Bring on the sun – vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin

Thursday, 29 January 2015


In the summer months, you may be able to get your daily vitamin D by exposure of your skin to the sun.  Even in summer however, we may not get enough vitamin D because we apply sun screen.  This is a sensible precaution, given the risk of skin cancer.  Even so, it might be worth spending a few minutes in the sun between 11am and 3pm, unprotected by sun screen as this will ensure you get your daily vitamin D . In winter months, in the northern hemisphere, we tend to wrap up warmly leaving not much skin exposed and our vitamin D levels might fall.

We can also get vitamin D from our food.  For vegans this usually takes the form of fortified cereals, juices and plant-based spreads so vegans may need to take a supplement.

Vitamin D aids the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, both of which are important for bone health. Deficiency may lead to osteoporosis which in turn leads to fractures. Vitamin D deficiency is also associated with increased risk of cancer and multiple sclerosis, although this is hotly debated in the science community.  Other conditions which may be associated with low vitamin D levels include Alzheimer’s disease, some heart problems, autism and Parkinson’s disease.  

It seems science just keeps finding more and more benefits of vitamin D, so it’s really important that you get your daily allowance.  Adults require 600 IU daily.  Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin and so is best absorbed if a food rich in oil is consumed at the same time. For instance, olive oil salad dressing, nuts or seeds.  When choosing a supplement, look for one with vitamin D3, the form of vitamin D that your body makes from the action of UV light on the skin.  

Stay healthy, stay happy
Janet x


Article Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell


New Beginnings – stay young by opening up to new possibilities

Tuesday, 27 January 2015



On the yoga blog, flexiladiesyoga I have been looking at the ways yoga can help you open up to new possibilities.  There is an article and a YouTube video for you if you would like to have a look http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/new-beginnings-opening-up-to-new.html

Trying new things can help us stay young.  When we try new things we create new neural connections in our brains and this is not the only benefit for your brain.  When we try a new experience, the dopamine levels in our brain increase. Dopamine helps you feel good and increases self-esteem.  It tends to decline with age, so new experiences can help restore more youthful levels. 

If trying something new involves going to a class, then this is better still.  People with good social networks are less susceptible to viruses, sleep better and have reduced risk of dementia.

Hobbies and new experiences also help reduce stress which can be very detrimental to health.  See http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/reduce-stress-increase-wellbeing.html When you are totally focused on a hobby or new experience we cannot be fretting over things that have happened or things that may happen in the future.

So make time for fun, whether it is gardening, cooking, dancing, playing an instrument, bird watching or whatever else takes your fancy.

Stay young


Janet x

Article Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

Meatless Monday:Vegan Stuffed Peppers

Monday, 26 January 2015

Serves 2



Ingredients
2 orange/red peppers, cut in two
2 yellow peppers, cut in two
100g organic brown rice 
4 tbsp frozen sweetcorn
½ can borlotti beans
1 avocado, peeled and diced
40g cashew nuts

Place the peppers on a baking tray in a preheated oven (200 degrees) for 20 minutes.  Meanwhile place the rice in a saucepan with the sweetcorn and cover with water.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.  Drain and stir in the beans, and avocado.  Use the mixture to stuff the peppers and top with the cashew nuts.  Return to the oven for a few minutes to toast the cashew nuts.  
Serve with a green salad.

Enjoy!
Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell       

Burns Night Special – Vegan 'Haggis' Patties

Sunday, 25 January 2015


My family originated in the Argyll, Scotland so I can’t let Burn’s Night go without attempting to make a vegan haggis variation.  Serve these vegan haggis patties with ‘bashed neeps’ (mashed yellow swede) with a little black pepper.

Serves 4

Ingredients
1 onion
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp organic olive oil
75g organic chestnut mushrooms, sliced
75g organic brown lentils
Stock made with 2 tsp organic reduced salt bouillon in 400ml hot water
½ can organic mixed beans
1tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
100g rolled oats
Spray olive oil

Fry the onion in the olive oil for 1-2 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms and garlic and fry for a further minute.  Add the rosemary and thyme, the lentils, lemon juice and the stock.  Bring to the boil and simmer 20-25 minutes.  Stir in the mixed beans and the oats and stir over a low heat until the mixture thickens and the liquid is absorbed.  Take off the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.  Shape into patties and place on a greased baking tray.  Spray with olive oil and bake for 40 minutes.  Serve with ‘bashed neeps’ (mashed yellow turnip) with a little black pepper.  

Enjoy!
Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell          

Sundae Best

Saturday, 24 January 2015


Brighten up your weekend with this no added sugar ‘dessert’ breakfast

Serves 1

4 heaped tbsp granola (Please see the following link for my recipe for sugar free coconut, pumpkin seed, almond and pecan granola 

To the basic recipe I added some cranberries that I had left over from Christmas.  You could add chopped figs or dates too.

4 tbsp plain soya yogurt

Fruit of your choice, I used mango and raspberries.

Stevia to taste

Place your choice of fruit at the bottom of a sundae dish or tumble sprinkle with stevia if using.  Add 2 tbsp soya yogurt, then 2 tbsp granola.  Repeat the layering, ending with granola and more fruit to decorate.                        
      
Enjoy!
Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell                                                                                                                         

Milk Thistle liver cleanse and emotional cleanse?



Your liver is your main organ of detoxification. Your poor liver may have been working overtime over the Christmas and New Year.  If your diet is less than ideal it may have to work hard all the time.  

Maybe it’s time to nurture this hard working organ.  Milk thistle has been found to have a protective effect on liver cells and it is a safe herb unless you have a ragweed allergy (still check with a medical practitioner before taking however). Milk Thistle is available as capsules.

Milk Thistle has been found to be of particular benefit in menopause.  An overtaxed liver cannot cope with the extra burden of hormone breakdown.  The result is many of the symptoms we associate with the menopause from weight gain and hot flushes to anxiety and irritability.  Milk Thistle has been found to help with hormone balance. 

In fact in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the liver is related to anger.  This makes sense as if the liver is not regulating insulin levels efficiently, low blood sugar which is accompanied by irritability may result.  

You can also support your liver by reducing alcohol and caffeine, eating fresh foods rather than processed, and organic foods where possible.  If you eat meat, it is especially important to eat organic as non-organic may contain antibiotics and growth hormone.  Try to drink filtered water and if you drink from a plastic bottle use a BPA free one.

Keep your liver happy-be healthy
Janet x

Article Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

It's 'Blue Monday' - today is supposedly the most depressing day of the year.

Monday, 19 January 2015


It's 'Blue Monday' - today is supposedly the most depressing day of the year.  Many of us feel low at this time of year when the excitement of Christmas is over and the days are cold, and dark.  We often refer to feeling low at this time of year as 'January blues'.  The following advice will help you 'beat the blues':-
  • Exercise – exercise releases ‘feel good’ endorphins from the brain.  If you can take your exercise outdoors that is even better as you will be able to top up your vitamin D levels. Low vitamin D levels are associated with depression.
  • Keep blood sugar levels stable to avoid low mood.  Eat regular meals and never skip a meal. Avoid refined carbohydrates, sugar, white flour, white bread, white pasta, biscuits, cakes, puddings etc which raise blood glucose quickly as this is followed by a fall in blood sugar below normal.  Instead eat slow release carbohydrates such as oats, quinoa, wholewheat pasta, wholegrain bread which help keep blood sugar stable. Also include beans and lentils, plenty of fruit and vegetables.  Avoid caffeine in tea, coffee and chocolate which can cause blood sugar high and lows. You might want to consider supplementing with chromium to help stabilise blood sugar. Remember the brain needs a steady supply of glucose to work at its best. 
  • Depression has been associated with low levels of serontin in the brain.  Tryptophan containing foods such as soya milk, soya yogurts, tofu, beans, walnuts, bananas almonds and pumpkin seeds enhance serontin. 
  • Depression has been associated with low levels of selenium.  Deficiency in this mineral used to be rare but as our soil becomes depleted of selenium (and hence our bread) selenium deficiency is more likely.  Just 3 brazil nuts provide the recommended daily amount or consider a supplement
  • Make sure you get your omega 3s. See http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/where-do-vegans-get-their-omega-3s-from.html
  • Plan treats to brighten January, a trip to the theatre or cinema, a meal out (many restaurants have deals in January) or even a healthy food treat such as the 'Banoffee' loaf below.  Bananas are rich in the amino acid tryptophan which is converted by the brain to serontin, the mood lifting hormone.


'Banoffee' loaf


Ingredients 

200g dairy free spread
20g stevia
3 medium bananas, peeled and mashed
200g rice flour
3 tsp baking powder
1tbsp lacuma
3 tbsp plain soy yogurt

Cream the spread with the stevia.  

Add bananas and soy yogurt.  

Sieve lacuma, baking powder and flour together and add a little at a time, mixing well.  
Pour the mixture into a loaf tin and bake for about 50 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees.  

Enjoy!
Janet x



Article and recipe Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

Meatless Monday:Curried bean burgers with oyster mushroom side




Serves 2

For the burgers

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp organic olive oil
1 carton organic cannelloni beans, drained and lightly mashed
1 tsp curry powder
1 tbsp chickpea (gram) flour

For the mushroom side

150g oyster mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp organic olive oil 
1 tbsp tamari

coriander to garnish (optional)

Fry the onion in the olive oil for 2-3 minutes.  Add the beans, curry powder and chickpea flour, mix and warm through.  Shape into 2 burgers or 4 small.  Place on a greased baking tray and place in an oven at 200 degrees for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile fry the mushrooms in the olive oil for 1-2 minutes.  Add the tamari and heat through.  Serve the burgers with the mushroom side and a wholemeal roll or rye bread. Garnish with coriander if using.

Oyster mushrooms cook very quickly and are therefore ideal for stir-frying.  They have antioxidant and antibacterial properties.  They are also rich in vitamins and minerals such as zinc, iron, calcium, vitamin C, vitamins B1 and B2.

Enjoy 
Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

In the news - "Most cancer types 'just bad luck"'

Sunday, 18 January 2015

BBC News reported on January 2nd that in the journal Science, results of an analysis of various cancer types showed that two thirds were down to chance and not influenced by what we think of as common 'risk factors' such as smoking. Cells in some areas of the body, it would seem, divide more rapidly than others, increasing the chance that a random mutation may take place. See
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-30641833
In my opinion however, this does not mean we have been given the nod to live an unhealthy lifestyle.  A third of cancers, including some of the most deadly cancers' DO remain influenced by lifestyle.  I think the question to ask would be what causes these 'random' mutations?  I accept that a small minority of mutations may be down to chance and that the more rapidly cells divide, the more likely it is that these random mutations will occur. But surely the majority are brought about by exposure to carcinogens: for instance, UV light.  Carcinogens include: exposure to pollution; exposure to household chemicals; medical interventions such as exposure to X-rays; exposure to chemicals in make-up and toiletries; chemicals in foods such as smoked, charred foods; and foods with additives or preservatives. Non-organic meat may also contain hormones and antibiotics, and non-organic fruit and vegetables may be contaminated with pesticides. All of these have the potential to be carcinogens. Did the researchers factor all these out?

My advice would be to adopt a healthy lifestyle, or continue with a a healthy lifestyle of eating well and exercising.  Reduce exposure to chemicals wherever possible: for instance, by eating organic wherever you can.  Eat plenty of antioxidants in fruit and vegetables to neutralise free radicals which attack cells in your body. Use natural household cleaners wherever possible.  For instance, white wine vinegar when diluted is great to clean windows or descale kettles.  Also, use natural cosmetics and toiletries.  For instance, coconut oil is a great moisturiser .  Keep checking back for more advice on this blog.

Stay healthy, stay happy!
Janet xx

Article Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

What's happening on Flexiladiesyoga?

Saturday, 17 January 2015

To finish the series, 'How yoga boosts health' we looked at how yoga could help boost happiness. This compliments the article on 40plusandalliswell http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/be-happy-its-good-for-you_3.html Please see the article and YouTube video link on the yoga blog http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/how-yoga-can-help-make-you-happy.html

As on 40plusandalliswell, the yoga blog is also thinking about 'New beginnings'. To compliment this series you may wish to have a look at my 'New Year, New You' series on my YouTube Channel. The link for the 13 videos in the YouTube playlist is http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/new-year-new-you.html

The first video and article in the 'New beginnings' series focused on purifying your body http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/new-beginnings-purifying-your-body.html This compliments 'New beginings-cleanse your body on this blog http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/new-beginnings-cleanse-your-body.html

Following an SI joint injury which I now know to be a common injury in yoga, I felt inspired to write this article to enable other yoga practitioners to avoid this painful condition. Thankfully just one session with a local physiotherapist was enough to remedy my injury. http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/protect-your-si-joint.html The article was featured in 'Yoga, etc.' on 13th January. This is the link for 'Yoga, etc.' http://paper.li/greenearthbazar/1312665447?edition_id=3de7fd50-9b6a-11e4-9cb5-0cc47a0d1605


New beginnings – detox your mind

Friday, 16 January 2015


This week we are looking at detoxing your mind and on the yoga blog we will look at     ‘How yoga helps cleanse the mind’ http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/how-yoga-helps-cleanse-mind.html Below are a few ideas to clarify your thoughts, calm your mind and move forward in 2015.




  • Declutter – January is a good time to declutter. Maybe its because we spend more time indoors or feel the urge to have a new start as a new year begins.  Try it and see how decluttering reduces your anxiety levels making you feel more focused. 
  • Practice mindfulness – be totally focused on what you are doing.  This means not eating while you are working on your computer, taking in your surroundings while out walking rather than thinking about what you need to do when you get back etc.  Meditation can help with mindfulness.  Sit comfortably with a straight spine.  Close your eyes and without changing it in any way, simply watch your breath.  If any thoughts pop into your head (and they will!) simply imagine them floating away like clouds.  Continue like this for several minutes.  Practicing mindfulness helps us calm our ‘monkey minds’ as yogis call minds that flit from one thought to another and this helps reduce anxiety. 
  • Practice breathing deeply – when we breathe deeply we activate the parasympathetic nervous system which has a calming effect on the body and mind unlike the sympathetic nervous system which activates the ‘fight or flight’ response.  Try placing your hands on your tummy so that your middle fingers touch at your navel.  Direct your breath to the area under your hands so that as you breathe in your fingers part and as you breathe out your fingers come together. 
  • Exercise releases endorphins which boost mood. 
  • Avoid caffeine and sugar which are stimulants and can lead to an anxious mind.
  • Keep your blood sugar levels stable.  Do not skip meals and include foods that do not cause blood sugar ‘spikes and dips’ such as oats, wholegrains (brown rice, wholemeal pasta, wholemeal bread, quinoa) to help with clarity of mind.
  • Clear your mind with a ‘worry journal’. Write down what is worrying you, close the book and let the worry go.
  • Get organised – make lists of things you need to do and prioritise to help quieten the ‘monkey mind’ (see above)

Be healthy, be happy
Janet x


Article Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

Meatless Monday:Moroccan meatless balls with lemon couscous

Monday, 12 January 2015


This week we are staying with the Moroccan theme with my vegan 'Moroccan meatless balls with lemon couscous' recipe.

Please make sure you use organic dried soya as non-organic is likely to be GMO.  I will be talking about these genetically modified foods (GMO) in another post.  Also ensure the lemon is unwaxed.
Ras el hanout is a North African spice mix typically containing cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, ginger, paprika, black pepper, allspice and tumeric.  There are different blends and not all these ingredients may be in a particular blend.

Serves 2

Ingredients 

For the meatless balls
60g chunky dried organic soya mince
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tbsp organic olive oil
6-8 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
1 heaped tbsp chickpea flour
Pinch sea salt or pink salt 

For the sauce
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp organic olive oil
1 tsp Ras el hanout
4 tbsp organic tomato puree

For the couscous
120g couscous
juice and zest from one UNWAXED lemon 

Place the dried, organic soya mince in a bowl and cover with boiling water to reconstitute. Meanwhile fry the onion in the olive oil for 2-3 minutes.  Add the garlic and continue to fry for a further minute.  Add the thyme, reconstituted soya, and a pinch of salt and continue to and stir until the mixture binds.  Allow to cool and shape into balls.  Place on a baking tray and place in an oven for 15-20 minutes at 200 degrees.
Meanwhile make the sauce.  Fry the onion for 2-3 minutes in the olive oil.  Add the Ras el hanout, tomato puree and about 4 tbsp water and cook on a low heat for a few minutes.
To make the lemon couscous, place the couscous in a bowl. Add the juice and zest of a lemon and cover with boiling water.  Leave to stand for 3-4 minutes.

Enjoy!
Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

Juicing for health

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Please see my Flexiladiesyoga YouTube Channel for my video 'Introduction to juicing'.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UP00LozZjB0

Below are just some of the benefits of juicing;-

• Juicing provides a way of cleansing the body, removing toxins.  Since these toxins are often stored in fat  cells, juicing also is an aid to weight loss.  Remember however that fibre is also important to a healthy  diet so make sure you also include ‘whole’ {unjuiced} fruits and vegetables in your diet too.
• Juicing boosts immunity
• Juicing provides an instant hit of easily absorbed vitamins and minerals

Choosing a juicer

There are various considerations when choosing a juicer.  Centrifugal juicers are cheaper but their action slightly warms the juice possibly destroying the enzymes released by juicing. Slow masticating juicers are expensive but do not warm the juice.  They also tend to have long guarantees. 

Using the pulp

The pulp can be used in casseroles, veggie burgers, or bread (for example carrot bread)
What to juice and their benefits
When juicing use organic produce.  You do not want your juice to contain pesticides.  Also  make sure the fruit and vegetables you use are scrupulously clean  Below are some fruits and vegetables you might want to include and their benefits
• Apple adds sweetness to the juice and is anti-inflammatory.  It reduces cholesterol preventing heart disease
• Beetroot helps maintain a healthy thyroid and is cleansing for the liver and kidneys
• Broccoli prevents both cancer and heart disease.  It also helps prevent osteoporosis, macular degeneration and cataracts
• Cabbage heals digestive disorders such as ulcers and protects against colon, breast and lung cancer
• Carrots help maintain good vision as well as preventing cancer
• Celery is cleansing
• Ginger is anti-inflammatory, good for stomach disorders and chest complaints such as asthma
• Kale – rich in carotenoids and flavonoids kale helps prevent cancer and helps maintain eye and lung health
• Red Pepper reduces cholesterol and so is good for heart health
• Spinach – rich in antioxidants and iron, spinach prevents macular degeneration, osteoporosis and heart disease
• Squash is rich in carotenoids, a precursor of vitamin A as are kale and carrots and so has similar benefits


Here are some of the recipes I have tried so far (all good!)

1. 3 sticks organic celery
    3 medium  organic carrots
    1 organic pear
    3cm piece ginger


2.  ½ bag organic kale
      2 organic apples
      2 medium organic carrots
      Pinch organic cinnamon


3.  1 beetroot
      3 sticks organic celery
      2 medium carrots
      2 organic apples
      1/3 seasonal cabbage
      pinch organic cinnamon



Use fruit and vegetables in season.  They have a better flavour and higher levels of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  


Enjoy!
Janet x

Article Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

New Beginnings - cleanse your body

Friday, 9 January 2015




At this time of year and after the excesses of Christmas we often feel that our bodies need a cleanse. On the yoga blog http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/new-beginnings-purifying-your-body.html we are looking at ways in which yoga can help with this process. 

Here we are thinking about how we can purify our bodies through diet and in another post I will be talking about juicing. Please see the link http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/juicing-for-health.html

Why cleanse your body at this time of year?

Over the holiday we may have overindulged on fats, sugars and even alcohol all of which are detrimental to health.  See http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/sugar-and-skin-not-so-sweet.html  and http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/in-news-saturated-fat.html Please don't beat yourself up about this, its often a social thing and friends are every bit as important to your wellbeing as sticking to a 'good' diet.  

However now is the time to put things right.  Returning to a 'good' diet will give your body chance to rid itself of toxins from food and  environmental pollutants which, if allowed to build impair your immune system, your digestion, and even your mental health.  Long term they may result in degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular disease and even cancer.  

A healthy diet will provide antioxidants which neutralise free radicals in your body generated through a less than healthy diet, environmental pollutants and even normal metabolism.  These free radicals, left unchecked lead to degenerative diseases and aging.  Your may notice  your skin and hair improving when you reduce free radicals.  Also as digestion improves, you will absorb more health enhancing nutrients leading to wellbeing in your body and greater clarity in mind.

Returning to a healthy diet you should notice that your sleep quality and energy levels improve and you may even lose some weight as toxins affect your metabolism.  Any inflammation in your body will be reduced and your liver, your major organ of detoxification will thank you!

Your cleansing diet should be based on fruits and vegetables and wholegrains.  As we tend to eat too much wheat, it would be as well to eliminate this from your diet for a few weeks. Include bulgar wheat,oats,brown rice and quinoa.  Quinoa is a source of protein and essential fatty acid.  In terms of fruit and vegetables 'eat a rainbow' that is a variety of different colours to provide many different nutrients.  
Include beans, lentils, chickpeas, organic soy protein and tofu for protein.  If you are not already a vegan, cut out dairy for the duration of the cleanse as well as red meat.  You can replace milk with alternatives such as soya milk, rice, oat or almond milks.  If you are not a vegetarian/vegan eat small portions of poultry and oily fish such as wild salmon. 
Probitic and prebiotic foods are a good addition.  See http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/beat-post-christmas-bloat.htm  
Include nuts and seeds for your omega 3s.  
Reduce salt, caffeine in tea, coffee etc (herbal teas are fine especially dandelion and nettle) and alcohol.  Herbs and spices will make your food more flavoursome without the use of salt.
Eat organic wherever possible.  The exception to this is organic salmon.  See

Another ways to lower your toxic load include using natural cleaners for your home.  Either make your own or use ‘green’ brands.  Store cupboard ingredients make wonderful cleaners.  For instance white wine vinegar can be diluted one part vinegar to one part water to clean sinks, worktops, toilets etc (the vinegar smell disappears once it is dry).  Do not use it on marble however.  Lemon juice is a natural bleach and can be used to make a furniture polish.  Add one teaspoon to a pint of oil, mix and decant into a spray bottle. Baking soda is an abrasive and so can be used to clean pans, ovens etc. 
Reducing your toxic load by choosing toiletries and cosmetics carefully will be the subject of another post



Article Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

Meatless Monday: Vegan Moroccan Tagine

Monday, 5 January 2015


Serves 2-3

I got a tagine for Christmas!  I have used it twice since then and I love it.  
Why use a tagine? A tagine is used to cook food slowly allowing the flavours to meld.  Steam collects on the domed lid, condenses and runs back into the stew.  Traditionally the tagine would be placed over a fire.  Here I am putting the tagine on a low shelf on a low heat.  
2 onions, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tbsp organic olive oil
1tsp organic cinnamon
1tsp cumin
2cm piece ginger, finely sliced
1/2 large squash, peeled and diced
2 medium sweet potatoes, diced
1 can organic chickpeas
10 dried apricots
400ml stock made with 2 tsp organic reduced salt bouillon
Fry the onion in the olive oil for 2 minutes in a saucepan.  Add the garlic and spices and continue for a further minute.  Transfer to a tagine (make sure the tagine is at room temperature) and add the rest of the ingredients.  Place in the oven on a low shelf at 150 degrees and stew for 1 1/2 hours.  Check half way through the cooking time to ensure there is enough liquid and stir.
You could vary this in many ways-
Try it with different vegetables such as aubergine, celery, peppers etc
Try it with different herbs ad spices such as ginger, coriander, thyme or even a little chilli
Instead or in addition to chickpeas you could use lentils.  

Have fun experimenting!
Enjoy!
Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

Be happy, it's good for you!

Saturday, 3 January 2015



On the yoga blog we looked at the ways in which yoga can help us feel happiness. There is an article and video for you to enjoy. Please see http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/how-yoga-can-help-make-you-happy.html 

Here we will be thinking about how food can influence our emotions.
Scientists are now recognising that being happy can have a positive effect on your health. People who are happy tend to age more slowly, and have a reduced incidence of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Also people who are happy tend to live longer.
It is important to recognise that happiness cannot be gained from material goods but comes from within.  Walking in nature, good health, friends and family can contribute to happiness but to be truly happy we need to nurture gratitude for what we have, forgiveness, optimism and self-acceptance.  We need to let go of negative emotions.  Anger in particular is destructive and can lead to the heart being electrically unstable.
Did you know that little acts of kindness can improve your own happiness?  When we do something kind for someone, it releases enorphins in the brain, which are your body's 'feel good' hormones. There is also a release of another hormone, oxytocin which has a role in cardiovascular health in that it relaxes blood vessels keeping blood pressure at a healthy level.  This hormone also makes your digestive system work more efficiently and slows aging by reducing free radicals and inflammation in your body.  All this just for holding a door open for someone, or giving up your seat on a crowded train.  Try it.

So how can the food we eat influence how we feel, mentally and emotionally?
  • There is a link between B vitamins deficiency and depression.  This is because vitamins B6, B12 folic acid are needed in the production of brain chemicals that determine mood.  For vegans B6 can be found in wholegrains such as oatmeal and rice, and soy beans.  Vitamin B12 can be difficult for vegans to get from their diet as it is found mainly in meat, fish and dairy foods.  Vegans should take a supplement.  Folic acid is found in leafy green vegetables.
  • If you want to be happy avoid refined carbohydrates.  This means all foods containing sugar such as cakes, biscuits etc, white bread, white pasta and white rice.  The reason for this that these foods are absorbed into the blood quickly, causing blood sugar to 'spike'.  This leads the pancreas to release an excess of insulin, leading to a blood sugar 'dip' which in turn results in irritability.  However do not cut carbs out completely as they are needed to produce serontin, a neurotransmitter in the brain. Deficiency of serontin can lead to depression.  Eat brown rice, wholemeal pasta, wholegrain bread etc.
  • Avoid stimulants such as caffeine in tea, coffee and cola.  These can lead to irritability also because of their effect on blood sugar.  
  • Vitamin D deficiency is also linked to depression.  In the summer months we may be able to get enough vitamin D through the effect of sunlight on the skin but in the winter we need to get our vitamin D through our food.  Vegans can get vitamin D through fortified cereals and non-dairy 'milks' or take a supplement.
  • If you are deficient in iron, you will feel lethargic which impedes happiness.  Iron is available from plant sources, in particular spinach, kale, soya beans, tofu, sweet potato and oatmeal but is not as easily absorbed as from animal sources.  Increase absorption by having a source of vitamin C with the food which is a source of iron and avoid having tea with meals which impedes absorption.
  • Make sure you have some protein with each meal.  Two amino acids which make up protein are particularly worthy of note.  Tryptophan is used in your body to make serontin which balances moods and emotions.  It is found in bananas, walnuts, brown rice, soya milk and sunflower seeds. Tyrosine is used to make the neurotransmitters dopamine and noradrenaline which result in happy mood and an increased ability to handle stress.  Find it in almonds, and avocados.
  • Make sure you get your selenium from brazil nuts, soy beans etc as deficiency is associated with low mood.
  • Omega 3 eases the transmission of serontin from one brain cell to another and so protects against depression. Please see http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/where-do-vegans-get-their-omega-3s-from.html

Eat well be happy


Janet x

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