Monday, 21 October 2013

Top Healthy Food for Autumn Cooking

As summer comes to an end, so does the availability of British grown seasonal foods such as berries and crisp salads. But foodies shouldn't fear - while Autumn may bring with it long nights and cold weather, it's also the perfect time of year for some of the very best fresh produce the UK has to offer, many of which contain disease fighting nutrients.
Autumn is a great time of year for English apples, and not only do these taste amazing but they are full of flavonoids, potent antioxidants that are known to lower the risk of heart disease, heart attacks and some cancers. They are completely versatile, and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, including apple pies and crumbles and sauces to accompany Sunday roasts. Apple's aren't the only fruits Autumn gives us - pears are almost as versatile as apples, and are high in fibre, lowering blood cholesterol levels and improving blood sugar control. They can be used on salads or in sandwiches or can be poached for a warm, sweet dessert.
Often ignored until Christmas day, parsnips have a sweet, delicate flavour and are a great source if of fibre, vitamin C, calcium and iron. The best flavour comes from smooth and firm, small to medium sized parsnips, and these can be boiled and mashed together with carrots or steamed, boiled or roasted a side vegetable. They also make a great addition to soups.
Autumn is the perfect time of year for pumpkins and squashes, but too often pumpkins are thought of as a Halloween decoration rather than a food full of beta-carotene, an important antioxidant, as well as vitamin C. Even the seeds of pumpkins are packed with nutritional value, and can be roasted from a fresh pumpkin in a hot oven.
Winter squashes are one of the few vegetables that do not loose quality after picking and can be stored for months on end. In fact, during storage, the vitamin A content increases, making them a great source of heart-healthy nutrients.
Turnips, or swede depending where in the country you live, have a tough outer skin with a white flesh that's bitterer in flavour than potatoes. They are a member of the mustard family and are a great source of fibre and cancer fighting toxins. They can be cooked in a number of ways, including boiling, roasting or mashing.
Finally there's the sweet potato. Not normally associated with British gardens, the sweet potato is easy to grown in sheltered spaces and contains one and a half times the amount of vitamin C found in an ordinary potato. However the name is slightly misleading - sweet potatoes are not related to the traditional potato, and is in fact a root vegetable rather than a tuber.
Firm, smooth skins are a sign of a good quality sweet potato, and as well as vitamin C, they contain four times the recommended amount of vitamin A and are an ideal choice diabetics since they are full of slow release carbohydrates, helping to steady blood sugar levels.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Simple steps to good nutrition

Though the importance of good nutrition has been elevated in recent years, a vast number of people continue to neglect the basic principles of a sound and healthy diet. What we eat and how much plays a great role in determining our longetivity and likelihood of developing life threatening illnesses such as cancer and heart disease. More importantly, this is one facet of the health equation that we are in control of and have the power to change for the better. Just being conscious of important facets of good nutrition are the first step toward a healthier and happier life.
Good nutrition can be broken down into several simple guidelines that most people neglect:
1. Eat a well balanced meal
2. Only eat during the normal times and avoid snacking
3. Take Vitamins and Minerals on a regular basis
4. Drink Water
5. Know what you are eating and make sure it is healthy
6. Monitor your weight and overall health and know that when these two are out of line you need to adjust things
As we all know by now a well balanced meal consists of the four basic food groups consisting of: dairy products, meat/protein, fruits/vegetables and breads/cereals. Because of individual taste and propensities we often find that one of these is not to our liking. However, they are all essential and if one of the groups does not appeal to you because of taste or a medical condition (lactose intolerance etc.) then you must find another way to get the essential proteins and nutrients contained in that food group. Often it is simply a matter of doing a bit of researching and finding something that you like.
The first of these has been well known for some time now. Eating meals at the normal times of breakfast, lunch and dinner and avoiding snacks is by far the healthiest approach and leads to a much less likelihood of excess weight gain or unwanted calories. Eating when you are hungry easily turns into a habit and when this happens it is much harder to break than simply being disciplined in the first place. A caveat to this rule is that in some instances snacks are necessary and recommended. This is often found in glucose tolerance/intolerance illnesses such as hyper and hypoglycemia and diabetes mellitus. Check with your Doctor if you feel you may have one of these illnesses.
Vitamins and minerals play an important role in health care because even when following the guidelines of a balanced meal important minerals and vitamins are often left out. Therefore almost all of us will need dietary supplements of some kind. If you want to know exactly what you are deficient in then you should schedule a consultation with a dietician or Physician.
Just drinking several glasses of water daily can do wonders for our health and digestive system. Though many like to think other beverages are equivalent to water, this has been proven to be false. There are many views of how much water is recommended for the average person. Simple research and self-monitoring can help you find the right amount.
Most people have acquired the habit of reading the ingredients of the foods they eat. If you have not then it is time to start. You need to know what additives are in your food and how it has been processed and grown if at all possible. Many additives are unhealthy and detrimental to good health. Inquire, ask questions and find out what is in the food you eat and how it affects your overall health. You owe it to yourself.
The last step to healthy nutrition is to simply monitor yourself and determine if what you are doing is giving you the results that you want or not. If not then it is likely something needs adjusting. Be aware, that good nutrition is not enough by itself for a healthy life. We also need exercise and other facets of general healthcare that cannot be neglected. Nutrition is a very important part of the picture but don't neglect other aspects of healthcare.