Besides being a food columnist one of the other things I do, is run healthy eating workshops for people in the local community. I was asked to run a workshop for a specific group of ladies to help them make better choices so that they could have a healthier diet.
When I begin the workshop I always like to see where the group are at in their healthy eating experience. “Who eats lots of vegetables” was my first question to the group. There was no response and I sensed that it would not get any better as I continued to ask questions. “OK does anyone eat vegetables maybe sometimes? a lady seated near the back threw up her hand enthusiastically and said “oh yes”. I thought great now I am getting somewhere. I then asked “what kind of vegetables do you like to eat” to which she responded “I love potatoes”. “Great” I said, “in what way do you like to eat your potato perhaps roast potatoes or mashed potato?” The lady responded “I like to eat my crisps”. I so wanted to laugh but that would have been most unprofessional and well just rude to laugh in the woman’s face so I had to put on my best poker face (not that I am a poker player)
I then moved on to the topic of fruits and again I asked if anyone ate fruits to which there was no response. I asked if anyone had a favourite fruit that they ate and again the same lady seated near the back threw up her hand enthusiastically and said “oh yes”. I was a little more careful in my response and said great please tell me more. She responded “I love to have fruit, well fruit juice really, I have fruit juice everyday”
Great I responded what is your favourite fruit juice” and to my horror her response was “Ribena”.
When I use this story as an example in my healthy eating presentations many people laugh but the seriousness of this is that this lady is not alone in her thinking and lack of knowledge with regards healthy eating.
So what are some ways in which you can eat more fruit?
Fruit Bowl - Keep a bowl of whole fruit on the table, counter, or in the refrigerator.
In Season - Buy fresh fruits in season when they may be less expensive and at their peak flavour.
Start your own garden. Many fruits and vegetables can be grown in pots on your window sill inside or in the ground outside.. Gardens, when done correctly, can produce an abundance of produce. If you live in a area with little land or you don’t have a garden, you may be able to start an allotment.
Breakfast – have 1-2 pieces of fruit with your breakfast. Bananas, strawberries etc. can be added to cereal or blend up some fruits to make a breakfast smoothie.
Snack – try swapping crisps and chocolate for grapes, apples or whatever is your favourite fruit to have as a snack.
Side Salad – have a small side salad as a starter or side dish with your lunch or dinner.
In the 1970s the food and beverage industry in the USA discovered a cheap alternative to sugar cane and sugar beet extracted sugar, by chemically modifying corn starch from glucose to fructose. In 1976, when HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) could be mass produced, the cost advantage to the industry was so compelling, that consumption of HFCS increased by 4,000% until the year 2000 when the use of table sugar decreased by 35%. Westerners consume more HFCS than sugar, according to the Weston Price Foundation website.
Check the label of your favourite soft drink, and, unless it is the Aspartame and Sucralose variety, you are likely to find HFCS or High-Fructose Corn Syrup listed as a primary ingredient after water. Since soft drink giants Coca Cola and Pepsi switched from sugar to HFCS in 1984, these products have conquered markets beyond beverages, HFCS is in most processed foods and even health foods and sports drinks. Not only is it found in biscuits, sweets, and other confections, but also in foods where one would least expect to find sugar: soups, hot dogs, pasta sauce, ketchup, breakfast cereals, hamburger buns and even salad dressings,
I must confess that I do have a sweet tooth. As a child I loved sweets and at school I was the biggest fans of golden syrup sponge with custard. I remember that on one occasion the dinner lady asked if anyone one would like a second helping as they had some leftover. (you know they didn’t have to ask me twice). I was even more enlightened when the dinner lady asked again if anyone would like a third helping. No prizes for guessing what my response was.
As an adult I realised that sugar comes in many hidden forms and can cause many different health problems. Even if you don’t eat chocolates and sweets and rarely eat desserts, you can still be consuming many hidden sugars.
Sugar has many different names including sucrose, fructose, glucose, dextrose, galactose, lactose, maltose, invert sugar, raw sugar, turbinado sugar, corn syrup, and high fructose corn syrup.
In addition many products may also contain honey, maple syrup, molasses, caster sugar and brown sugar. These are all a type of sugar and some are marketed so that consumers can believe that it is not sugar at all. There are many articles about sugar and how to avoid it but there seems to be less information on what to have instead. So here are some good healthy substitutes you can use instead.
Sugar can be easily replaced when for example baking, using fruits like: banana, apple sauce, raisins, figs and dates. Sweeter tasting vegetables can also be used like carrots and parsnips. Fruits and vegetables add valuable nutrients when baking including vitamin C and minerals like potassium. Another added benefits is that fruit and vegetables add moisture, density and fibre.
Water, Waata, Agua, Eau, Dlo, Maji, Omi, Amanzi , Mvura
I recently mentioned to a friend of mine that I had been feeling really tired for the past few weeks. The response I got was "are you drinking enough water" I thought about it and then challenged myself to start drinking 2 litres of water per day and within a week I stopped feeling tired. There are a lot of people who do not drink enough water each day and walk around dehydrated? This is not to say that this is the cure for everyone feeling tired, but drinking water has so many great health benefits.
Whilst doing speaking engagements on health, I am always asked how best to start drinking water. My response is start small and build. Even if you can only drink one mouth full per day start with that and increase it.
According to herballegacy.com,
• Sixty to seventy percent of the human body contains water.
• The brain is composed of approximately 70% water, and the lungs are nearly 90% water.
• Lean muscle tissue contains approximately 75% water by weight;
• Body fat contains 10% water and bone has 22% water.
• About 83% of our blood is water, which helps digest our food, transport waste, and control body temperature.
• Each day humans must replace at least 2.5 quarts of water, some through drinking and the rest taken by the body from the foods we eat.
• Increases Energy & Relieves Fatigue
• Promotes Weight Loss
• Flushes Out Toxins
• Improves Skin Complexion
• Maintains Regularity
• Boosts Immune System
• Natural Headache Remedy
• Prevents Cramps & Sprains
• Usually, water acts as a natural remedy to achieve a super glowing skin. Most people are ignorant of the skin benefits of drinking water. Since, water flushes out the toxins and waste from the body, acts as a body purifier.
• If you are worried of your body weight, then you should focus on drinking lots of water. Hot lemon water can help losing weight faster. It also facilitates in keeping your heart healthy. Hence, it is necessary to drink lots of water and other fluids throughout the day. This will enhance your mind and body fitness.
• Experts rate water as the second oxygen to the body. It is impossible for a person to survive more days without water. You would be surprised to know that about 60-70 percent of body weight consists of water and it is necessary for performing daily functions
Did you also know that a 2% drop in body water can trigger: fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic maths and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or a printed page? Caffeine has a diuretic effect, pulling water out of cells and the body, further promoting dehydration.
So in order to help you kick start you water consumption journey here are some fruit infused water ideas you can try. In addition you can also start trying the many different kinds of bottled water available in shops, pubs, clubs and supermarkets everywhere.
Plantain Cups With Ackee Filling - My Signature Dish
I LOVE plantain it is one of my most favourite things to eat. I like ackee too so when I came up with this recipe it was a match made in heaven for me. This can be served as a starter ( you can make mini ones) or a main course served with roast potatoes and a side salad. This is suitable for most diets including vegans, vegetarians and those on a gluten free diet
Plantain is a part of the staple diet in countries like in West and Central Africa, Central America, all across the Caribbean islands and also the northern, coastal parts of South America. On of the major advantages of plantain is that they grow all year round, making them a reliable all-season staple food.
According to draxe.com there a good health benefits for eating plantain. The nutritional value includes potassium, fibre, vitamin b12 and magnesium
Ackee is a fruit but it is eaten like a vegetable, in the same way that a tomato is a fruit but is eaten like a vegetable. Ackee, also known as achee, ackee apple or akee (Blighia sapida) and is a member of the Sapindaceae (soapberry family. Ackee is native to many countries in West Africa including Ghana, Gambis, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone .
Ackee was imported to Jamaica from West Africa (probably on a slave ship) around the year 1778. Since then it has become a major part of many Caribbean cuisines, and is also grown in tropical and subtropical areas elsewhere around the world.
Plantain Cups With Ackee Filling Recipe
For The Plantain Cups
• 2 ripe plantains
• Spray Oil
– Wash and peel the plantains
– Chop the plantain into 3-4 pieces
– Boil plantain until soft and tender.
– Drain the cooked plantain
– Press the plantain into the oiled muffin tin to form the cups
– Bake at 180c / 350f or gas mark 4 for 20-30 minutes until golden brown
– Remove from the muffin tins and allow to cool slightly
For The Filling
• 1 medium can of ackee (540g)
• 2 oz. coconut oil (plus a little more if needed)
• 1 Large Onion chopped
• 2 Plum tomatoes
• Half a green pepper chopped
• 1/2 Tsp. Salt
• 1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper
• ½ tsp season all (optional)
• 1 small scotch bonnet pepper (optional)
– Sauté onions, peppers and tomatoes until onions are soft.
– Open the can of ackee and drain the liquid from the tin.
– Add ackee to onions, peppers and tomatoes and fold together.
– Allow to cook for 2 minutes, and then add salt to taste.
– Add black pepper and scotch bonnet pepper
– Simmer on medium heat for another 3 – 5 minutes.
– Place 1-2 spoonfuls of ackee into the plantain cups an serve