As soon as the sun comes out our thoughts naturally turn to eating – and cooking – outdoors. Summer is synonymous with good old-fashioned back garden barbecuing in the company of friends and family. Barbecuing has come a long way, and it’s now not good enough to throw a few boring bangers on the grill. There’s no better way to eat well in the summertime than to combine deliciously marinated cuts of meat, fish or veggies with a variety of eye-catching salads.
If you’re a guest at a barbecue party, that doesn’t have to mean the end of all good healthy eating intentions. There’s no reason you can’t take your own food to a party. Make enough for sharing, and the host will probably thank you for it. Remember that this way of eating is both nutritious AND delicious. Don’t feel you need to explain to anyone who will listen about why you had to bring your own food. They probably haven’t even noticed! Here are my favourite summer barbecue recipes that are guaranteed to steal the show. And proof indeed that eating healthily is anything but boring!
If you’d love 15 delicious & healthy BBQ recipes, then please click HERE
PS it’s not just meat… there are some lovely veg and salads too.
Sugar Substitutes – Natural or Artificial
People often ask me about sugar substitutes. The classic question is “Surely honey is healthy?” So here’s the low down on some of those sugar replacements you might think are healthy (and some that definitely aren’t).
- Honey has a lot going for it in some regards. It contains amino acids, electrolytes and antioxidants, and antimicrobial compounds that can support your health. To get these extra benefits, you’ll want to choose a raw (unprocessed) local honey. It may also help relieve allergy symptoms, specifically hay fever, because the bees feast on the local pollen, and taking raw local honey can help you develop natural immunity over time. But, whichever way you cut it, honey is sugar. It may be natural, but sugar it is, and it behaves that way in your body, spiking blood sugar exactly as actual sugar would.
- Dates are a popular feature of many paleo or natural sugar-free bars, because they are naturally very sweet. They have the highest nutritional benefit of all natural sweeteners, because they also contain minerals like selenium, copper, potassium and magnesium. Dates also provide fibre to slow the speed at which the sugars hit your bloodstream. Medjool dates have featured heavily in many a trendy recipe book. These are sweeter and tend to be softer than regular dates. However dates, too, raise blood sugar levels and trigger insulin release.
- This is one of the best sugar substitutes (if indeed you need to use any) because it contains antioxidants (24 in fact), which are helpful in the fight against cell-damaging free radicals. There is absolutely no nutritional value to actual sugar. So maple syrup is one of the better natural sugar substitutes. While studies show it does not spike your blood sugar levels as much, it is still wise to use sparingly. You’ll want grade A (lighter in flavour) or B (nutritionally better and with a more intense flavour). Avoid maple flavoured syrups as these are not the same.
- Coconut sugar has become very trendy of late and brings a lovely caramel flavour to your food. It is perfect for baking with and has a lesser impact on your blood sugar levels than regular sugar, but it is still sugar, so use sparingly.
- This is the crystalized nectar collected from the flower of the Palmyra palm and you may not even have heard of it. You use it exactly as you would sugar, and often you can reduce the amount needed by up to a half. Palmyra jaggery is full of B vitamins and has a much lower GL than table sugar.
Brown rice syrup
- This has found its way into ‘healthy’ recipes. It’s made from fermented, cooked rice. Brown rice syrup is not a particularly good option as a sweetener as it’s highly processed, contains very little in the way of nutrition benefits and the effect on blood sugar is almost identical to standard sugar.
- Agave syrup comes from a cactus, and the syrup is made from the pulp of the leaf. It’s very highly processed and is mainly fructose, which needs to be processed by the liver, causing more stress for an already over-worked organ. Fructose is actually worse for you than glucose. Agave syrup (or nectar) is very similar to the (deservedly) much-demonised high fructose corn syrup that has contributed greatly to the obesity epidemic in the US. This is arguably the worst of the natural sugar substitutes. My advice? Do not use it! [Table sugar (sucrose) is 50% glucose, 50% fructose.]
- This is another natural sweetener. There a number of different types of stevia. Ideally you want full, green leaf stevia that is unadulterated with other sweeteners. Pure stevia will not unbalance your blood sugar levels, thus avoiding an energy rollercoaster.
- Often found in the UK under the brand names Total Sweet or Xyla, xylitol is a sugar alcohol. It’s a little sweeter than sugar, has fewer calories and (the important part) 75% less carbohydrate. Therefore, its impact on blood sugar levels is lower than it would be if you were to eat the same amount compared to real sugar. It’s the same stuff used in sugar free chewing gum, thanks to its antibacterial properties. The downside is it is very highly processed. Also some people can be sensitive to large amounts and may find they get bloated or experience diarrhea, if they eat too much. Note as well that it is toxic for dogs.
Artificial sweeteners (like aspartame and saccharin)
- People usually resort to artificial sweeteners in a bid to cut calories. This is bad news for a number of reasons, but I’ll mention the two biggies here. Research into some of them shows a correlation with cancer (weak, perhaps, and refuted by the food industry, but still a posibility). And secondly, nutrition science conclusively proves that weight gain/ loss has little to do with calories in and out but what happens hormonally inside the body – how much insulin your body makes (insulin being the fat storage hormone that also sabotages fat burning). Recent research shows that these artificial sweeteners can increase blood sugar (and consequently insulin) levels more than normal sugar. So really, what is the point? My advice is to stop now …
The very best scenario of all is that you wean yourself off sweeteners of any kind. This will help you appreciate and embrace natural sweetness from real food. If you continue to eat sweet things, your taste buds will always want sweet things. It’s as simple as that. If you need a sugar fix, find it in real, natural foods.
In addition to phasing out not only sugary foods, but check the labels on convenience foods to see where sugar has been added. If your diet has traditionally been quite high in the white stuff, the first few weeks can be a little tricky as your body (and brain and taste buds) starts to adjust – but bear with it.
* Deliciously Ella’s Cinnamon Pecan Granola https://deliciouslyella.com/nutty-cinnamon-granola
Eat the Seasons – March – Broccoli
Warm winter salad by Jamie Oliver
• 100g quinoa
• 250g purple sprouting broccoli
• 2 oranges
• 1 tbsp tahini
• 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
• 1 tsp runny honey
• extra virgin olive oil
• 200g mixed-colour kale
• 30g blanched hazelnuts
1. Cook the quinoa according to the packet instructions, then drain.
2. Place a large frying pan or griddle pan over a medium heat.
3. Trim the broccoli and cook for 8 to 10 minutes (in batches if you need to), turning occasionally, until slightly charred.
4. To make a dressing, squeeze the juice of 1 orange into a small bowl. Mix in the tahini, red wine vinegar, honey and 2 tbsp oil, then season to taste and set aside.
5. Remove and discard any hard stalks from the kale, placing the leaves in a large bowl. With your hands, massage in a pinch of salt for 1 minute.
6. Once the broccoli has charred, add to the kale and tip over half the dressing. Add the quinoa and toss together.
7. Put the pan you used to cook the broccoli back over a high heat and toast the hazelnuts until golden, then roughly chop.
8. Add a little more dressing to the salad, toss again, then arrange on a large serving platter.
9. Peel the remaining orange, slice into rounds and scatter over the salad. Tip over the chopped toasted hazelnuts and serve straight away, with any remaining dressing on the side.
Shamrock Shake Smoothie Recipe
For St. Patrick’s Day
This healthy smoothie would make a nice breakfast or a healthy snack and you would get a serving each of fruit and veg in as well as having a fun.
The recipe is below or alternatively watch this fun lively how-to video (with music!) from Eating Well:
- 1/2 cup low-fat milk (or milk alternative)
- 1 frozen large banana, sliced
- 1 cup spinach
- 1/2 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
- 1/3 cup packed fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish
- 4 ice cubes
- kiwi slices for garnish
If you managed to catch all the tips I’ve posted over the past 25 days on how to eat more fruit and veg then good job!
If not (or if you would just like them all in one fantastic guide) then please click here.
We are constantly hearing that we need to get a minimum of 5 portions of fruit and veg into our diet each day for good health and probably more like 10 portions per day for optimal health. But I know from personal experience this can be difficult and you can run out of ideas. I know the tips you’ll find in this guide will help you on your journey to great health and tip 10 might surprise you!
Yours in health,
PS – If you’re serious about improving your health and you need information, guidance and motivation, I warmly invite you to get in touch with me, by clicking here to book a free 20 minute Skype or phone call with me.
Tip 24 of 25
Combine fruit and veg in a juice
A green juice is the perfect way to start the day as you mean to go on. This one will get you off the blocks with a good few servings of your 10 a day
Tip 23 of 25
Carry handbag snacks
Apples, pears and satsumas are perfect travelling companions. Team them with a small handful of nuts to make the perfect blood sugar-balancing snack.