Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: Put your positive pants on

Tuesday Tip: Put your positive pants on 🤗

Do you ever wake up feeling stressed about the day ahead. Stressing about the day before it’s even happened is very common but a a recent study has shown that starting your day this way can actually impact on your brain function and performance for the rest of the day

So waking up on the wrong side of bed isn’t just a saying. The study in the Journal of Gerontology found that the more participants anticipated a stressful day, the worse their brain function and memory was later in the day – whether the actual day turned out to be stressful or not. Our ability to anticipate and prepare for things – a critical survival feature humans have developed, can be great to help prepare for and even prevent certain events. But it can also be harmful to your brain function, memory, decision making and performance. This can in turn make you even more stressed. Not to mention the increased levels of stress hormones released as you anticipate the stress you expect to encounter that day. It has also been linked to increased calorie consumption and fat deposition around the belly (due to increased cortisol).

So what can you do about it? Well it’s time to put your positive pants on! The study also showed that taking some time out in the morning to focus on more positive thoughts, or 5 – 10 mins of meditation/mindfulness practices can dramatically reduce the anticipate stress of the day ahead.

So if you wake up expecting the day to be stressful that’s the time to try something simple like some deep breathing exercises before you start your day, or try to list 3 positive things about the day to come (no matter how small). Try setting an alarm on your phone to remind you to do these things so you don’t even have to remember to do it.

Put those positive pants on and improve your day!

Happy Tuesday 🤗

xx

Recipes

Roasted butternut and apple soup

It’s getting to that time of year when we want to curl up on our sofas under a blanket and fill up on warming foods.

This soup will definitely hit the spot when you are feeling a bit autumnal. Roasting the butternut squash and the apples adds a lovely rich flavour and the sweetness of them both compliment each other brilliantly!

This soup is dressed with the seeds from the butternut so you don’t waste anything either!

You can substitute any sort of pumpkin for the squash too if you prefer.

This will serve 3 – 4 people.

You will need:

1 Butternut squash (approx 1.5kg in size before peeling etc)

2 Apples (Braeburn work best)

2 large white Onions

2 sticks of Celery

1/2 tbsp dried Thyme

1 tsp ground Cumin

1/4 tsp ground Allspice

1 litre Vegetable stock

500ml Water

Salt and Pepper to taste

For the topping:

Seeds from the Butternut squash

1 tsp Olive oil

1/2 tsp Cumin seeds

1/4 tsp ground Paprika

Preheat the oven to 200 C.

Cut the butternut in half and scoop out the seeds (keep the seeds for the topping). Peel and cut into chunks. Peel, core and chop the apples into wedges. Place on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil and season. Place in the oven  and roast for 20 – 25 mins or until tender and golden.

Slice the onion and celery finely and pop in to a large pan with a little olive oil. Saute gently for about 10 minutes until soft. Add all the spices and saute for another minute. Add the butternut and apple and stir gently for a minute or 2. Then add the vegetable stock and water and bring to the boil. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes.

Let it cool for a while and then pop in a blender and blitz it (do this very carefully if still warm – it may be worth doing it in 2 batches).

Take the seeds that were removed from the squash and toss in the olive oil and topping spices. Spread on to some baking parchment and place in the oven at 200 C for 5 – 10 minutes until they are starting to turn brown.

Pop a serving of soup in a bowl, sprinkle with the seeds and enjoy with some toast.

(This post was originally published on pureformfitnesskitchen.com)

Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: How to curb sugar cravings

Tuesday Tip: How to curb sugar cravings 🍬

Although as I said last week, sugar isn’t the devil, and won’t make you fat (excess cals do), those sugar cravings can still lead you to over eat. Sugar cravings can hit even when you’ve had a satisfying meal, so here are some foods to help curb those cravings.

#1 Fruit

Fresh fruit – specifically strawberries, raspberries, pineapples etc are a great option. They’re low cal, and contain fibre (unlike fruit juice) which slows the absorption of the fruit sugars. Have them with greek yoghurt after dinner for a creamy snack, or blend with a frozen banana for an ice cream like dessert!

# Almonds

Full of protein and fats, they not only fill you up but help to control blood sugar so can reduce cravings. They keep you fuller for longer meaning you’re less likely to have an energy slump and reach for the junk.

# Pumpkin seeds

Rich in magnesium, as well as protein, fibre and fats, these are a great option if you’re craving chocolate. Often chocolate cravings can be linked to lower magnesium levels. Toast them with cinnamon for a tasty snack.

# Greek yoghurt

Rich in protein and good fats – again this will keep you fuller. It can help to support your gut’s natural bacteria, as recent studies have shown some sugar cravings are linked to imbalanced gut microbiomes. Plus it feels like a treat as it’s creamy and decadent. Mix with berries for the win!

# Apples or celery with peanut butter

A combo of fibre in the celery or apple, and the protein and fat in the peanut butter make this a great option to help beat cravings. The apple sweetness will help too. Particularly good as a mid afternoon snack or before an evening workout.

So the perfect way to help those cravings is probably my current favourite dessert – a big bowl of berries and pineapple, a dollop of greek yoghurt, tsp of peanut butter and then a sprinkle of seeds and nuts (not too many mind!) – smooth, creamy, sweet and a little crunch from the nuts – perfect!

Try it and see what you think!

Happy Tuesday 🤗

xx

Recipes

Chilli con veggie!

This is another great option for weekday dinners as the weather gets colder. I make a big batch and it’s fab for a lovely quick meal. It is super versatile too – you can use it for spaghetti bolognese, lasagne, shepherd’s pie, or as a chilli with rice or jacket potato, or just on its own! It will keep in the fridge for at least a week (I’ve kept it for 2 but usually I’ve eaten it all by then!) or you can freeze portions too.

This is really easy to make and if you’re busy you can speed it up even more by using bags of frozen veg. Waitrose/Ocado do a bag of mixed onion, celery and carrots (‘soffritto mix’) and a great bag of frozen mixed grilled veg (onion, aubergine, courgette and pepper) which work brilliantly. Don’t be afraid of using the frozen veg – often they’re actually higher in nutrients than fresh as they’re frozen immediately rather than sitting in warehouses for months. I’m very much a believer in making eating healthy as easy as possible so this is a really easy option.

Even if you’re not vegetarian I’d definitely suggest you try this – it’s a lot lighter in calories and just as tasty. And if you’re worried the family may not want a meat substitute i’d suggest trying it and not telling them – I bet they don’t notice! Loads of my clients have found that their other halves and children haven’t even realised it’s not meat (though obviously you could use turkey or beef mince if you wanted to).

This makes approx 8 generous servings at 245 cals per serving!

You will need:

1000g of Quorn mince (or ‘meet the alternative’ or any other meat substitute)

1500g Pasatta

Either – 1 bag of soffritto mix OR 1 onion, 2 sticks of celery and 1 large carrot all finely chopped

Other mixed veg – pepper, courgette, aubergine (your choice, or 1 bag of the frozen veg)

3 vegetable stock cubes

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp of chilli (to taste)

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp Mixed herbs

Dash of Worcestershire sauce (vegetarian brand if necessary)

Spoonful of marmite (optional)

Salt and pepper

Heat a little oil in a large pan. Add the onion, celery and carrot and sauté for a few mins.

Add the mincemeat and mix well and let it heat through (if using turkey, beef etc then ensure the meat browns at this point). Add the stock cubes and mix well.

Add the other vegetables and stir well. Heat for a few mins.

Stir in the passata and then add all the spices, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar and marmite. Mix well and allow to simmer.

Taste it during this phase and adjust seasoning to taste.

Once it’s cooked for at least 20 mins, if you can let it cook a bit longer do as it helps to give a better flavour. Then it’s done!

Serve with spaghetti, jacket potato, rice, or as a chilli with a dollop of yoghurt and spinach!

Enjoy 🙂

Xx

Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: Sugar doesn’t make you fat

Tuesday Tip: Sugar doesn’t make you fat 🍪

Sugar has been vilified as the main cause of obesity, with people claiming it results in more fat storage than any other nutrient and that it alters your metabolism. This is simply not true. Sugar is a carbohydrate and on it’s own it contains 4 cals per gram, and no other nutrients or fibre etc that help keep you full. So it’s true that sugar won’t fill you up, and that of course could lead to excessive consumption of more sugar or other foods, but the same applies to any food. You may not feel full but you’re still making a conscious choice to eat more.

100g of sugar alone is 400 calories. However if you consumed 100g worth of sugar inside other foods (e.g. chocolate, fruit, bread, ice cream etc) then you’d be eating well over 1200 cals. Only 400 of those calories are sugar, the other 800 are non-sugar calories within food. Many high sugar foods are high in overall calories anyway – a cookie isn’t bad just because it’s “full of sugar”, it’s also the large amount of fat calories too.

A calorie surplus is what causes you to gain weight. It’s not the sugar in the food, it’s the total calories. The ratio of sugar to other nutrients does impact on food choice (you choose things because they taste good) and because those foods often leave you feeling less full you’re then likely to eat more too. But it isn’t the sugar causing you to gain weight. Eat too much of anything and you will put on fat. In fact a recent study of people who were assumed to be “naturally skinny” actually found that despite some of the participants living off sugary foods they were still lean – why? because they weren’t at a calorie surplus.

So yes, eating or drinking sugar can contribute to weight gain, and it can certainly make it harder to stick to a daily calorie goal, but this is in conjunction with a whole host of nutritional, behaviour and psychological variables that all affect how many TOTAL calories you consume. Sugar itself is not the devil it’s made out to be!

Happy Tuesday 🤗

Xx

Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: Post-workout Protein

Tuesday Tip: Post-workout Protein 🥤

The post-workout protein shake is a common sight at gyms, but do you really need protein immediately after your workout? Well yes and no, and here’s why.

# 1 What was the workout?

If it was a short, low intensity session then no. If it was a long (90 min), weights based session then possibly yes. Protein is needed for muscle repair and building so you may need protein after a long, tough weights based workout. BUT even if your goal is to add muscle you only need a little protein post-workout to kick start recovery. If you take too much your body can’t metabolise it and stores it as fat. Short, low-intensity sessions don’t require you to rush to refuel unless you’re already hungry.

#2 Carb to protein

It’s more important to refuel with a combo of carbs and protein. A ratio of 4:1 or 3:1 of carbs to protein is ideal. The protein kick starts recovery and the carbs replenish energy stores in muscles. For 15-30 mins after a long workout the enzymes which pull carbs in to muscles peak. If you miss that opportunity the enzymes are no longer able to pull carbs in to your muscles which starving them and inhibiting repair.

#3 But what about after I’ve done weights?

You’re unlikely to deplete your muscle’s carb stores during a weights session anyway so you don’t need to rush to get a protein shake in. Instead just make sure you get protein via a balanced meal within 2 hours of your workout.

So you really don’t need to bother unless you’re training for long periods (90 mins), at high intensity (or you’re a body builder). At best you’ll be wasting money on shakes you don’t need, at worst you’re adding a load of extra calories which are just going to be stored as fat. You need to eat protein throughout the day so aim for around 1.2 – 2g of protein per kg of bodyweight. For most people, eating a balanced diet, you’ll get this from your meals so there’s no need to boost the protein further. If you do longer training sessions, or are very hungry after a workout, then the perfect post-workout snack is actually chocolate milk – a perfect ratio of carbs and protein (dairy or soya milk), or some greek yoghurt and fruit.

Happy Tuesday 🤗

Xx

Recipes

Soup soup! Autumn squash, pepper and lentil soup

It’s definitely soup season now and we still had some homegrown squashes to use so I thought I’d make a batch of warming autumn soup.

You can use squash, pumpkin or sweet potato (or a mix) and you can also be a bit free and loose with the quantities to be honest – as long as you keep an eye on the amount of liquid and add a bit more stock if needed.

I made a massive batch so I could have it for a few days and also freeze some, but you could easily halve this. This recipe serves up to ten good portions at 163 cals per portion!

You will need:

Approx 1,200g squash (this was 2 medium squashes)

3 Red peppers

2 onions

500g red lentils

4 cloves garlic

800g chopped tomatoes

1 litre vegetable stock (but you may need to add a little more as it cooks)

2 tbsp tomato purée

4 tsp curry powder

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp Chilli powder (or to taste)

Salt and pepper to taste

To serve – fresh spinach and a dollop of greek yoghurt

Peel and de-seed the squash and then chop into small pieces.

Chop the onion and peppers and crush the garlic. Heat up a little oil in a pan and add the onions and crushed garlic, and allow to lightly brown.

Add the pumpkin and pepper, stir well and cook for 5 mins with the lid on (stirring occasionally). The squash will start to release some water and begin to soften a little.

Add the chopped tomatoes and stir well. Then add the lentils, vegetable stock, spices and tomato purée and stir.

Bring to the boil and then allow to simmer for a few minutes with the lid off. Then reduce the heat further and put the lid on and allow to cook for at least 20 mins making sure you stir regularly so the lentils don’t stick. If it looks like it needs it then add a little more stock.

Season to taste and cook until the squash is tender and the lentils are cooked through. Remove from heat and at this point. If you like your soup chunky you can serve it now.

Alternatively you can blend it to a smooth consistency.

To serve stir through some fresh spinach and add a dollop of greek yoghurt!

Enjoy! 🙂

Xx