Glorious Ginger Tea

Ginger has been known for thousands of years both as a cooking ingredient and as medicine. This perennial herb originally comes from China and India. Today, it is widely grown in Asia, Australia and in the Americas. While the delicate leaves of ginger can be used in salads, its root contains the real benefits. The root called “rhizomes” are rich in Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, potassium, copper and dietary fiber.

Ginger’s root has a very distinctive, tangy taste. It is used in many Asian dishes to balance their flavours. Also, a very aromatic tea can be made of its root. Drinking ginger tea is an excellent way to enjoy a range of health benefits associated with the plant.

The root of ginger is known to be very beneficial for a number of conditions. It helps combat nausea, improves digestion and helps the absorption of food. It prevents bloating and some people feel that it boosts their appetite. Ginger detoxifies the liver and it has anti-inflammatory properties, which make it a good remedy for joint and muscle problems. For people who suffer from respiratory problems due to allergies or to common cold, ginger can be a remedy, too. The root also improves blood circulation by preventing fat blocking arteries. In addition, it can relive pain related to menstrual discomfort; it strengthens immunity, boosts fertility and relives stress.


Though the health benefits are proven, ginger also can cause some side effects. If an excessive amount of ginger tea is consumed, digestive problems and acidity may present themselves. Also, too much ginger tea may lower blood sugar levels. Ginger may also disturb some anesthetic agents, causing bleeding and the slowing down of the healing process. Therefore, it is best to avoid ginger for a while for those, who have a surgery scheduled. Ginger may also disturb a good night’s sleep, so it is best not to drink ginger tea at night. Generally, ginger should also be avoided by people who suffer hemophilia or similar conditions; those who have hypertension and those who have gallstones. Also, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should avoid ginger tea, just to be on the safe side.

It is remarkably easy to make ginger tea. Try it today and enjoy the health benefits. The recipe below is for four servings, so drink it with your family or friends to avoid over-indulgence!


  • 500 ml water
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of honey or agave nectar
  • Juice of half a lemon

Optional additions: pinch of pepper, camomile flowers, fresh mint leaves, half a teaspoon of turmeric.

Preparation method:

  • Peel the ginger root with a peeler.
  • Grate the ginger with a grater.
  • Boil the water.
  • Place the grated ginger in a teapot and pour over the water.
  • Add the cinnamon, lemon juice and honey/agave syrup. Stir well.

You may serve it hot or cold with ice-cubes. It is lovely both ways! Enjoy!

Choose the Right Cooking Oil

Supermarkets these days have a vast array of products on their shelves. Cooking oil is a typical example where the choice is ample. Plus, it tends not to be really straightforward which one to choose and why. Being an avid home cook, I faced the dilemma of choosing the right cooking oil myself, so I did a bit of research to be able to make an informed choice in the matter.

Cooking oils -
Just a Bit of Science

It is important to understand some basic features of cooking oils, which may sound a bit scientific. Nonetheless, it is not too complicated as we only need to understand a few basic features and principles of fats and fatty acids, as cooking oils are made up of these compounds.

Fatty acids differ based on their chemical shapes. Generally, depending on their shapes, fatty acids can be saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. All fats contain all types of fatty acids, but they are classified into one of the above categories based on the type of the fatty acid that makes up most of its structure. Fatty acids differ from each other based on how well they pack together. Saturated fatty acids pack together tightly. This feature makes them stable even if they are exposed to heat and light. Monounsaturated fatty acids do not pack together as well as their saturated counterparts do. Therefore, their stability level is lower when they are exposed to heat and light. The polyunsaturated fatty acids don’t pack together well at all, therefore they are unstable.

The stability level of cooking oils is decisive in terms of whether they are suitable for cooking or not. Stable oils can resist chemical changes when heated to high temperatures; therefore they are suitable to cook with. However, unstable ones may go rancid when heated up, which means that they undergo chemical decomposition and other changes. Their so-called smoke point, the heat at which they start to go rancid and a bluish smoke becomes visible, gives a good guidance whether it is suitable for cooking or not.

I collected eight of my favourite cooking oils. Let’s see why they made to the list of my top eight!

all_about_oilART_HEAD.jpg, Pinterest
Best Cooking Oils to Use

  • Almond Oil: Almond oil is stable up to approximately 255 Celsius and it is composed of a high amount of monounsaturated fatty acids (approximately 62%). It is associated with health benefits including cardiovascular health and high amount of vitamin E levels and phytosterols that are known to improve cholesterol numbers. It s suitable for cooking at high temperatures and also works well in salads and desserts because of its natural almond flavor.
  • Avocado Oil: Avocado oil has a very high tolerance to heat. It can be heated up to approximately 265 Celsius. It is high in monounsaturated fatty acids and it is considered heart-healthy as it is known to improve cholesterol levels. Avocado oil is very versatile due to having high heat tolerance as well as a mild, nutty flavor. It is perfect for high heat cooking including grilling, sautéing, frying, stir-frying and baking. It works well for salad dressings, too.
  • Coconut oil: Coconut oil is very stable as it is 86.5% saturated fat. The saturated fat contained in this oil is different to saturated fat found in animal products. They contain medium chain triglycerides that are metabolized in a different way than animal fats and therefore they do not clog our arteries. Coconut oil was found to lower cholesterol levels as well as to maintain a healthy digestive tract. It remains stable up to 230 Celsius, which makes it ideal for frying, baking and cooking at high temperatures. Always use certified organic coconut oil, which means that it does not go through refining, hydrogenation, bleaching or deodorizing.  Also, don’t be surprised to find that it is solid at room temperature.
  • Red Palm Oil: Red palm oil is derived from the fruit of the palm tree. It is high in saturated fat and has a high proportion of healthy fatty acids. Also it is rich in vitamin E, Beta-Carotene, Alpha-Carotene and Coenzyme Q10. Due to its saturated fat content, it is a stable type of oil, which makes it perfect for high heat cooking. If you wish to try using red palm oil, go for brands that source the ingredient sustainably. Palm oil has courted controversy due to its potential harm to endangered rainforest environments. The palm trees from which the oil is extracted are integral to that ecosystem. Large-scale commercial activity in these settings has potential to threaten the balance in this environment.

Cooking Oils to Use with Care

Many cooking oils have a vast array of health benefits, but are not suitable for cooking at high temperatures. If you heat them to high temperatures, their nutrients can oxidize, which means the oil goes rancid. This can lead to vascular diseases and other health damages. 

cooking oils -
  • Olive Oil: Olive oil, particularly its extra virgin type, is a very good source of monounsaturated fats, which is linked with hearth health. It has a range of further health benefits including lowering total blood cholesterols, being rich in antioxidants, decreasing both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, aiding blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity. There is some evidence that its consumption helps reduce obesity, the risk of osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Its consumption is therefore very much recommended. However, apart from the best quality extra virgin olive oils the smoke point of which is at around 210 Celsius, its resistance of heat is not higher than 160 Celsius. Unfortunately, the very good quality extra virgin olive oils are too pricy to cook with. Therefore, olive oil is best to be spared for cooking with lower temperatures, e.g. drizzling on steamed vegetables, sautéing or in salad dressings.
  • Peanut Oil: Peanut oil is a good and healthy choice as it is free from cholesterol, it contains essential fatty acids, it is a good source of plant sterols that can reduce cholesterol levels and it contains vitamin E as well as resveratrol, which is associated with protective function against a range of diseases including cancer. It also has a nice, nutty aroma and a sweet taste. It is good for all sorts of cooking and it is particularly suitable for Asian recipes. Nonetheless, use it sparingly, as it is richer in Omega 6 fatty acids than in Omega 3 fatty acids. While both of these fatty acids are necessary for human health, the Western diet tends to create an imbalance between the two, in the favour of Omega 6 fatty acids. Also, if you have peanut allergy, be careful with it, especially with the cold-pressed versions, which may contain allergens.
  • Sesame Seed Oil: Sesame seed oil has a number of health benefits including reducing blood pressure and the risk of health disease. It is cholesterol friendly, too. It contains sesamol and sesamin, two powerful antioxidants. It is a good choice for low-heat cooking, sautéing and low-heat baking due to its high smoke point. It is one of the cooking oils that are less prone to go rancid. It is best for sautéing, low-heat cooking and baking and due to its nice and light flavor, it is good in stir-fries, too. It is excellent for Chinese, Indian and South-East Asian recipes. 
  • Walnut Oil: Walnut oil is a healthy choice for low heat cooking. As it contains 63 percent polyunsaturated fatty acids, it is not a very stable oil for cooking. Heating rapidly reduces its quality and also damages its flavor by producing a bit of a bitter taste. It is best to used in salads, where its delicate nutty flavor adds a great taste. Alternatively, use it on steamed vegetables, marinades and sautés.

Cooking Oils to Avoid

I did not list commonly used vegetable oils like sunflower oil, canola oil, rapeseed oil and corn oil among my favourite cooking oils. The reason for that is that these types of commercial oils tend to be partially hydrogenated or refined. This process is known to create trans fats that are unhealthy for human health. Also, often these oils are made from genetically modified crops. Vegetable oils tend to be richer in Omega 6 fatty acids than in Omega 3 fatty acids, therefore they need to be consumed sparingly to avoid imbalances in the diet.

Flaxeed oil, hemp oil and hazelnut oil did not make it to my favourite oils, either. While they have excellent health benefits, they are too delicate to cook with. They can be used in salad dressings and in dips and should be consumed in their cold form.

A Final Word of Advice

As cooking oils are delicate substances, some of which can go rancid even if they are exposed to light and air, always buy them in small quantities, keep their lid on when not using and store them in cool, dark and dry places.

How to Have Healthy Hair?

We all love to have beautiful, strong and shiny hair. However, sometimes our hair starts to show signs of weakness. It becomes dull, dry and lifeless and sometimes it even starts to shred excessively. When the hair loss starts to be visible, we all start to worry.

Hair problems are often down to nutritional deficiencies. This is especially true in the case of people who follow vegetarian and vegan diets. They do need to pay special attention to create a balanced diet for themselves. Otherwise, they may become deficient in certain important nutrients, primarily vitamins, proteins, minerals and fats. The nutritional deficiencies can rapidly start to show and the first signs concern the health of the all so precious hair.

Hair Health from BBC Good Food
BBC Good Food
Let’s take a look at these important nutrients that we absolutely must consume in other to preserve or restore our hair health.

  1. Protein: Protein deficiency is very common among vegetarians and even more among vegans. It is challenging to consume enough protein from plant-based sources as mostly protein is found in meat and fish. However, we must find appropriate, plant-based protein sources, as it is the building block of our hair as well as of our essential organs. If we are protein deficient, our bodies utilize whatever protein we consume to tissue growth in essential organs. The body will always prioritize these organs, therefore our hair will suffer first. Therefore, consuming some protein is not enough. We have to consume enough for our hair to glow. The best plant-based protein sources include quinoa, seitan, tofu, soy, tempeh beans, lentils, nuts, chick peas and white beans. Milk, cheese, dairy products and eggs also contain plenty of protein.
  2. Iron: Iron is a very important mineral and deficiency leads to anemia, which can cause hair loss by disrupting the nutrient supply to hair follicles and the hair growth cycle. Unfortunately, iron is found mostly in animal products, especially in red meat. Nevertheless, there are plant-based sources, including lentils, spinach, broccoli, okra, kale, salad greens, watercress, beets, dried apricots, figs, prunes, soy beans, pulses and almonds. However, the iron from plants is not as easily absorbed by the body as iron from meat, therefore these foods need to be consumed in large quantities to avoid iron deficiency. In case you have very low levels of iron, a good quality supplement may help to overcome your deficiency.
  3. Vitamin C: While Vitamin C is generally important for the human body, it has a particular role to help our hair glow. It helps the absorption of iron and boosts the production of collagen, a protein made up of amino-acids, which is the major component of hair. Vitamin C can be found in many fruits and vegetables, including blueberries, broccoli, kiwi, oranges, strawberries, guava, red pepper, grapefruit, Brussels sprouts and cantaloupe.
  4. Omega-3: Omega-3 fatty acids are very important for our scalp and hair, because they keep them hydrated. Unfortunately, omega-3 fatty acids are primarily found in fish including salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel, the consumption of which is not in line with most vegetarian diets. In case you want to avoid eating fish, you need to consume flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, avocados, walnuts, soybeans and leafy greens to maintain your strong and lustrous hair.
  5. Vitamin A: Vitamin A is necessary for our bodies to make sebum, an oily and waxy substance that lubricates and waterproofs our skin and hair. If our bodies do not produce enough sebum, we might find our scalp itchy. Also, our hair may become dry. In order to help our bodies produce sufficient amount of sebum, we should eat liver. However, that is not an option for vegetarians and vegans. Vitamin A from plant-based sources can be found in sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy vegetables, squash, dried apricots, cantaloupe, red peppers and mango.
  6. Zinc and Selenium: The consumption of zinc and selenium is important for maintaining a healthy scalp and preventing hair loss. Seafood and eggs generally contain ample amount of these minerals. Plant-based sources include spinach, pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, beans, mushrooms, Brazil nuts, whole-wheat bread, sunflower seeds and whole grains.
  7. Vitamin E: Sufficient intake of Vitamin E can help us avoid sun damage to our hair and skin. Nuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, tomatoes, Swiss chard, avocado, asparagus, mustard greens, kale, papaya and kiwi are all excellent plant-based sources of Vitamin E.
  8. Biotin: Biotin is a B complex vitamin, which can help grow healthier and stronger hair, skin and nails by improving the keratin infrastructure, which is a basic protein that makes up hair, skin and nails. Biotin deficiency is fortunately very rare, but when it occurs it may show signs of brittle hair and nails. If you eat eggs, milk, Swiss chard, carrot, nuts, strawberries, raspberries, onion, avocado, cauliflower and cucumber you probably don’t need to fear biotin deficiency.
  9. Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is a complex vitamin that our bodies need for healthy hair growth by supporting the formation of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to hair strands. If hair strands do not receive sufficient amount of oxygen, the hair cannot grow in a healthy manner. Unfortunately, B12 vitamin is only found in meat, seafood, eggs and dairy. Vegetarians may consider eating eggs and dairy to consume sufficient amount of Vitamin B12. Vegans may consume soy milk and cereals fortified with B12. Also, they may benefit from taking a supplement to maintain healthy hair.

hair health, pinterest, Pinterest
Let’s include these foods in our diets and maintain our shiny, beautiful and strong hair!

Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load

The Glycemic Index (GI) and the Glycemic Load (GL) of carbohydrates can often be heard about in the context of diet & nutrition. Diets use the GI and GL values too to determine meal plans for healthy diets and for weight loss purposes. Let’s see what is the difference between GI and GL and how to use these values to define which foods are healthier for us to consume. GI vs GL

Starting Point: Simple and Complex Carbs

Carbohydrates can be classified as either simple or complex. Carbohydrates are simple if they are composed of one or two simple sugars in the molecule and they are complex if they are composed of long chains of the simple sugar, glucose. Based on a simplistic categorization, sugars are simple carbs while starches are complex carbs.

In the past, medical practitioners assumed that eating more complex and less simple carbohydrates was beneficial for humans. It was assumed that the consumption of starchy food (complex carbs) would lead to smaller increases in blood glucose levels than foods containing simple carbs.

The Glycemic Index

The Glycemic Index is the cornerstone of a concept developed by Dr Thomas Wolever and Dr David Jenkins at the University of Toronto in 1981. The concept was developed within a research project that aimed to find out which carbohydrate is best to consume by diabetics.

According to the outcome of the Toronto research, carbohydrates that break down quickly during the digestion process and release glucose into the bloodstream with a fast pace have a high GI. Those foods that break down slowly and release glucose with a slower, more gradual pace into the bloodstream have a lower GI.

Rapid increases in blood glucose levels by the consumption of high GI foods are potent signals to the pancreas to increase insulin secretion. A few hours after eating such carbohydrates, the high insulin levels induced by consumption of high-glycemic index foods may cause a sharp decrease in blood glucose levels. In contrast, the consumption of low GI foods results in lower but more sustained increases in blood glucose levels and lower insulin demands on the pancreas.

The definition of the GI of food happens according to an elaborate and refined methodology used by Dr Wolever and Dr Jenkins. It measures how quickly a food containing 25 or 50 grams of carbohydrate raises blood-glucose levels. GI

Based on the concept of the GI, a research team at the Harvard University developed the concept of the Glycemic Load.

The Glycemic Load

Glycemic Load is a similar concept to the GI. The idea behind GL is to simultaneously describe the quality and quantity of carbohydrate in a meal, or in an entire diet.

The GL takes into account the amount of carbohydrates in a typical serving of the food. In practice, the GL of a food is more specific as it tells us how much the given food portion raises blood glucose. It multiplies the GI of the food with the actual amount of carbohydrate that is consumed in the serving, in grams, and then divides this by 100.

According to this concept, if a food has a GL of one point, it raises the blood sugar by one gram of glucose. If a specific food serving has low GL, it implies that its GI is low too. However, if a food has a low GI, it may have higher GL, depending the amount consumed.

A full diet can be evaluated from the viewpoint of its GL, which is called “dietary GL”. The dietary GL is the sum of the GL-s for all foods consumed in the analysed diet. A low GL diet typically has less than 80 points per day. A medium GL diet is between 80 to 120 points per day while a diet is high in terms of GL if it is over 120 points per day.

Harvard University has an excellent table that contains GI and GL data for more than 100 commonly consumed food items. If you wish to analyse your diet, take a look at this useful resource:

Gruesome Gluten?

The gluten-free diet seems to be the new health & nutrition trend. Celebrities claim to have achieved perfect figures thanks to following a gluten-free diet and weight loss programmes that are designed around the elimination of gluten. A number of sources suggest that the gluten-free diet boosts energy levels, improves digestion and enhances attention span. It is applied to manage conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism.

As demand grows for gluten-free food, more and more packaged food is labelled as such. Restaurants also offer gluten-free items on their menus to satisfy growing demand.  Gluten-free cookbooks are published in an ever-growing number and thousands of gluten-free recipes can be found online.

The gluten-free diet is advertised as the new magic in the world of health and nutrition. Nonetheless, it is worth looking at gluten a bit more closely before jumping on the bandwagon.

What is gluten exactly?

Gluten is a type of nutritional composite which is composed of two different proteins, i.e. gliadin and glutenin. Gluten is found in the wheat endosperm, which is a type of tissue in seeds. It nourishes plant embryos in the course of germination. When food is prepared, gluten affects the elasticity of dough, thereby having an impact on the consistency of baked wheat products. It often gives a chewy texture to baked goods.

Gluten can be found in wheat, rye, barley, triticale (a cross between wheat and rye) and in other grains. Wheat products that contain gluten include bulgur, durum flour, farina, graham flour, kamut, semolina and spelt. Gluten-like proteins can also be found in maize and rice, which are also sometimes referred to as gluten.


Gluten can be found primarily in breads, cakes, pies, cookies, cereals and pastas. Beer, candies, ice-cream, French fries, packaged gravies, sauces, salad dressings, snack foods, packaged soups may also contain gluten. Sometimes gluten is used as a stabilising, thickening and binding agent and as an additive in packaged foods.

When is it justified to go gluten-free?

There is no scientific research that would support the widespread claims about the benefits of a gluten-free diet for those who do not have medical conditions that demand the elimination of gluten from their diet.

With regards to weight loss, a gluten-free diet can be misleading. If weight loss is achieved due to following a strict, gluten-free diet, it is probably due to the elimination of carbohydrates like bread and pasta. The weight loss in these cases tends not to be down to the elimination of gluten itself but to the lowering of carb intake related to the foodstuff that contains the gluten.

It is worth noting that sometimes a gluten-free diet may be even more calorific than a normal diet, as many gluten-free food items, primarily bakery products, are loaded with fat and sugar to impersonate the original qualities that gluten creates in baked goods.

Strict elimination of gluten is nonetheless crucial for those who suffer from gluten intolerance, aka coeliac disease. It is a condition that affects 0.5 to 1% of the population of the United States and the United Kingdom. Prevalence of this disease is assumed to be similar in other wheat-consuming countries globally. Gluten sensitivity is another condition that requires one to follow a gluten-free diet.

Gluten-related conditions

Coeliac disease is a chronic digestive disorder. The condition creates an immune response to gluten. This reaction is such that it damages the small intestine of sufferers, creating gastrointestinal distress (stomach cramps, diarrhoea, and bloating) and nutritional deficiencies, weight loss and fatigue. In untreated cases it can lead to intestinal cancer, infertility and osteoporosis.

Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity is even more common. It creates similar symptoms to those of coeliac disease, without damage to the intestine.

It is difficult to recognise both gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivity as symptoms can be different from one individual to the next. Gastrointestinal pain, fatigue, anemia, abdominal discomfort, bloating, excess gas or joint pain are amongst the many symptoms that can suggest gluten intolerance or sensitivity.

If you suspect that you may suffer from gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity, consult your GP. Specialised blood tests examining antigliadin antibodies, endomysial antibodies, and anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies are available to screen for these conditions. Sometimes a small intestinal biopsy is required for accurate testing for coeliac disease.

At the present time, the only available treatment to coeliac disease and gluten sensitivity is a gluten-free diet. Following a gluten-free diet requires careful meal planning and thorough nutritional understanding, as gluten-free foods are often nutrient-deficient.

Unless you are gluten intolerant or gluten sensitive, you’d be wise to not buy into hype surrounding the gluten-free diet. You may be far better off following a balanced diet consisting of fruit, vegetables, lean protein (preferably from vegan and vegetarian sources) and pulses, nuts and grains.

Superfoods in Action

What is a Superfood?

Superfood is a buzzword in the nutrition & health literature these days. It is a commonly used term; even the Oxford English Dictionary includes it as an approved word. A superfood is: “a food considered especially nutritious or otherwise beneficial to health and well-being”.

The term “superfood” has been subject to misrepresentation and misuse by food manufacturers, who sometimes use it as a mere marketing tool. The European Union, for instance, prohibited the use of the term “superfood” to market food products as of 1 July 2007, unless a specific medial claim for product can be validated, supported by credible scientific research. In other jurisdictions the term “superfood” may appear on food packaging without any basis.  We should be careful what we believe about this claim.

The “real superfood” is used to refer to foods that have high nutrient value or phytochemical content, the consumption of which has proven health benefits. Normally they are raw vegetables and fruits, nuts, seeds, grains and certain types of fish. Packaged and processed foods do not tend to be superfoods.

My Favourite Superfoods 

I do eat a lot of plant-based superfoods, which – I do genuinely believe – help me to stay fit and healthy. Here are my top 10 superfoods that I love and whose health properties I have confidence in.

Berries including blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries are nutritional powerhouses. They contain a moderate-to-rich concentration of anthocyanins, vitamin C, manganese and dietary fibre. They taste absolutely fabulous and are relatively low in calories.

Dark leafy vegetables including spinach, kale, collard greens and Swiss chard. These vegetables fight cancer; improve cardiovascular health and help brain function.

Taliah Rivera, Pinterest

Dark green vegetables like cabbage, Brussels sprouts and broccoli. They contain antioxidants and folate, which help to prevent heart disease. They also contain lutein, which contributes to delaying the progression of age-related macular degeneration, which causes impaired vision and blindness. They also contain sulphoraphane, an anti-cancer phytochemical.

Beans and lentils are very good sources of protein, plus they contain fibre, iron and calcium. The glycaemic index is low so they are digested slowly and are absorbed into the bloodstream gradually.

Olive oil is the primarily ingredient of the Mediterranean diet, which has proven health benefits. The monosaturated fat in olive oil lowers bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol levels. It is rich in antioxidants. Nonetheless, it is very rich in calories, so its best to use sparingly.

Wholegrain bread is the only good type of bread in my view. It has a low glycaemic index, protects against heart disease, while being rich in fibre and containing essential fatty acids.

Green tea is famous for its health properties, especially due to it being rich in catechins, an antioxidant. These protect the artery walls and prevent the formation of blood clots.

Jacqueline Coyne, Pinterest

Garlic and onion are very beneficial for you if you have high blood pressure. Additionally they fight cancer, kill bad bacteria, improve cholesterol and strengthen heart health.

Nuts including walnuts, brazil nuts, hazelnuts and almonds. Nuts are packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre.  Plus they are good sources of plant-based protein. Eating a handful of nuts regularly can help to reduce risk of heart disease. Brazil nuts are especially rich in selenium, which may protect against cancer, depression and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Apples are packed with antioxidants, in particular vitamin C. They contain pectin, which helps to lower blood cholesterol levels and helps with healthy digestion. They support healthy skin and gums, too. The glycaemic index of apples is low.

Other plants that have superfood type qualities I would recommend for regular consumption are tomatoes, grapes, pumpkins, carrots, bananas, pineapples, sweet potatoes, citrus fruits, beets, mushrooms, brown rice and dark chocolate. They are very rich in phytochemicals, tend to have anticancer properties, taste fantastic and are generally very healthy for you.

I do not eat meat or fish, as I am a vegetarian. Therefore I do not count fish as my personal superfood. However, fish can be rich in omega-3 depending on its type and origin.  If you do eat fish, you may consider salmon, mackerel and sardines in your superfood-based diet. They are good sources of protein, vitamins and minerals. Furthermore, they help reduce blood clotting and inflammation in your system and they may prevent depression and dementia, too.

If you have a personal favourite superfood that you eat regularly, do let us know. We are keen on hearing about further nutritional powerhouses!

Terrific Turmeric

Turmeric has recently became a hot topic in health and nutrition books & journals. There is talk of it being a new superfood.  Or more precisely a super spice, which may reduce cancer risk and ward off a wide variety of other illnesses, including Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, allergies and arthritis . Let’s see why turmeric is considered to be so beneficial to health and how it can help us protect us.

What is turmeric?

Turmeric is a plant, with its root being used both in fresh and preserved forms. The preserved form, turmeric powder, is widespread. It is made by boiling the fresh root of the plant for 30 to 45 minutes.  It is then dried in a hot oven and ground into a powder. Fresh turmeric leaves may also be used to wrap food. While turmeric spice can be consumed both in a fresh and in a preserved form, the leaves tend to be used in fresh form only.

BBC Food

Turmeric grows in tropical climates where rain is plentiful. It is indigenous in South and South-East Asia, in particular in India and Indonesia. Nonetheless, turmeric can be found in the cuisines of Nepal, Pakistan and Vietnam too. In addition to these regions, it can be found in the gastronomy of the Middle East, notably so in Iran. It is a distinctive spice, but it is neither super hot, nor does it have a flavour. It adds a bit of an earthy quality to food, as long as only moderate amounts are used. Where it is used in a plentiful manner, it has a slightly bitter flavour and a smell which reminiscent of mustard. It is primarily used in curry sauces, including commercially available ones, in which it tends to be mixed with coriander, cumin, cardamom, fenugreek and pepper. If you ever wondered why curry has a distinct colour, turmeric may be responsible as it can constituent one fifth to one third of some curry sauces.

Turmeric is not only used for its flavour. Its strong yellow colour makes it a good colouring agent too. Packaged food products including canned and bottled beverages and juices, packaged sauces, bakery products, dairy products, cakes and biscuits, cereals, sweets, mustards and condiments may contain turmeric. The food industry often uses turmeric as a food additive under the name “E100” to derive natural colouring.

Turmeric as a medicinal plant 

Turmeric has been in use in South Asia, South-East Asia and the Middle East, both as a spice and as a medicinal plant for thousands of years. It has been used as a cooking ingredient not only for its taste, but for maintaining health. Plus it was used to cure various diseases.

The Ayurvedic tradition in India recognised the health benefits of turmeric consumption thousands of years ago. Ever since, it has been thought to have cleansing and purifying qualities; and has been used to treat a wide range of conditions including digestive disorders, fever, infection, arthritis, dysentery, jaundice and other diseases of the liver. Similarly to Ayurveda, Chinese medicine has also used turmeric to treat diseases of the liver, bleeding and congestion. The Assyrians noted turmeric as one of two hundred and fifty medicinal plants. It was also widely used both as a medicinal plant and as a spice in the Ryukyuan Kingdom, in the Okinawa region of present-day Japan to maintain health and cure diseases.

Utsav Shashvatt, Pinterest

Due to the presence of turmeric in these ancient medicinal traditions, scientists of the modern era have also gravitated toward researching turmeric in recent years.

Recent research assumes that turmeric may be capable of inhibiting cancer growth. Although epidemiological research on turmeric has not yet been completed – which would have found a definitive link between turmeric intake and the prevalence of cancer – laboratory research shows impressive results. On this basis, scientists believe that frequent and relative large-scale consumption of turmeric may make a significant contribution to the low cancer rates found in India. This health property may be arise from turmeric’s active ingredient called “curcumin”, which possesses complex pharmacological activity; and has a very strong potential as an anticancer agent. This substance seems to be responsible for the health benefits of eating turmeric and might be able to prevent and treat stomach, intestinal, colon, skin and liver tumours. Furthermore, it may assist in fighting infections, reducing inflammation, and treating digestive problems. All this sound good enough to give it a go and include turmeric into your diet, doesn’t it?

According to leading researchers in nutritional science,  the health benefits of turmeric are enhanced by the consumption of pepper at the same time, thanks to it increasing the extent of the absorption of curcumin into the bloodstream. Simply put, this means that we need to add some pepper to our turmeric consumption for maximum health benefit. As pepper has always been used in curries in India, the culinary synergy between these two ingredients may be behind the proven low cancer rates in India.

How to use turmeric?

Try to add a dash of turmeric & pepper to soups, curries, stews, pasta sauces and green smoothies. I always do that and as long as it is only a dash, it won’t change flavours in any way, let alone dramatically. Nonetheless, even these small dashes can have a huge impact on your health.

If you are interested in the topic, check out my book recommendation on “Foods to Fight Cancer” by Richard Béliveau, PhD. and Denis Gingras, PhD.

Understanding What’s In Your Food

We’ve probably all heard the old adage: “you are what you eat”. It is certainly true that our physical and mental state largely depend upon our diet.

Obesity, cancer, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, amongst others may develop due to bad dietary habits. These illnesses are responsible for an ever-increasing number of fatalities. It is therefore important to inform ourselves about the food what we put in our bodies.

When I started to cook, I thought I was already quite aware of healthy eating. I had to realize though that the fact that there’s more to understanding what it means to eat whole and healthy foods.

Ready-made food items tend to end-up in the shopping trolley of everyone, including health-conscious consumers.  Just think of pasta sauces, salsas, breads, spreads, oat cookies, cereals, canned vegetables, etc. Even if you cook items yourself and avoid processed, junk food, you will probably end up buying a fair amount of packaged food. It seems to be quite unavoidable but still, you can control what you put on the table if you shop and cook consciously.

How to handle this problem?

First of all, I would recommend trying to limit your consumption of packaged foods. If whole food (i.e. food that’s been processed as little as possible) is available instead of a bottled or canned one, then go for it. Make your own chutneys, sauces, juices and soups using fresh vegetables and fruits whenever possible. It may have a beneficial impact on your health and it will be fun to explore your culinary talents.

If you do buy packaged food items, don’t always go for brand names and attractive packaging. Instead of buying based on how the packaging looks or how familiar its name sounds (based on advertising), seek to understand what lies under the packaging. Take a closer look at what the product contains and read the label. The manufacturers are bound by law in many countries to display a wide range of dietary information on the product. This is a valuable tool that is available for us to make better and more informed buying decisions.


What to be Mindful of

Here are 10 things to be attentive to when buying food and reading the nutritional data on the label.

1)     Watch the serving sizes. Food manufacturers have a deceitful habit of disclosing nutrition facts based on serving size, not the actual size of the product. If the product contains more than one serving, all the amounts listed may need to be multiplied. Always check whether the nutrition values are per serving and if so, multiply the data with the number of servings the product contains to get the full picture.  Also, remember that the serving size may be different to what you normally consume as a single serving.

2)     Pay attention to calories and the recommended daily intake. Check the calorie content of packaged products. The recommended average daily calorie intakes are in a range of 1,800 to 2,000 for women and 2,200 to 2,500 for men. This will likely vary by individual, based on their physical activity and other factors. However, it is a good habit to keep recommended calorie intakes in mind and not to overeat, in order to avoid weight gain.

3)     Beware of bad fats. Saturated and trans fats are bad for you, so limit or, if possible, eliminate them from your diet. In particular, they occur in some animal products and appear in processed foods. The biggest concern is trans fats in processed food, which appear in products containing partially or fully hydrogenated oils. Trans fats tend to appear in snacks, fried and commercially baked goods, as a side effect of very high heat used during their manufacturing process. Always look at the label and if the product consists of trans fats, ditch it. The problem with trans fats is manifold: they raise LDL, the “bad cholesterol” (LDL) levels and lower “good cholesterol” (HDL) level in the body and slow metabolism.

4)     Lower your sodium (salt) intake. A high level of sodium intake can cause high blood pressure. It is not recommended to take more than 2,300 mg sodium per day, or 1,500 mg for people over 40. This is equivalent to a teaspoon or less.

5)     Avoid the hidden sugars. Lots of packaged foods contain added sugar. The food industry uses a wide range of sugars under different names including but not limited to: fructose, glucose, lactose, corn sugar, corn syrup, corn starch, barely malt, dextran, diatase, maltodextrin, mannitol, sucrose, sorbitol, maltitol. These are all sugars containing high calories and close to nothing in nutritional value. Keep their intake to a minimum, if possible.

6)     Choose complex carbs. Carbohydrates found in fruits and vegetables are a much better source of energy than simple carbs found in refined sugar. Complex carbs tend to be rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals and they don’t raise the blood sugar level of the body as quickly as simple ones.

7)     Have a diet rich in fiber. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Consumption of fiber improves the digestive tract and maintains a healthy colon. Plus it contributes to the slow break down of the food in the body; therefore it helps to prevent sudden blood sugar spikes. Recommended intake of dietary fiber is 25 g for women and 38 g for men per day. Make sure you have enough of it.

8)     Have enough protein in your diet. Protein is very important as it serves as the fundamental element of the human body at the cellular level. Animal products are very good source of protein, albeit they raise other dietary and health concerns. Vegetarians may receive sufficient protein intake from pulses, whole grains, seaweed and nuts. Nonetheless, they should pay special attention to ensure that they consume enough protein, as protein deficiency can be highly problematic.

9)     Eat enough vitamins and minerals. The best source of vitamins and minerals like iron and calcium are fresh whole foods. If you buy packaged food, check out the vitamin and mineral content on the label and choose the ones that are high in vitamins and minerals.

10)   Buy whole grain breads. Don’t let the food industry deceive you with marketing claims around bakery products. Check the label and buy only whole grain (not simply whole-wheat) bread, rolls and wraps. “Made with whole grain” and similar phrases do not equal to whole grain and may have very little fiber content and health benefit.  Also, just because a bread is brown doesn’t mean it is healthy.

Reading the labels on packaged foods will help you create a balanced diet. If you create the habit of taking a look at labels before you buy a packaged food, you will be able to control your fat, sugar and cholesterol intake and you will recognize if your diet is not rich enough in fiber, vitamins and protein. This is hugely empowering and your new skill will make its impact on your overall health and wellbeing.

Five Good Reasons to Try a Vegetarian Diet

A vegetarian diet does not mean you’re condemned to eating raw carrots for each and every meal. Far from it! It is actually an extremely diverse diet. It is full of opportunities to try new things and use ingredients and combinations that perhaps you have never considered using while you followed the traditional meat-based diet. The variety is amazing and the taste can be truly fantastic. But before I try to convince you with a few mouth-watering recipes on this blog, I will give you some insights on vegetarianism and a few reasons why it is worth giving it a go. Read on and come with me on a journey of discovery.

Who is a vegetarian?
Vegetarianism is a broad category. Some follow a strictly plant-based diet, omitting everything that has anything to do with animals, while some vegetarians allow dairy and eggs into their diet. The strictly plant-based vegans and the dairy and egg consuming ovo-lacto vegetarians tend to follow completely different diets.

Ovo vegetarianism allows eggs but not dairy while lacto vegetarians allow dairy but not eggs. These are the mid-points of vegetarianism. Other trends include raw veganism, which is even stricter than veganism, allowing only raw or moderately cooked food intake. Fruitarianism allows the consumption of fruits only. Other strict vegetarian diets include the Sattivic diet, Buddhist and Jain vegetarianism.

When I talk about vegetarianism on my blog, I will follow the definition of the British Vegetarian Society. Accordingly, vegetarian is “someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with, or without, the use of dairy products and eggs. A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish or by-products of slaughter“.

As I am on a journey of discovery of vegetarianism and veganism, I sometime eat a moderate amount of cheese but tend to omit eggs and other dairy as much as I can. My objective is to embrace veganism in the longer term, but I do it gradually, without stressing myself over some moderate intake of dairy. Come and join me and let’s explore this lifestyle together.


Why is vegetarianism popular?
Most vegetarians can quote many reasons why they decided to go down the route of living on a mostly plant-based diet. The reasons can be fairly diverse. Some would mention health-related reasons while others may quote animal rights or environmental, economic or even spiritual motivations. Let’s examine the most common reasons for becoming a vegetarian.

According to the Vegetarian Times, motives of vegetarians tend to be quite diverse. I have collected several reasons why it is definitely worth giving this diet a go:

1)    Lead a healthier life. Vegetarian diets help in the prevention, treatment or even reversal of heart disease and reduce the risk of cancer. This diet prevents and halts coronary artery disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension. Cholesterol levels of vegetarians are lower, while their fiber and antioxidant levels are higher than for those following the traditional, meat-based diets.

2)    Control your weight with plants. Traditional Western diets that contain high levels of saturated fat are fattening. Obesity-related illnesses include heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Numerous studies and vegetarian meal plans suggest that overweight people who switch to a vegetarian diet can effectively lose weight and can keep their weight in a healthy range.

3)    Live longer. Several scientific studies suggest that vegetarians can expect longer lifespans than meat-eaters. Notably, one study called the Okinawa Centenarian Study shows that the residents of the Okinawa Prefecture of Japan invariably live the longest lives in the world due to their primarily plant-based, low calorie diet.

4)    Reduce the risk of contamination and save the lives of animals. Meat, poultry, fish and seafood are responsible for more food-borne illnesses and epidemics than plants. If you omit animals from your diet, you not only avoid potential toxic chemical intake, but you can also contribute to the saving of animal lives.

5)    Energize yourself and reduce the symptoms of menopause. If you have good quality nutrition, your energy levels soar. Phytoestrogens mimic the behaviour of estrogen. Including foods in your diet that contain phytoestrogens can maintain a healthier hormonal balance in your system. Soy, apples, beets, cherries, dates, garlic, olives, plums, raspberries, squash and yams are particularly beneficial from this viewpoint.



A healthy vegetarian diet is diverse – it is low in fat and high in fiber. Nonetheless, if you choose to be a vegetarian, you must pay attention to the following, especially at the beginning of your journey:

– Vary your food intake by trying new recipes. There is an abundance of vegetarian recipes on the Internet.

– Consume enough calories to enjoy the full benefit of your new lifestyle.  Remember that a planet-based diet will not be as calorie dense as your previous diet.

– Pay attention to your intake of protein, calcium, vitamin D, iron and vitamin B-12 from plants.

It is not only possible, but relatively easy, to create an eating regime that addresses these considerations. What’s your experience with vegetarianism?  Are you thinking about making the switch?  Or have you already ventured in the plant-based eating world.  Let me know in the comments below.