So a lot of people have been asking for the recipe for the lentil curry and naan after it was shown on Eat well for less, Series 5, Episode 1. If you haven’t seen then do pop to BBC Iplayer and have a look. We are back on this Thursday too, BBC1 8pm, please tune in!
Firstly a huge Thankyou if you watched. Please do watch the remaining series too there is so much good stuff to come!
Secondly it’s music to my ears to know so many were loving the lentils. I’m half Sri-Lankan so this is very much “my type of food”.
Do check it out and if you follow my Dietitian UK Facebook and Instagram I will repost any further recipes from the show.
The naan recipe cooked on the show, has not been shared yet but I here is a version that I love just as much, made at home for you, as so many people have been asking. Flatbreads and naan are so easy to make and a joy to eat.
With parents who reside in Spain, paella is something my whole family loves, my mum has been taught how to cook it by the locals. This weekend with my mum in the UK at my home I decided to cook her my version. It’s probably not a true paella but hey, it’s tasty family food and a one pot meal that you can put in the middle of the table so everyone helps themselves.
Of course you could totally add chicken, fish or your own favourite vegetables to this, I used what I had in my kitchen. Make your own version and let me know how it goes.
450ml chicken stock (mine was homemade or use a stock cube and water)
2 large carrots grated
2 medium courgetes grated
450-600ml water approx, judge it on the rice as it cooks
dash of lemon juice
250g frozen prawns
large handful of fresh herbs, chopped
Place the spices in a large wide based pan on a medium heat, add the boil and cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the chorizo and allow it to release its oils.
Next add the garlic and rice, cook for 2 minutes. Then add the stock, dried herbs and lime leaf.
Allow this to simmer whilst you prep the veggies, you could use any veggies you like!
Add in the vegetables one at a time and stir in.
Add the water and place the lid on the pan. Allow it to simmer until the rice is cooked.
Finish with the lemon juice and prawns, allowing the prawns to cook in the pan with the rice for a few minutes.
Finally add the herbs, taste and season.
By Priya Tew, Dietitian UK
Dietitian UK https://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/
Check out a little video of us cooking it here. My 7 year old girl was on “sous chef” duty tonight and she totally enjoyed helping out. Her tasks were to measure the rice using the Carb Spoon, to cut the chorizo up, grate some vegetables, add them and stir the pan. She added the stock, picked the herbs and chopped them too. Plus she got the prawns out of the freezer and added those for me.
I’m trying to get my children to each cook with me once a week, making it a scheduled activity and time with mummy all at once. It slows me down and means more planning is needed but it is also teaching them valuable skills.
Yoghurt is one of those confusing foods. You want your children to be eating it and getting in their calcium, but so often yoghurts can be laden with sugar. Personally I encourage my children to eat yoghurt daily, it is our go-to dessert after our evening meal. To help you, I’ve come up with a ranking of children’s yoghurts and give my verdict on those to have in the fridge everyday and those to leave for occasional consumption.
Why the confusion? Well firstly the choice is overwhelming. Walk down the yoghurt aisle and you are bombarded with brands, health claims, cartoon characters, pots, tubs, pouches. What should you choose and how do you know?
Let’s talk about sugar. Yoghurt contains lactose which is a naturally occuring sugar and not one children need to cut down on. However you cannot easily differentiate between these sugars and the added free sugars. A general rule of thumb is the first 5g per 100g of total sugars is lactose. The sugars to keep an eye on are the free sugars. These are any sugars added to food/drink. These could be written as sugar, honey, syrup, agave, fruit juice for example. If you look at a yoghurt label and it is 8.5g total sugars then you can estimate about 5g is lactose and so 3.5g is added sugars.
In this blog we are focusing on children. Children aged 4-6 should have no more than 19g free sugars a day and 7-10yrs no more than 24g free sugars a day. For children under 4 yrs there is no guideline figure, it’s just keeping added sugar low and avoiding it where possible.
You can rank a food as high/low in total sugar using this guide:
So in the instance of Full Fat Greek Yoghurt you can see that there are actually no added sugars in this. The sugar in it is all coming from the lactose and there is no sugar mentioned in the ingredients list confirming our thoughts.
Compared it to this children’s yoghurt which definitely has added sugar. The label shows it as 13.2g total sugars per 100g, so thats around 8.2g added sugars (almost half the recommended amount for a child aged 4-7yrs). The label confirms this showing is has added sugar and the raspberry juice is also added sugar.
So it definitely pays to look at the label when buying yoghurts. If you are comparing several yoghurts it is best to compare them per 100g, Scroll down to see a table with a range of common children’s yoghurt in that have the sugar content per 100g with a quick ranking done for you.
My Top Picks:
Greek Style Yoghurts or Greek Yoghurt. For growing children I would always pick a full fat option, I eat the full fat version myself in fact. It may seem boring compared to other choices but you can add your own toppings at home – low sugar granola, dried fruit, fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, frozen berries,
Natural Yoghurt is also a winner.
Skyr is a low sugar yoghurt due to the way it is made, even the flavoured ones are low in sugar so these are good options if you want a flavoured yoghurt.
The Worst Offenders:
Anything with chocolate, added crunch, pureed fruit and most of the squeezy pouches. This of course does not meant you cannot ever give these to your children but it is about the balance. I’m not in favour of cutting foods out or saying a blanket no. However I would recommend keeping these yoghurts as occasional choices. Think about where else they get added sugars from in their diet? Also check the portion size as some of these products are very large portions and you could halve them, thus halving the sugar too. In our house we keep diferent yoghurts as an occasional change or we mix our yoghurt and add something sweeter to the Greek yoghurt.
Breastfeeding is something I am quite passionate about, partially because I’ve breastfed 3 children, for a total of 4.5 years. That’s a lot of feeds and little sleep 😉 however totally worth it in terms of the impact on their long term health.
Now this is totally not meant to be a dig at anyone who cannot breastfed or who chooses not to breastfeed. Breastfeeding is blimming hard work. I’ve been through mastitis, blocked ducts, nursing strikes, bleeding nipples, tongue ties x 3, nursing strikes, expressing (such a faff!) and babies who just want to feed forever. So I totally get that how you feed your baby is your choice and for many combination feeding or formula feeding is the way forward. I planned to only breastfeed my first for 6 weeks, then 3 months, then till weaning. Small goals and steps helped me. However I also have ladies in my postnatal pilates classes who just cannot get on with breastfeeding and for them using formula saves their sanity.
Ultimately we all know breastmilk is amazing stuff, so if you can breastfeed I heartily recommend you do it. Here I’m sharing an article I wrote for Network Health Digest on how breastmilk affects the microbiome of the infant. Fascinating stuff.
There is a huge connection between diet and brain function, how we eat can literally improve our cognitive function, our thinking, our mood, our memory. Which is fantastic news, as it doesn’t have to be expensive or too complicated.
Here I review some of the evidence on the diets that improve our brain health and give some simple top tips of foods to eat more.
The Brain Positive Diets:
Mediterannean diet – this is known to be a good way to eat for heart health, but did you know that eating for your heart health will also help your brain function? A study on 447 adults over 4 years looked at mediterranean diet (fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, fish and lean protein with moderate red wine) plus 1 litre a week of olive oil and 30g mixed nuts per day. When compared to a control group there was better performance in cognitive tests.
Mind Diet – this is a tweaked version on the Med diet, with a greater emphasis on berries and leafy greens. Following the diet has been linked to a reduction in cognitive age of 7.5yrs and a reduction in Alzhiemers risk.
The Brain Positive Foods:
Oily Fish – those all important omega-3’s are key for cognitive function. Studies have shown a link between eat fish slowing cognitve decline. Yes you can get some of these from plant based foods but the conversion rate is not as good so if you do eat fish, this is the better option. Other foods that contain omega 3’s are shellfish, algae and caviar.
Nuts – at least 5 servings of 30g per week seems to be the key. Some research suggests a positive affect with mixed nuts and other research focuses on walnuts.
Wholegrains – these usually have a more beneficial effect on blood sugars giving more consitent glucose levels for the brain. They also contain B vitamins which may help slow brain shrinkage and improve cognitive function.
Beans, pulses and meat – these contain good levels of the B vitamins which are thought to help brain function. Organ meats contain a good level of Vitamin B12 which has been shown to be correlated to a reduced dementia risk.
Fruit and Veggies – oxidative stress is one of the primary mechanisms of age related brain decline. The brain is vulnerable to free radical damage and so eating food with a good mix and level of antioxidants will help. There are numerous studies looking at the correlation between eating more fruit and veg and brain function. Folate is another key nutrient for brain health and is found in those leafy greens. Vitamin E in seeds, nuts and avocado is a key antioxidant.
Berries – Some small scale but interesting studies suggest a link where having berry juice or more berries in the diet may improve your memory. It’s definitely worth a try!
Flavanoids – these powerful micronutrients are found in red wine, green and berries. There is an indication that maybe flavanoids could help reduce dementia and cognitive decline.
Green Tea – again these are small scale studies but 2 cups a day may help your brain function.
Top 10 brain foods to eat:
Leafy Green and fruit and veg in general.
Nuts, especially walnuts.
Beans and Pulses.
Oily fish, seafood, caviar and seaweed.
Lean meat, poulty and organ meat.
Seeds and avocado
Moderate Red wine and Green Tea.
Dark chocolate in small amounts.
So you can see that eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, with wholegrains plus some oily fish and lean meat is a positive way to eat for your brain. Add in regular nuts, seeds, beans and pulses then smaller amounts of red wine, green tea and dark chocolate and you are onto a winner. It’s a no-brainer 😉
Portion Sizes can be tricky to get right and yet they are key to maintaining a healthy, balanced diet.
Here is a little video I did with BBC Food a few months ago, shot in the most gorgeous kitchen (it’s not mine!).
Using your hand as a general guide can be a great way of judging portions and it also means it works well for children and adults.
I’d love to know your thoughts. How do you judge your portions? Other great way to do this are to create your own measuring cup. Using a mug weigh out the standard serving and then place it in a mug, mark a line for that food (rice, pasta, cereals). Or for carbohydrates there is a lovely carb spoon that I actually use myself at home.
So the news on the street is a jacket potato contains 19 sugar cubes. More than a can of coke. Now whilst this may be true on the one level there is a lot more going on here than just the sugar and it is not to say you cannot eat a baked spud.
Sugar in food is modified by several factors it is not something that can just be measured by sugar lumps alone. That potato has fibre, potassium (more than a banana), B6 and Vitamin C for starters. The can of coke – well I don’t think we can claim that has much else.
There is a system that ranks the effects that feeds have on blood sugars. This is the glycaemic index (GI), it looks at how rapidly a carbohydrate is digested and released as glucose into the blood stream. A food with a high GI food is one that increases the blood sugars faster, leading to a potential blood sugar spike. Using this ranking a jacket potato would be high (85) and something like chickpeas would be low (28). This is a really useful system but it has it flaws. If you use it alone you could live off chocolate and ice-cream as these are low GI! Also this system does not account for the carbohydrate in food and it uses 100 g of food, rather than looking at portion sizes. However it is still a useful way to compare foods and I’d highly recommend you focus on eating more low GI foods. But remember we do not eat these foods in 100g servings or in isolation. Read on to hear more about this.
Another good ranking system for those concerned about blood sugar control is glycaemic load. This looks at the effect of food per portion and it does take into account carbohydrates. So for example foods that have a glycaemic index of less than 10 have a low or little impact on bloodsugars, GL of 10 to 20 is moderate and 20+ is high. Again another useful system to keep in mind, but it has it’s flaws (doesn’t everything!). We don’t eat these foods in isolation, so other factors come into play.
So let’s think about the nutrients and factors that affect glycaemic index and glycaemic load…
These are general rules, there are always exceptions:
1. Fibre is something that slows the rate of digestion and therefore stops blood sugars from increasing as fast.
2. Protein also has this effect on the body a food that is higher in protein will be a food that doesn’t increase your blood sugar as fast.
3. Fat also slows down the rate at which sugar enters the bloodstream, that is why something like chocolate may seem like it will be a food that will increase your bloodsugars fast, but actually that’s not always the case as the fat slows down the digestion.
4. Cooking method and processing also affect food, as does the variety of the food. For example, the impact on bloodsugars from a ripe banana will be much higher than in unripe one and it’s the same with a potato. With our baked potato the impact on bloodsugars is higher than when you eat new boiled potato or sweet potato.
Now this is where it gets complicated because we can’t just rank certain foods as good and others as bad! So where to go from here? Well these systems of GI/GL give us really good principles that we can use when planning a healthy balanced diet. However that doesn’t mean that we need to be living our lives by a set of tables and numbers (see tables in the links below). Who wants to be doing that? It does mean you could look at the foods you eat regularly and think about making some swaps or improving meals by adding protein, fibre or plant foods. It doesn’t mean you only have to eat foods that are low in GI or low in GL. What it does mean is it is helpful for blood sugar control to eat more of these foods and to adapt some of your meals that include higher GI/GL items. So for example let’s take the humble baked potato. Now yes it is high in GI (50) and GL (33) but by adding tuna to your jacket potato it will change this from a meal that had a large impact on your blood sugar levels to a more moderate one. Add a bean salad and some veggies in and it gets even lower.
Here is my dinner from the other night. A potato the size of my fist, with tuna and sweetcorn (protein), salad and cheese (fat).
So a complete pleasure to take part in this podcast with Rachel Holmes. Take a listen for super nutrition tips, it’s an action packed podcast, no chitter-chatter but just full on content and at just over 30 minutes it’s a great length too.
Totally love to hear your thoughts!
Is there a best diet to be on?
Feeding your kids – what to do and what not to do.
Tips to take away and use today.
Weight loss advice.
Should we be going gluten/dairy free?
Feeding your toddlers!
My struggle with feeding my kids.
Rachel is a fitness entrepreneur, a presenter and a trainer. She is inspiration in her energy levels and all she achieves. I’ve followed her and been to her course as a fitness instructor for many years.
Being a dietitian is for me an amazing job, however it is also a very misunderstood job. With the rise of nutrition bloggers, wellness experts and a range of questionable nutrition courses springing up, I guess the new kid on the block is always the most exciting.
With it being Dietitians Week this week I thought it was a good time to remember what the heck dietitian’s actually do!
1. Dietitians are evidenced based and have a legally protected title. So any old Joe Bloggs can’t set themselves up as a dietitian. They have to keep up to date in their specialist areas and do so many hours of continuing professional development every month. This is assessed by the HCPC (Health care professions council) and we can be struck off the register for malpractice. You can check if your dietitian is registered here.
2. It is a minimum of 3 years of training to be a dietitian, this includes biochemistry, physiology, nutrition, research skills and so much more. There are clinical placements where you work in a hospital/dietitian setting to really put things into practise. This means by the time a dietitian is qualified they have already been working and know their stuff. The way this differs to a registered nutritionist (also the good guys, I started out in nutrition myself!) is by the clinical work, the knowledge of disease states.
3. Yes some dietitians work in hospitals or within the NHS, however many also work in other areas. This could be with the food industry, with councils, with food brands, in the media or in private practice.
4. It’s very much a food first approach and not all about supplements and selling products. You won’t find many dietitians pushing you to buy from them in a clinic setting. In fact most of us are not that business savvy but are focused on the people/area we work for.
5. People focused is how most dietitians are. It is a very caring profession, a profession who really wants to help others, to get the right information out there and who work hard. All the ones I have met are always a lovely bunch of people who you actually want to spend time with.
Look out for my post later this week on great dietitians to follow!
Let’s talk childrens menus when eating out. This can be a topic of division in my mind and in general amongst parents. I doubt many people choose where they eat out based soley on the kids menu but when you are eating out with small ones it is hugely important.
Often childrens menus are high on beige foods and low on colours. I’m talking fishfingers, nuggets, burgers, chips, potato waffles with maybe beans or peas but not much else. I totally get why, as a restaurant you want children to enjoy their meal and hey, it’s only one meal. So does it really matter?
I think it does. Children are little adults, as an adult I want choice, flavour, foods that I don’t usually eat at home, foods that make me think and that my tastebuds explore. Beige food menus are devoid of a variety of tastes, textures, fibre and colours. All things we want kids to be eating.
Now for my kids eating out is a complete treat. We don’t do it that often. I also don’t tend to offer “beige meals” often at home, unless they are requested. Not that I am against those foods, they have a place. However, I prefer to go for plenty of veggies and variety, aiming for homemade foods when I can. So we may have fishfingers from the freezer but I’d serve them with a mixture of veggies, potato wedges, with the skin on and thus provide a range of nutrients, fibre and tastes. Nuggets and fishcakes can totally be offered as part of a balanced diet but do they need to make up the majority of children’s menus when eating out? I think not. Let’s get some balance on the menu please.
If we start to offer variety and treat children as little foodies maybe they will start eating in this way? Having had a boy who was anti-vegetables I’ve had first hand experience of how consistency, being non-judgemental and continual exposure works. So if we only offer beige foods they will only eat beige foods! This is part of the basis behind raising intuitive eaters, as parents we offer a range of foods and let them choose how much and what to have.
My crazy kids actually get a bit excited about a kids menu but at times I get “why is my food not as nice as yours”. Which has led to us ordering an adults meal for the kids to share or of course sharing our own meals. I do remember at a wedding the sausage and chips being shunned in favour of the delicious buffet. When travelling I encourage the children to try cultural foods and things they have not had before – with varying results but it’s all about continuing to promote these values and ideas.
Eating out is about pleasure and enjoying meals different to those at home. My 7 yr old especially loves eating “adult meals”. So I love places who make small versions of the adult menu. In my mind this is how it should be. Yesterday we ate out at a restaurant that did an amazing menu with kid friendly versions of their dishes – no chilli, smaller portions and some meals where all the foods were separate for those, like my boy, who would have wanted to pick bits out. They were also happy to make changes to the kids meals. My children were VERY happy.
It’s all about enjoyment, choice, variety and #empoweringkids to do this. I see it as part of intuitive eating, letting them choose what to have and how much to eat. My kids are very different in their eating and how they eat but all loved their lunch out today.
Freelance Dietitian specialising in helping those with Eating Disorders and a Media Spokesperson for the profession.