Every month there is one specific date I look forward to more so than any other. Like a shiny, glowing orb on my iphone calendar, the third Saturday of every month brings about an immediate sense of excitement, giddiness and overall joy. That’s because the third Saturday of every month is Cooking Club.
Mushrooms truly are a magnificent vegetable. I used to hate and despise mushrooms more than anything on the planet up until just a few years ago. And then I grew up just a little bit when I had my first baby. Whatever food there was that was healthy and moderately well balanced I was willing to stomach and tolerate, simply because I was exhausted with the transition to new mum. And then, hate was turned into adoration. Mushrooms are now a large part of my diet. This mushroom soup is a godsend. It is easy to prepare and fills me up more than any other soup I make. And take note, it takes a fairly substantial meal to fill me up (especially after a great workout.
Even the fittest among us, the most disciplined or the most focused splurge a little at christmas time- There is just something about the whole family being together sharing meals and drinks that gets everyone in good spirits. Usually the good spirits end however a few days after christmas when we are hungover, bloated and just generally sick of food.
This would have to be one of my favorite snacks through the week. When on the go, I usually have little snack bags of these I can just grab and run to class with. They are filled with protein not to mention unusually delicious. I often bake a batch on Sunday and season through the week depending on my flavor preference!
By Renée Leonard-Stainton
Avoid trans–fatty acids – Margarine and other hydrogenated vegetable oils not only raise low density lipoprotein and cholesterol (LDL is the ‘bad’ form of cholesterol, linked to heart disease), they also lower the protective high density lipoprotein (HDL is the ‘good’ cholesterol), interfere with essential fatty acid metabolism, and are suspected of causing some cancers, including breast cancer.
Tip – Keep the low-density lipoprotein intake low and the high-density lipoprotein intake high.
Eliminate the intake of refined sugar – Refined sugar places stress on our blood sugar control and other body control mechanisms. When high sugar foods are eaten alone, blood sugar levels rise quickly, producing a heightened release of insulin, which can result in energy slumps as the sugar ‘high’ wears off. As insulin is actually a hormone, excessive amounts within the body can contribute to weight gain. Sugar also has a detrimental effect on mood, premenstrual syndrome, and many other health conditions, especially when combined with caffeine.
Tip – If you are consuming small amounts of sugar in your diet, make sure that you consume protein in the same meal as this helps balance blood sugar levels
Keep salt intake low and potassium intake high - Excessive consumption of salt, coupled with low levels of dietary potassium, greatly stresses the kidneys’ ability to maintain proper fluid volume. As a result, some people become ‘salt sensitive'; causing high blood pressure or water retention.
Tip - In order to avoid becoming salt sensitive, you must not only reduce salt intake, but also simultaneously increase your intake of potassium by including foods such as bananas and avocados.
Drink adequate water - Water is vital to our health. In fact, water is the most plentiful substance in our body, as it constitutes over 60% of our body weight. It’s an essential nutrient that is involved in every function in the body and helps transport nutrients and waste products in and out of cells while also being necessary for the control of body temperature, all digestive, absorptive, circulatory, and excretory functions. The tissue of the human body swims in a salty sea. The more salt there is in our inner sea, the more water is needed to dilute it to maintain the proper concentration of sodium which is why salty foods make us feel thirsty. When you know that the average person loses about 3 litres of water daily through excretion and perspiration, you understand why it’s vital to drink at least 2 litres of water daily to replace this fluid (the remaining quota is made up from our food, primarily from fruit and vegetables).
Tip – Herbal teas count towards your water intake, so you get the chance to get two health hits in one – peppermint for digestion, chamomile for relaxation…so many to choose from – go wild!
Avoid additives - Additives are placed in foods for a number of reasons such as to lengthen shelf life or make food more appealing by enhancing colour, texture or taste. Additives and artificial ingredients add little or no nutritional value to a food product. They can wreak havoc with many of the body systems.
Tip – You can buy or download little guides to help you decipher the meaning of all those ridiculously long words or numbers on labels that indicate additives have been, well, added! Bring out your inner detective when you go shopping!
Go organic where possible - The healthiest fruits and vegetables are those that have been grown organically- without the use of insecticides, herbicides, artificial fertilizers, or growth stimulating chemicals. Organic is undeniably more expensive, so just try to make changes as and when you can.
Tip - Maybe start with growing some veggies of your own – so satisfying and I swear they are extra tasty when you know you’ve nurtured them yourselves!
Go fresh - When choosing your produce, look for fruits and vegetables that are at the peak of their ripeness. These contain more vitami
Fat is essential! Avoid fat! Sugar provides no nutrition! Sugar is natural and provides energy. Confused? That’s understandable. There’s so much controversy about what actually constitutes good nutrition that it’s easy to lose perspective. And with a veritable smorgasbord of fad diets and health crazes to choose from, it can be refreshing to remind ourselves of the simple stuff and stick to basics. I don’t believe that any natural food is categorically good or bad. When we start looking at foods in such a black and white way, we can lose perspective and end up swallowed in a whole host of dietary dilemmas and dramas. Food shouldn’t be stressful, it’s to be enjoyed and embraced…just with a little bit of education under our belts…