Breakfast Pancakes

Breakfast Pancakes

This recipe for Breakfast Pancakes has very kindly been given to us by Helen Dalton.

It’s one of her family favourites and makes a great alternative to the usual bowl of cereals.

The quantities used in this recipe will make 2 pancakes, so if you need more (which we are sure you will) just double up the ingredients.

Ingredients

Starting with a healthy breakfast will give you the energy to face whatever the day brings.  Porridge is a great option, but unlike having it in a bowl with milk I add my porridge oats to a pancake mix.

Mash 1 banana, 1 egg, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, 3 tablespoons of porridge oats, 2 tablespoons of self raising flour together in a bowl.

Method

Heat a small frying pan with a drop of oil and add half of your pancake mix, allow around 2/3 minutes on each side, until golden brown and flip onto a plate.  Repeat with the remaining mix.

I serve my pancakes with greek yoghurt, blueberries and raspberries with a drizzle of raspberry coulis.

Enjoy x

Why Do I feel Dizzy During or After a Workout, feeling dizzy whilst exercising, why does exercise make me feel dizzy, womens fitness, fitness for over forties, online gym, exercise for women

Feeling Dizzy During Or After Exercise?

Feeling dizzy during or after exercise is something that should not be ignored.  There can be several reasons why this can occur, so it's important not to assume that exercise itself is the culprit.

The Culprits:

Low blood Sugar

Skipping breakfast and exercising in the morning can deprive the body of sufficient fuel to carry it through a workout. Eating a small snack an hour before the gym, will help keep blood sugar stabilised.  Good options are:
A banana, apple or other fresh fruit.
Yogurt.
Fruit smoothie.
A whole-grain bagel or crackers.
A healthy snack is especially important if you plan a workout several hours after a meal.

Dehydration

Taking on fluids before, during and after exercise will ensure the body is sufficiently hydrated.  Adequate hydration is especially important if exercising in the morning as the body will be low on fluids after a nights sleep.

If we are not hydrated and then lose more fluid via sweating, it can effect both physical and mental performance in the following ways:
An Increased heart rate.
Impaired body heat regulation.
Reduced energy levels.
Increased perceived exertion, we will mentally believe exercise to be harder than when our bodies have enough fluid.

Guidelines suggets that 6-8 glasses of fluid per day are needed to keep the body hydrated.  This will differ from person to person, depending on climate, activity, gender and size.

Breathing

It's common for people to use different breathing patterns when exercising.  This can lead to the body taking in less oxygen and not letting carbon dioxide out, resulting in light headiness.

During rest periods instead of puffing and panting to get the oxygen your body needs, try breathing deeply through the belly, using the diagram to fill and empty the abdomen with each breath.

With practice it's possible to synchronise breathing with the activity being performed.  For example during cardio try breathing in for 3 seconds and exhaling for 2.  Breathing in a continuous manner will increase nitric oxide, a gas that helps relax arteries aiding the blood flow around the body.

If you are struggling to control your breathing and it becomes too rapid, take a break until it is under control.

Over Exertion

Are you exercising within your current fitness levels, if the intensity is too high the heart will struggle to meet the demands placed upon it, which amongst other things can lead to a feeling of...  you guessed it... dizziness.

The target heart rate for moderate exercise is 50-70% of your maximum heart rate.  To reach an estimate of this subtract your age from 220.
For example a 50 year old would use the following calculation:
220-50 = 170 beats per minute( bpm) maximum heart rate and 50-70% level would be:
170x0.50= 85 bpm target heart rate
170x0.70=119 bpm target heart rate
So the target heart rate for a 50 year old women performing moderate exercise should be 85-119bpm.

Another way to assess physical exertion is with RPE (rated perceived exertion) on a 0-10 scale, 0 being motionless, 6 being moderate and 10 is maxed out.

A quick way to tell immediately if you are exercising within a range that is suitable for your fitness level, is if you can still manage to carry out a conversation.

High blood pressure

When the heart beats it pumps blood around the body to deliver energy and oxygen.  As the blood moves it pushes against the side of the vessels.  The force of this pushing is blood pressure.  There are various factors that can contribute to high blood pressure, such as diet, weight, activity levels and stress.  When it becomes high it may cause damage and stretch the arteries, leading to strokes, aneurysms and heart attacks.  Some people are not aware that they have high blood pressure, so if you do experience dizziness whilst exercising and it is not due to any obvious reason, it is vitally important for long term health to seek an opinion from a Doctor.  Regular exercise can help reduce blood pressure by encouraging the heart to become stronger, helping it to pump blood with less effort, decreasing the force on the arteries, therefore lowering blood pressure.  Those suffering with blood pressure issues should only perform exercise with medical permission and guidance.

Blood Pooling

When we exercise our heart pumps faster and harder increasing cardiac output, this action increases blood flow of oxygenated blood to the working muscles.  Once the oxygen and nutrients have been used up by the active tissue, the blood must be returned to the heart for re-oxygenation, this is known as venous return.

When there is an abrupt cessation of exercise, the force from the muscle contractions which was helping to push blood back around the body to the heart also stops.  This sudden drop in blood pressure creates blood pooling in the extremities and a disrupted flow of oxygenated blood to the brain leading to a feeling of .... dizziness.

It's vital to include a cool down to ensure you slowly return the heart to its resting rate.  For instance if you are running, slow to a walk this allows the muscles in the legs to carry on contracting.   This will aid the blood flow around the body and avoid it pooling in lower extremities.

Seeking Medical Advice

If you experience dizziness and it's due to over exertion take a break.  If it's caused by dehydration or low blood sugar, take on board fluid and eat a small snack.  If the dizziness continues and is accompanied by pains in the chest, jaw or arms - stop exercising, keep your head above the heart to ensure adequate blood flow around the body and call for medical help.

Benefits of Boxing For Women, Why women should box, how can boxing benefit me, keeep fit with boxing, Boxing Blog

Benefits of Boxing For Women

Boxing - It's Not Just For The Boy's

I'm going to pull no punches here, this is about boxing but please don't stop reading because you think it's just for the boys. I promise you it isn't, and if you've yet to sample one of the many boxercise classes that have become popular in recent years, read on and let me try to persuade you to give it a go.

BUILDS A STRONG BODY

Why should it just be the men who want strong bodies? I'll hold my hands up here and say it's only since I started training with Sarah that I can truly appreciate what it feels like to feel strong. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not talking pulling cars along with a rope like a competitor from the World's Strongest Man, but rather how it feels when you can perform a full push up or pull up. I used to think fitness meant being able to run a certain distance or perform silly amounts of time on cardio equipment - it never really occurred to me how important it was to build a body that was strong, powerful and could endure rather than one which just performed well on a cardiovascular level. I was unaware of what benefits a strong body could bring me, how gaining strength could balance out fat-muscle ratio, help my metabolism work efficiently, reduce injuries and provide a better chance of sustaining health into the future.

YOU'RE A LOVER NOT A FIGHTER

Boxing isn't about encouraging violence; it demands skill, dedication and discipline to master the moves that a boxer would use in the ring. No broken noses here, so there is no need to feel intimidated by the thought of putting on a pair of gloves. You certainly won't need to fight anyone to gain the multitude of benefits that boxing can give you. Instead of sparring, classes tend to be based around the drills that boxers use to keep fit, combining conditioning activities such as shadow boxing, skipping, focus pads, kicking and hitting punch bags along with resistance exercises that strengthen the body such as press ups, burpeese and squats. This combination will help gain the lean physique of a boxer without the pain.

YOU'RE WORRIED YOU MIGHT LOOK STUPID

Remember, even the most experienced person in a boxing gym would have started as a novice. If you think people are looking at you, chances are they aren't; they are much more likely to be too absorbed in their own workout to be considering what you are doing. Besides, gyms tend to be friendly places and if you can pluck up the courage to ask for help, you will find that people are more than happy to pass on their knowledge. If confidence is an issue, boxing could be instrumental in helping you gain self assurance. Your brain will receive a huge buzz by focusing concentration on learning new moves, leading to a sense of self believe, happy in the knowledge you have mastered a new skill. As your confidence grows this will spill over into other areas of your life. You'll be a knock-out.

NOT FIT ENOUGH TO PUNCH YOUR WAY OUT OF A PAPER BAG

The great thing about this type of workout is that you can start as a beginner - just make sure you do less repetitions. Please don't start thinking you are the next Tyson, going hell for leather hitting the bag, believe me you will find your energy levels depleted within literally a few seconds and your arms will feel like jelly. Instead, take the power out of your punches. Boxing is a brilliant way to measure gains within your fitness levels, the fitter you get the higher number of reps and the more powerful your punch becomes.

PUNCH AWAY YOUR STRESS

If you are having a bad day, boxing can provide you with much more than just physical benefits; it challenges you mentally, helping to relieve stress, anxiety, frustration and even aggression. Unless you're a saint, I'm sure there have been certain situations in life where you need to let off steam but instead what happens is you hold it together, leaving you feeling more angry or frustrated - then it's your nearest and dearest who suffer. When you feel like this, imagine being able to punch your way out of your mood, leaving you feeling calmer and more relaxed. Releasing anger and stress by chanelling it in a controlled manner and environment will help to decrease the stress hormone cortisol and instead will release those feel-good happy endorphins, giving your mood a much needed boost.

COMBATS THE AGEING PROCESS

If you are wondering why your muscles don't look so taut and why you have suddenly developed a bit of a tyre around your middle, this could be down to the ageing process. Sarcopenia is the process of muscle loss as we age so it's important to try to combat this because muscle actually burns more calories than fat, even when we are at rest. Loss of lean muscle means our bodies become less efficient at burning calories - the less muscle we have the fewer calories we need. The best way to counteract the effect this has on our body, is to gain lean muscle mass through resistance training.
Boxing gives you a resistance workout in various different ways, from punching bags to performing a multitude of body weight exercises. Resistance training can also lessen the effects of ageing by helping to strengthen your bones reducing the risk of osteoporosis, keeping your tendons and ligaments strong to support your body and improve balance, ensuring you will stay steady on your feet.

GETS YOU FIGHTING FIT AND BURNS THROUGH CALORIES

I know seems too good to be true, but don't underestimate how fit a boxer has to be to withstand a few rounds in the ring. Sticking it out for a two minute round might not sound hard but believe me, it takes stamina as well as muscular and cardio endurance to do this, so if you want to make gains in all these areas, it makes sense to emulate a boxer's routine. The route to this type of fitness is not by spending more and more time pounding away on a treadmill but to use a variety of exercises which keep your heart rate at the right level. The best way to do this is by engaging the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems and guess what - boxing is a great way to do just that. But why does it matter which energy system you're using? Working within both systems will improve your fitness in many areas which can be overlooked when just exercising aerobically. Steady state exercises such as running, walking and swimming are generally performed by utilising the aerobic system, great for burning fat and cardio health. Boxing, due to rounds of intense maximum effort and active rest periods, requires more energy than the aerobic system alone can produce, therefore calling upon the anaerobic system. This is where you will build lean muscle, strength, speed and endurance. Boxing also helps with fat loss by delivering a huge calorie burn of roughly 350-500 calories per session (depending on workout intensity and body composition) and, much like a HIIT workout, has the additional benefit of boosting your metabolism to not only use energy to get you through the session but also carry on burning calories post training.

THINK FEATHERWEIGHT NOT HEAVYWEIGHT

If you are looking for toned arms and shoulders, shapley legs and a flatter tummy, boxing could be your new best friend. Featherweight boxers are typically lean and sculpted without looking bulky, which is down to the fast, repetitive action of punching a bag. The movements used in a boxing routine require multiple muscle groups to be activated and putting your body weight body behind each punch engages the core and leg muscles, giving you a full body workout. Boxing will help you gain lean muscle mass without giving you an overly muscular appearance - remember, a pound of muscle does not weigh more than a pound of fat, it just takes up less room, giving a you a leaner appearance.

PUNCH AWAY THE PAUNCH

Although it's not possible to spot reduce fat in stubborn areas, boxing can help reduce visceral fat, the bad, stubborn kind found around the stomach which is hard to target but very important to shift due to its links with many health issues. An effective way to target stubborn areas is by reducing overall body fat and this can be achieved with a balanced diet and by ensuring your workouts are effective and efficient at burning calories. Boxing is a killer combination of cardio and resistance, raising your heart rate, building lean muscle and revving up your metabolism, which all combine to help you torch excess body fat.

IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT LOOKS

It's not just about looking good - it's also about building a healthy body and keeping your heart healthy and strong for as long as possible. Boxing requires full body movement and when you throw a punch a huge number of your body's muscles are contracting at the same time. This will also make you breathe heavily and increase the rate at which your heart pumps blood around the body. Your heart and lungs work overtime, teaching them to adapt to become better at delivering oxygen around your body. Your increased heart beat strengthens the heart's muscles, lowering the risks of developing cardiovascular issues.

EXPERIENCED INSTRUCTORS

This is not just a fad for us; this type of training is something that Sarah and I have used within our own workout sessions during the last decade. Having met her husband through kickboxing and fallen in love, not just with him but with the sport itself, Sarah has based many of our Boditone workouts around exercises that boxers would traditionally use. It's important to find an instructor who actually has experience in a boxing gym; someone with real knowledge will make sure you adopt the correct stance to be able to transfer power through the hips and into punching the bag, giving you a much superior workout without unnecessary strain or injury.
If you want to kick some butt, our Bodibox routines use a combination of boxing and kickboxing moves, taking you from beginner to advanced, helping you to kick your rear into shape.

Homemade chicken fajitas, homemade fajitas, homemade fajita seasoning, healthy fajita recipe, free healthy recipes

Homemade Chicken Fajitas

Instead of using the usual fajita packet mix, try Helen's homemade version which is full of flavour.  This is a great mid week meal as it's simple, quick to prepare and takes hardly any cooking time.

HELEN'S HOME COOKING

Not being fans of fad diets, especially ones that cut out food groups or are so restrictive that they make life miserable, we wanted to provide you with an effective route to a more balanced lifestyle.

One of the key areas in which you can improve your health, is to cook as many meals as possible with fresh ingredients. We understand it can be difficult to find time to shop and prepare meals when you have a busy life. To make things a little easier, we have enlisted Helen's help, giving you her fuss free, family favourite recipes. Read more about Helen here.

Ingredients

1 tbsp oil (vegetable/olive or coconut)

4 x skinless chicken breasts (cut into thin strips)

2 x onions (cut into eighths)

2 x cloves of garlic (crushed)

1 x red, green, yellow peppers (cut into chunky strips)

1 x green chilli

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsps Lemon juice

8 x wheat tortillas

Method

Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok.

Fry chicken strips for approx 7 mins until sealed.

Add the onions and garlic - fry for a further 5 mins.

Add mixed peppers, chilli, spices and lemon juice - cook for a further 7 mins, making sure everything is coated with spices and cooked thoroughly.

Warm the tortillas in the microwave and serve with: sour cream or fat free fromage frais and salsa.

Alternative Option

If you fancy something different to chicken fajitas, you could use prawns, steak or go completley veggie and use baby corn, courgettes and mushrooms, the choices are endless.

Are you sitting comfortably and is it ruining your health, is sitting the new smoking, can sitting effect my health, how does siting for long periods effect my health, what happens to my body when I am sat down for a long time

Are You Sitting Comfortably and Is It Ruining Your Health?

Chances are, whilst reading this you're sat down and may have been sitting for some time.  I’m not judging, after all I'm sat with the dog on my lap, writing about the pitfalls of sitting!

The advancements in transport and technology which aid us in work and every day life are not always helpful to our health.  Modern conveniences have resulted in more leisure time but less need to be physically active. As hunter gatherers our ancestors needed to move on constant basis in order to survive, making better use of their bodies than we do today.  According to studies, we move a shocking  90% less than our forefathers 100 years ago!

YOU MUST BE JOKING – I DON’T HAVE TIME TO SIT DOWN!

It feels like you spend the whole day literally running from one task to the next.  Although you might actually have been seated more than you are concisously aware of.  You sit down at meal times, travel to work in the car or the bus, drive the kids to school, more time is spent sitting on the weekend or on a day off,  you could be desk bound for several hours at a time and once the end of a tiring day arrives you make yourself comfy on the sofa – after all you've earned a good sit down.  A study by The British Heart Foundation showed that Brits sit on their derrière for 2 1/2 months a year! And worryingly 46% of women are inactive.

BUT WHAT IF SITTING IS NOT REWARDING YOUR BODY FOR ALL IT’S HARD WORK – IN FACT SITTING COULD BE THE NEW SMOKING.

“Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, it kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting, we are sitting ourselves to death”.  I’m not trying to frighten you, this is a statement by Dr.James Levine (director of the Mayo Clinic) given in an interview regarding the adverse effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

It’s not just Dr.Levine that believes this, researchers are continuing to find evidence to suggest that prolonged sitting can increase the risk of: type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancers.

BUT I'M ON MY FEET ALL DAY.

Maybe you have a job which involves standing behind a til, counter or reception for large parts of the day. In that case you probably think that this does not apply to you.  Yes standing is better but only if you are moving around.  If you're stood in the same position with little or no movement this can still have a negative impact on the body.

The damage is caused when the body is chronically in the same position  with very little movement for more than 60-90 minutes.

SO WHAT'S ACTUALLY HAPPENING TO MY BODY WHEN I'M HAVING A SIT DOWN?

We are not suggesting that you shouldn't sit down at all, we all need to take a break from time to time. However it's important to realise what's happening on a physiological level when we are sat for extended periods.  The human body is designed to move and long bouts of sitting encourages it to shut down metabolically.  Leading to a sluggish circulation, decreased use of blood sugar, poor posture and issues with spine health.  A slower metabolism also means a reduced energy uptake, storing calories in different ways to when we are in motion.  Scientists have reported that sitting for 8-9 hours a day causes the enzymes that breakdown fat to drop by 90 percent.

I’M O.K I GO TO THE GYM.

Well done you have managed to squeeze in an hour at the gym. Unfortunately this is not enough to offset the negative effects of being sedentary for a large part of the day.  Although a workout is an excellent way to improve health and fitness, experts now believe it can’t counterbalance the negative effects of prolonged periods of inactivity.  Katy Bowman a Biomechanist and author of Move Your DNA has suggested their is an increased risk of cardiac health issues from being sedentary most of the day and then opting for an extreme session in the gym.  Sitting all day restricts blood flow and circulation through your blood vessels and pumping blood rapidly through these vessels is similar to trying to run water through a hose with a kink in it

To offset being motionless for a period of 6-7 hours a day, research has indicated that you would need to compensate with at least an hour of INTENSE exercise.  So if you're working maybe a 12 hour seated shift you would need to find time to sweat it out in the gym for two hours.

2 HOURS OF EXERCISE – I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THAT – WHAT'S THE ALTERNATIVE?

You're too tired to spend 2 hours in the gym and even if you could find the energy you don’t have the time, so how do you rid yourself of the negative impact of sitting.

According to a study in Journal.plos.org it's simple - move more, increasing the time standing and walking is a more effective way to help reduce certain health risks than an 1 hour of planned physical exercise. The trick is to move our bodies regularly throughout the day, even the smallest and simplest changes in activity levels will improve health. Research suggests we need to create frequent opportunities (i.e 4-5  mins every half an  hour) to move our butts out of our seats.

Try some of the following to get you moving:

Stand up whilst on the phone.

Walk to work.

Take the staris

Walk instead of driving on the school run

Take a break every hour from your desk just to stand up and move a little.

GIVE YOURSELF A MINI EXERCISE BREAK.

We still believe that organised physical activity (exercise classes etc) play a vital role in keeping our bodies working efficiently, it's also a way to work on specific goals such as strength and endurance.  If time is an issue, short bursts of exercise will suit you.  The frequency and intensity of a mini workout can bring you the same and possibly more benefits than slogging it out in the gym for hours on end.  By using a combination of bodyweight exercises i.e: press ups, squats, lunges, planks, one legged deadlifts, jumping jacks, Burpees etc. it's possible to devise routines that can be done anytime, anywhere, with no equipment.
This is an example of the type of workout that will elevate the heart rate, activate muscles and help to revitalise the mind and body.  You can of course design a version to suit your lifestyle.

MON/WEDS/FRIDAY

10am: 15 squats/10 push ups/10 burpees x 2 sets

12am: 12 squats/8 push ups/8 burpees x 3 sets

2pm: 10 squats/5 push ups/5 Burpees x 4 sets

4pm: squats/press ups/Burpees - as many as you can until fatigue or form failure x 1 set

 

TUES/THURS

10am: 10 fwd lunges each leg/10 reverse lunges each leg/10 jumping jacks x 2 sets

11am: one legged bodyweight Romanian deadlift 10 each leg/10 squat thrusts x 2 sets

12am: 8 fwd lunges each leg/8 reverse lunges each leg/8 jumping jacks x 3 sets

2pm: one legged bodyweight Romanian deadlift 8 each leg/8 squat thrusts x 3 sets

4pm: fwd/reverse leg lifts then Romanian deadlifts/jumping jacks/squat thrusts  - as many as you can until fatigue or form failure x 1 set.

To keep progressing you can add weights or up the repetitions.

Remember if your joints are creaking when you lift your bum off the sofa, you have probably been sitting for longer than is good for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Savoury puff pastry, savoury pastry recipe, healthy savour pastry

Savoury Puff Pastry

This is an easy and healthy(ish) savory puff pastry recipe, which is quick to make when you are pushed for time.  Kids love helping to make these savory pastries, as they can choose which ingredients to add, the toppings will be the deciding factor in how healthy your version is.  Helen was inspired by a Sally Bee Bikini Promose recipe, it's also very similar to one that we used to make in cookery class.

Ingredients

320g packet of ready rolled 'light' puff pastry.

2 - 3 tablespoons of tomato purée.

1/2 onion.

50g cheddar cheese.

Small handful of canned sweetcorn - drained.

pinch of oregano to season (you can use mixed herbs instead).

 

Method

Preheat oven to 220c/gas mark 7

Line baking tray with baking parchment.

Carefully unroll the pastry onto the baking tray.

Score around the edges with sharp knife (roughly 1cm from edge) - do not cut right through.

Spread the tomato purée within the border of the pastry.

Sprinkle on the cheese, onion and sweet corn.

Add any other toppings that you fancy, the options are endless Helen has used a mixture of ham, red onion, pepper, tomatoes, mozzarella instead of cheddar and salami (although this will add to the fat content).  You can of course go for a vegetarian version.

Add a sprinkle of oregano or mixed herbs.

Place in oven and bake for around 20 minutes until the pastry is golden and risen.

This amount of pastry can either make one large version or you can divide into four, add a side salad to finish.

 

 

Inconvenient truth about convenience food, real truth about jars of sauce, whats in your pasta sauce, should processed food carry a warning label

The Inconvenient Truth About Convenience Foods

CONVENIENCE FOOD – HOW NOT TO FEED A FAMILY

I will hold my hands up and say I used to be a can’t cook, won’t cook and don’t even ask me to cook type of person.  I survived on a very random diet of cream crackers and cereals –not the best type of food to fuel your body with.  This worked for me until I met my husband, who showed me what a ‘normal’ person’s diet was.  Luckily for him, he never expected me to be the one providing a cooked meal, we both worked full time and survived on anything that could be warmed up in an oven in less than twenty minutes – I’m not at all sure that this beat my crackers and cereals on a nutritional level, but at least I had progressed to eating hot food every day !

This carried on until I had my first son, I was completely clueless when it came to feeding him, until he could eat real food he lived off pre prepared gloop from a jar and yes he did turn out to be a very fussy eater, although luckily he did love fruit, It’s o.k though he has developed into a normal healthy child and I don’t appear to have caused him any lasting damage!

My husband is a great cook, he will happily take over the kitchen and make a delicious meal from very few ingredients, however he works a lot of hours and I work from home, so unfortunately for my family the main provider of our meals is me!!

CAN I REALLY CALL IT COOKING IF I'M USING A JAR OR A PACKET?

When I had my second son I knew our eating habits as a family would have to change, I was far too dependent on chicken nuggets and microchips.  I bought myself a small food processor (you can now buy ones specifically for baby food - find out more info over at cheekytummy.com).  I also found an excellent baby cook book by Annabel Karmel this was based on using fresh ingredients and freezing them in ice cube trays – it was a nuisance and not what a sleep deprived mother wants to be doing – however the satisfaction of seeing my child eat ‘real’ food outweighed the pain, to this day my youngest child will literally eat anything.  With this success I tried to provide more home cooked meals – or at least what I classed as home cooked meals.  These consisted of jars or packets to make bolognese, lasagne and occasionally a chicken curry, I thought this was real cooking, well at least they were made with fresh meat and the odd carrot chucked in.

TRYING HARD NOT TO RELY ON SAUCE IN A JAR?

I really wanted my children to have a healthy relationship with food and realised in order to do this, I would need to provide meals that were not reliant on jars and packets, I didn’t have a clue where to start, so I went to the best cook I know, my friend Helen, we have persuaded her to share some of her family favourites with us - you can find them on the main blog page.  Most of her skills were self-taught but now and again she would try out a cooking course, I went along with her and we carried on for five years.  The course was cantered around basic home cooked food, it helped to make me more confident in the kitchen and gave me a bank of recipes which are easy and quick to prepare.

I can’t say I cook from scratch all of the time, It’s just not practical and sometimes I really just can’t be bothered or honestly don’t have the time.  I think I provide home cooked food 80 % of the time – no actually scrap that I’m lying I think it’s probably 70%. When I’m strapped for time I do still reach for a packet, but at least it’s not as frequently as before.  This is an on-going mission for me and I'm always trying to improve on the nutritional quality of the meals I make – it’s difficult as cooking is not a natural fit with me, plus I would prefer to spend my time doing literally anything else, however I will continue as I do realise that teaching my kids how to make good food choices will help keep them healthy and fit for life.

Katie however is not so happy about my use of sauces in a jar and sent me the following information to try and persuade me not to use them too frequently.

SHOULD SOME FOODS REALLY COME WITH A WARNING?

There has been lots of media hype over the last year surrounding the use of Dolmio and Uncle Bens Sauces as whether the  fat/salt/sugar levels are too high and should they carry a warning to say that they should only be consumed once a week.

We need to look a little closer to see exactly why this may be.  I have included a lot of figures but I think it is a clearer way of getting to the nitty-gritty bits!!!!

NHS guidelines for high levels are –

High fat content is 17.5g per 100g – no more than 30g for men and 20g for women per day.

High sugar content is 22.5g per 100g - no more than 30g per day.

High salt content is 1.5g per 100g – no more than 6g per day.

Now keep these in mind as we break down the contents of the Sauces -

Dolmio Original Bolognese Sauce per 100g has          0.6g of fat,    5.8g sugar and 0.8g salt.

Dolmio Carbonara Sauce per 100g has                      10.6g of fat, 2.6g sugar and 0.8g salt

Homepride Creamy Tomato and Herb per 100g has    7.5g of fat,    5.5g sugar and 0.97g salt

Weight watchers Bolognese Sauce per 100g has        0.5g of fat,    3.7g sugar and 0.6g salt

Lloyd Grossmans Bolognese Sauce per 100g has       2.5g of fat,    5.2g sugar and 0.82g salt

So although they don't fall into the NHS 'high' category per 100g, bare in mind that the average jar is 500g and although you could divide this by 4 people I'm pretty sure there are an awful lot of people that might use a whole jar for two.  If you are heavily reliant on them you could easily be exceeding your daily allowance of fat/sugar and salt when combined with everything else you are eating.  My advice - they are o.k now and again, just not for every meal and make sure you, as I do with all my dishes, chuck in a few fresh ingredients to add some nutritional value.

READY MEALS

However there are certain other foods that you should be aware of and maybe really should come with a warning

Tesco Italian Beef Lasagne per 100g has

7.5g of fat, 2.0g sugar and 0.5g salt - however it has 33.4g of fat in the total meal which is already over the recommended daily total for a man.

Tesco Italian Carbonara per 100g has

8.4g of fat, 1.4g sugar and 0.6g salt - however it has 35.3g of fat in the total meal

Tesco Ham and cheese Pizza 100g has

6.9g of fat, 4.3g sugar and 1.1g salt - however it has 20g of fat in the whole pizza 12.4g of sugar and 3g of salt.

Tesco Chicken Tikka Masala and Rice has

6.8g of fat,    2.7g sugar and 0.5g salt - however in the whole meal 30.4g of fat, 12.2g of sugar and 2.4g of salt.

As a busy Mum trying to do the best for your family looking at these labels the per 100g doesn’t look that bad, however when you start to break it down and analyse the total amount contained overall in the meal - it is quite shocking.  A clever bit of labelling can hide a multitude of things.

Maybe meals like these need to have labels on to say only consume once a month or ever!!!!