Monday, July 25th, 2011
The school year has finally finished, the sun should be shining brightly and many of us will have holiday plans on the horizon. Whilst all this sounds like ‘heavenly bliss’ getting to the point of relaxing on the beach can often prove to be quite stressful with packing, sorting out the currency, arrangements for family pets etc. Furthermore when we actually get to our exotic destination of choice we have other factors to consider such as coming into contact with different germs and bacteria. Therefore it is also important we plan ahead for the potential dreaded ‘Delhi belly’ to help prevent this and to ensure we get a well-deserved break.
Why not try the following steps to help your digestive health and you can enjoy your trip away in paradise:
- Top up on good bacteria before you go: This can be done by increasing your consumption of prebiotics such as fruit and vegetables and also probiotics.
- Don’t overindulge on the food: Visiting different countries means you will be exposed to many dishes you may not get at home. Whilst this is very exciting our digestive system may not be used to some of these combinations of food. You should aim to be sensible with your choices however don’t be discouraged from trying new things.
- Go easy on the alcohol: When we are abroad we may tend to consume more alcohol as we don’t need to be thinking about getting up early for work the following morning. Whilst it sounds exotic having cocktails by the pool or beach ensure you also keep drinking sufficient water so as not to become dehydrated. Did you know that we are dehydrated way before we are even thirsty?
- Work in some exercise: Exercise is always a healthy part of any schedule, even when you’re traveling. Exercise can help ward off constipation, not to mention burn off some of those extra calories you might be taking in. Why not try swimming a couple of lengths of the pool before the end of the day or take a nice long stroll along the promenade after dinner.
- Pack your medications: Whilst we can prepare our digestive health to ensure we do not become ill on our holiday, sometimes it is impossible to prevent. Therefore it is important that you bring the essential medication such as heartburn, constipation, or diarrhoea tablets.
Wednesday, July 20th, 2011
It’s very tempting when the weather is none too pretty to want to indulge! But hopefully these blueberry muffins will allow you a tasty treat with some health benefits too.
Blueberry muffins made with prune pureé
It’s hard to believe, but this recipe really works. Because prunes are naturally sweet you don’t need to add much sugar and prune pureé makes a fabulous substitute for fat!
Makes 8, 2 per serving
260 calories 3g fat
1g saturated fat 6g fibre
10 stoneless, ready-to-eat prunes
175g (6oz) half and half plain and wholemeal flour
2tsp baking powder
25g (1oz) caster sugar
150ml (5fl oz) semi-skimmed milk
100g (3 and a half oz) blueberries
1. Make a prune pureé by whizzing the prunes in a food processor with a little water. You want them to have the consistency of double cream.
2. Mix together the flours, baking powder and sugar. Beat the egg and mix into the milk and prune pureé. Add to the flour mixture and beat thoroughly. Mix in the blueberries, being careful not to break up the fruit.
3. Divide the mixture between eight deep, greased muffin tins, filling only to just over half their depth. Cook at 200C/400F/gas 6 for 25 mins
Monday, July 18th, 2011
There are more bacteria in your colon than there are humans in this planet! And just as on this planet, there’s competition for space to live. Just as local conditions affect peoples’ choice of where to live, the local conditions in the large intestine determine the types of bacteria that will grow. Like people, bacteria directly affect their environment, while some bacteria have minimal effect, “harmful” bacteria may damage their environment and increase the risk of gastrointestinal problems such as bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, where as “good” bacteria help to keep the environment healthy and often improve digestion and produce certain vitamins. The key is to get a balance between the “good” and “bad” bacteria in the intestines.
The “good” bacteria can be consumed in foods called “probiotics” – the friendly bacteria; these are generally in the form of fermented milk drinks and yoghurts. A good quality probiotic is proven to survive the hostile stomach acids, so they reach the gut in sufficient numbers and able to set up home for a while in your gut flora. Probiotics taken on a daily basis can help to “top-up” levels of the beneficial bacteria in the intestines. They are not a quick fix and need to be seen as a long term investment, as the effects may not be very obvious or immediate.
So have you had your probiotic today?
Tuesday, July 12th, 2011
It may seem tricky to think of an indulgent recipe while remaining healthy but we hope this is a good option. The combined flavours of duck, shallots, Armagnac and prunes are worthy of any Michelin star restaurant, but the recipe is simplicity itself. It has all the heart-protective benefits of garlic, shallots and red wine, lots of fibre, and huge amounts of beta-carotene. Add a simple salad for vitamin C and you’ll have everything your body needs.
Braised duck with prunes
483 calories 14g fat
3g saturated fat 10g fibre
2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 duck breasts (skinless)
110g lean back bacon, diced
200g (7oz) shallots
600ml (1 pint) red wine
10 stoned prunes
10 dried apricots
3 cloves garlic
1 bouquet garni
1. Heat the oil in a frying pan and brown the duck breasts on both sides. Remove and keep warm.
2. Brown the bacon and shallots in the pan. Return the duck. Pour over the Armagnac and set alight. When the flames die down completely, stir in the flour and mix thoroughly.
3. Put into a casserole dish. Add half the wine to the frying pan, with the fruit, garlic and bouquet garni. Bring to the boil and pour in the rest of the wine.
4. Cook at 220C/425F/gas 7 for 20 mins.
Of course if you’re not ready to try things at home then you may want to try out some restaurants first. And our friends at CrunchLunch have some great meal offers to try some of your favourite, and perhaps some new, restaurants. Click on the link to find out more.
Monday, July 11th, 2011
Whilst the British summer often lets us down there will still be plenty of opportunities to have BBQ’s and watch the sunset with family and friends. Although we may not think it at times, the warmer temperatures are an ideal climate for bugs and bacteria to grow causing an increase in food poisoning in the summer months. BBQ’s and picnics can also contribute to this increase as often the storage of food (during the transportation to your picnic’s to your chosen destination) and the preparation and cooking of meat on the BBQ is often an ideal situation for bacteria to multiply putting us at more risk of having an upset stomach. If food is not stored, prepared or cooked properly then food bugs like campylobacter, salmonella and E. coli can cause severe illness.
Following the below steps will take no extra time just a little thought and will help prevent the bacteria getting the better of us and making us ill.
- Always wash your hands thoroughly before preparing food, after touching raw meat and before eating.
- Raw meat can contain harmful bacteria and should be separated from cooked and ready-to-eat food. Do not put raw meats near salad or burger buns.
- Use separate utensils for raw and cooked meat. Never put cooked food on a plate or surface that has been used for raw meat.
- Don’t add sauce or marinade to cooked food if it has already been used with raw meat.
- Barbecued food may look thoroughly cooked when it isn’t. To be sure that it is safe to eat; check that it’s piping hot all the way through, that none of the meat is pink and any juices run clear.
- If travelling with food ensure you take it out of the fridge at the last possible moment and pack with ice back to keep cool for longer.