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Chicken Cacciatore recipe, healthy food, Jamie Oliver, Chcken Pasta, free reciepe, healthy living

Chicken Cacciatore Pasta

This is another quick and easy meal from Helen Dalton, really simple to make but full of flavour.  This Chicken Cacciatore Pasta recipe is a great one for the weekend when you want something home cooked but don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen.

I am always on the look out for new pasta recipes, this is an adaptation of a Jamie Oliver recipe and is delicious!

Ingredients

4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs or you can use chicken breast
olive oil
200g chestnut mushrooms
4 rashers of smoked pancetta
2/3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 jarred red peppers
1 fresh red chilli (deseeded and cut into fine pieces)
60ml red wine
500g passata
bunch of fresh basil

Cut the chicken into chunks and place in a large frying pan with 2 tablespoons of oil.  Chop the mushrooms and red peppers, slice the pancetta and add to the pan.  Turn up the heat and keep stirring until golden.  Finely slice and add the chilli, pour in the wine, passata, and chopped basil.  Season to taste, reduce to a simmer and cook until sauce has thickened, around 20-25 minutes.

Cook your pasta and spoon the sauce on top.

Serve with grated parmesan and toasted ciabatta slices.

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

Curried Lentil Soup recipe, curried soup recipe, healthy soup recipe, healthy diet, free soup recipe

Curried Lentil Soup

Simple and satisfying, this spicy winter soup is another brilliant recipe by Helen Dalton, it's sure to warm you up on a cold winters day.

Curried Lentil Soup

Make your own super soups!  This soup is delicious, full of protein and is quick and easy to prepare.
I make a big saucepan full, batch it up and freeze, brilliant for a healthy lunch at work that you can heat up in minutes in the microwave.

Ingredients

1 onion
1 carrot
2 sticks of celery
drizzle of olive oil
200g red split lentils
2 tbsp of curry paste
2 pints of vegetable stock

Method

Finely chop the onion, carrot and celery into small pieces. Use a food processor if you have one. Place in large pan and cook for a about 5 minutes with a drizzle of olive oil. Add the curry paste, lentils and stock. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring now and again. Remove from heat and blend until smooth.

Healthy sweets, healthy jelly sweet recipe, free jelly sweet reciepe, sweets to help with post training fatigue

Jelly babies to sustain training, try these Jelly Love Hearts

These Jelly Love Hearts, are lactose free, suitable for celiacs and with a little twist Vegans as well.

I was inspired by an article I read in Woman's Health Magazine some months ago and have been experimenting ever since.  As usual there have been many interesting outcomes.  My husband has tried these on a long bike ride to keep him going and the response was - 'not bad'!!!!

You may want to put them in a sandwich bag if you are taking them out on a run or to the gym, as your body heat makes them a little sticky.  I have used love heart ice trays as I thought they looked quite cute, but you can let them set in little cups or container.

Coconut water has had a lot of media coverage over the last couple years with various claims, one being that it is better than plain water or energy drinks post workout to re-hydrate you, due to the natural source of electrolytes.

Green tea is packed with antioxidants, so will help prevent the free radical damage caused by your workout and the caffeine content will also give your energy levels a boost.

Cherry juice can help alleviate pain caused by swelling and can aid the reduction of inflammation, therefore encouraging the body to recover more quickly.

Honey is a natural energy source that is easily absorbed by the body.  Try using raw honey if you can as it hasn't been treated and will contain more natural health benefits.  It also contains polyphenols which are powerful antioxidants which will encourage your immune system to work more efficiently.


the immune system post workout.

Ingredients

  • 150ml  Coconut Water
  • 2 Green Tea Bags
  • 215ml Cherry Juice
  • 3 tsp Honey (maple syrup)
  • 20g Gelatin (vegan gelatin)
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Method

  • Bring to the boil the coconut water then add the green tea bags and simmer for 5 mins.
  • Add the Cherry Juice, Honey and Salt and simmer until all has dissolved, remove from the heat.
  • Gradually sprinkle and whisk in the gelatin until dissolved.
  • Pour into molds and allow to cool before placing in the fridge for 10 mins.
Polenta cake, what is polenta, what can I make with polenta, polenta and honey cake recipe

Orange and Lemon Polenta Cake

So what is Polenta and what can I do with it.

It originated from northern Italy and used to be known as peasant food but is now popular all over Europe due to being inexpensive and can be prepared in many different ways.  It’s normally made from the yellow corn, by grinding the dried corn kernels to either fine, medium and course texture depending upon how it is going to be used.  The finely ground white version is normally known as ‘cornflour’.  The Polenta that is referred to in this recipe is the medium version and has a slightly crunchy texture, I have added a link to Sainsbury’s online as they stock it.

It can be made into a a version of mashed potato, added to dishes like a flour, or cooked and sliced and added to a stir fry.  You do need to follow the instructions carefully if you are making your own.  There is a fine line between the correct amount of water added, to get the best texture.

Polenta is made from ground cornmeal so is great for anyone with a wheat intolerance or celiacs as it naturally gluten free.  50 grams of dry polenta will give you 172 calories, 4.3 grams protein, 37 grams carbs, and is a  good source of Iron.

Ingredients

  • 150ml Sunflower Oil
  • 150g Runny Honey
  • 3 Eggs
  • 100g Ground Polenta
  • 60g Coconut Flour
  • 2 large Oranges
  • 1 lemon

Method

  1. Pre heat the oven to 160C/gas 3
  2. Whisk the eggs until light and fluffy.  In a separate bowl mix the oil and honey together, then combine ingredients from both bowls.
  3. Add zest of the oranges and lemon and fold in the Polenta, coconut flour and the juice of the oranges.
  4. Pour the mixture into a lined baking tin and bake for approx. 40-50 mins. Once cooked leave in the tin until cool.

 

Chilli Bean Soup Recipe, Free Soup Recipe, Healthy Soup Recipe, Healthy Lunch Ideas, fitness for women, fitness for over forties, healthy eating, balanced diet

Chilli Bean Soup


Nothing beats a bowl of warm soup when it's cold outside. This recipe from Helen Dalton, is quick and easy to make and makes a great alternative to your lunchtime sandwich.

Chilli Bean Soup

This Chilli Bean soup tastes fantastic and is really filling.  I make a big batch and freeze in containers for lunch.  It's packed with vegetables and mixed pulses, making it an excellent source of fibre. Enjoy it with some crusty bread.

Ingredients

1 tbsp of olive oil
1 red onion chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 green pepper deseeded and chopped
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp chilli powder
400g can mixed pulses (I use the napolina range and it comes in a spicy sauce)
300g can of cannellini bean (or a choice of your preference, please make sure you drain and rinse)
500g passata
250ml of vegetable stock

Method

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and peppers and fry gently, until softened. Add the cumin powder, smoked paprika and chilli powder stir gently for a few seconds. Add the pulses, passata and stock to the pan. Stir well, bring to the boil and reduce the heat, simmer gently for 20/25 minutes until the vegetables are tender. This soup is best left to cool and heated through a few hours later, it allows the soup to thicken, at this point you may wish to add a touch more water/stock.

Apple and plum pudding, healthy recipes, healthy food, free recipes

Apple and Plum Pudding (Gluten and Dairy Free) using Coconut Flour

Coconut flour, what and why should I use it?

I have been experimenting with coconut flour, it has a far less grainy texture compared to most gluten free flours.  As you can imagine I have had mixed success, ranging from sawdust to glub.  What you have to remember, when using coconut flour, is you cannot just swap like for like in any recipe, it will absorb any liquid far more than normal flour.  I have mainly been using 1/2 to 1/4 of normal flour to coconut flour,  but will always use less to start with as you can always add more depending on the texture.

Coconut flour is made from 'meat' or the white pulp of the coconut and is naturally gluten and lactose free so no chemicals are used to alter the composition.  It is relatively easy to make, follow this link and see how you get on.  The flour has a higher protein and fiber content than normal flour and due to its low GI content is great in helping to maintain your blood sugar which prevents peaks and troughs of energy.

There has been lots in the media recently about the health benefits of coconut water and how it can help to rehydrate you after a workout.  It is packed with minerals like iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium and manganese, it also contains high levels of antioxidants and amino acids.  However in recent tests, water has been found to be just as good at rehydrating the body during and post workout.  So I think the jury is still out on that one.  If you like the taste and feel better after drinking it, then it may be for you.  I personally still prefer basic water.

Try this really quick and easy pudding that all the family can enjoy.

Ingredients

Fruit Layer

  • 2 x Cooking Apples, peeled, cored and chopped into cubes
  • 3 x Plums washed, stone removed and chopped into cubes
  • 1/2 tbsp Honey
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon

Topping

  • 4 Eggs
  • 75 grams Caster Sugar
  • 50 grams Coconut Flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 20 grams of Ground Almonds

Method

  1. Put fruit, sugar and cinnamon in a pan and cook for 2 mins on a high heat, reduce to a simmer for 15-20 mins until the fruit is soft.
  2. While the fruit is cooking whisk the eggs and sugar in a bowl until fluffy and quite firm.  Gently stir in Flour, Almonds and baking powder until thoroughly mixed, do not beat the mixture as all the air will be lost and the 'sponge' won't rise.
  3. Add the fruit to a dish and pour over the topping.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 170C and bake for about 30 mins until the topping is firm to touch.
  5. Serve immediately with a splash of Coconut Cream.
tomato, spinach and courgette pasta, free tomato, spinach and courgette past

Tomato, Spinach and Courgette Pasta with Avocado Pesto

Courgette Pasta, whatever is that?

I have been experimenting with using Courgettes as pasta, some attempts have been more successful than others.  This dish is inspired by a Deliciously Ella recipe, with of course a little bit more added.

There is a lot in the press about reducing the amount of carbs you eat, however my reason for experimenting was due to my husband not being able to eat pasta.  I have tried some of the gluten free options and to be quite honest was not that impressed, there is about a second where it goes from being under cooked to mush!!  You can now buy Courgettes already made into noodles, for about £1.25 for 300g, although it's more fun doing them yourself.  If you do want to have a go at making your own, a spiralizer will cost anywhere from £11.99 to £49.99.  A very dear friend bought me a Rotato Express when I broke my wrist and could not peel vegetables.  You can imagine my excitement to find a machine that peels your vegetables for you!! Anyway I now use this to spiralize my veg!!!

Nutritional Information

Courgettes are one of the lowest calorie vegetables, with only 17 calories per 100g, it is technically known as a fruit not a vegetable.  Zucchini, as it is also known, has a high fiber content which helps to lower cholesterol levels.

Did you know that the simple Avocado (or Alligator pear) originated from South Central Mexico, they produce around 1.47 million tonnes a year.  Advocados are a great source of vitamins C & E, which provide antioxidants to fight those free radicals post workout.  They have twice the potassium as Bananas which helps regulate body fluids.

In previous blogs we have talked about the importance of Magnesium, this dish has a good source due to the spinach, avocado and pine nuts and will give you around 155mg of Magnesium.

Ingredients

  • 2 Courgettes, Spiralized
  • 10 Chestnut Mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 Avocados
  • 2 Large Handfuls of Spinach
  • 8 Cherry Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 Red Chili, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 Lime, juiced
  • 10 leaves of fresh Mint
  • 5 leaves Coriander
  • Handful of pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp of Sesame Seed Oil

Method

  • Heat a large pan and add the Sesame Seed oil, when hot add the mushrooms and chili, simmer for about 7 mins. Add the spinach and simmer until the spinach has reduced down.
  • Add the spiralized courgettes, and simmer gently for about 5 mins.
  • Peel and stone the avocado and chop, add to a large jug, add the mint, coriander, lime juice and olive oil.  Using a little hand blender, blitz the mixture until it is as smooth as desired.  Season to taste.
  • Add the avocado mixture to the pan and heat through.
  • Serve with chopped tomatoes and pine nuts sprinkled on the top.
Magneficent Magnesium, marvel mineral Magnesium, Magnesium deficiency, benefits of magnesium

Marvellous Magnesium – The Wonder Mineral

Magnificent Magnesium

Roll Up, Roll Up - Are you suffering from: stress/insomnia/anxiety/legcramps/irritability/migraines/pms/menopausal symptoms?

Maybe you need a dose of the marvellous mineral - MAGNESIUM.

Magnesium is one of the essential minerals for life.  It's responsible for over 300 chemical reactions within the body and plays a vital role in:

Cardio health.
Brain function.
Bone formation and health.
Adrenal response.
Cellular energy.
Manufacture of hormones
Thyroid function.
Regulation of blood sugar levels.
Sleep patterns.
Activation and absorption of Vit D and calcium.

Wow - for something that has so much control over our bodies, it's surprising that we don't hear more about this wonder mineral.

Don't worry I'm not going to bore you and write pages and pages of sciencey stuff, I have just picked a few of the above to cover in more detail.

Bone Health

It's often assumed that calcium and Vitamin D are the main players when it comes to bone health.  However without the presence of magnesium, these two can't do their jobs efficiently.

Adequate levels of magnesium are essential in enabling the absorption and metabolism of calcium and Vit D.  Recent research at Bristol and East Finland Universities has found that low magnesium levels are associated with an increased risk of bone fractures.

Magnesium stimulates the hormone calcitonin which draws calcium out of the blood and soft tissue back into the bones.  This preserves bone structure and works to prevent osteoporosis.

It's not just our bones that are affected by magnesium deficiency.  If we are low in this mineral it can lead to a calcium build up in the blood.  Calcium may then be deposited in different areas of the body where it can harden (calcify).  This is dangerous as calcification has the potential to cause kidney stones, arthritis and clogged arteries.

Magnesium also converts vitamin D (which is actually a hormone not a vitamin) into calcitriol.  This is important because calcitriol helps bond calcium to bone and tooth enamel.

Our bodies don't produce magnesium so we need to consume it, good sources are:

Nuts - almonds/peanuts/cashews
Seeds
Spinach and other dark leafy greens
Beans
Fish
Whole grains
Avocados
Dried fruit
Potatoes
Bananas
The Best news of all - Dark Chocolate - no this is not an excuse to eat a whole bar - just a small square will suffice!

Some elements of our diets such as refined sugars, alcohol, medication, carbonated and caffeinated drinks can interfere with magnesium absorption, leaving our bodies depleted of this essential mineral.

STRESS

Magnesium is often referred to as the anti-stress mineral.  It can help balance the nervous system, relax muscles and reduce cortisol presence within the cells.  A lack of magnesium causes stress symptoms and stress causes depletion of magnesium - which as you can imagine will lead to a vicscous circle of feeling constantly edgy.

Have you ever been in a tense situation and even after the event has passed you still find that your nerves are jangling?  It could be that your magnesium levels are too low and are not able to administer the 'chill pill' effect it normally has on the body.

Here's the science bit:

When stressed magnesium opens the cell to allow calcium to enter.  This triggers the fight or flight response, creating a rise in blood pressure, muscle contraction and adrenaline release into the blood  - in short everything we need to respond to a stressful situation weather its physical or physcological.

Staying in a heightened condition is not good for us, to control this state of affairs magnesium monitors the levels of calcium and when it's done it's job pushes the calcium back out of our cells, acting as a calming agent on our muscles and stress responses.

If we are deficient in magnesium it can leave calcium hanging around, the cell won't then be able to relax, leaving us in a perpetual state of feeling stressed.

Menopause/PMS

At some time or another you have probably experienced pre-menstrual related symptoms, such as headaches, cramps or irritability.  If you have finished dealing with those you might now be faced with peri/pre/menopausal issues, which could include anxiety, insomnia, palpitations, fatigue, panic attacks or mental fog (the list goes on!).  As well as being linked with pms/menopause these problems are also included on the magnesium deficiency list.

I'm not suggesting for one minute if you have dealt with any of the above complaints, that you have a magnesium deficiency, but they could be excaberated if our bodies are lacking in this mineral.

Remember magnesium is used by the body to create a calming effect which we definatley need when our period hits. During different times of our cycle oestrogen levels are elevated, this places a greater demand on the requirement for magnesium - if we are deficient it can contribute to the symptoms we suffer with every month.

This balance between magnesium and oestrogen might be responsible for my monthly chocolate craving.  Dark chocolate is high in magnesium and this craving is my bodies way of alerting me to low magnesium levels.  Yes I know there are lots of other magnesium rich foods - but I really like chocolate.

Oestrogeon can enhance the utilisation and absorption of magnesium by soft tissues and bone, this is thought to be why younger women are protected from cardiovascular disease and poor bone health,

Hormonal changes as we age such as a decline in oestrogen can lead to unutilised magnesium being excreted through the kidneys.  This excretion may lead to a depletion in magnesium and therefore a greater risk of developing osteoporosis and heart disease as well as aggravating menopausal symptoms.

Am I Getting Enough Magnesium?

If you are eating a varied and balanced diet there should be no need for supplements.

NHS guidelines for the recommended daily intake of magnesium:

300mg a day for men aged 19-64
270mg a day for women aged 19-64

So for example -

  • a hand full of Pumpkin seeds will give you approx 92mg
  • a large portion of spinach will give you 157mg
  • 1 square of my favorite Dark chocolate is 95mg
  • 1 oz of almonds is 80mg
  • 1 normal size avocado is 58mg

If you feel you would benefit from a magnesium supplement NHS guidelines suggests that 400mg or less a day is unlikely to cause any harm.  However we would point out that the body is extremely efficient and only absorps the actual amount of magnesium it requires, extra will be excreted!  So beware, if you take too much, you may find yourself running for the loo!

As with any supplement you should gain prior consent and advice from your medical practioner.

My advice to top up those magnesium levels: eat a varied and balanced diet with plenty of magnesium rich foods, take a bath with Epsom salts - (magnesium can be absorbed through the skin, read more about Epsom salts at positive health wellness) and indulge in a bit of dark chocolate now and again.

Sources
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7669504
http://www.aminoacid-studies.com/areas-of-use/menopause.html
http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vitamins-minerals/Pages/Other-vitamins-minerals.magnesium
http://www.nutritionalmagnesium.org
https://www.healthcentral.com/article/magnesium-linked-to-bone-health
http://www.ancient-minerals.com/magnesium-sources/dietary
http://www.mgwater.com/estrogen.shtml
http://www.epsomsaltcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/report_on_absorption_of_magnesium_sulfate.pdf

Benefits of rooibos tea, rooibos tea fact or myth, health benefits of rooibos tea, caffeine free tea

Redbush Tea (Rooibos Tea) myth or fact?

Rooibos tea is made from the Aspalathus Linearis plant, native to the western cape of  South Africa.  The British name for Rooibos tea comes from the Afrikaans pronunciation meaning Red Bush.  It's more like a herbal tea as opposed to your normal cuppa, however unlike other teas, it has the benefit of being naturally caffeine free.  If you are trying to kick a caffeine habit, this may be the way forward for you.

It is made in just the same way as your normal brew, with a dash of milk, sugar or even honey.  For a virtually calorie free option - drink it on it's own.   On a hot day use it to make an iced tea with a slice of lemon as a great alternative to a fizzy drink.  My personal favourite option is with a slice of lemon and ½ teaspoon of honey.  Click here for hints and tips on how to make the perfect Rooibos Tea.

Caffeine

- So what is the big deal about this tea being Caffeine free and why should I read on?  Do you have issues concentrating during the day and find yourself reaching for a coffee to keep yourself going? then have trouble sleeping at night.  Caffeine addiction is one of the most common throughout the world, most people are not aware of the impact it can have.  Have a look at our caffeineometer below to see how much caffeine is in each item -

As with most things Caffeine in small doses can have health benefits, such as protection against  Parkinson's disease, type 2 diabetes and liver disease.  However large intense doses can have a negative effect on the body, leading to insomnia, headaches, nausea, nervousness, restlessness, stomach irritation, vomiting and increased heart rate.  Don't forget that caffeine can also prevent iron absorption into the body, so if you are anemic or suffer from any kind of iron deficiency and drink large amounts of caffeine - this could be the culprit.  If you feel you would benefit from drinking less caffeine try replacing some drinks with water or a naturally caffeine free drink like Rooibos Tea.

Antioxidants

- There are so many other benefits to be gained by drinking this tea, firstly it has 50 times more antioxidants than green tea.  We need these antioxidants to help reduce the free radical damage that happens naturally in the body everyday.  Smoking, alcohol, fatty fried foods, pesticides and air pollution all contribute to free radical damage within us.  Think that free radical damage isn't relevant to you - think again, it has been linked to various diseases and has an impact on how we visually age.  The body naturally produces antioxidants, however due to lifestyle choices and the environment, having food and drink high in these has a big impact on reducing cell damage.

Stress

- Studies have  been conducted that prove the aspalathin in the tea can help to reduce the hormone cortisol, which is produced by the adrenal gland and controls the stress hormone.  Aspalathion is believed to reduce stress and nervous tension, which can help prevent heart disease.  It also helps regulate your blood sugar, improves glucose tolerance, increases glucose absorption into the muscles and reduces excessive fat production.

Allergies

- Also known for its anti-inflammatory properties it can also help reduce the effects of asthma, eczema and hay-fever.

Sounds to good to be true, well for some it may be.  If you are receiving any medication or treatment it is worth discussing with your doctor first as this little tea may interfere with some treatments.  For others, try switching a couple of your cups of high caffeinated drinks and see if you notice any changes in sleep patterns, concentration or energy levels.