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The A-Z of Plantalicious Ingredients – H is for Hamburg Parsley

Hamburg Root Parsley is somewhat of a unique ‘off-beat vegetable’. Although this wonderful white and green vegetable is not as common as other root veggies, parsley root is extremely delicious and deserves much more recognition than it gets

Very easy to grow, both the leaves and root are edible. Parsley Root Hamburg has edible large flat, parsley-like leaves but should not be confused with common curly parsley or Italian flat leaf parsley, as neither produce edible roots.

Parsley root is most commonly eaten cooked, as a delectable addition to stews or soups, or simply as chopped or cubed as a steamed side veggie, as you would other roots such as turnips, parsnips, and carrots. In fact, it’s an extremely versatile and exciting vegetable which can be sautéed, roasted, fried, or boiled for a distinctive and savoury accompaniment for any meal.

This charming vegetable is not only a delicious ingredient, it also come with a wonderful array or health benefits.

Parsley is a very rich source of vitamin K, vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin C, iron and folate. Apart from these, it contains a fair amount of other vitamins and minerals and is also very low in calories.

Parsley tea is a tasty tea with an acquired taste that is used as a remedy for various health problems. The herb was used in ancient Greek medicine and in Ayurveda, to treat flatulence, and dyspepsia.

 

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“International NO Diet Day” – My thoughts on diets and self-esteem. Why diets do not work for me. Do they work for you?

Today is International No Diet Day, which got me thinking about all the diets  I have done over the years.  There have been a lot!  You can read all about my dieting history in the “About Me” section.

One of the things that I remembered today, was a turning point in my life and my relationship with food. It was discovering the complicated relationship between dieting, eating and my self-esteem.  I had never realised just how much my relationship with food was governed by my feelings about myself and drove my feelings about myself.

I also don’t remember how I came upon the book  “The 6 Pillars of Self-Esteem” by Nathanial Branden. I read the book. I did the exercises. Some of the sentence completions, where you have to look at yourself in detail were quite difficult, however they give you an amazing insight into how you view yourself. That insight really helped me understand my relationship with food. It was probably the turning point in my life where I realised that diets really do not work for me, and probably don’t really work for anyone.

I believe that the issue of self-esteem is one aspect of diet and weight loss that has been overlooked and requires a lot more work and scientific study.  Diets are a temporary state, where you are either “good” or “bad”, you are either compliant or non-compliant with the rules and boundaries of the chosen food regime.  All of that “feedback” as well as the physical weight loss or unexpected weight gains play havoc with how we see ourselves and how we believe that others see and judge us.

I had dieted on and off for most of my adult life and it was only once I recognised the link between diets, food and self-esteem, did I realise that it was time to make a change.  For me, that meant more searching for a better way.  An approach where I add continually to my self-esteem rather than the previous roller coaster of: “I’ve lost weight”=”I feel good about myself” and “I’ve not lost weight”=”I must be a failure, I cannot do this, why bother etc.,” The euphoria would probably be celebrated with some indulgent “reward” food and the failure would be comforted with indulgent “never mind, there, there” food, all of which further served to make me feel worse about myself.

Discovering a plant-based diet, was not a magic pill for me.  It wasn’t an instant solution.  I can recall thinking when I heard people say that they were “plant-based” that they must be bonkers.  I had no idea that I could and would change my diet to a 95-98% no added fats, whole food, plant-based diet, eating no fish, meat or dairy.  That came about in part because not only did the idea that this way of eating would change my health destiny, I found that virtually every meal adds to my well-being and my self-esteem.  I may still be overweight, but I am a lot lighter than I was.  I may not be able to run a marathon, but I can run.  I may not be an olympic weight-lifter but I do lift weights on a regular basis and at 52, I am fitter than I have been in my entire life.

What I choose to eat now nourishes my body and my mind.  It is consistent with my having a positive view of myself.  I’m not saying that I look in the mirror and immediately love what I see, but I like me a whole lot more than I did.

Do you think that self-esteem and dieting are related?  If you don’t, let me share an extremely personal and humiliating example:

One of the diets that I tried was a pill that inhibited the absorption of fat in the gut and made the fat literally “pass” right through the body and out when you went to the toilet.  The tablets were called XENICAL.  At that time you got them on prescription, although (sadly), I think they are available over the counter now.  I was attending a company event in San Diego at a beautiful resort hotel in La Jolla.  I had been at several functions and had eaten some food containing fats earlier in the day.  On my way back to my room, I could not stop myself and soiled my trousers.  The fat leaves your body with little or no warning!  Even typing this now, makes me shiver.  Luckily, I was fairly close to my room when it happened. on returning to my room, I took off my trousers and found that they were stained right through and had to wash them out in the sink in my room, before I could send them to the hotel laundry.  Can you imagine how that made me feel?  How I felt when I went to breakfast the next day?  I felt dirty, ashamed, as well as a failure on the diet!  Can you see how this would affect anyone’s self-esteem?

What amazes me to this day, is the way in which people are zealous about a particular diet that they are following at a given point in time.  It would appear that belonging to a group of like-minded people, or a club diet like weight-watchers etc., makes us feel like we belong.  It adds to our self-esteem as long as we are “winning” the battle of the bulge.  When we fall away, it damages us, but in order to protect ourselves we claim that the diet didn’t work and move on to the next one, or we say that it failed to fit in with our lifestyle.  More likely, we failed and that failure damaged us and rather than admit that diets do not work and damage our self-esteem, we look for another diet to make us love our “soon-to-be-slim” bodies and ourselves.

My approach, is now to love myself by nourishing myself with food that I know does my body good and trust that my body will reward me with better performance.  How do I know it works for me?  The answer is simple:  I just feel better, lighter, with more energy than I have ever done in my entire adult life.

Happy International NO diet day!

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F is for FIBRE – Are you getting enough? Are you “going” enough???

150808-20140203Do you remember the F Plan Diet? I do. The book by British author Audrey Eyton became a huge best seller. Basically the diet suggested restricting calories whilst eating large amounts of fibre. It was also known by another “F” due to the Flatulence it caused! 

It’s almost 35 years since the F Plan hit the shelves and fibre is no longer the hot topic, it once was. Until a recent study that found that heart attack survivors were more likely to be alive. 9 years later if they had a high fibre intake. 
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The Harvard School of Public Health team analysed data from two large US studies involving more than 4,000 men and women who had survived a first heart attack and had provided information about their usual diet via questionnaires.

Interesting, huh? 

That got me thinking about how much dietary fibre most people eat. With my wholefood, plant-based diet I routinely consume more than the experts from US recommendation of 38g. In the UK the average consumption is 14g against a suggested intake of 18g. 

Fibre really does keep everything “moving” through your system. Fibre comes in two types – soluble and insoluble. Soluble slows the digestion and cause gasses. Insoluble fibre is what promotes “stool regularity”. Ok – sorry to talk about poo, but come on, be honest, do you go with ease and as regularly as you’d like? 

Fibre also makes you feel full. 

Should you worry about your fibre intake? Judging by what I see in some shopping baskets, possibly. If you eat a predominately plant based diet, you should have no need to be concerned about your fibre intake. 
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If you are eating whole grains, peas, beans, legumes plus plenty of vegetables and fruit, you should have no worries about your fibre intake. 

How can you tell if you are getting enough? For me, it’s the regularity with which I go. 

What’s your fibre intake like? 
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There are no “Silver Bullets” – It’s progress not perfection and dealing with the frustrations.

Here is a video blog entry about my experience and recent “low point” after 12 months of following a plant-based diet.

 

 

Please share your experiences by adding some comments or by joining the community.

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“That is not what I ordered” – Getting Plant-Based food in restaurants

I’ve been meaning to write this article for quite some time.
The longer I leave it, the more information and more disappointment, I have to share. It is not difficult, I do not eat meat, fish, or dairy.  in other words anything that has a face or mother. When I eat out, which I do quite often, I make this perfectly clear and ask very politely for either something on the menu that suits my dietary choices or for a small modification to a dish in order that it works me.

Increasingly, I found that this seems to be too much to ask in many situations. I don’t know why, but certain organisations seem to make very heavy weather of providing me with the food that I’m looking for. Here’s some recent examples:

ITSU (http://www.itsu.com/) -the well-known food chain in the UK. It promotes itself using the tagline “eat beautiful” with pictures of lithe half naked bodies and also through their sponsorship of England Beach volleyball tour 2014-2017. Despite this, they seem unable to provide clear training to their staff and clear labelling on a number of their products. Mr G and I have bought this to their attention and to be fair they are doing something about it. However, be really careful as the miso soup that is used in some of the noodle pots has fish in it, so be sure to ask a vegetable miso.  There is even fish seasoning in their rice sidedish. This is a bit disappointing for a company with the tagline eat beautiful!
Some time ago, I suggested that they change the rice used in the hip and healthy salad to brown rice rather than using white rice. I was told, at the time, that they would use the existing supply of rice and then look to replace it with brown rice. I think that was about 2 years ago.  When I bought one of the salads last week, it still contained white rice. It does seem as if my suggestion had fallen on deaf ears.
The next company that seems to ignore my requests is EAT http://www.eat.co.uk/index.php). Again it’s a chain, and provides some really appealing products to its customers. Eat’s tagline is “the real food company”. So it may be, but what I want is the food as promised on the pot. I was at Paddington station some weeks ago, when I ordered one of their vegetarian dumpling and noodle pots. Imagine my surprise and disgust,  when eating the 1st dumpling, I discovered that rather than the tofu that I’ve been expecting, that it was actually chicken. I went back to the counter and reported this and was greeted with a mixture of derision and incredulity. It was implied that I must be wrong and that the contents must be vegetarian. I explained that I have very good taste buds and I can tell the difference between tofu and chicken. After some remonstrations, I was eventually assured that the offending pot would be sent back to head office for analysis, and the other pots would be removed from sale and that I would be hearing from them.
I did hear from them, however in the letter to me, I was basically called a liar. The company outlined its totally infallible processes to ensure that it was quite impossible for me to have eaten a chicken dumpling when I purchased a tofu/vegetarian one. I obviously must be an idiot and have no sense of taste whatsoever. I persisted in following this up, only to be told that the offending item had been destroyed, (rather conveniently), rather than being sent back to head office for analysis, as I had been promised. This dialogue took place over the last 3 to 4 months. All I wanted, was an apology, and an admission that they are fallible and the mistakes can happen. This seemed all too difficult for the “real food company” who are obviously infallible and frankly think their customers are idiots, liars, or both, as in my case. After several exchanges of emails, I did get a rather tepid apology although it came in a letter that was headed “without prejudice” as they were obviously concerned that I was planning to sue for some kind of compensation.
I can understand chain organisations such as itsu and Eat, who produce food in vast quantities for their outlets potentially making mistakes.  What astounded me was to visit one of my favourite Indian restaurants in London and to order a vegetable masala only to discover that what been cooked and served was (you’ve guessed it…) a chicken dish. I find this really irritating that people don’t bother to check thoroughly what has been ordered. Fortunately, I don’t have some kind of terrible allergy to meat that would result in anaphylactic shock.  Regardless, the same care should be taken when taking an order from somebody who is vegetarian or vegan, as it would if they were allergic to nuts or gluten, which can have very serious implications indeed.
It’s not just getting the order wrong or making mistake with the food sometimes, as I found out a week ago, you can order something that you think is going to be healthy and suitable only to be disappointed by what is put in front of you.  I was at a restaurant with some colleagues in Swindon – The Weighbridge Brewhouse, (http://www.weighbridgebrewhouse.co.uk/). It’s place I’ve been too many times before and have always really enjoyed the ambience and the food. I ordered a vegetarian dish from the menu and asked that the goats cheese that was an ingredient listed should be removed. I was really looking forward to a beautiful medley of sauteed mushrooms and slices of Jerusalem artichoke with a plum tomato sauce. Imagine my disappointment to be faced with a plate that was swimming in approximately a quarter of an inch of fat, mushrooms that had absolutely no flavour and a sauce that had split so badly and resembled a masala sauce rather than anything to do with the tomato and again, very high in fat. Whilst I appreciate that I hadn’t asked for “no fat” the ingredients didn’t list “half a pound of butter and a cup of olive oil” as two of the ingredients, it simply said that the vegetables would be sauteed. I ate some of the dish, as I was hungry and rather than make a fuss at the time, as I was with some colleagues and rather pressed for time, I called and gave my feedback in the evening.  It was cordially received, but no one bothered to take my email or phone number to follow up which seemed to indicate to me that they did not really give a damn. That was a shame and bad staff training as I am loathed to go back to somewhere that doesn’t really care about it’s customers.
It massively disappoints me that organisations such as those listed above cannot simply provide food for all of their diners as requested.
What’s been your experience? Please feel free to sharing comments on the community.
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The A-Z of Plantalicious Ingredients – G is for Garlic

 

As a child, I could eat onions of any kind.  At family events, I’d be the child eating the very hot crunchy pickled onions.  My father would steep raw onions in vinegar for us to have with salads on Sunday evenings.  I loved them.  In terms of garlic, I’d not tasted fresh garlic at home.  My Mum had a small plastic garlic clove with garlic salt in it.  I can remember being invited to dinner with my newly married brother and my sister-in-law where I tasted “real” garlic for the fist time at the age of 12.  OMG – I loved it, it was onion but to the max!

 

As I grew up I started to understand why it should be a staple part of my cooking.  Mainly used as a flavour enhancer, garlic also has other uses as well.

 

Not that many people know that garlic is actually native to the Central Asia, and it has been used quite a lot by the ancient Egyptians as well, for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Nowadays, we have 7 different types of garlic in Europe, and those are the Ajo Morado de las Pedroñeras, Aglio Rosso di Nubia , Ail rose de Lautre, Ail de la Drôme, Aglio Bianco Polesano, Aglio di Voghiera and Ail blanc de Lomagne.

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Garlic can be cultivated all the year in mild climates all over the world, and this is especially true across Europe. Although garlic is not typically consumed in large amounts, it can provide your body  with lots of nutrients.

 

Garlic is a triple-whammy: it’s antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal. Garlic is one food that we all should be eating every day.

Researchers have found that allicin, a chemical found in garlic that gives it its flavour, could be used to fight cancer. It appears that the natural chemical reaction that forms allicin, which occurs when the garlic is eaten or smashed, may penetrate and kill tumour cells.

Several studies suggest that garlic has many beneficial effects on the heart. Garlic may:

  • Lower total cholesterol
  • Lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Help keep blood thin, reducing the risk of blood clots and stroke
  • Lower elevated serum levels of homocysteine, according to preliminary studies

Garlic also works like an antibiotic against bacteria, virus, and protozoa in the body, and unlike with antibiotics, no resistance can be built up so it is an absolutely safe product to use.

Garlic can have a powerful antioxidant effect in the body, which means it helps to protect against damaging free radicals.

Garlic’s anti-fungal properties are excellent for reducing fungal infections, such as yeast infections.

People claim that people who eat garlic tend to get fewer bites from insects like ticks, according to research. It also likely applies to mosquitoes as well.  I’m not sure about that as I still seem to be seen as a healthy snack to any passing mosquito.

One problem with garlic, of course, is the smell, but if you have a good digestion that should not be a problem.  You can also chew a little parsley to reduce the smell.  Garlic is a herb, so if you do not like it or it makes you feel sick, this is your body’s way of telling you that you should avoid it.

Garlic will also improve your iron metabolism, thanks to the diallyl sulfides which help in the production of the ferroportin protein. It’s also a good source of selenium, because it gathers selenium from the soil while growing.

The largest garlic benefits are surely coming in the form of blood cell and blood vessel protection from various types of stress. What’s more, it also prevents the formation of clots inside blood vessels, something that is nothing short of amazing.

Alongside these wonderful benefits, garlic also includes numerous vitamins such as C or B6. It also helps your body integrate them quickly in the blood stream, making it more powerful and resistant to diseases as well.

The garlic we use every day in our meals doesn’t include that much carbohydrates. Instead, it’s full of inulin, a fiber that keeps the bacteria population in your intestines balanced, while also allowing your body to absorb more calcium.

  • Garlic is low in fat, and it has no cholesterol
  • It contains various elements that help your body absorb calcium, while also increasing your overall immunity
  • It’s rich in vitamins and minerals
  • It’s one of the few ingredients of a meal that give a wonderful flavour, and it also has a great effect on your overall health as well!

How much garlic do you eat?  What is your favourite way of eating it?

Quick tip – Peel a lot of garlic and freeze the cloves, you can purée them and add salt and oil (if you use it) or brine.

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Plant-based eating – Does it improve athletic performance?

Ok. So I am a sample of 1, but if my experiences are anything to go by, the answer is yes.

Yes – My athletic performance and recovery are both massively improved on a plant- based diet.

Ok – So I am not known for my athletic prowess, BUT….I have found that I do not ache after Personal Training Sessions.  My muscles recover quickly so I can train the next day.  Not bad for a (still) flabby 50 something.  My performance at my training sessions is stellar compared to what it was years ago.  Today i did 3 sets of 32kg bicep curls, I’d never have done that years ago.  I can work out so much better that before, training for longer and lifting heavier weights.

So, a sample of 1 – and not the most shining example of health and fitness yet, as I am still on my journey to improve my health.  So I asked others.  Here are a sample of what I had back as replies:

  • “Personally, I recover much faster. Most of our community will tell you the same. Plants are nurturing foods. :)” @VegRunChat
  • “for me that was the first benefit I noticed after becoming plant based, first of many” and “not a scientist but I think that a lot of plants are anti inflammatory as well as vitamin e aids in muscle recovery” @Bry_nFlynn 
  • “I find I recover faster which allows me to go longer & faster.. & lift heavier!” and “digesting massive amounts of animal protein takes days while the body quickly breaks down plants & absorbs their nutrients” @MeaganDunnCole

So then I started digging and found lots and lots of articles on how plant-based eating improves athletic performance.  One of the best, I have re-produced below.

This was written by @VegRunChat and the original article can be found here: http://vegrunchat.com/blog/5-benefits-of-running-plant-based/

Its a great site with lots of great info – check it out – http://vegrunchat.com/ but not before you read the article….

I went meat free about 3 weeks ago. I already notice that I have more energy, stamina, and I recover faster.” @Futurisa

I can run longer and faster with less fatigue since switching to a plant based diet.” @IRanWithRobert

These are a just a couple of the tweets making their way onto Twitter from plant-based runners who claim that a meat-free diet has remarkably improved their athletic performance.  It’s no surprise that, with books like Eat & Run, Finding Ultra, and the newly released No Meat Athleterunners have jumped on board a plant-based diet.  But what are the real benefits?  Is it all a bunch of hype?  Here are five ways that a plant-based diet can help boost your running career:

Less weight to carry – Eating a diet that excludes meat, eggs, cheese, and dairy will not only shed pounds, but keep the weight off.  Add running to the equation and you’ll have a body that’s perfectly sculpted, ready for any athletic challenge.  Many vegan runners (including Scott Jurek) claim that a plant-based diet has allowed them to become faster and use far less energy due to their decreased weight.  This is especially beneficial to those who run marathon (or greater) distances, as they can make better use of their energy stores.

Perfect Proteins – A plant-based diet provides runners with all of the nutrients that the body requires. Yes, even protein.  In fact, plants contain some of the most complete proteins around.  A complete protein contains each of the nine essential amino acids which we cannot live without (Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, and Valine).  Take hemp hearts and flax seeds for example; they contain all of the essential amino acid chains and contain 20 and 31 grams of protein per serving, respectively.  Furthermore, plant-based foods don’t contain artery-clogging saturated fats or cholesterol like animal-based sources of protein.

Increased bone density – Although the meat and dairy industry would love for us to believe that the secret to strong bones is milk, this couldn’t be further from the truth.  Yes, milk contains up to 300mg of calcium per cup.  But what the nutrition label doesn’t tell you is that our bodies hardly absorb this calcium, or make good use of it.  Milk (like all animal proteins) acidifies our bodies PH level which triggers a natural counter-reaction.  In an attempt to correct matters, our bodies pull calcium (which is a natural acid neutralizing element) from our bones.  The excreted calcium then leaves the body through urine, leaving us with a calcium deficiency.  On the other hand, plant foods with high levels of calcium (collards, kale and sweet potatoes) will boost bone health without affecting the body’s PH.

Energy Surge – Many runners claim that after switching to a vegan or vegetarian diet, their energy levels are restored to a level they haven’t experienced since childhood.  But why is this?  Simply put, plant-based foods contain all of the essential vitamins and nutrients we need to perform at our best.  Moreover, plant-based eaters appear to be more consciousness about other ingredients in their food.  Animal-free eaters typically omit foods that contain preservatives, additives, sweeteners, and other artificial ingredients.  Removing these ingredients from your diet enables your body to make the best use of your food.  Without these foreign ingredients, your body can process and digest foods easier, allowing for more energy to be used for better things – like running!

Faster Recovery – Plants are often referred to as nourishing foods.  This is because they do just that; nourish our bodies, replenishing lost vitamins and nutrients.  Most running pains which occur in the hips and joints are due to inflammation – the body’s normal protective response to an injury or infection.  But many plant foods contain anti-inflammatory properties that alleviate this pain and reduce inflammation.  So put that Aleve and Tylenol aside.  Use walnuts, garlic, turmeric, or fresh olives the next time you experience joint discomfort.  You will be back to running before you know it!

Are you still concerned about making the switch to a plant-based diet?  Worried it could impede your running?  You don’t have to make a full commitment to eating plants and go all-in at first.  Start out by making a few changes, and see how you feel.  You may be surprised to find that removing just meat and milk from your meals will promote faster recover and energy.  If you would like more information, I invite you to join us for#VegRunChat on Twitter Sunday nights at 9pm EST.  During the hour-long chat we discuss plant-based foods and how they relate to running performance.  You will find that it is extremely educational and fun.  We even give away prizes!

Have you ever considered going plant-based or vegetarian?  What has kept you from giving it a try?

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The A-Z of Plantalicious Ingredients – F is for Fennel

I loved aniseed balls as a kid.  I used to go up to the shop at the far end of Mayes Lane buy a “quater” or 4 oz of them and devour them within minutes.   I could not get enough of that exotic aniseed flavour.  At college I drank Pernod, thinking myself rather sophisticated, (hardly) and have also sampled Raki, Arak and Ouzo on my travels.  I ended up with a pair of emerald earrings in Beirut after drinking Arak, but that’s a tale for another time!  Aniseed is a  flavour that I have always loved, hence my love of fennel as a vegetable.

Fennel (also known as Florence fennel or finocchio) is a delightfully crunchy and slightly sweet herb that has a bulb-like shape, making it look a little like a heavy-bottomed celery.

 

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It has not yet been spread and naturalized as an herb around the world, but still primarily grows in coastal climates and on riverbanks.

While this fantastically flavourful herb is most commonly associated with Italian cooking, it is actually an extremely versatile ingredient. In fact the bulb, stalk, leaves and seeds are all edible and delicious.

Any part can be chopped raw and added into your favourite salads. When eaten raw like this, the texture is crisp and the flavour is quite assertive and aniseed-like.  The leaves are delicately flavoured and similar in shape to those of dill. It truly is a delicious way to enhance the texture and flavour of a salad or coleslaw.

Cooked, it becomes much softer and has a more mellow flavour. The bulb makes an excellent addition to any mediterranean dishes. It’s also wonderful sautéed, stewed, braised or grilled. The leaves can also be used to liven up soups and sauces, or as a garnish.

Dried, fennel also makes for a sweet, calming tea, although that’s the one time, I am not keen on it.

Ideally choose the smaller, young bulbs, as they are more tender. They should look white, with no blemishes, and feel heavy for their size. The feathery green tops should be fresh and bright, with no yellowing.

Quick recipe tip – Pop some chopped fennel into an oven-proof dish, with some stock, cover and bake for 45 mins.  Simple and delicious.

As well as being a pungent delight for the taste buds and tasty addition to any meal, Fennel has a number of amazing health benefits, including anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.

The same high concentration of essential oils in fennel that gives it the aromatic fragrance and flavour, makes it an effective potential cure for many mild to moderate ailments.

  •  Since fennel is rich in iron and histidine, it serves as a good natural remedy for anemia
  • Lactating mothers can consume fennel juice regularly to increase the secretion of nutritious milk for their infants
  • The high amounts of vitamin C, flavonoids and essential oils in fennel bulb all provide synergistic healing properties for the prevention of cancer*
  • The essential oils in fennel increases the secretion of digestive juices, helping in reduction of stomach inflammation and in the absorption of nutrients from the food eaten
  • The sulphur content together with all the right amino acids and essential oils in fennel help strengthen hair
  • The high potassium content in fennel helps reduce high blood pressure and thus decreasing the risk for heart attack and stroke

*with regard to the potential benefits that Fennel has regarding cancer and weight-loss, see this article I just came across – http://www.naturalnews.com/044051_fennel_cancer_treatment_weight_loss.html

 

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Meatless Monday – what will you eat? Try it and tell me how you get on.

I’ve tweeted a lot about Meatless Mondays before. It is an initiative that encourages people to not eat meat on Mondays to improve their health and the health of the planet. Meatless Monday is a non-profit initiative of The Monday Campaigns Inc. in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for a Livable Future.

This is an initiative that you hear a lot about in the US and is talked about a lot in the mainstream media. See Fox News article on the 5 benefits of Meatless Mondays –

better health – yes – even from one small change each week

live longer – decrease your risk of premature death by 19%

improved diet – through consumption of fibre which is only found in vegetables

save time and money – vegetables are economical and many dishes are simple and quick to prepare

For more details and the full article and references here:

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/02/18/5-benefits-eating-less-meat/

It’s not a common practice in the UK, but I am keen to change that. I want more people to consider making a small change in their eating habits. Meatless or meatfree Mondays (as it is known in the UK) see: http://www.meatfreemondays.co.uk/ is one way of making that change.

For inspiration please take a look at the recipes on www.plantalicious.com as well as share your recipes in the recipe section of The Community on the website.

Please also comment on your meatless or meat free Monday meal choices.

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Cancer – Fighting Cancer with antioxidants, but from our food or a pill?

When I was a child no one spoke about cancer.  I can remember it really being a really taboo subject, more like “the disease that shall not be named”, or just referred to almost out of my hearing as “The Big C”.

Nowadays, you can’t open a newspaper or watch a news bulletin, without cancer being talked about. It touches us all, we all know somebody fighting cancer, being diagnosed with cancer and hopefully being a survivor of cancer.

One of the things that always intrigued me was the idea that antioxidants are really like little toy soldiers in our bodies.  Little warriors who go around fighting the good fight against the cancerous cells  developing in all of us. I recall going to one of those health screenings, paid for by my employer, where they used a small gun to measure the amount of antioxidants I had in my body.  At the time I had about 4 times the average level of antioxidants, as measured by this process. I can remember coming home and feeling rather smug about my very high antioxidant level!

What I hadn’t appreciated, was that I was getting my antioxidants out of a bottle in the form of tablets and pills. I.e. supplements. When I started studying plant-based nutrition. It became very obvious to me that this was not the best way for my body to be provided with the antioxidants that it needs. In supplement form the antioxidants are isolated and your body effectively says: “thanks a lot, but what the hell do you expect me to do with these?” What is your body supposed to do when it doesn’t have all of the other component parts that go with the antioxidant in nature, enabling it to use the  component to the best of your body’s abilities?

If you doubt what I’m saying and you are as fervently pro-popping antioxidant pills, as I once was.  Although, I doubt anybody spent as much money on supplements as me who took circa 35 pills a day!  I would suggest that you read the book – Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition by T Colin Campbell (http://www.amazon.com/Whole-Rethinking-Nutrition-Colin-Campbell/dp/1937856240 ) In the book, he explains, his approached nutrition as being rather like a symphony.  I like the analogy because it’s easy to understand that no one instrument in isolation can have the same effect as the entire orchestra playing together. I’m oversimplifying, but I hope you get my drift.

I came across this video today with some research cited by Michael Greger that shows how antioxidants taken as food in their whole natural state, rather than being extracted into a supplement is the best way of using these little warriors to fight cancer in our bodies.

You can find his video here: http://bit.ly/1fhx40f  it lasts a few minutes and is well worth a watch.

Reaching for that bottle of supplements or multivitamin, it might just be time to step back and think.  Ask yourself: “could I get the benefits of these pills from a wholefood source”? Put down the bottle step away, open fridge and make yourself a salad or better still a Plantalicious Recipe.   You’ll be glad you did, just as I was, not only will you be saving many hundreds of pounds a year, but it could just be that by taking these supplements in isolation you are doing yourself more harm than good.

I am not suggesting that by ingesting some antioxidant rich foods that we can suddenly make the world Cancer free.  What I am suggesting is that you give your body the best fuel you can to give it the best chance of healing itself.

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