Braai’d lamb skewers with a herby vegetable couscous

(serves 4)

Ingredients:

For the lamb skewers:

  • 1kg lamb leg or shoulder, cut into chunks
  • 80ml/5 tabespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 red onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme or some fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 10 skewers

For the herby couscous:

  • 200g asparagus, trimmed and cut into 4cm pieces
  • 1 red pepper, cut into 2cm pieces
  • 1 red onion, cut into thick slices
  • 140g mushrooms, cut into thick slices
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 2 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 240g couscous (dry weight)
  • 500ml hot vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 40g pine nuts
  • 3 handfuls of your favourite herbs (I used coriander, parsley and dill)

Method:

For the skewers:

  1. In a large bowl add the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, the herbs and spices and season with freshly ground pepper. Whisk all the ingredients to combine. Add the lamb and the chopped onions and blend to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, chill and let marinade for at least 4 hours.
  2. To assemble the lamb skewers. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water. (This will prevent them from burning.) Lift the chunks of lamb out of the marinade and thread the pieces, on the skewers.
  3. Braai the lamb skewers for about 10-15 minutes, until cooked to your liking.

For the herby couscous:

  1. Pre­heat the oven to 200C.
  2. Place the vegetables on a roasting pan, drizzle with the olive oil, add the paprika and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Stir well and pop in the oven for 30-­35 minutes until soft and caramelised.
  3. While the vegetables are roasting, put the couscous in a large bowl. Add the tomato puree to the hot stock and stir until fully dissolved. Pour the stock on the couscous, stir, cover with a plate or cling film and let it stand for at least 15 minutes, until the stock has been fully absorbed. Uncover and fluff the couscous with a fork.
  4. Toast the pine nuts by placing them in a small pan and cooking them over low heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown.
  5. Add the roasted vegetables, the pine nuts and the chopped herbs to the couscous, then drizzle with a little olive oil and mix well. Serve hot or cold, alongside the braai’d lamb skewers.

Eating for the Winter Season

Winter is a time where your metabolism slows down, your immune system is put to the test and you tend to feel the effects of being tired, unmotivated and lethargic. Many are also driven to comfort foods which can cause weight gain and healthy eating can be put on hold.

Here are 5 effective ways to increase energy in winter so you can strengthen your immune system, stop the cold and flu symptoms from appearing and continue with healthy eating:

Stick to routine

You’ve been waking up at 5 am and getting to the gym 4 times a week since January  – don’t break this habit now. However, it’s also really important to remember that quality sleep is vital for good health. Poor sleep can impact on everyday life affecting concentration, mood, stress levels and weight gain. Aim to get into bed early and enjoy around 8 hours of deep sleep.

Stay hydrated

Staying well hydrated will give you more energy, mental clarity and enhanced digestive function. If you are struggling to get in your 2l a day – opt for herbal teas to warm up from the inside.

Don’t be afraid of the outdoors 

A refreshing walk outdoors might be all you need to get that energy boost and a little dose of Vitamin D. Rainy? Do 30 minutes of yoga or stretching in the comfort of your own home.

Load up on goodness

Make sure that you are eating enough vegetables throughout the day. Aim for foods rich in the antioxidants vitamin C and beta-carotene, such as citrus fruit, cabbage, broccoli, pumpkin, sweet potato, and spinach. To fight off infections,  increase your intake of zinc, which is found in fish, oysters, poultry, eggs, milk and unprocessed grains.

In addition, try include a healthy level of good bacteria.  Fermented dairy products such as kefir and yoghurt—and sauerkraut—provide live cultures.

Snack

Grab the right snacks – fruit, nuts, yoghurt or a warm cup of tea with a delicious homemade oats biscuit. Steer clear from baked goods or snacks high in sugar.

Try our delicious variations of healthy and super nutritious snacks:

  • Oat and fruit bars – http://alexroyaldiet.co.za/oat-and-fruit-bars
  • Cocoa coconut and date balls – http://alexroyaldiet.co.za/cocoa-coconut-and-date-balls
  • Superfood health nut mix – http://alexroyaldiet.co.za/superfood-health-nut-mix

 

 

 

Eliminate. Detox. Boost.

Improve your health, body, work productivity, mood, and energy levels this winter by joining our 4 Week Health Program. Each week marks a different stage that is important for your health:

The 4 Week Health Program includes:

  • A healthy eating program divided into 4 stages.
  • We will see you each week at the start of a new stage
    • An initial consult (body composition assessment and diet explanation)
    • 3 follow up consults
  • Our ‘Dietitian’s Guide to Clean Eating’ e-book for FREE
  • An exercise regime specifically designed for the program incorporating high intensity training, conditioning and yoga*
*The 4 Week Health Program is R1440 (excl supplements and exercise regime)

A Mother’s Day lazy lunch – Chicken and Blood Orange Tabbouleh Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 large Chicken breast fillet
  • 3 Blood oranges
  • 1 pinch Chilli flakes
  • 1 small bunch coriander
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1 small bunch parsley
  • 4 Spring onions
  • 200g Bulgur wheat
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon, ground
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 400ml Water

Method:

  1. Start by cooking the bulgur wheat. Pour 1 tablespoon of oil into a small saucepan along with the cinnamon and heat gently until starting to sizzle. Add the bulgur wheat and stir.
  2. Continue to cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes until the bulgur wheat smells toasted and fragrant. Add the water and a pinch of salt and bring to the boil.
  3. Cover with foil or a tight-fitting lid and turn the heat down as low as it will go. Cook for 10 minutes and turn off the heat. Leave to steam for 5 minutes before fluffing up the grains with a fork. Set aside to cool.
  4. Cut the chicken into very small bite-sized pieces. Place in a small bowl along with the zest of 1 blood orange and the garlic powder, chilli flakes and a good pinch of salt. Mix together well.
  5. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and add the chicken pieces. Fry the chicken pieces over medium heat until cooked through.
  6. In a large bowl mix together the cooled bulgur wheat, the blood orange chunks and the juice of 1 blood orange, the herbs and the spring onions. Taste and season if needed and add a drizzle of oil if liked. Serve with the chicken on top or mixed throughout if preferred.

Our Winter Health Challenge… for you!

4 stages, 1 challenge, 0 counting calories… interested yet?

Benefits of the program:

Improve your health, body, work productivity, mood, and energy levels on our 4 Week Health Program. The 4 Week Health Program focuses on gut health, detoxification, immune support and energy metabolism. The program comprises of 4 stages, each being 1 week long:

Stage 1: Elimination
Stage 2: Detoxification
Stage 3: Boost
Stage 4: Integration

What is included in the program?

  • A healthy eating program divided into 4 stages
  • An initial consult (body composition assessment and diet explanation)
  • 3 Follow up consults
  • An exercise regime specifically designed for the program incorporating high intensity training, conditioning and yoga.
  • Our ‘Dietitian’s Guide to Clean Eating’ e-book FREE
The 4 Week Health Program is R1440 (excl supplements and exercise regime)

5 Quick Fixes for those Nasty Tummy Issues

It’s that time of year where everyone seems to either be run down with the “Summer-is-over-Winter-is-approaching-flu” or a bedridden tummy bug. A healthy diet and bed rest can do wonders but if you have been victim to the dreaded tummy bug then try these ‘quick’ fixes to give your gut the boost it needs. The gut is after all the most important aspect when it comes to our immune defense system.

  1. Activated charcoal

Activated charcoal is a unique form of charcoal (different to the ashes that remain after a braai), that binds to toxins in the gut alleviating symptoms of gas, bloating or other IBS related complications such as cramping and diarrhoea. Activated charcoal comes in a fine powder, granules, tablets and capsules.

Whichever form you choose, always take it with a big glass of water and at least two hours away from food and more importantly, medications and other supplements. Find activated charcoal at any Wellness Warehouse or health shop. Be sure to follow the recommended dosage instructions on the product.

  1. Glutamine and zinc

Glutamine is an essential amino acid that is anti-inflammatory and necessary for the growth and repair of your intestinal lining. Zinc can alter your gut bacteria and low levels of zinc can contribute to poor zinc absorption, which is in itself a problem. Both glutamine and zinc act as a powerful tummy healing remedy.

  1. Omega 3

Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation, which can reduce some of the symptoms related to acute and chronic digestive problems. Omega 3 can be found in salmon and sardines. These two provide us with most of the health benefits attributed to omega-3 fatty acids.

Other sources include seeds and nut oils such as flaxseeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and soybeans.

  1. Probiotics (and prebiotics)

Probiotics are the most important supplement to take because it helps replenish good bacteria and helps get rid of bad bacteria. Probiotic rich foods include fermented vegetables (see below), yoghurt, buttermilk and kefir.

  1. Bone broth and Fermented foods

Bone broth contains collagen and the amino acids proline and glycine that can help heal your damaged cell walls. Fermented foods contain organic acids that balance intestinal pH and probiotics to support the gut. Sauerkraut, kimchi and tempeh are excellent sources.

Also remember that bacteria feed off sugar so try to cut our refined carbohydrates and sugar altogether. Your tummy will thank you.

The low-down on Depression and Diet

April is here and the month of April features not only Easter, but also World Health Day. The theme this year for World Health Day, which falls on Friday the 7th, is Depression. So without dampening the mood of Easter and the hype of long weekends, quality family time and delicious foods, I thought it best to give you the low down on diet and depression.

Depression is a topic most people shy away from but knowing the cold, hard facts can only be beneficial. The more you know, the easier it becomes to understand and once you’ve mastered the skills of understanding depression, you’ll realise in actual fact, it cannot be understood but there are actions we can take to lessen the risk of suffering from depression.

The World Health Organisation has a wonderful factsheet that gives information on the types of depression, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. Worth a read.

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs369/en/

I am no expert in the field of depression itself, so I am going to stay within my area of expertise and speak about the relationship between diet and depression. A diet rich in the following nutrients has been proven to decrease the risk of depression.

Anti-oxidants: A good balance between oxidative stress and antioxidants is very important. Inflammation and oxidative stress are major contributors in the pathogenesis of depression. When I refer to anti-oxidants I mean vitamin E, vitamin C, Beta carotene and selenium (amongst others). Foods high in these antioxidants include: Pumpkin, apricots, mangoes, carrots, spinach, parsley, seafood, lean meat, whole grains, oranges, berries, kiwi fruit, broccoli, peppers, vegetable oils, nuts, avocados and seeds.

Folate (also called 5-MTHF): Folate is crucial to synthesise the neurotransmitters—dopamine, noradrenalin, and serotonin—all of which have antidepressant effects. So, without enough of the 5-MTHF form of folate, serotonin levels decrease in the brain, contributing to depression. Folate-rich foods include: eggs and leafy green vegetables such as kale, broccoli, spinach, swiss chard.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D modulates the part of the brain which regulates adrenalin, noradrenaline and dopamine production. Vitamin D protects against the depletion of dopamine and serotonin centrally. Simply speaking, low vitamin D levels can be a contributing factor to depression. Vitamin D can be found in fatty fish, liver and egg yolks (not forgetting sun exposure).

Tryptophan: Tryptophan is an amino acid that is used in the biosynthesis of proteins. Tryptophan is converted into 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan), which is then converted into serotonin. So, tryptophan and 5-HTP both act as precursors to the production of serotonin in the brain. As you can already tell, it is very important to include this amino acid in your diet. Foods containing tryptophan are: turkey, nuts, seeds and legumes.

Omega 3: People with depression may have low blood levels of brain chemicals called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which play an important role in brain function. Food sources of Omega 3 (EPA and DHA) are: sardines, salmon, herring, trout and tuna.

5 Eating tips to brighten your day

  1. Include folate rich foods daily: foods containing folate are amongst others eggs and leafy green vegetables such as kale, broccoli, spinach, swiss chard etc
  2. Get your dose of vitamin D: monitoring the amount of time you spend outdoors is important, but also make sure to get in enough eggs and fatty fish.
  3. Protein, protein, protein: we already mentioned the very important tryptophan. Aim to have protein at every meal and remember to incorporate plant-based proteins (lentils, beans, quinoa, soya) into your diet too.
  4. Variety is key: eating a variety of foods ensures you are getting in all the very important micronutrients, amino acids and trace minerals.
  5. Enjoy your food: eating can boost your mood, not in the obvious physiological response, but in the enjoyment of taking 30 minutes down time, or enjoying the company of a friend or family member so sit, chew, relax and be grateful for all the positives in your life.

Not quite food related, but advice none-the-less. Remember how important it is to get 7-8 hours of sleep every day, to rest and recuperate on weekends, to spend quality time with loved ones and last but not least, to take some “me-time”.

10 Prebiotic Foods You Should Eat For Digestive Health

Prebiotics are types of dietary fibre that feed the friendly bacteria in your gut which leads to a healthy digestive system.

 

Garlic

Garlic gives great flavour to your foods and provides you with prebiotic benefits. It has been shown to help promote good bacteria and prevent harmful bacteria from growing.

Onions

Onions are rich in inulin and FOS, which can help boost your immune system, provide fuel for your gut bacteria and improve digestion.

Leeks

Leeks are often used in cooking for their distinct flavour. They are high in prebiotic inulin fibre and vitamin K.

Asparagus

Asparagus is a spring vegetable rich in prebiotic fibre and antioxidants. It promotes healthy gut bacteria and may help prevent certain cancers.

Bananas

Bananas are rich in fibre. They’re also great at promoting healthy gut bacteria and reducing bloating.

Barley

Barley is high in beta-glucan fibre, which promotes healthy bacteria in the gut. It also seems to lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Oats

Whole oats are a grain rich in beta-glucan fibre. They increase healthy gut bacteria, improve blood sugar control and may reduce cancer risk.

Apples

Apples are rich in pectin fibre. Pectin promotes healthy gut bacteria and helps decrease harmful bacteria. It also helps lower cholesterol and reduces cancer risk.

Flaxseed

The fibre in flaxseeds promotes regular bowel movements, lowers LDL cholesterol and reduces the amount of fat you digest and absorb.

Wheat bran

Wheat bran is rich in AXOS, a type of fibre that has been shown to increase healthy gut bacteria and reduce digestive problems.

 

Kirby’s Pantry

Here are 10 things to always keep in your pantry, these things are always in mine!

 

  • Healthy grains including brown rice, quinoa, and lentils
  • Healthy proteins: Turkey, chicken, salmon, sardines and eggs
  • Healthy Fats: Avocado, olives, coconut, oils (grape seed, olive, coconut, canola), seeds (chia, hemp, flax, pumpkin or sunflower seed)
  • Healthy snacks: Nuts, seeds or nut butters, lean biltong, boiled eggs and sardines
  • Fresh fruits including pomegranates, apples, pears, berries (raspberries, blueberries and blackberries!), passion fruit and avocado
  • Fresh veggies: My favourites include rainbow chard, asparagus, kale, arugula, beets, and cabbage
  • Fresh herbs like chives, parsley, coriander, rosemary and basil
  • Freezer must-haves including: Flash frozen nutrient dense veggies, frozen berries, and extra protein like fish and chicken
  • Pantry staples such as canned beans (chickpeas, kidney, and black), gluten-free minimally processed crackers, lean biltong
  • Tasty condiments, spices and sauces to add flavour and health to your best dishes: turmeric, sea salt, cayenne, curry powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, dried herbs, miso, kimchi, tamari

 

*Note: Try and keep it seasonal and buy what is available to you throughout the year.

Happy Shopping!

Nourish yourself to a glowing skin

Afternoon Express Show asked Alex what to eat to get a healthy skin. Here is her professional take:

How is eating a healthy diet going to give you healthier looking skin?

A healthy diet and lifestyle is the cornerstone to staying young and this is reflected in every cell of your body especially your skin.

– A healthy diet provides the vitamins and minerals that the skin cells require for proper structure and function

– Antioxidants to prevent damage from the environment

– Hydration and anti-inflammatory factors that prevent redness and puffiness.

Can you say that if you have healthier looking skin, that your skin will automatically look younger, take years off my looks?

If you have healthy skin which is less inflamed and red and more hydrated it will definitely look younger.

Some of the worst foods to eat for your skin?

-Sugar and processed foods that are high in chemicals

-Dehydrating foods and beverages (sugar, coffee in some people who are caffeine sensitive, alcohol, salt)

-Inflammatory foods (those high in omega 6’s, from certain cooking oils)

Best foods to eat to give us younger and healthy looking skin?

-Green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, broccoli),

-A variety of brightly coloured fruits (berries, melons, guavas and citrus)

-Eggs, Nuts and seeds and oily fish like sardines, salmon and pilchards.

How good is water in helping with healthier skin, and should it be a certain amount, still, or sparkling, what is true when it comes to water?

-Water is very important for two main reasons. Firstly, well hydrated skin is less wrinkled and damaged and secondly, drinking lots of water flushes the toxins out of the body which gives the skin a healthy glow.

-You need 30-35ml/kg.

-Sparkling and still are the same in terms of hydration.

What are some of the important vitamins and minerals found in foods which are easily available?

– Antioxidants: mop up free radicals that cause skin damage and wrinkles.

– Vitamin A (effects the actual physiology of the epidermal layers in the skin. green leafy vegetables, carrots, peppers, Liver, eggs)

– Vitamin C (maintains the collagen in the skin. Citrus fruits, peppers, berries, guavas),

– Vitamin E (powerful antioxidant protecting the cell membranes of the skin cells. sunflower seeds, nuts, eggs, green leafy veg)

Anti-inflammatory foods:

– Omega 3s / precursors to omega 3: oily fish, walnuts, flaxseeds

– Green tea, turmeric, ginger

– Zinc: improves structure of skin cells and helps with wound healing. It is found in red meat, seafood

– Selenium: improves tissue elasticity. It is found in brazil nuts, whole grains, eggs

In today’s times so many women, be it working moms, career women just can’t find the time to take care of their needs, be skin, eating healthy, what are some of the most important tips that are easy to follow, that is affordable to all women that will improve, maintain healthy and younger looking skin? 

Throw out all the processed sugary foods. Avoid convenience or fast foods. Keep fresh veggies and fruits chopped and ready to snack on. Make the base of your meals green leafy veggies.