Category Archives: Articles

04Sep/15

The Working Lunch – packed lunches on the go

The Working Lunch

oriental insideout wraps

Juggling work with family life, chores, school runs and everything else is not easy, that much we know. It’s easy to see why personal health and care can be you pushed to the bottom of our priorities. Yet is exactly because we’re so busy that we should put some thought into what we eat and how we live. If you’ve ever compared trying to work through lunch with stopping for a break and some good food, or else buying the first prepacked sandwich that jumps out at you or worse, staff room biscuits to keep your sugar levels up, you may have notices that eating well actually fuels your brain so you end up working more productively and getting more work done. Win win surely?

 

Where Are People Going Wrong?

Most people do actually have the best intentions, but prepacked sandwiches are usually full of salt and sub-par ingredients (think reformed ham, cheap bacon and processed cheese) and low on nutritional value. Fresh produce on the other hand can be packed with vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fats to fuel your brain at work.

 

What About Carbs?

Sandwiches, bread, and carbohydrates themselves are not ‘bad’. But like all foods – protein, fat, sugar and fibre included, the most appropriate choices for you are the ones that will work best for you. When we do intense exercise we use primarily glucose (carbohydrates) as fuel, so if you’re hitting the gym for a circuits class during your lunch hour you’ll do better with a few carbs to fuel your workout. But being sedentary, like at a desk job, uses more fat for fuel instead of carbs, so ‘good’ fats like nuts, oily fish, olives and coconut products are preferential to wheat, oat and potato based foods when you’re not moving around much. Try swapping a cereal bar for almonds and make a note of how well you can concentrate on work, I’d make an educated guess the nuts would yield better results, and this is also why some people feel an afternoon ‘slump’ after a carb heavy lunch. In addition, carbs encourage serotonin and dopamine production which help relax you and make you sleepy, great for later in the evening, not so great for a busy afternoon at work! More and more people are also finding they react negatively to wheat, gluten (a protein in wheat) or both, causing everything from digestive discomfort to brain fog and more, none of which is going to help you concentrate if you’re one of these people.

 

I Don’t Have Time To Make Lunch!

Here’s my 4 step guide to buying lunch out that works for me if I’m not on my feet much – most days I am, being a stay at home Mum, and can pack away quite a lot of food for my small frame as a result, but this formula works well for most people I know:

  1. Find a large side salad – most supermarkets do these. Add a little of the dressing (if supplied) if you like, you probably won’t need all of it.
  2. Add some protein – ready cooked sliced chicken or beef, cottage cheese, hard boiled eggs, cooked prawns, flaked salmon; these are all great proteins.
  3. Add some fat – a few olives, a tbsp. seeds, half an avocado, whatever takes your fancy that day.
  4. If you’re being active add some carbs – some fruit (yes fruit has sugar in it), oat crackers, cold rice, quinoa or pasta (provided gluten isn’t an issue) are usually easy to find in the deli isles.

 

Finally of course a big bottle of water to sip throughout the afternoon, because nothing refreshed your body and mind like good hydration.

 

If you’re used to taking a packed lunch to work here’s a fave recipe of mine. You can vary the fillings to stop getting bored.

 

ORIENTAL INSIDE OUT WRAPS

Makes 4-6 wraps (enough for one hungry person)

 

Wraps of a lower carb kind, but just as easy to make. Play around with fillings to see which protein, vegetable and dressing flavours you prefer.

 

Ingredients

4-6 (100-150g) thin slices of beef, chicken or turkey (ready-sliced sandwich slices are great, but avoid ‘reformed’ ones)

4-6 whole large lettuce leaves (iceberg is ideal)

1 small carrot, grated

½ a pepper (any colour will do), sliced into fine sticks

¼ cucumber, sliced into fine sticks

1 handful raw cabbage, shredded

2 tbsp. reduced salt soy sauce

4 tbsp. fat free Greek yoghurt

 

Method

Mix the soy sauce with the Greek yogurt and combine the sauce with the carrot, cucumber, pepper and cabbage.

To assemble, lay a lettuce leaf on a plate and lay a slice of meat on top of the lettuce. Spoon a layer of the vegetable mixture over the meat. Roll the assembled layers, to form a tube shaped wrap, taking care not to tear the lettuce.

Continue with the remaining wraps and serve with any leftover vegetable mixture.If saving for later wrap up each wrap in Clingfilm so they hold their shape.

 

Enjoy!

04Sep/15

Sugar and your kids – how to have a birthday party without toothache

Sugar and your kids – how to have a birthday party without toothache

How much sugar do your kids normally consume?

How much more do they consume at the average birthday party?

I’m going to hazard a guess a lot more at the latter! And you know what? That’s ok. Wouldn’t life be boring without treats that might not be good for us but, just occasionally won’t hurt. Most adults apply this to wine or their favourite rich chocolate pudding, and for kids it’s holidays, weekends and friends’ parties that they get access to the brightly coloured sugar bombs that most parents secretly despise giving their kids, but hey, we don’t want to be a party pooper.

So is sugar all that bad anyway?

We’re told on one hand that sugar is the root of all dietary (and dentistry) evil. Then we see ‘studies’ that ‘prove’ sugar doesn’t make children hyperactive and that they’re just hyped up from the fun of the party. So which is it?

We know how sugar works – it is the easiest food, being a very small molecules of carbohydrate, to digest, which means it gets into the bloodstream quickly, hence the sudden rise in energy, followed by ‘dip’ as blood sugar falls just as quickly, hopefully just in time to take the overtired little rascals home anyway. This process is scientific fact, yet the amount and speed blood sugar rises and falls will very much depend on the individual child’s metabolism and ability to handle sugar, and is most likely why not all parents think sugar makes their children hyper. Another factor is that some children appear to experience behavioural changes in response to certain E-numbers, the very ones found in artificial, brightly coloured foods aimed at children. Given this, in the average birthday party of school age kids, there will almost inevitably be some who will behave more like they’re at an 80’s acid rave than a Princess & Pirate bouncy castle party.

sugar kids birthday party

What can you do to minimise sugar mayhem?

  • Firstly if you do buy pre-prepared foods look for ones which have no artificial ingredients added. Use your common sense – if it looks like ‘fake’ food, it IS fake food.
  • Adjust the ratios of savoury food to sweet – more wholemeal ham sarnies and sausages, less Party Ring biscuits and jelly.
  • Serve lots of child friendly vegetables and fruit. You’d be surprised how many children actually really love cherry tomatoes, blueberries, cucumber and brightly coloured strips of peppers.
  • Be wary of dried fruit; removing the water makes them very concentrated in natural sugars which at the end of the day are still sugar – raisins in particular are very high in sugar.
  • Make lower sugar cakes by halving the amount of sugar in the recipe (this is do-able in almost any cake recipe without anyone noticing) or replace some of the sugar with mashed banana or apple puree.
  • Only put sweet foods on the table once everyone has filled up on plenty of healthier options first – pudding usually comes after the main course but for some reason this doesn’t seem to apply at birthday parties!
  • If you serve squash to drink instead of water buy sugar free versions – it’s less sticky to clean up when spilt too!

Want to know the best party food I’ve ever served as voted for by all children and parents present? A Cucumber Crocodile!

04Jun/14

Feminarum

I’m delighted to have a couple of columns in the online women’s magazine Feminarum, for intelligent women by intelligent women who know what they want to read, and would rather not pay for things they don’t!

fem pic

I’ll be writing a monthly Diary entry, giving you insight into the days of a Mum, Wife, Entrepeneur, Nutritionist, Author, Model, and soon-to-be Personal Trainer. And yes there ARE enough hours in the day…….just.

I’ll also be doing a Recipe Makeover – Feminarum submit their requests for which of their personal favourite recipes they want given a ‘health-over’, and I’ll give them a healthier version!