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New Year's Resolutions

Posted by dom on December 31st, 2007 — Posted in Tips

Did you make resolutions for the new year? “Lose weight” has never worked for me and “lose 5 pounds” sort of backfired when I lost 5 and gained 15! So this year, I’ve gone for a different sort of resolution.

Dance more.

Losing weight is a question of changing your lifestyle and there’s no question that I’ve become much more sedentary as time goes on.

I like to boogie when no one can see me although it’s not something I have ever thought of as “exercise”. But why not? I mean, a good track (especially something from my teen years) can have me bouncing all over the room and panting for breath at the end of it.

So I’m making myself a play-list of songs, called BOUNCE, which I’m filling up with tunes that make me want to dance. I was planning to borrow my son’s ipod to play the songs while I’m doing the housekeeping or cooking, although he’s just informed me that dancing to the B52s “Loveshack” while I’m waiting for the kettle to boil is not motherly behaviour, so maybe that’s out. I can always use the laptop, anyway.

Help me out! Recommend songs that are guaranteed to get these toes tapping and I, uh… well, I promise to update Endiet with my dancing escapades. What a deal :)

Low fat turkey recipes

Posted by dom on November 21st, 2007 — Posted in Links

Turkey & Parsnip CurreyWith Christmas approaching fast and our American friends celebrating Thanksgiving this week, I thought it might be a good idea to scour the web for some healthy, low fat turkey recipes.

We all tend to have turkey meat left over after Christmas/Thanksgiving, but there’s so much more you can do with it than making sandwiches.

Here’s a few ideas:

That should be enough to get you started!

Cooking with pumpkin

Posted by dom on October 26th, 2007 — Posted in Links

PumpkinIt’s that time of year again and pumpkins are everywhere. But rather than just carve them, why not be a little more creative and actually eat them this year!

Pumpkin is a great source of vitamins and minerals, and as Alanna at A Veggie Venture points out, cooking it couldn’t be simpler. Throw it in the oven.

But if you’re looking for a few more ideas, try these for size:

Seasonal Produce – September / October

Posted by dom on September 27th, 2007 — Posted in Tips

Tis the season to gain weight: traditionally we’d be making the best of the harvest to put on a bit of fat to get us through the winter. That may not be necessary for most of us anymore, but there sure is a glut of good food to choose from. There should be no problem at all getting your 5-a-day servings of fruit and vegetable during this wonderful season.

ChanterelleMy favourite food in the whole world is in season right now: mushrooms! I had chanterelles at almost every meal during a recent trip to Germany, if you can find these small wild mushrooms, I highly recommend them. iVillage has posted ‘Shroom 101: The shopper’s guide to mushrooms with three pages of helpful tips and tricks, followed by a set of mushroom recipes. Go get inspired.

And then there is another favourite of mine: artichokes. Steam them gently and then just serve, letting everyone dip the leaves in home-made mayonaisse or just plain melted butter for a good and fun starter.

Fennel is an oft overlooked autumn vegetable: slice it thin and serve it in salads, cut it into chunks and add it to your soups, braise it whole or even roast it alongsie the root vegetables: it’s very versatile and gives a lovely accent to any meal. Squashes are starting to appear which you can roast or mash or even grill. Leeks and onions are in season now too and late season sweet corn is, in my opinion, at its sweetest and juiciest right now. Don’t get the shrink-wrapped stuff, find it fresh, still in the husk. I love to eat this off the barbecue: pull of the husk and remove all the strings, then wrap the cobs back up in the husks and put them on the coals (or under the grill) for 10 minutes. Yum!

My least favourite food is in season this month too, just to balance things out: parsnips. These are commonly roasted and sometimes cut into squares to allow the unsuspecting guest to believe they are roast potato. Cruel practice, and I recommend none of you do such a thing. I’ll concede they aren’t bad in a stew, but that’s all.

This is also a great time to go out and pick your own: blackberries, damnsons, elderberries and greengages are all ready for picking and often you can find them there for the taking in the English countryside.

This is also the time to stock up on apples. Leave them lying around as a tasty and healthy snack. As the weather starts to get a bit chillier you might find yourself inspired to make hot apple pie – especially if you take a look at this American site about making the perfect apple pie.

Healing Curry

Posted by dom on September 4th, 2007 — Posted in Recipes

Healing Curry

My boyfriend and his mother suddenly came down with summer colds, coughing and spluttering all around the house. I went off in search of something simple yet filling to offer them for dinner, using various search terms, including “healing”. It was a good search, I ended up on a site I probably would not have paid attention to normally: Karina’s Kitchen – “recipes from a gluten-free goddess.”

No one in our household needs a gluten-free diet but the dish, A Healing Curry, sounded just right: vegetables and garbanzos (chick peas) and lots of broth, just the thing for my unhappy patients. I don’t have a crock pot but cooked it at a very low simmer on the stove, which worked just fine. The only other change I made is to use home-made chicken broth instead of vegan broth, hoping for some more goodness to combat the evil viruses around the house.

The curry was a hit, even my carnivore boyfriend asked for more. And from my point of view, it was great to be able to prep everything in the morning and then just throw in in the pot. I cooked it for just over 3 hours, stirring it now and again during the evening. The next day I reheated it again and it was just as good, so the next time I’ll make a double batch so I have a pot full to freeze.

This was a timely reminder that “restricted diet” doesn’t have to be a dirty word and specialist sites can have some wonderful recipes too. I’ll be spending more time on Karina’s site!

Quick Diet Tips

Posted by dom on August 23rd, 2007 — Posted in Links, Tips

Here’s a few good tips for dieting and losing weight from healthadel.com.

Probably the most useful one is not to obsess over the numbers. Concentrating on making small changes to your lifestyle that change the way you feel is far more effective than worrying about what the bathroom scales are telling you.

Seasonal Produce – Mid August

Posted by dom on August 17th, 2007 — Posted in Tips

We’re really waiting for September to arrive now with the autumn harvests and time of plenty. Meanwhile, you want to be watching those blackberry bushes for fruit and keep an eye out for new potatoes. Personally, I’ll also be checking the corn on the cob for sale locally! The best (juicy) sweetcorn has a very brief season so I want to make sure not to miss it.

Hands up: how many of you have never had fresh peas. Although frozen peas are very convenient, you really should try them straight from the garden! This is the time to buy fresh peas and cook them only briefly – fry them up quickly with a bit of bacon or boil them for just one minute — you will know they are ready when they turn a brighter green.

Meanwhile, get your fill of peppers: chopped in salads, roasted for a sweet side dish or stuffed to make a full meal! Tomatos and aubergines/eggplants should still be readily available — if you are dreaming of holidays in the sun, maybe you should try some Greek recipes.

You might also consider heading out to a Pick-Your-Own farm for the summer berries — seasonal and a fun day out for all ages!

Once a month not often enough? Get a tip for a seasonal food every week from www.eattheseasons.co.uk

Seasonal Produce – July

Posted by dom on July 5th, 2007 — Posted in Tips

The weather in Britain has been anything but summery, but now that July is here perhaps we can hope for balmy evenings eating al fresco. I love barbecues and picnics and a lot of our meals will be planned around hearty salads. Take advantage of the preponderance of fresh herbs available now: basil, chives, dill, mint, parsley and tarragon all bring an unexpected zing to a mixed salad.

Fennel comes into season and I recommend trying this as a for a wonderful salad on its own: sliced very thinly and served with parmesan shavings and just a touch of olive oil. Or if you find the anise flavour too strong, mix thin slices in with your green salads to add extra bite and a touch of coolness. Then head over to GoodFood for six pages of recipes, both with fennel as the star and in a subsidiary role.

Tomatos are deep red and juicy now. We could eat them all week: served in salad, sliced with garlic and oil, pureed into gaspacho, chopped up into a light sauce for pasta. We love them although sadly it’s quite clear that not everyone agrees. :(

You can still go mediterranean this month though — with a focus on the beautiful purple vegetable. Whether you know it as aubergine or eggplant, you will find it a tasty and versatile addition to your meals. Simply brush slices with oil and grill for a quick and healthy side dish or try one of the 3000+ recipes over at Ashbury’s Aubergines.

For afters, you are spoilt for choice with berries: strawberries and raspberries are naturally sweet this time of year: eat them on their own or with just a touch of double-cream. Red currants are lovely added to fruit salads or made into a sauce. Cherries are juicy and lush and will bring smiles just by putting out a bowl full of them for people to grab.

Get the family involved. The Woodcraft Folk have written up an activity called Eating seasons with worksheets for the UK to test your knowlege of local foods and seasons.

Don't go to work on an egg

Posted by dom on June 29th, 2007 — Posted in News

British EggIt was a simple enough idea. Re-run some old 1960’s television ads to celebrate 50 years of the ‘Lion Mark’ symbol – a seal of quality on British eggs.

But advertising watchdogs were having none of it. They have banned the egg industry from showing the ads on TV because they “fail to promote a varied diet”.

The ads feature legendary comedian Tony Hancock and the slogan “Go to work on an egg” – promoting eggs for breakfast.

Now, we’re all for promoting a varied diet, but banning these fun, nostalgic ads is probably going a bit far. After all, nobody’s suggesting you only eat eggs. And nobody’s banning ads for sugary breakfast cereals.

Until the advertising watchdogs change their minds, you can watch them all here. There’s even a petition you can sign if you want to have your say.

The National Health Scandal

Posted by dom on June 28th, 2007 — Posted in Opinion

This is an excerpt from Barry Groves upcoming book, The National Health Scandal, which will be published early next year.

We are told that we should eat ‘5 portions’ to prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease. If there really is a dose-response whereby 4 portions, say, aren’t good enough, then surely the size of the portion and the number of portions would be important. It is odd, therefore, that both the numbers of portions and their quantity vary widely across the Atlantic. Other scientists must have thought so as well, because over the last few years several studies into the 5-a-day claim have been conducted to test the advice – with disappointing results.

The prestigious CARDIO2000 study published its results in 2003.[i] This study was looking at intakes of fruit and vegetables specifically in relation to acute heart disease. They found that vegetables did reduce the risk of heart disease. But, significantly, it didn’t need ‘5 portions a day’ for the maximum effect. In their conclusions the researchers say:

‘Our findings support that even low consumption of fruits and vegetables (1-2 servings per week) is associated with about 45% lower coronary risk. Consumption of 2 or more servings per week is associated with about 70% reduction in relative risk.’

The Daily Mail reported the study’s results.[ii] The Mail interviewed Professor Sir Charles George, medical director of the British Heart Foundation, about the obvious conflict with the 5-a-day guidelines. Sir Charles answered ‘There is some argument about how much you need; I think five may be an arbitrary figure’ – and, by so doing, admitted that this was yet another example of dietary advice which was based on nothing more than guesswork or wishful thinking. So we don’t need to eat anything like 5 a day to derive benefits in terms of heart disease.

But is there a benefit in terms of cancer the other major disease it is aimed at? This was considered in another study of over 100,000 people published in 2004. This study, conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, showed that, ‘Increased fruit and vegetable consumption was associated with a modest although not statistically significant reduction in the development of major chronic disease’. They continued: ‘The benefits appeared to be primarily for cardiovascular disease and not for cancer.’ [iii] And concluded: ‘Consumption of five or more servings of fruits and vegetables has been recommended . . . but the protective effect of fruit and vegetable intake may have been overstated.’

Not surprisingly, supporters of the ‘5-a-day’ campaign were outraged by the findings, repeating their mantra that eating the recommended number of fruit and vegetables has numerous health benefits – without specifying what those benefits might be.

So you won’t be surprised to learn that a very large study found no benefit in breast cancer from eating ‘5 portions’. In this study, 20 named researchers investigated 7,377 incident invasive breast cancer cases and a wide variety of fruit and vegetable intakes among 351,825 women at 17 cancer research centres in the USA, Germany, Netherlands, and Sweden. They found no association for green leafy vegetables, 8 botanical groups, and 17 specific fruits and vegetables. They concluded:

“These results suggest that fruit and vegetable consumption during adulthood is not significantly associated with reduced breast cancer risk”.[iv]

Whenever studies such as these are reported, the diet police repeat their dogma that eating the recommended number of fruit and vegetables has numerous health benefits; they say that the evidence is ‘overwhelming’. But they never seem able to quote any of that evidence or to specify exactly what the benefits are. In view of the above studies, that will probably come as no real surprise. The point is that, just like almost all the health advice we have had forced down our throats and come to believe over the last few decades, there is practically no basis for ‘5 portions’ advice in science.

Dr Barnett Kramer, of the National Institutes of Health in the US, said of the healthy eat­ing message: ‘A lot of the public is completely unaware that the strength of the message is not matched by the strength of the evidence.’ That we are still kept unaware of it demonstrates just how strong an influence the diet dictocrats have on our minds and the news media.

[i]. Panagiotakos DB, Pitsavos C, Kokkinos P, et al. Consumption of fruits and vegetables in relation to the risk of developing acute coronary syndromes; the CARDIO2000 case-control study. Nutr J 2003; 2: 2.
[ii]. ‘Three fruit and veg are still healthy.’ Daily Mail, 2 September 2003, p 8.
[iii]. Hung H-C, Joshipura KJ, Jiang R, et al. Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Risk of Major Chronic Disease. J Nat Canc Inst 2004; 96: 1577-1584
[iv]. Smith-Warner SA, et al. Intake of Fruits and Vegetables and Risk of Breast Cancer: A Pooled Analysis of Cohort Studies. JAMA 2001; 285: 769-776.

Barry Groves PhD
Author: Natural Health & Weight Loss
Co-producer: The perfect Weight Plan: Be Slim Without Dieting (DVD / Video)