Posts

Christmas themed cranberry and baby spinach salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet baby spinach
  • 2/3 cup flaked almonds, toasted
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Tbsp raw honey
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp finely minced onion
  • 2 Tbsp sesame seeds , toasted

Method:

For the dressing:

  1. Whisk together the white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar and honey until it is well combined.
  2. Stir in olive oil, onion and sesame seeds. Set aside.

For the salad:

  1. Add the baby spinach, almonds and cranberries to a festive salad bowl/plate. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss. Serve immediately.

 

Our Q&A with Kim after doing the 4 Week Health Program

The answer to question 7 says it all – Kim loved the 4 Week Health Program. Read about Kim’s experience during her 4 weeks to a healthier self.

  1. Did you find the program manageable to follow?

Yes I did.

  1. What was the most challenging throughout the 4 weeks?

Making sure I was organised and prepped. It was tough traveling for work and having food sorted out. Thank goodness for rice cakes and peanut butter :).

  1. Stage 1: how did you feel eliminating all the toxins?

I felt horrendous for the first 5 days!!! I had major headaches and dizziness. Then on day 6 I woke up feeling AWESOME – so much energy and felt great.

  1. Did your mood and energy levels improve after the 4 weeks?

Yes, hugely.

  1. Were the recipes easy to prepare and delicious?

Yes but ended up making very simple food.

  1. Did you feel hungry throughout the program?

I was hungry in the first week and I craved dense bread!

  1. Would you do the program again?

YES!!!!

  1. List noticeable changes in yourself (both physically, mentally and emotionally) after the 4 weeks?

Skin was a major thing that everyone commented on. My skin cleared up and wrinkles seemed to vanish slightly 🙂 I lost some weight and just slimmed down overall. I had a lot more energy – didn’t feel lethargic. I fell asleep really quickly at night which was great – no insomnia. Emotionally, I also ‘detoxed’ my social life and became more aware of when I was pushing myself to unhealthy limits. I also coupled the program with guided meditations – I did one every day for the 4 weeks.

  1. Did the program make you reconsider your normal diet?

For sure – I am still staying away from caffeine and trying my best to stay away from sugar.

Are you interested? Book your appointment now at: http://alexroyaldiet.co.za/services

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

 

 

 

Soup up this Winter

Temperatures are dropping, and there is something so comforting about sipping on a warm bowl of goodness. Avoid the pre-made stuff and use up all those leftover veggies in the fridge by whipping up these quick and super easy, heart-warming soups. These recipes are rich in anti-oxidants and plenty of other nutritious, delicious superfoods. The best part is, they can be made in 60 minutes or less.

 

Sweet potato, butternut and kale soup (serves 6)

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 small butternut
  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 300ml almond milk
  • 4 handfuls of chopped kale
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 apples, chopped
  • Salt, pepper, curry (optional)
  • Roasted pine nuts for garnish
  • Small bunch coriander

Method:

  1. Start out with preparing the ingredients. Peel and dice the sweet potatoes and the butternut. Wash and chop the kale, onion, and apples.
  2. Bring the coconut  and almond milk to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the sweet potato and butternut and cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the sweet potato/butternut is soft.
  3. Add the kale, onion, and apples to the saucepan. Season with salt, pepper, and optionally curry according to taste. Let simmer for another 10 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, roast the pine nuts in a frying pan.
  5. Serve the soup hot with a good amount of the roasted pine nuts and fresh coriander.

 

Ginger and turmeric carrot soup (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 400g  carrots, chopped into rounds
  • 4 medium beets, peeled and diced into small cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-4cm of fresh ginger, grated
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Coriander, chopped, for garnish

Method:

  1. Toss the carrots and beets with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Spread out onto a baking sheet, transfer to the oven and roast for 30-40 minutes, or until the veggies are tender when pierced with a fork.
  2. Place the remaining tablespoon of olive oil into a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the onion to the pan and sauté for about 2-3 minutes, or until the onion begins to become soft. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for one minute more, or until the garlic/ginger becomes fragrant.
  4. Add the roasted beets, carrots and vegetable stock to the saucepan.
  5. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until lightly thickened. Stir in the vinegar, cayenne pepper and turmeric. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Transfer the beet stock mixture to a blender or blend in the pot using a blender stick. Blend until smooth.
  7. Serve with chopped coriander to garnish.

 

Chicken zucchini noodle soup (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • ½  cup diced red onion
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 3 teaspoons fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 3 teaspoons fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried oregano)
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cups chicken broth, low-sodium
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 medium zucchinis
  • Avocado for topping (optional)

Method:

  1. Place a large soup pot over medium heat and add in the onions, celery, carrots, garlic and red pepper flakes.
  2. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until vegetables “sweat” and onions are translucent. Add in the thyme and oregano and cook for another 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  3. Place in the chicken thighs and bay leaf and pour in the chicken broth and water.
  4. Cover and let the mixture come to a boil. Once boiling, lower to a steady simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
  5. After 30 minutes, remove the chicken and peel off the skin and discard. Then, shred the chicken off the bone and set aside, with any juices. Place the bones back into the soup pot and simmer for 10 more minutes, uncovered.
  6. While the bones simmer, slice the zucchinis halfway lengthwise. Then, spiralize/grate the zucchini. Set aside.
  7. Remove the bones and bay leaves and discard. Add the reserved shredded chicken back to the pot along with the zucchini noodles.
  8. Cook for 5 minutes or until zucchini is al dente. Season to taste.
  9. Top with sliced avocado (optional)

 

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”.