. 1 bay leaf
  12. Dried mixed herbs
  13. 1 small glug of balsamic vinegar
  14. Lasagne sheets (wheat free if required)
White sauce
  1. 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  2. 2 tbsp wheat free flour
  3. Soya milk as needed, approx 250ml
  4. 250ml water (you may not need it)
  5. Soya cheese or normal cheese
Instructions
  1. Chop all the vegetables in a food processor (this saves time!) or chop finely by hand.
  2. Saute in the oil for a few minutes, then add the lentils, chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, bay leaf, dried herbs, balsamic, stock and simmer for 20 minutes. This is your basic lasagne filling, You can now freeze this, keep it in the fridge for making up later, or use straight away.
  3. Make up the lasagne with 1 layer of lentil mix, lasagne sheets, lentil mix and lasagne sheets.
White sauce
  1. Pour the oil into a sauce pan and mix in the flour with a wooden spoon, it will make a thick paste. Mix in a little milk and stir to make a batter, now add in the rest of the milk place on a gentle heat and keep stirring to incorporate it all. The sauce will thicken, if it is too thick add some water. Keep stirring! Let it gently bubble but not too much. I like to let it cool a little and then pour on top of the lasagne.
  2. Top with cheese and bake at gas mark 5 for 45 minutes.
beta
calories
585
fat
11g
protein
35g
carbs
89g
more
Dietitian UK http://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/
 

The golden toolbox of recovery

What’s in your toolbox?! I was recently at a meeting and friend turned to me and said “I have a strange picture that I’ve seen, it’s you with a golden toolbox. It’s like you have everything you need in that toolbox to deal with life”.

This spoke volumes to me as a person and as a health care professional. Having worked in a team which was predominantly psychological I was immersed in the language of the therapists and the word toolbox often came up. I sat in on plenty of group therapy sessions and got to experience a whole range of different therapies.  Also, in our team meetings we used these skills on ourselves as part of the debrief process. It showed me how important it is to look after not just your patients, but yourself. If you have a life with some stress in it (let’s face it that is probably everyone) then you need to have some skills to hand that help you deal with that stress. Stress and anxiety can be a huge factor in an eating disorder, in mental health conditions and also to physical digestive issues such as IBS. When you have a stressful event how do you respond? What does it trigger in you? When you know how you respond you can start to work on a more effective and helpful mechanism. 

 I will never forget my interview for my eating disorder post. I was asked such an eclectic mix of questions that I had no idea how I had done on leaving the room. When I received the call to say I had the job, I asked why I was chosen. The response “we could see you are robust and able to cope with the strains of this work”.  In the eating disorder field this robustness is certainly needed. I continually need to keep on top of my own anxiety and practise what I preach. 

I want to  highlight some skills or tools that we all, health professionals, patients, people, could include in our golden toolbox. Tools you can use regularly for moments of anxiety, tools you can pull out for those emergency moments.

I remember being on a train that got stuck in a tunnel and suddenly feeling trapped and my anxiety levels rising. It was not an experience I was prepared for and suddenly I knew I needed to use one of my tools. At that point visualisation of a calm beach with lapping waves and some square breathing helped immensley. I know if I had not practised these skills  previously, I wouldn’t have been able to use them there and then. So practise really is the key. 

Here are some of my favourite toolbox tools that I use myself and recommend. 

Journaling –

I’m a seasoned journalling fan. This is something I have always done since my teenage years, I now have a lot of full notebooks with a collection of my teen angst, my working life, my spiritual life and my family life in them. Looking back it shows me how I have evolved and where my stress triggers are. I can see the patterns that I fall into and work on improving my reactions. I dig out my journal when I have a moment I need to work through, when my mind feels cluttered or when something erupts! I also love to journal the good and positive, so any life events or just when I get the urge.

If you are on a recovery journey then I recommend that you journal daily  or at least 4 times a week. It needs to become a discipline and a part of your coping mechanism. A good way to start is to write down 3 things that went no so well in your day and how you could have dealt with these better. Then always finish on a positive, so 3 things that have gone well or that you coped with well. You can also take a single scenario and write out alternative endings. Using an eating disorder example: You had an argument with a friend, this increased your stress and you responded by missing your snack. Thinking through why this was not a useful response – restriction of food does not help your emotional well being, it is a quite fix but not a long term cure. Now you have missed out on some nutrition for the day and your body is hungry. Your body needs regular food right now as you work towards recovery. So take a think through how you could have responded instead…. maybe you could have gone for a walk, taken a bath or done some mindfulness to help you reduce your anxiety after the argument instead of turning to food.

Mindfulness and Breathing –

Such a buzz word at the moment, but this is not a fad. I’ve been using mindfulness with eating disorder clients for over 10 years and I’m sure it has been used for far, far longer than this. Just 10 minutes before a meal or after a meal can make a huge difference. It is all about calming your thoughts and body. I personally love just deep breathing, there are so many variations on this so try a few out. For me, the breathing  is something that spills over from Pilates practise and so I get a double benefit from Pilates of exercise and mindfulness. There are some great free resources to help here. 

Exercise –

This is something to decide upon according to your recovery stage. Exercise can be amazing as a mood booster and a de-stresser. However if you are working on weight gain then it will also have an affect on this. If your BMI is less than 17.5 then you will want to modify your exercise so that it is physically safe. 

Distraction – 

I often suggest that people put together a list of distraction techniques that they can use. For example, after a meal,  or when a the urge to binge strikes, at times when anxiety levels are rising it can be useful to have an activity planned. Things like craft, having a friend to call, painting your nails, reading a book, cleaning out a cupboard – something that immerses your mind and changes your thoughts. Puzzles, crosswords, knitting, collage are all great things to have on your list.

Positive thoughts –

Those anxious, negative thoughts are something that we all get. It is how we deal with them that is key. I love the thought of noticing the thought, and finding the opposite reaction. So turn that negative into a positive. If you practise this regularly it can turn into a habit that you hardly notice you are doing. I’m now working on this one with my children too, teaching then that there is always a positive side to things. It is a great skill to learn at a young age but one that you can learn at any age.

I’d love to know what tools you find useful. 

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Eating Disorders: Why can’t I recover?

Working in eating disorders as a dietitian is the very hardest part of my job. As a freelancer I cover a huge variety of roles. In my other world as a Pilates teacher and studio owner I have an altogether more energetic and flowing role. Yet it is working with eating disorder clients that uses the most of me, pushes me hardest, and pulls on my mind, spirit and emotions. 

 Some of my hardest work is with the “stuck” clients. Those who really want to change, really want to break free, really want help…. and yet they just can’t do it. It is so very hard for them as you can see they do want to get better. Imagine this – knowing how you are living is ultimately going to shorten your life, make your life difficult and lead to you not being able to do a lot of things and yet not being able to change it. Life with an eating disorder is a very hard life.

Often there is a specific weight that they cannot push past. 

Sometimes there are behaviours such as exercising or purging that they cannot give up.

Change can be made, but only to a point.

 

So what causes this “stuckness”?

An association with a certain weight.  

It is not uncommon for me to being working with someone who 100% agrees that they need to get their weight to xx kg. We put a plan in place, they are working towards it really well, everything seems to be on target and then the “stuckness” hits just before our weight goal. Why? It could be that when they were last at this weight they didn’t like their bodies/themselves, someone said something negative about them or that something traumatic happened at this weight. It could be they have never been that weight before, it is the highest weight they will have reached.

I like to work this through with people. 

“What will it be like being this weight”

“How will it change your relationships and how you see yourself”

“What will be better and what will be worse?”

I also remind them that you really cannot predict how it will feel and be until you get there. Using the analogy of a night in a hotel. You can guess how it will be, you can imagine how you may spend the time with your partner, you can predict the layout of the room, the hotel and the menu. However you cannot really be sure what it will be like until you get there. Even if you have stayed there before, things change, things feel different at different stages of life.

2. Not wanting to move on.

Having an eating disorder can for some be a way of escaping. Escaping growing up, escaping emotions, escaping reality. So getting better means that you have to deal with all those tricky issues. You cannot run away any longer. You have to put on those big pants and be a grown up. It isn’t necessarily going to be fun, but in the long term it will be worth it. 

I find using some motivational work can be beneficial here. Looking at the pros/cons of change. Planning out a vision board of where they want to be in 1 year, 5 years time. Talking through the real reasons they need to get better. For most people there is something driving the desire to make change. Examples are wanting to have a certain career that you can’t do at a low weight (nursing, law), wanting to have children, wanting to be able to go travelling.

3. Invested in the Eating Disorder.

This may seem like a strange one. If you have had an eating disorder for a long time it can be hard to imagine not have one. It becomes part of who you are. It becomes part of the way that other people see you, relate to you and care for you. If you no longer have an eating disorder there is an uncertainty, how will others see you, will they still care for you, will they still take time over you? If you no longer have an eating disorder who will you be? A huge part of this is all around knowing your identity. Spending time journalling can help with this. Thinking about who you used to be, who you would like to be. What are the things that make you come alive inside? Spend time doing those. What are your dreams and aspirations? What things are you good at? Asking someone close to you the question “What are my giftings or what are I good at?” can be very revealing and helpful.  Once you have an idea of who you could be outside of your eating disorder you can push yourself to move past it.

Working on your relationship can also be helpful. If these are strong then you know that people will care for you always, with an eating disorder or not. Being in a sick role means you are seen in a very different way. Being recovered and healthy can expand and move your friendships and relationships to new levels. 

Being stuck in your eating disorder recovery can be a very natural part of the recovery process. If you are in this place do seek some help. Do spend time journalling, talking, being creative and finding who YOU are. To look for a good therapist and dietitian near you in the UK the B-eat website is a good starting place. Or drop me an email as I work with people around the UK by video call.

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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.

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.
beta
calories
121
fat
7g
protein
2g
carbs
13g
more
Dietitian UK http://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/

10 portions of fruit and veggies a day?

So today we woke up to the news that 10 portions of fruit and vegetables is the new 5 a day. 

10 a day

95 studies on fruit and vegetables have been analysed by researcher at the Imperial College of London. They found that the most benefit came from eating 800g per day, as 80g is a portion this equates to a whopping 10 portions a day. 

Consuming 10 portions a day was associated with a 24% reduced risk of heart disease, a 33% lower risk of stroke, a 28% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, a 13% reduced risk of cancer, and a 31% reduction in the risk of premature death. This may be due to the levels of antioxidants they contain as well as their fibre content. Eating 10 portions will also potentially mean that less processed foods are being consumed, so implies an overal healthier diet and lifestyle. 

This isn’t to say that eating less is not worth doing however as there are still significant health benefits from eating any amounts of fruit and veggies. For example helping to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Specifically apples and pears, citrus fruits, salads and green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, lettuce), cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower) may help protect against heart disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and early death. Eating green vegetables, yellow vegetables and cruciferous vegetables could help protect against cancer risks.

Is it Achievable?

The problem is that in the UK many people are not even meeting the 5 a day target. Suddenly asking them to eat 10 portions a day is unrealistic and laughable for some. I myself currently eat 7-8 portions a day, having increased this from 5 a day. I could increase this further but I have a gut issue and personally I think I am on my limit. 

For some people this level of fibre intake is not going to be a good plan. Those with digestive disorders such as diverticulitis, some people with IBS or Crohns disease or an inflamed gut.

So it is all about small increases and working towards eating more.

Sugar?

I’ve already heard the words “too much sugar” mentioned. Do not panic people. Put your sugar finger pointing fingers down. The sugar in fruit is not a “free sugar”. It is contained within a fibrous matrix and so it is not released into your blood stream as quickly as eating pure sugar or honey. 

Having said this, I would still recommend you focus on eating more vegetables and not too much fruit. Remember dried fruit is a more concentrated form of sugar so watch your portion sizes of this. Juices and smoothies should be limited to maximum one  a day. So really we are looking at upping the whole fruit and veg.

10 portions a day:

So what could it look like?

Breakfast: Cereal with 80g berries and 1 tbsp raisins. 2 portions

Snack: Banana and nuts. 1 portion

Lunch: 1/2 avocado on toast topped with tuna served with a side salad. 2 portions

Snack: 1 chopped carrot with 1 tbsp hummus. 1 portion

Dinner: Chicken casserole and rice with 2 portions of vegetables. 1 glass of fruit juice. 3 portions

Snack: Chopped apple and yoghurt 1 portion

My take home message:

JUST EAT MORE FRUIT AND VEGETABLES.

Focus on increasing it gradually.  As with anything this is a habit that needs to be formed and it doesn’t happen overnight. Set yourself small goals like adding fruit to your breakfast or having a vegetable based snack each day and build on it.

I’d love to hear how many portions of fruit and veg you currently eat and how you plan to increase it.

 

Pear Rock Cakes, no added sugar.

It’s been a week of pretty awful sleep. That saying about “They saved the best till last” is not true when it comes to sleeping babies. The third baby is the worse sleeper! However she also gives the best cuddles and is super cute with it, so I can’t be cross with her.

When I don’t sleep well I tend to :

  1. Walk around in a bit of a brain fog, yet still be functional for work – how does that happen?
  2. Want to poke out the eyes of anyone who has a baby that sleeps through the night.
  3. Loose some of my words. My 6 year old is good at finding them for me. “I’m just making…..ummm, ummm” “Breakfast Mummy?” “Yes, that’s the one”. 
  4. Get creating in the kitchen. I’ve no idea how but cooking and baking helps restore my sanity.

So on a cold, fuzzy headed Sunday afternoon I was flicking through my recipe notebook and stumbled upon rockcakes. Rockcakes seem to be one of those recipes that people make in school or when they are learning to bake. I think they need a come-back. Super easy to make, which means the children can help, there is little that you can go wrong with and you are left with a mountain of tasty snacks for your week.

I’ve adapted the usual rock cake recipe by adding in fruit and upon tasty the mix I decided it was sweet enough for our palates. Try a bit of it before you add in the eggs and see what you think as you can always add in a little sugar to taste. Doing it this way will hopefully mean you don’t go OTT on the sugar content.

My kids were happy bunnies and rewarded me by playing nicely with minimal arguments all afternoon. I love the subtle pear hint in these. Perfect for tbe after school munchies, which happens to co-incide with my cuppa and snack time 🙂 

Dietitian UK: Pear Rockcakes

Pear Rock Cakes
Yields 20
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
116 calories
17 g
29 g
5 g
2 g
3 g
45 g
9 g
5 g
0 g
1 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
45g
Yields
20
Amount Per Serving
Calories 116
Calories from Fat 41
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5g
7%
Saturated Fat 3g
14%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 29mg
10%
Sodium 9mg
0%
Total Carbohydrates 17g
6%
Dietary Fiber 1g
4%
Sugars 5g
Protein 2g
Vitamin A
3%
Vitamin C
2%
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. 100g butter at room temperature
  2. 250g flour (I used Doves Farm Plain Gluten Free Blend)
  3. 2 tsp baking powder
  4. 1 tsp mixed spice
  5. 1 soft large pear, peeled and chopped
  6. 1 soft ripe banana, mashed
  7. 100g raisins
  8. 2 eggs
Instructions
  1. Rub the butter into the flour.
  2. Now add the baking power and spice.
  3. Add in the wet fruit. the pear should break down easily if you are using a stand mixer or food processor.
  4. Now mix the raisins in gently.
  5. Add in the eggs, one at a time.
  6. Taste and add sugar if needed, I found it wasn't necessary.
  7. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5, line and grease a baking tray.
  8. You should end up with a soft dough.
  9. Take dessert spoons of the mixture and gently shape into rounds.
  10. Place onto a greased, lined baking tray.
  11. Bake for 15-20 minutes until they are lightly browned on the top.
beta
calories
116
fat
5g
protein
2g
carbs
17g
more
Dietitian UK http://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/

Chicken Satay Stir Fry

This week I’ve had a sudden creative burst and have been playing around with new recipe ideas. Typically not the best week for it as Miss K has had earache and tummyache, the boy is tired and the baby teething, but cooking and creating is one of my outlets.

I saw a recipe for chicken satay and it got my brain ticking. I wanted the satay taste with plenty of veggies and no skewers (imagine a 3 year old knight enthuisiast of a boy trying to sword fight across the table with his sister, I’d prefer not to visit A&E thanks). Initially I was thinking of cooking it on skewers and then removing them before serving, but that felt like an unnecessary step, plus someone was bound to want to help me with the skewer preparation part. I decided the 3 year old needed both his eyes, so went back to my roots and turned to my trusty wok.

The chicken was marinaded for a couple of hours (mixed up pre-school run) and I prepped the veggies at the same time, then popped them in a ziplock bag in the fridge, which meant this took minutes to cook. You could do this prep the night before and cook dinner in 10-15 minutes.

Dietitian UK: Satay chicken stirfry 1

I totally loved this meal, the rest of the family were all feeling a bit meh, so not feedback from them, except clean plates. This hit my peanut craving right on the head and the leftovers were great the next day with added avocado for lunch. I would add in actual chopped peanuts and have a serving of satay sauce on the side to drizzle over for extra finesse next time. Fresh coriander would also be a winner.

Dietitian UK: Satay chicken stirfry 2

 

Chicken Satay Stir Fry
Serves 4
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
358 calories
15 g
106 g
13 g
45 g
3 g
324 g
443 g
8 g
0 g
8 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
324g
Servings
4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 358
Calories from Fat 110
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 13g
19%
Saturated Fat 3g
14%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 106mg
35%
Sodium 443mg
18%
Total Carbohydrates 15g
5%
Dietary Fiber 5g
20%
Sugars 8g
Protein 45g
Vitamin A
73%
Vitamin C
250%
Calcium
7%
Iron
19%
* 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. 500g Chicken Breasts
  2. 3 tbsp peanut butter
  3. 1 tbsp soy sauce
  4. 1 tbsp sweet thai chilli sauce
  5. 1 tsp sesame oil
  6. 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  7. 2 tbsp water
  8. 1/2 tsp coconut oil
  9. 1 tbsp water
  10. 3 red peppers thinly sliced
  11. 200g sugar snap peas sliced lengthways
  12. Spring onions (optional I have onion dislikers in my family)
Instructions
  1. Mix the satay sauce, whisking the peanut butter, soy, thai sauce, sesame oil, garlic and water together.
  2. Chop the chicken into bite sized pieces and coat with the marinade.
  3. Cover and place in the fridge until you are ready to cook.
  4. Slice the vegetables and place in a Ziploc bag in the fridge until you are ready to cook.
  5. Heat a wok with the coconut oil or you could use a spray oil.
  6. Add the chicken and cook on a medium heat for five minutes, stirring regularly. Add 1tbsp water to prevent it sticking.
  7. Now add the sliced vegetables. Continue to cook until the chicken is thoroughly cooked through.
  8. Serve with rice or noodles and extra satay sauce on the side.
beta
calories
358
fat
13g
protein
45g
carbs
15g
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Dietitian UK http://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/

Detox the diet talk.

Diet and Detox.  These words can be destructive. They suggest that you need to lose weight, that you have been doing things wrong, that you are not good enough, that your body is full of toxins, that you need to change the way you look. I see a lot of broken people with broken thoughts about their bodies and eating. 

Diet:

a special course of food to which a person restricts themselves, either to lose weight or for medical reasons.
restrict oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight.

Detox:

a process or period of time in which one abstains from or rids the body of toxic or unhealthy substances; detoxification.

So it’s all about restriction, abstaining and getting rid of the bad stuff.  NO! Thinking like this will lead to negative thoughts about yourself, lowered self esteem, negative body image and the feeling that you are not good.

Dietitian UK: detox-the-diet-talk

Now I’m not saying that there aren’t changes that people need to be making to their eating and their lifestyles. Some people need to gain weight for health reasons and others need to lose weight, some people need to have a healthier balance of foods in their days, others may need to be more active. What concerns me is the mindset and thought patterns around why these changes are made. Approaching it from a “I’m a bad person and need to change” mindset is not going to give long lasting positive results unless those thoughts are challenged along the way.

Use a Positive Mindset:

Have a longer term approach. What are your long term goals? Where do you want to be in 1 year and in 5 years? Think about how your health and body need to be in order to achieve those goals.

To be a nurse I need to be strong, fit and have a healthy relationship with food so I can eat around my shift patterns.

To have children I need to be a healthy weight for fertility, I need to be a healthy role model with my lifestyle and I need to be able to cook a good range of meals.

From here write yourself out a list of positive changes you can make to your eating and lifestyle. These are some of mine:

To eat an extra portion of vegetables every day.

To get outside in the fresh air for some form of exercise 5 days a week.

To cook a new recipe once a week.

To switch off technology, read more and get to bed early once a week.

To make healthy snacks ahead of time so I stay away from the biscuits.

It’s not about having a strict diet plan and then beating yourself up when you can’t stick to it.  It is about having a plan that is achievable and flexible. 

It’s not about cutting out food groups and thinking foods are bad. It is about moderation and balance.

It’s not about only making change for a few weeks. It is about the long term.

 

Be kind to you. Be achievable. Be true to you. 

 

Should I use Coconut Oil?

Coconut has been everywhere. As someone who isn’t that into having all my food taste of coconut I’ve felt a little left out of the latest craze, that was until I delved into the research.

Is there any research out there?

Hyped as a superfood (which is actually a marketing term not a scientific one) there are a myriad of claims but few are backed up by the science. Yes there are so studies that have been done but the problem is that often the evidence has been extrapolated. Studies conducted on animals or small scale human studies have then been used as the basis for a claim, but actually this is misleading. A good example of how articles can take a kernel of truth and blow it up into vat of popcorn. As of 2016 there are no large scale, good quality studies on humans. 

Is coconut nutritious?

Short answer =  Yes. It contains fibre, vitamins C, E, B vitamins, Iron, Selenium, Na, Calcium, Mg, Phosphorus, Potassium. Lactose free and suitable for vegans there are definite benefits to coconut.

It is also lower in carbohydrates and sugars thans some equivalent products so there are potential benefits for those needing a lower carbohydrate and sugar diet and needing to control their blood sugar levels. 

However, we hit a milestone with the fat content. Coconut is without a question high in saturated fat. Let’s look at coconut oil first. 

Should I use Coconut Oil?

As with any oil this is energy dense (over 800kcals per 100g) and high in fat.  It is the type of fats that interest me, take a look at this table and a watch of this video:

 

Oil Saturated Fat
Coconut

92%

Olive

13%

Rapeseed

9%

Butter

49%

Lard

46%

Whoah! At 92% saturated fat that should stop you in your tracks. Just 2 tbsp = 20g SFA which is the recommended amount for a day. That’s without eating anything else. 

Yes there are polyphenols and micronutrients such as vitamins E and K  in there too. In VIRGIN coconut oil the polyphenols are high, these are equivalent to virgin olive oil, but without all the saturates.  The thing to keep in mind is that you only want to be using a small amount of any oil, so you are not really going to get a huge amount of all the micronutrients from it anyway. You are better off relying on your trusty fruit and veggies for your polyphenol dose. 

Fats:  Some say the saturated fats in coconut oil are not an issue due to the principle fatty acid (lauric acid) being a medium chain triglyceride (MCT). These MCT’s can have a beneficial affect on CVD risk however Lauric acid doesn’t act in this way. Instead it increases levels of HDL cholesterol (which is good) but then also it increases total and LDL cholesterol also increase so overall it is not thought to have a beneficial affect on CVD risk.

The take home message:

Coconut oil offers some polyphenols and micronutrients but also a hefty dose of saturated fat. For some dishes the coconut flavour works really well and enhances the meal. I particually like it in some Asian dishes. However a little goes a long way and it is someone to use sparingly. I would recommend not having coconut oil as the main oil in your kitchen, but certainly use it for those dishes that it adds that extra flavour to.