'Here we go gathering nuts in May'

Saturday, 30 May 2015

'Here we go gathering nuts in May'. Alright, I know the rhyme makes little sense because nuts are harvested in autumn.  The rhyme originally referred to 'knots' of flowers gathered to celebrate May Day.

What does make sense though is to include nuts in your daily diet.  My favourite nut is the walnut, a tree nut.

Our ancestors looked at the walnut which resembles the brain and thought that it must be good for your brain (doctrine of signatures).  It's true!  Walnuts in rich in omega 3 which is proven to benefit brain health, enhancing motor and cognitive functioning of your brain as you age.  This is because walnuts help develop neurotransmitters which help the brain function. Omega 3 is also anti-inflammatory and may help prevent blood clots which lead to stroke. But that's not all:-  

Walnuts are good for your heart in that they help lower cholesterol levels.  They also help heart health by lowering  blood pressure and preventing abnormal heart rhythms.     

Walnuts are rich in antioxidants, in particular an antioxidant that supports the health of the liver. Your liver is your major organ of detoxification so it is important that this organ stays healthy. Antioxidants also prevent free radical damage to your skin, helping your skin stay young and along with omega 3 promote brain health.  

Because walnuts are rich in fibre and omega 3 fatty acids and they can help with weight loss. Snacking on walnuts means you tend to eat less overall so that although they are high calorie they have a place in weight loss diets.  

If you need another beauty benefit to convince you, walnuts contain vitamin B7 which strengthens your hair preventing hair fall out and it even promotes hair growth.  

Walnuts also lower the risk of cancer, including breast cancer and prostate cancer by reducing levels of the hormone IGF-1.  They may even slow the growth of these cancers.

Just one ounce (25g) is all you need daily to reap these benefits so its worth including walnuts all year, not just in May!!

Stay healthy, stay happy
Janet x

Article Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

Collagen - your internal 'anti-wrinkle cream'

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Collagen is a large protein molecule that acts as the 'scaffolding' of your skin and helps your skin store water. This gives your skin a youthful strength, smoothness and elasticity.  After 40 years of age, collagen production begins to decline and collagen may undergo a process of glycation which denatures the protein, resulting in wrinkles. Also as we get older 'free radicals' accumulate which attack collagen. It is of little use applying collagen in the form of creams because collagen is a large molecule, not easily absorbed by the skin.

The good news is that we can help replenish collagen. Trending now are collagen 'shots' the idea being to replenish collagen that has become depleted through the aging process. But you can also boost collagen through your food.  

Foods rich in omega 3 such as oily fish and flaxseed boost collagen by reducing inflammation which destroys collagen.  

Genistein in soy products such as soy mince, soy milk and yogurt protects collagen by inhibiting enzymes that break it down.

Carnosine, a dipeptide of the amino acids beta-alanine and histidine, is found in animal products such as beef, chicken, fish, eggs and milk has the ability to extend  the life of collagen cells.  It also protects collagen from glycosylation.  Further carnosine helps prevent cross-linking in which fibres form in collagen making it inelastic. Vegans may need a supplement.  Yoga, in particular, yin yoga can also help restrict cross-linking.

Antioxidants neutralise free radicals which attack collagen.  These include vitamins A in sweet potato, squash, carrots etc, vitamin C in citrus fruits, kiwi, peppers etc, vitamin E in nuts and seeds, lutein in green, leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach and lycopene in tomatoes.  

In addition to being an antioxidant, vitamin C is also necessary for the production of collagen.  Most animals except humans produce vitamin C.  Linus Pauling claimed that we need 1g vitamin C daily for each decade of our age.  Be aware however that vitamin C supplements can cause gastric upset so I would not recommend taking such megadoses.  

Eat well, stay beautiful

Janet x

Article Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

Meatless Monday: Bean burger

Monday, 25 May 2015

Another bank holiday! Vegans do not have to miss out on barbeque foods.  Why not try these bean burgers.

Makes 4

You will need

1 red onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 medium carrot, chopped
50g wholemeal breadcrumbs
2 tsp organic reduced salt bouillon
Carton cannellini beans
Olive oil spray
Burger buns or bread of your choice and salad to serve.

Blend the onion, garlic, carrot, breadcrumbs, bouillon and coriander. 

Lightly mash the cannellini beans in a bowl, add the blended mixture and mix thoroughly.

Turn out onto a chopping board and form into a round.  Cut into 4 and shape each section into a burger.  

Spray a baking tray with olive oil spray.  Place the burgers on a tray and spray once more.  Bake at 200 degrees for 20-30 minutes turning once or grill or barbeque 5-7 minutes each side

Serve with burger buns and salad.


Janet x 

Recipe Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

It's bank holiday weekend - treat yourself to a non-alcoholic cocktail (mocktail)!

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Whisk yourself off to a tropical island with the flavours of pineapple and mango in this indulgent non-alcoholic cocktail.

Serves 3-4

250g prepared fresh pineapple, chopped or frozen pineapple defrosted
250g prepared fresh mango or frozen mango defrosted
Juice 1 lime
1 can organic coconut milk, full fat
Fruit to decorate

Blend all the ingredients. Pour into glasses and decorate with more fruit if you want.


Janet x  

Recipe Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

It's Vegetarian Week

Thursday, 21 May 2015

The vegetarian diet, like the vegan diet, excludes red meat, poultry, and fish.  Unlike the vegan diet however, vegetarians may eat dairy products, that is milk, cheese, yogurt and butter (lacto-vegetarians) and some vegetarians also include eggs (ovo-lacto vegetarians).  Eggs and milk are good sources of protein and you probably need less than you think to meet your nutritional needs.  Eggs are also a good source of B12, which vegan diets may lack.  However vegetarians may still have difficulty getting enough iron from vegetable sources (peas, beans, lentils, dark green leafy vegetables).  You can increase your ability to absorb iron by having a rich source of vitamin C (for example a glass of orange juice, peppers, kiwi fruit etc) at the same time as the iron containing food).  Milk is a good source of calcium and vitamin D, essential for healthy bones. It is also easily absorbed.  

The vegetarian diet is a very healthy diet provided you plan your meals to meet all your nutritional requirements.  

Other sources of protein for vegetarians include soy products, beans, lentils, peas, tofu, nuts and seeds.  Make sure you get your omega 3 by including nuts and seeds in your diet. Flaxseed and hemp oil are good sources.  Cheese is a good source of zinc and recent research indicates that, because of the presence of calcium in cheese, much of the saturated fat is not absorbed.  Also include plenty of fruit and vegetables, and wholegrains.

In the article  'Diet focus - the vegan diet' http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/diet-focus-vegan-diet.html we talked about a meat free diet being good for your health and for the planet.  Other benefits of the vegetarian and vegan diet you might be interested in are that it slows ageing, results in better gut health and more youthful skin. The good vegan or vegetarian diet is bursting with antioxidants. The incidence of degenerative diseases such as heart disease is much lower in vegans and vegetarians.  This means that your blood circulation remains youthful, bringing nutrients to all parts your body.  Your brain is well supplied with nutrients including oxygen, increasing mental clarity and reducing fatigue.  Your skin is well supplied with nutrients giving it a youthful glow.  The vegan and vegetarian diet also includes plenty of fibre resulting in a healthy digestion.  As a yogini, I believe that the basis of good health is a healthy gut.

There are many vegan recipes on this blog that would also be suitable for vegetarians, so why not try a few?

Eat well, stay young
Janet x

Article Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

Meatless Monday:Mushroom stroganoff

Monday, 18 May 2015

Did you know stroganoff was named after Count Stroganoff, a dignitary at the Russian court of Alexander III? Here the dish is made with mushrooms with the addition of mixed beans for added protein.

You will need 
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp organic olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced
250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp paprika
2 tsp organic reduced salt bouillon 
1 can organic mixed beans
200ml full fat coconut milk

Fry the onion in the olive oil over a medium heat for a minute.  Add the garlic and fry for a further minute.  
Add the chestnut mushrooms, paprika, bouillon and vinegars and cook for around 5 minutes stirring often.  
Stir in the mixed beans and coconut milk.  
Serve with mashed potato, mashed cauliflower or organic brown rice.


Janet x 

Recipe Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

Rosacea-stop seeing red

Sunday, 17 May 2015

You think you have left skin problems behind you once you are through your teens, then in your 40s you get rosacea.  Your skin becomes flushed, you may have a rash that resembles acne and you have an unpleasant burning sensation on your face.  More women than men are affected.  Acne treatments do not work for rosacea and may even make it worse.  

The sun can often cause a rosacea flare up, so wear a sun cream with an SPF of 50 in both summer and winter.  

Some products in cosmetics and cleansers may cause irritation. Alcohol, witch hazel, and tocepherol acetate may irritate rosacea but irritants can be personal to you so it may be a case of trial and error.  Make up should be non-comedogenic (pore blocking) and for severe rosacea camouflage make up is available.  Men should use an electric razor rather than a blade.

Often rosacea is a signal that immunity is poor and this is often caused by stress.  Your 40s can be a stressful time as you try to juggle looking after children, a job, and often aging parents.  Olive leaf extract may help boost immunity.  It is antioxidant and anti-inflammatory which can help with the flushing.  Be aware that your symptoms may worsen before they get better as your body detoxes.  Olive leaf extract should not be used if you are pregnant or have low blood pressure. Relaxation techniques, yoga, breathing techniques and Tai chi can all help reduce stress and so boost immunity.

It is also thought that a tiny mite, demodex folliculorum, which we all have living on our skin may be involved. It may be that some people have an abnormal immune response to this normal part of our skin flora.

Some foods and drinks can cause a rosacea flare up. These include alcohol, caffeine, hot drinks, chocolate, and spicy food.  It may well be worth keeping a food diary to find out which foods cause a flare up.  For instance some people react to avocado, spinach, aubergine, soy and soy products but you may not want to cut these healthy foods out if they do not cause flare ups for you.

A diet that encourages gut flora balance may help.  This means no sugar as this can lead to an overgrowth of candida which 'crowds out' the beneficial bacteria.  Some foods such as saurkraut on the other hand encourage the good bacteria to grow.  A probiotic supplement may help.  

An anti-inflammatory diet may help. A Mediterranean diet would fit the bill here, that is a diet that includes a 'rainbow' of fruit and vegetables, omega 3 fatty acids (see http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/in-news-mediterranean-diet_4.html), nuts and seeds, beans,lentils, no sugar, and no saturated fat.

You may need to avoid foods that contain histamine such as bananas.

Although there is no 'cure' for rosacea, there is a great deal you can do to avoid flare ups. 

Hope this article helps.

Janet x

Article Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

The sadness of disconnection from nature

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

I have always loved nature.  As a child my family did not have much money so summer holidays were spent playing by Pendle Waters in Lancashire (under the supervision of grandad) or walking in the woods, or around Pendle Hill.  We were happy: a few pebbles by the river would become our 'pirate island' and a whirlpool, a 'fairy kingdom'.  The waters were a wealth of wildlife, all familiar to us.  In spring we would make daisy chains, and gather armfuls of bluebells (no longer allowed), in summer we would spend ages looking for a four-leaf clover (grandad knew how to keep us quiet!!) and in autumn we would gather blackberries and make pictures out of acorns, beechnuts and hazelnuts.  In winter the snow provided endless fun.

So, it is with great sadness that I learned that the Oxford Junior Dictionary has dropped words like 'acorn' and 'buttercup' in favour of 'broadband' and 'cut and paste'. www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jan/13/oxford-junior-dictionary-replacement-natural-words

It is my firm belief that children and adults need to connect with nature for physical and mental wellbeing. The colour green is not only pleasing to the eye but creates calmness and relaxation, reducing stress, anxiety and depression. It balances your emotions and promotes self-acceptance. Since stress is at the root of many illnesses such as tension headaches, IBS, skin problems, reduced immunity and even cardiovascular disease, it really is worth making the effort seek out green spaces. Even cities have parks or other green spaces so try to get out in your lunch hour, after work or on your days off.  If you need company, join a walking group.

Here are some more benefits of getting out in nature:-
  • Exposure to natural daylight helps regulate your sleep/wake cycle so that you sleep better. This is because melatonin production is controlled by light and melatonin regulates your sleep/wake cycle.
  • Getting out in nature helps regulate your weight!  Aside from the fact that you are getting more exercise, the fact that you sleep better means that you produce less ghrelin, the hormone that has you reaching for the biscuit tin!  Another hormone leptin is produced in larger amounts with better sleep and this hormone suppresses appetite.
  • Exposure to natural daylight boosts your vitamin D levels.  See http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/bring-on-sun-vitamin-d-sunshine-vitamin.html for the benefits of vitamin d.
  • Getting out in nature restores your mental clarity
  • When we feel connected to nature, we care more about what happens to our planet.
  • We are all connected in this 'circle of life'. Think of the bees. If the bees disappear (and they are declining) much of our food would disappear too. In fact Einstein claimed that we would only survive for four years.

What I love most about being out in nature is that it changes almost on a daily basis and you feel the natural rhythm of the seasons. So don't simply rely on shop window displays in order to know what season it is!  You never know, you might develop a passion for birds, wild flowers or other wildlife.

Happy days!
Janet x

Article Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

Meatless Monday:Beansprout Wraps

Monday, 11 May 2015

Serves 2 

2 tbsp organic olive oil

1½ cups beansprouts 
Safety note - do not eat uncooked beansprouts as these carry a risk of food borne illness. 

4 tbsp edamame beans

80g mange tout, sliced 

½ red pepper, chopped

1 large spring onion, sliced

4 tbsp sweetcorn

2 tbsp tamari

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar 

½ tsp ginger 

½ tsp garlic salt

2 corn wraps

Heat the oil in a wok and add the vegetables.  Stir to coat in the oil then fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the tamari, rice wine vinegar, ginger and garlic.  Cook another 2-3 minutes then serve in wraps.


Janet x 

Recipe Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

Spring skincare

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Winter has a drying effect on the skin (think of central heating, biting winds etc) but now that spring is here and there is some heat in the sun, you may find that your skin is more oily and you may be having spring breakouts.  
Do not over-cleanse as this strips the natural oils from your skin and never use soap on your skin which is very drying.  This sends signals to the sebaceous glands to produce more oil and they may go into overdrive. It may seem counter intuitive to use oils on your face if your skin is oily but in fact applying oils to your face restores the natural balance and the sebaceous glands calm down.  
All skin types benefit from exfoliation after the winter.  This removes dead skin cells leaving your skin clear, soft and radiant.  

The following face mask uses strawberries, honey and coconut oil.

Strawberry, honey and coconut oil face mask

You will need
30g strawberries, (2 medium) mashed
1 tbsp honey 
1 tbsp coconut oil (tip-if the coconut oil is solid warm it a little in a pan so that it will blend more easily).

Blend the ingredients.  Smoothe over your face and leave for 10-15 minutes.  Wash off with warm water and a face flannel.  Splash your face with cold water.

Strawberries made an excellent exfoliator due to their salicylic acid content which is also astringent and so closes your pores so that impurities do not lodge there.  They also contain antioxidants such as vitamin C, ellagic acid, and alpha hydroxyl acids which prevents skin damage that leads to aging.

Honey is antibacterial, antioxidant and antihistamine and so can help with breakouts.

Coconut oil is deeply moisturising and is anti-fungal which may help some skin conditions such as rosacea (more on this in another post.)

Enjoy spring!
Janet x 

Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

Hidden vegetable smoothies

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Did you know that vegetables such as courgettes when frozen lose their ‘vegetableness’ and add a creaminess to smoothies?  This is great for kids who are reluctant to eat vegetables and also for people who cannot eat bananas.  If I eat bananas, for instance, I get a migraine (why is it always the foods you can’t have that you want?).  I can only think that I must be sensitive to tyramine which is also found in aged cheese.  Bananas also contain histamine which may not be good if you have allergies or if you suffer from rosacea (more on rosacea in another post). Courgettes like bananas are also a good source of potassium.

Here are two recipes to start you off:-

Pear and raspberry smoothie

Serves 1

2 small organic pears, quartered and cores removed
4 tbsp raspberries (frozen and defrosted are fine) + extra to decorate
1 ½ medium courgettes, cut up small (this is important for blending) and frozen
1 cup organic sweetened soya milk

Blend all the ingredients and serve immediately.

Pear and kiwi smoothie

Serves 1

2 small organic pears, quartered and cores removed
2 kiwi
2 inch piece cucumber
1 medium courgette
1 cup organic sweetened soya milk
Cacao nibs to decorate 

Blend all the ingredients, except the cacao nibs and serve immediately.

Enjoy and feel virtuous for having ‘hidden vegetables’.

Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

Meatless Monday: Red Pepper Hummus

Monday, 4 May 2015

It's bank holiday Monday and the sun is shining!  If you are thinking of getting out for a picnic, you may want to pack this quick to make hummus.

Serves 2
You will need
1/2 red pepper, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tbsp organic olive oil
240g can organic chickpeas, drained
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp lemon juice

Fry the red pepper strips in the olive oil for a minute. Add the garlic and continue to fry until the pepper is soft. Place the garlic and pepper in a blender with the remaining ingredients and blend.  Serve with pitta bread and crudites.

Janet x

Some more ideas for your picnic-

Vegan Sushi -http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/meatless-monday-vegan-sushi.html
Lime and Soy Quinoa- http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/meatless-monday-lime-and-soy-quinoa.html
Mediterranean Pittas - http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/meatless-monday-mediterranean-pittas.html

Recipe Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

Foods that heal - Garlic

Sunday, 3 May 2015

When chickenpox affected my lung all those years ago, it was really important that I avoid infections such as colds and flu which could easily turn to pneumonia.  Garlic was part of my armoury.  The active ingredients are allion and allicin which are powerful antibacterials, antivirals and antifungals.  Given current worries about antibiotic resistance, it may be that science will look more closely at such natural alternatives. Other benefits of garlic include its ability to normalise blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers.  It also fights free radicals which age your body, so it is ANTI-AGING.

If you can have it raw or add it minced to vegetable juices or include it in soups, stir-fries or casseroles. If you find you have 'garlic breath' try reducing the amount you are having or try chewing some parsley.  Some people experience nausea when they have garlic.  If this is the case, it is probably best avoided.

Why not try some garlic bread with roasted tomato and basil soup to get inspire you to include more of this healing food in your diet?

Garlic bread with roasted tomato and basil soup

For the roasted tomato and basil soup
Serves 2
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp organic olive oil
2 cloves garlic
6 tomatoes, roasted (tip - put the tomatoes and whole garlic clove for the garlic bread in when the oven is on, cool, cling film and pop in the fridge until needed.   They will keep a day or two)
400g organic chopped tomatoes
Stock made with 2 tsp organic reduced salt bouillon and 3 cups hot water
Handful of fresh basil leaves
Pinch stevia
For a more substantial soup add a carton organic cannellini beans (optional)

For the garlic bread
1 whole clove garlic, roasted
1 small baton or 1/2 large
1 tbsp dairy free spread

Fry the onion in the olive oil. Add the remaining ingredients for the soup and bring to the boil.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes then blend.  While the soup is simmering, prepare the garlic bread.
Squeeze the flesh from the garlic bulb into a bowl and mix with the spread. Cut the baton lengthwise and spread with the garlic 'butter'.  Wrap in kitchen foil and place in a preheated oven at 200 degrees for 5-10 minutes.  Serve with the roasted tomato and basil soup.

Janet x

Article and recipe Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell