Posts Tagged ‘vegetables’

Diet and Exams

Monday, May 27th, 2013

What students eat and drink in the run up to their exams can affect their performance. Taking the time to eat healthily, get fresh air and exercise are very important preparations for a clear and focused mind during exam time.

Nutrition Tips -


Skipping breakfast can mean loss of recall and concentration both detrimental to a student so ensure you choose foods that are high in fibre and give your body a slow steady release of glucose for example

• Wholegrain cereal with milk, fresh orange food

• Bowl of porridge with sultanas.

• Wholemeal bread toasted with chopped banana.



Snacking regularly on healthy foods can also ensure a steady slow release of glucose to the brain. Useful foods as snacks include

• Fresh fruit or vegetables.

• Popcorn.

• Fruit /Wholemeal scone.

• Dried fruit /nuts.

• Wholegrain cereal bars.



Many students will be sitting two exam papers /day so eating a good lunch is very important. Here are some good options -

• Bowl vegetable soup and wholemeal scone/bread

• Wholemeal chicken/ham/egg/cheese sandwich

• Chicken/tuna wrap


What is Glycaemic Index?

Monday, October 1st, 2012

What is Glycaemic Index (GI)?

Glycaemic Index is a measure of how high your blood sugar gets after eating a food. It was originally designed to help people with diabetes to make better food choices but research has found that it might be useful in helping people to get to and stay at a healthy weight.


How does GI help with weight?

High blood sugar from high GI foods cause increases in the amount of insulin your body makes. Insulin helps to lower blood sugar levels after a meal but it also is important in helping your body to store other nutrients including fat. High levels of insulin encourage your body to store fat, rather than burn it. This means that when blood sugar increases it can encourage your body to store fat.


When you eat low GI foods your blood sugar level stays lower (but not too low) and so insulin stays lower and this can encourage your body to burn fat. Low GI foods are also more satisfying and help keep your metabolism running faster. This is why they are important for helping anyone to lose weight or to keep off weight they have already lost.


Which foods are low and which are high GI?

Only foods with carbohydrate can raise blood sugar levels. Any foods with no carbohydrate are low GI foods. Foods with no carbohydrate include meat, chicken, fish and eggs.


High GI Foods

Low GI Foods


•   Most breads – brown or white

•   Potatoes

•   Cooked fruit

•   Some root vegetables e.g. parsnips

•  Foods high in sugar e.g. soft drinks, sweets, biscuits, cakes, etc

•   Popcorn

•   Crisps



•   Porridge, high fibre breakfast cereals

•   Bread made with 50% oats or more

•   Pasta – brown or white

•   Brown rice and Basmati Rice

•   Pulses – beans, peas and lentils

•   Fresh fruit, fruit smoothies

•   Meat, poultry, fish, eggs

•   Dairy products

•   Most vegetables and salads



Vegetarian Eating

Monday, March 12th, 2012

A well planned vegetarian diet can be nutritionally balanced for both adults and children however it is very important not to simply avoid animal products but to substitute them with nutritious alternatives such as dairy foods, eggs, pulses, nuts, seeds, and cereals.


There are 2 main types of vegetarians –


Lacto-ovo vegetarians.

Lacto-ovo vegetarians avoid meat, poultry and fish but eat eggs, milk and dairy products as well as cereals, vegetables, pulses, grains, seeds and nuts. The nutritional issues that these group face are similar to those following a conventional diet i.e. watch out for high fat, high salt. Choose mainly low fat cheese for example Edam, Gouda along with plenty of grains, vegetables, and fruits. Ensure you take an iron and folic acid supplement before during pregnancy as requirements are higher for these nutrients.



Vegans avoid meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk and dairy produce but eat cereals, fruit, vegetables, pulses, grains, seeds and nuts. Vegans have very different nutritional issues. Without any foods of animal origin getting enough calories to maintain a healthy weight can be difficult especially for growing children and nutrients such as Vitamin B12 and iron (needed for healthy red blood cells),Vitamin D and calcium (needed for healthy bones/teeth) and zinc (essential for healthy growth) all require special attention.


How to achieve a healthy vegetarian diet

The current healthy eating guidelines recommend that we reduce fat, sugar and salt in our diets and eat more fruit and vegetables; this can be achieved by a vegetarian diet. No single food contains all the nutrients that our bodies need so a variety is required.


Cereals, rice, potato and pasta group

6+ portions recommended/day. Choose fortified cereals to help with iron and Vitamin B12 intakes.

Fruit and vegetable group

5 or more recommended daily. Good sources of Vitamin A and C and folic acid.

Milk and dairy group.

The main nutrients supplied by this group are calcium, Vitamin B12, protein, energy and Vitamin A. Soya Milk and products are used by those following a vegan diet but ensure that the products you choose are fortified with calcium, to help meet your requirements.

The meat alternative group

This group includes peas, beans, lentils, tofu, nuts, seeds, textured vegetable protein, quorn cheese and eggs.

Fats and oil group

This group also contains sugar sweets confectionary, crisps, biscuits etc. Vegetarians who require a higher energy may need to include additional servings from this group.


How to Eat Out Healthily on Valentine’s Day

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Valentine’s Day might mean that there is a chance you’ll be eating out. However, eating out usually means that we have little control over how the food is prepared or how large the portion is. Unlike packaged food, foods bought from cafes, restaurants etc. don’t have to carry nutritional information and so opting for the healthiest option might not always be easy. However, with these helpful tips eating out on Valentine’s Day can be both enjoyable and healthy!

General tips

  • Never arrive at a restaurant hungry!
  • Think ahead, if you know you’re eating out later, choose wisely earlier in the day to keep calories, fat, sugar and salt intakes under control.
  • Leave a little time for your food to digest before you order a dessert. Give your stomach time to send signals to your brain you are full (approx 20 minutes). If you still want a dessert, consider splitting it with one of your friends. Opt for sorbets, or fruit dishes to balance out a heavy main course.
  • Speak up about how you’d like a dish prepared e.g. ask for no mayonnaise.
  • You’re more likely to overeat at an ‘all you can eat’ style buffet.
  • Choose side orders of salad or vegetables to fill up on.
  • Cut off any visible fat from meat to keep saturated fat intake down.
  • Look out for smaller portions i.e. a main meal option as a starter size.
  • Opt for dishes which are grilled, baked, steamed, poached rather than fried.
  • Check the menu for dressings on salads and ask for it to be on the side. An otherwise healthy and nutritious salad could be drowned in a high fat sauce, bumping up its calorie content.
  • Avoid cheese, cream or butter-based sauces


How to Eat Your Way to Good Skin

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Golden rules to keep your skin looking youthful – the best way to do this is by choosing the right diet.

Eat your 5-a-day

Fruit and vegetables contain powerful antioxidants that help to protect against the cell damage caused by free radicals, which include smoking, pollution and sunlight. Vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants. It is found in all fruit and vegetables but especially in citrus fruits, red peppers and kiwi fruit. Betacarotene, found in pumpkin, carrots, and sweet potatoes, and lutein, found in kale, papaya and spinach are also antioxidants.


Cut out crash diets

Repeatedly losing and regaining weight can take its toll on your skin, causing sagging, wrinkles and stretch marks. Crash diets are often short in essential vitamins, too.


Stock up on selenium

This is also a powerful antioxidant – studies suggest that a selenium-rich diet can help to protect against skin cancer, sun damage and age spots. One way to boost your intake is to eat brazil nuts, fish, shellfish and eggs.


Drink up

Even mild dehydration will cause your skin to look dry, tired and slightly grey. Drink at least six glasses of water a day – all fluids count towards your daily allowance, but water is the healthiest.


Don’t be afraid of fat

Good fats – the type found in avocados, nuts and seeds – provide essential fatty acids, which act as a natural moisturiser for your skin, keeping it supple.


Zap up your zinc

Zinc is involved in the normal functioning of the oil-producing glands in the skin, and also promotes skin healing. Zinc-rich foods include red meat, wholegrains, wheatgerm and shellfish.

Vitamins – part 2

Monday, December 5th, 2011

Vitamins regulate a variety of essential bodily functions.  They are crucial in many of our metabolic processes so that we can benefit from the energy in our foods.  Vitamins are also very important in helping to build our bones, teeth, skin, blood and many other vital body tissues.

Vitamins are classified as either water soluble or fat soluble based on how they are absorbed and used by the body.

Following on from my last blog, this week we focus on the water soluble vitamins.

Water soluble (Vitamin C and all of the B vitamins): Water soluble vitamins are vitamins that our bodies do not  store. These vitamins dissolve in water when they are ingested, then go into the blood stream.

The body keeps what it needs at that time, and excess amounts are excreted in the urine. Since they can’t be stored, everybody needs a continuous supply of water soluble vitamins in order to stay healthy.

In this blog, we explain the why we need each water soluble vitamin and which foods are good sources of them.


Why do we need it?

Where do we find it?

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)

It is an antioxidant, increases our immunity, and is important to help our uptake of iron. It is also used in the production of collagen, which we need for healthy skin, hair, and the cartilage in our joints.

Many fruit and vegetables especially kiwi and citrus fruits, cranberries, guava, peppers, broccoli, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts

(vitamin B1)

Important in the processing of carbohydrates to produce energy and other metabolism processes

Pork, wholegrain breads and brown rice, many fruits and vegetables, milk, cheese, eggs, fortified breakfast cereals.

(vitamin B2)

Keeps our skin and eyes healthy

Milk, eggs, fortified breakfast cereals, rice, mushrooms.

(vitamin B3)

Helps to process cholesterol, which should inhibit the likelihood of heart disease, as well as in the production of energy

Beef, pork, chicken, wheat flour, eggs, milk

Pantothenic Acid (vitamin B5)

Important in our metabolism processes, especially in the production of energy in cells.

Beef, chicken, potatoes, oats, tomatoes, liver, kidneys, eggs, broccoli, wholemeal bread, brown rice, some breakfast cereals

Vitamin B6

Important roles in the processing (metabolism) of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.

Fortified breakfast cereals, liver, pork, chicken, turkey, cod, wholemeal bread, brown rice, oatmeal, eggs, peanuts, some vegetables (potatoes, peppers, garlic), dried prunes and dried apricots

Folate, Folic Acid
(vitamin B9)

Important to ensure cell division works well, hence importance to pregnancy, where folate is also particularly crucial in the prevention of neural tube defects. Also important for red blood cell production .

Green vegetables (e.g. broccoli, spinach, sprouts, peas), fortified breakfast cereals, chick peas (humous), yeast extract (e.g. Marmite), brown rice, some fruit (oranges and bananas)

Vitamin B12

Similar to folate, as it is important to cell division, red blood cell production and also for functioning of nerves.

It originates in bacteria, yeast and microbes in soil. Plants can’t store it, so people get their B12 almost exclusively from meat, liver, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, yeast extract (e.g. Marmite)

(vitamin B7)

Important in our metabolism processes

Liver, kidney, eggs, dried fruits (e.g. prunes, apricots)

Vitamins – part 1

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Vitamins regulate a variety of essential bodily functions.  They are crucial in many of our metabolic processes so that we can benefit from the energy in our foods.  Vitamins are also very important in helping to build our bones, teeth, skin, blood and many other vital body tissues.

Vitamins are classified as either water soluble or fat soluble based on how they are absorbed and used by the body.

This week we focus on the fat soluble vitamins. Join us in two weeks to learn more about water soluble vitamins.  

Fat Soluble (Vitamins A, D, E and K): Fat soluble vitamins are those that are normally stored in the body.

When these vitamins are ingested, they dissolve in fat. In a person with a healthy digestive system, the body uses what it needs at that time and stores the rest for future use.

In this blog, we explain the why we need each fat soluble vitamin and which foods are good sources of them.


Why do we need it?

Where do we find it?

Vitamin A

It is important in helping with the moisturisation of our skin and mucous membranes (lining of the nose, eyes, throat).

Vitamin A also helps with night vision.

It is an antioxidant, which means that it protects against the effects of “free radicals” (unstable compounds that can damage healthy body cells).

Vitamin A also increases our immunity.

It is stored in our liver, so the liver of other animals is a rich source of vitamin A.

The animal source is known as retinol, and is also found in eggs, oily fish (e.g. mackerel), butter and milk.

The main plant source of vitamin A is known as beta-carotene and is found in orange/red fruit and vegetables (e.g. carrot, sweet potato, red pepper).


Vitamin D

Regulates and improves the uptake of calcium and phosphate in our bodies for healthy bones and teeth.

Important for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers to assist with the child’s bone development because babies can’t produce the vitamin D in their skin.

Sunlight (we make vitamin D in our skin), oily fish, liver, fortified products (e.g. breakfast cereal, margarine), eggs, baby milk formula.


Vitamin E

It helps to maintain our reproductive system, nerves and muscles.

Similar to vitamin A, vitamin E is also an antioxidant.

Nuts, seeds, plant oils (e.g. olive oil, corn oil), wheatgerm, some green leafy vegetables

Vitamin K

Important for helping our blood to clot properly (healing wounds) and in the formation of our bones and kidney tissues.

Green leafy vegetables (e.g. broccoli, spinach), vegetable oils, cereals. Small amounts in pork and cheese.

College students – healthy eating tips

Monday, October 10th, 2011

When you go to college or university it may be the first time you’ve lived away from home and been fully independent. To have enough energy to study and enjoy student life to the full you need to eat regularly and healthily!

What does a healthy balanced diet really mean?

  • Eat regularly and base your meals on starchy foods
  • Eat lots of fruit and vegetables
  • Eat a wide variety of foods
  • Try to eat less salt
  • Cut down on saturated fats and sugars
  • Get active and try to be a healthy weight
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Don’t skip breakfast

Get organised

  • With some planning you can eat cheap and healthy meals on a tight budget
  • Make a shopping list before you go and shop
  • Watch your waste – when you buy foods that go off quickly, plan your meals carefully so it gets eaten or frozen straight away
  • Vary your meals otherwise you will get bored of eating and cooking the same things over and over again

What could you have in your food cupboard?

You need to stock your cupboard and fridge with easy to cook ingredients. Suggestions of meals include:

  • Soups – easy to make and nutritious especially if you add a lot of vegetables (fresh, frozen or canned).
  • Pasta – it’s quick and easy to cook and prepare. Keep pasta sauces in your cupboards and add your own flavours, vegetables etc. to it
  • Rice – mix cooked rice with leftover vegetables and meat
  • Bread is a good source of carbohydrate. Choose wholemeal bread rather than white as it is more nutritious and filling.
  • Potatoes – Baking potatoes are great value and versatile.
  • Porridge oats – cheap and it’s a really filling meal to start the day with. You could add some fresh or dried fruit for variety.
  • Beans and lentils – cheap to buy and a small amount goes a long way! Canned varieties can make a quick and nutritious addition to soups and stews. Lentils and beans can be used as a main meal with vegetables added. Baked beans on toast is a classic and is actually a very healthy dish, especially if you use wholemeal bread, and low fat spread.
  • Vegetables and fruit – can add vegetables to curries, soups, stir fries. Canned and frozen vegetables can be used as additions to last minute meals. Fruit is excellent for a quick nutritious snack. We should be eating at least 5 pieces of fruit and vegetables per day.
  • Condiments – add taste and flavour to your cooking. Keep a selection of dried herbs, spices, curry powder, vinegars, tomato sauce, soy sauce and stock cubes in your cupboard.
  • Tinned tomatoes – these can form the base of all sorts of sauces, are low in fat and count as a portion of your fruit and vegetables.
  • Chicken – chicken seems to be of better value if you buy in larger quantities. If you’ve got a freezer you could chop it up and freeze it in small amounts.
  • Eggs – are easy to cook and versatile.
  • Canned fish – Mackerel, sardines and pilchards are good sources of protein and omega 3 fatty acids.
  • Milk – full of calcium and vitamins and is healthy drink at any time of the day. Choose semi-skimmed or skimmed milk for a lower fat option.


Leek and Potato Soup

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Serves 6


Ingredients –

1 tbsp low fat spread

1 large onion, finely chopped

500g leeks, finely chopped

500g floury potatoes, peeled and chopped

3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1 litre of hot vegetable stock

300ml skimmed milk

Salt and freshly ground pepper


Method –

  1. Melt the low fat spread in a large, lidded, non stick saucepan and gently sauté the onion and leeks until soft, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the potatoes, parsley and hot stock and bring to the boil. Cover and reduce the heat. Simmer gently for about 20 minutes.
  3. Add the milk to the saucepan and reheat gently. Season to taste and serve garnished with parsley sprigs.


Tips for Eating Less Fat

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Eating too much fat increases amongst other things your risk of heart disease and encourages weight gain.

Research has shown that our diet generally contains too much fatty food and that we can all benefit from eating less fat.

Instead of getting our energy from starchy foods (carbohydrates) like bread and potatoes, we rely too much on foods that are high in animal fats such as red meat, butter and cheese.


Tips for reducing fat intake:

  • Choose lean meat. Trim all visible fat from meat and poultry prior to cooking.
  • Choose low fat milk; choose semi-skimmed or skimmed milks.
  • Choose low fat yoghurts.
  • Choose low fat spread.
  • Fry very occasionally using olive, sunflower or rapeseed oil. Choose grilling or baking instead.
  • Beware of the hidden fats in biscuits, cakes, chocolate, pastry and savoury snacks. Always read your food labels.
  • Fill up on fruit and vegetables.
  • Look out for low fat snacks, low fat yoghurt and fruit.
  • Use oven chips rather than fried.