Should I eat salmon?

Friday, 29 August 2014

We are encouraged to eat two or three servings of oily fish a week.  This makes sense, as the omega 3 it contains is known to be beneficial for brain health and cardiovascular health.  
One of our favourite oily fishes is salmon.  It is versatile and tasty, but the high demand for it has led to the creation of large fish farms, with fish farms in Scotland and Norway supplying the UK.  The problem with this, however, is that keeping large numbers of fish in a relatively small space means disease can be a problem- and to remedy this, the fish are routinely given antibiotics.  Lice can be a problem too, and the fish are treated with pesticide based anti-lice treatments to keep them lice free.  The feed given to farmed fish can also be contaminated with carcinogens, including dioxin. Also, if you are concerned for the environment- and let's face it, we all need to be- think about the effect of all the faecal matter from fish farms polluting our seas, not to mention the pesticides leaching out.  Then there is the problem of fish escaping and possibly infecting wild popuations with lice.   
You may think the solution is to eat organic fish.  Unfortunately, the high standards we have come to expect from organic chicken and meat do not seem to apply to organic salmon.  It is true the fish have more space to swim, and are fed on fish waste from fish for human consumption (which is possibly safer than the alternative fish feeds) but the is little evidence to support the belief that eating organic salmon is healthier than eating non-organic farmed fish.
The best option in terms of health seems to me to eat wild salmon- but remember wild salmon stocks are endangered.  Expect to pay approximately double for wild salmon, and look for sockeye salmon cerified by the MSC.  You will be rewarded with a superior tasting fish which is also richer in omega 3 than farmed salmon.  However, If you want a cheaper (and more enviromentally ethical) alternative to this you could try keta salmon which is no more expensive usually than farmed salmon.  The downside is that it can be drier, and not as rich in omega 3s.  
Here is a recipe you might want to try with wild or keta salmon. 
Citrus salmon 
Serves 2
2 wild salmon fillets
4 tbsp tamari
Juice and zest of one large orange 
1 tbsp lemon
2 garlic cloves, sliced.
1/2 tsp stevia or to taste
Place salmon fillets in an oven-proof dish and mix tamari, orange juice and zest, lemon, stevia and garlic in another dish, reserving 2 slices orange for decoration if you wish.
Pour the mix over the salmon and top with orange slices if using.  
Place in an oven at 200degrees for 20-30 minutes.
Serve with couscous, quinoa and vegetables or salad.


Janet x

Recipe and article Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell

Meatless Monday: Sweet potato burgers

Monday, 25 August 2014

Serves 4 
1 large sweet potato, baked
½ onion finely chopped
½ small beetroot, diced (optional)
1 can organic beans
1 tsp bouillon powder 
2 tbsp nutritional yeast 
oats to bind
½ tsp chilli flakes (optional)

Mash the sweet potato and add the beans.  Mash lightly so that there are still some whole beans in the mixture.  Stir in bouillon and nutritional yeast and bind with oats so that the mixture is firm enough to handle.  Form into 4 burgers and place on a baking tray sprayed with olive oil.  Spray the top of the burgers with olive oil spray and place in the oven at 200 degrees for 20 minutes, turning once.  Serve with salad or vegetables, such as corn on the cob or on a wholemeal roll with salad or guacamole.  If you like your burgers spicy add ½ tsp chilli flakes.

Did you know- nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast.  Because it is deactivated, it may be incorporated into the diet of people suffering from Candida infections. It is especially good for vegans because it is a source of  vitamin B12, which is often lacking in the vegan diet.  It is also a source of selenium, folic acid, zinc and protein.  It adds a nutty, ‘cheesy’ taste when included in recipes.  Look out for more recipes with this wonder ingredient.

Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell

Healthy dessert day:Plum, apple and pecan crumble

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Serves 4

Plums are in season just now so treat yourself to a crumble. 

4 large organic plums
2 organic apples
1 tbsp lemon juice
100g spelt flour
50g organic raw virgin coconut oil
4 teaspoons stevia or to taste
50g oats
6-8 pecan nuts

·        Wash and quarter the plums, peel, core and slice the apples.  Gently poach the fruit with 1 tbsp lemon juice until soft. 
·        Mix the spelt flour, stevia and oats.  Add the coconut oil and rub in until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Stir in pecan nuts.
·        Place the fruit in an ovenproof dish, sprinkle over crumble mixture and bake at 200 degrees for 20-30 minutes.
·        Serve with natural yogurt or blend 4 frozen bananas with some soya milk sweetened with apple juice to make a ‘banana ice cream’

Why this is healthy
As well as adding a subtle coconut flavour, coconut oil has many health benefits see
Oats lower cholesterol and so have benefits for the cardiovascular system and help stabilise blood sugar. 
Plums and apples provide antioxidants especially vitamin C and fibre for a healthy digestive system.
Pecans provide a source of vitamin E, also an antioxidant which is also good for healthy cell membranes

Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell

Love your brain

Friday, 22 August 2014

We all worry about keeping our brains sharp and active, especially as we get older. It's really important we look after our brains, and here are some of the ways to do this:-

Why this helps - exercise gets blood flowing to your brain, supplying your brain with nutrients so that it can function optimally.  Exercise also reduces stress (see below) and is thought to increase the formation of nerve cells in the hippocampus- the part of your brain which is involved in learning and memory. 

Keep your heart healthy
Why this helps - there is strong evidence linking brain health to heart health.  This is because where cardiovascular disease is evident, blood flow to the brain is restricted.   This leads to changes in the brain, which affects your cognitive ability.  It is even thought that restricted blood flow to the brain may be a possible trigger for Alzheimer's Disease. You can keep your heart healthy with exercise, diet and stress reduction (see below).  Also if you smoke take steps to stop- it's vital for your health you do. 

Eat a healthy diet
Why this helps - a diet rich in antioxidants protects the brain by neutralising  free radicals. These cause damage to all cells in the body, including brain cells.  As well as eating a variety of different fruits and vegetables you might want to include tumeric (good in curries!) as this protects your brain against inflammation.  
DHA, an omega 3 fatty acid is a major component of the brain, and ensures that the brain functions well. You can get DHA by including oily fish in your diet two or three times a week, or by eating flaxseeds if you are vegan or vegetarian.  
It is important to keep your brain supplied with nutrients.  The brain, although only 3% of the body in weight, uses up 20% of the body's energy.  It's therefore important to make sure that blood sugar levels are stable by eating regularly and eating slow release carbohydrates such as wholemeal bread, brown rice and wholemeal pasta.  Try to avoid sugar and caffeine, which can lead to glucose 'spikes' followed by dips.  Unrefined carbohydrates also reduce homocysteine levels-  when homocysteine levels are high, there is a possible link with Alzheimer's Disease.
Limit saturated fat and avoid transfats. These are the "bad fats" which lead to hardening of the arteries that supply the brain due to their effect on blood cholesterol.  However, monosaturated fats, such as those found in coconut oil and olive oil, are beneficial to the brain as they stabilise insulin. This ensures a steady supply of energy to the brain.  These fats are even linked to enhanced learning ability, and slowing of age related decline.

Reduce stress
Why this helps - stress has been linked with Alzheimer's disease.  Stress triggers the   release of cortisol which has a damaging effect on brain cells and brain conductivity.  Try yoga- yoga triggers the relaxation response in your body. Meditation has also been shown to increase grey matter in the regions of the brain associated with learning and memory.

Learn a language
Why this helps - Earlier this year results of research were published which suggest 'learning two or more languages helps protect your brain as you age even if you learn as an adult'  (2nd June 2014 Dr Thomas Bak):
There are a number of free resources on the internet to start you off- plus it will be very handy  on your travels! 

Be sociable 
Why this helps- studies show that sociable people have larger brains.  As our brains tend to shrink with age this may be worth bearing in mind- plus, having strong relationships also reduces stress. 

So love your brain! 
Janet x

Article Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell

Meatless Monday : Tofu ball with pasta and tomato sauce

Monday, 18 August 2014

Serves 4
1x 300g carton ambient tofu
1 finely chopped onion
1 crushed garlic clove
70 g breadcrumbs
1 tbsp tamari
1tsp dried basil

For the sauce
1 carton chopped tomatoes
1 finely chopped onion
1 crushed garlic clove
1 tsp dried basil
Mix all the ingredients for the tofu balls together.  The mixture should be firm enough to shape into even sized balls.  Place on a baking tray greased with a little coconut oil and place in the oven at 180 degrees for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile mix all the ingredients for the tomato sauce together in a saucepan and bring to the boil.  Turn the heat down to simmer and cook the pasta.
Drain the pasta and serve with tofu balls and tomato sauce.

Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell

Wellbeing tip

Monday, 11 August 2014

The secret to looking younger, slimmer, boosting your energy and increasing your wellbeing? - look to your posture!
Life is not geared up to good posture. We sit at our desks,  or in our cars arms forward, shortening our chest muscles, creating poor alignment in our spine,  weakening our core muscles and tightening our hamstrings.  But we can fight back!  Try these four yoga poses to improve your posture and feel great.

Tadasana (Mountain Pose) for overall good posture and good alignment in your spine.  You can even practice this one in the supermarket queue. 

Stand with your feet together, outside edges of your feet parallel.  For most of us this means separating the heels.  Lift up through your instep, lift your kneecaps and tuck your tailbone under.  Gently engage your abdominals. The lower half of your body will feel solid, grounded.  From there lengthen your spine, roll your shoulders up to your ears then back and down, opening up your chest. Bring your chin level with the ground and let your arms relax by your sides, your fingers curling towards your palm.  If it feels alright for you, close your eyes and see if you can become completely still, perfectly balanced on your feet.

Camel variation - this will open your chest so enhancing your breathing and boosting energy, and correct any shoulder rounding. 

Stand in Tadasana and place your hands on the small of your back,  squeeze your elbows together and lift your chest towards the ceiling.  To come out tuck your chin and slide your hands down your thighs as a counter pose.

Plank- this will strengthen your core muscles that support your spine, preventing rounding in the lower back.  It also strengthens your shoulders.  

Come onto all fours and stretch your right leg back tucking your toes.  Lower the right hip slightly.  Without moving the right leg bring the left leg in line.  Keep the back of the neck long and shoulders away fron the ears.  Your bottom should not stick up or dip down.  Use your core muscles to hold your position.   When you are ready to come out drop your knees, bring your bottom back onto your heels and stretch your arms forward. 

Heron - this will stretch your hamstrings.  Tight hamstrings are the cause of up to 90% back pain. 

Sit on a folded blanket or yoga block if you have one, with your legs outstretched and fold your left leg back so that your left foot is by your left hip.  If this does not feel right for your knee or your hips are not level, sit cross-legged right leg in front of right.  Bend your right leg so that you can place a strap, or dressing gown tie, around the ball of your right foot. Hold your strap with two hands. Inhale then stretch your right leg up and pressing into the belt to straighten the back of your leg (hello hamstrings!). Lean back slightly. If you cannot straighten your leg, you may need to lower your leg a little until you can. Lift your chest.  Hold for a few breaths then lower.
These four poses will take up just a few minutes of your day and make all the difference to your wellbeing.
Be well, be happy 
Janet x

Article Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell

Meatless Monday-Mediterranean Pittas

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Serves 2
2 Pittas
Can mixed beans
2 finely chopped tomatoes
1/4 red onion finely chopped
2 tbsp sweetcorn kernals
1/2 tsp oregano
1/3 red pepper, chopped
6 olives
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp stevia
Put the pittas to warm in the oven.  Mix in the dressing ingredients.  Mix the other ingredients.  Stir the dressing through the bean mixture and use to fill the warmed pittas.  
Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell

Breakfasts to go

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

If you need a breakfast that is quick, super healthy, and will keep you going until lunch, you might like to try the following ideas.  These delicious recipes can all be prepared the night before and kept overnight in the fridge- allowing you some extra snooze time in the morning!  You could even take these to work with you.

Banana 'porridge' blend

Serves 1

1 medium banana 30g organic oats
100ml soya milk sweetened with apple juice
100ml water
chunk of coconut + coconut shavings to decorate
pinch cinnamon
pinch ginger 
Blend all the ingredients.  Pour in a jar and place in the fridge overnight.  

'Green smoothie' breakfast

(Pictured above) 

Serves 1

A fresh tasting breakfast bursting with vitamins.

30g oats 
handful spinach
3 inch piece cucumber
1 banana
50ml soya milk sweetened with apple juice
Pumpkin seeds to top
Blend all the ingredients.  Pour in a jar and place in the fridge overnight.  

'Pumpkin pie' breakfast blend

Serves 1

Comfort food in a jar!

30g oats
1/4 medium squash
100ml soya milk sweetened with apple juce
100ml water
pinch cinnamon
pinch ginger 
Cacao powder to decorate
Blend all the ingredients.  Pour in a jar and place in the fridge overnight. 

Happy breakfasting! 

Love Janet x 

Recipe Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell

Coconut oil cleanser

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

I am always looking for ways to reduce my toxic load.  For this reason I try to be careful what I eat, eating organic foods wherever possible.  Recently, I have become increasingly aware of what I put on my skin.  Our skin absorbs much of what we put onto it, so we need to make sure that what we do put on our skins is nourishing us.
 Commercial skin cleansers may be harsh and drying, and the antibacterial cleansers may contain harmful chemicals.  Never use soap to cleanse your face.  Soap is alkaline, and destroys the protective, more acidic coating on the skin. This leaves the skin exposed to bacteria, which in turn may lead to breakouts.  Soap is also drying, which makes the skin overcompensate by producing oil.  Again, this may lead to breakouts.   Soap residue on your face may take up to forty rinses to remove.
Given the inadequacies of commercial cleansers, you may like to try the oil cleansing method to remove make up and cleanse your skin.   I use my favourite oil, coconut.  Make sure it is organic unrefined extra virgin coconut oil.  Coconut oil is non-irritant and is antibacterial.  Do not worry about the oil making your skin more oily if you are prone to oily skin- oil cleansing can in fact resolve oily skin issues as well as skin dryness.  Do be aware, though, that as impurities are initially drawn out, you may experience some initial breakouts- but stay with it and your skin should quickly improve.
Here's how to remove make-up and cleanse your skin with coconut oil.  You will need organic cotton pads and a face flannel. You may want to put a soft headband on to keep your hair off your face.
Place coconut oil on the palm of your hand.  In cold weather you may have to rub your hands together to 'melt' the oil. I like to add a single drop of essential oil to the coconut oil.  Lavender, my favourite,  is anti-inflammatory, and so will reduce redness.  It is also antibacterial, and so is good if you are prone to acne; and because it helps boost circulation, bringing revitalising oxygen to the skin, it also helps prevent wrinkles.  Geranium also boosts circulation, and is toning, which helps to prevent sagging skin. German chamomile is another to try, as it helps skin regeneration.
Massage the oil into your skin thoroughly, and then wait for a minute to allow make up to 'loosen'.  Be especially gentle with the delicate skin surrounding the eyes.
Remove make up with organic cotton pads.
Rinse flannel in hot(-ish) water and squeeze the excess water out.  Hold the flannel up to your face for 30 seconds to draw out impurities then rinse your face with warm water.  Pat the skin to dry-do not rub. Your skin should feel clean, soft and moist.
Janet x

Article Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell

Meatless Monday-Aduki Bean Pie

Monday, 4 August 2014

Serves 2 
1 200g drained weight can aduki beans
1 large or 2 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into chunks
Unsweetened soya milk to cream potatoes (optional)
1 large onion
200g carton organic tomatoes in juice
2 sticks celery, chopped
2 large organic mushrooms, sliced
(You could substitute the celery and mushrooms in this recipe for any other vegetables that need eating up in the fridge, such as peppers, aubergines, and courgettes.)
200ml stock made with 1 heaped teaspoon organic reduced salt bouillon
1/2 teaspoon mixed herbs (optional)
Coconut oil
Boil the sweet potatoes until soft.  
Meanwhile, sweat the onion in a little coconut oil.  Add the vegetables and continue for cooking for 1 minute.  
Add chopped tomatoes in juice and stock, and simmer until sauce thickens and vegetables soften.  
Stir in drained aduki beans and transfer mixture to a pyrex dish. 
Drain potatoes, and mash with a little unsweetened soya mik if using.  Spoon potatoes over the bean mixture, and use a fork to spread the mashed sweet potatoes evenly.  
Place in a preheated oven at 200 degrees celsius for 20- 30 minutes.
Serve with a green vegetable. 
Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell

No added sugar blackcurrant jam

Saturday, 2 August 2014

This year we have grown some unsprayed blackcurrants. As well as eating them with our breakfasts, we have made some no added sugar blackcurrant jam.  Here's the recipe we used:

1 kilogram blackcurrants, washed and any stalks removed

Stevia to taste
1 sachet pectin (or use according to manufacturer's instructions)

Juice of 1 lemon
Put the blackcurrants into a large saucepan with the lemon juice, and cook gently over a low heat for 15 minutes.  Add the stevia and pectin, and stir until dissolved.

Simmer for 15-30 minutes until setting point is reached. You can test this by placing a teaspoon of the jam in some cold water on a saucer. Leave for a few seconds, then touch with a finger. If it wrinkles, it has reached setting point.

Allow to stand until cool, then pour into sterilised jars.  Sterilise the jars by boiling them in water for 10 minutes, making sure they are completely covered. Then, using tongs, place them on a baking tray lined with a clean teatowel. Place in a preheated oven (120 degrees centigrade) for 10 minutes. Wait until both jam and jars are cool before putting jam in the jars, or the glass may shatter.

No added sugar will not keep as long as jam made with sugar.  If you are not going to use it in a few days, freeze in freezer bags.
As well as using to spread on wholemeal bread, you could warm some to make a coulis for ice cream. (Healthy ice cream recipes coming soon!)
Blackcurrants are bursting with vitamin C, an antioxidant. They also are rich in anthocyanins, an antioxidant that promotes cardiovascular health, brain health and helps neutralise the free radicals that age us. This jam is a tasty way to enjoy this brilliant berry.

Happy eating!
Love Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell