Anxiety and your Diet

Choosing which food we will nourish our bodies with is among the most important decisions that we will make each day. With our dietary choices we have the potential to either heal or harm ourselves, and this is particularly true when it comes to anxiety.

Research has shown that certain foods can exacerbate feelings of stress and anxiety, whereas other foods have the potential to combat and ease these feelings. If anxiety is something that is affecting your life in some way then taking notice of the following tips could go a long way to helping you overcome it!

Tryptophan

Tryptophan is an amino acid that has been shown to have a positive effect on reducing stress. It is a precursor to serotonin, which is extremely beneficial for promoting feelings of calm and happiness.

Tryptophan naturally occurs in several plant-based foods, most notably in bananas, oats, peanut butter and sesame seeds.

Vitamin B

There is much research to suggest a connection between the various B vitamins and the mood. In fact, a deficiency in any of the B vitamins can lead to a low mood, anxiety and even depression.

Eating a range of foods that contain B vitamins is the best way to enjoy the many benefits of this vitamin group. Good foods to include are leafy green vegetables, oranges, nuts, spirulina, watermelon, spinach, rice and legumes.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates often get a bad rep in the wellness world, but they are actually great for increasing serotonin production. Whole grain carbohydrates are the best choice and you should make an effort to avoid processed carbs, such as white rice and white bread.

When you eat whole grain carbohydrates it takes a while for your body to break them down, and this means that sugar is being released into the bloodstream relatively slowly. This is great for consistent energy levels as well as consistent mood.

The best things to include are brown rice, quinoa, oats, whole-wheat pasta and legumes.

Caffeine

Caffeine is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to dietary choices that encourage feelings of anxiety!

Caffeinated drinks, such as coffee and energy drinks, are often favoured for the quick burst of energy that they can provide, but after the high comes the inevitable crash – and this can impact your mood as well as your energy levels! Furthermore, studies have shown that the presence of caffeine can actually inhibit serotonin production. This can quickly cause you to be more prone to feelings of irritability, anxiety and depression!

This month on my wellness for women community website we are talking about the best ways to avert anxiety! You can click here to join us now and start on your journey to a happier, healthier version of yourself!

Plant-Based Protein

If you follow a plant-based diet then the chances are you have heard that dreaded question before – “Where do you get your protein?”

Proteins, often a hot topic in the nutrition world, are necessary for all of us. Without them the cells in our body can’t repair and regenerate themselves. When we consume protein, our body breaks it down into amino acids, which is what our cells are made of!

Plant protein comes packaged in healthy fibres and carbohydrates that your body needs to fuel itself. Animal-based protein sources are often high in cholesterol and animal fats. Despite animal proteins often being advertised as ‘complete’ sources of healthy protein, they often aren’t always so healthy after all!

When we look a little closer at the wide range of plant-based foods available to us, we can see that complete proteins can be found within these foods too. The definition of a complete protein is when it consists of all of the necessary amino acids that the body needs.

However, it is important to remember that not all protein is the same: different sources contain different amounts of amino acids. And, that’s why it is important that we mix and match!

Most amino acids are pretty easy to get from any balanced plant-based diet, but some are tougher, such as lysine. If you eat tofu, beans and tempeh, you’ll surely be just fine. But if these things are not a part of your diet then you should pay attention to your lysine intake. Another limiting factor could be methionine. But fear not! By combining your pulses and beans with grains, you are pretty much guaranteed to get enough of them both. 

One thing is obvious: variety is the key! Different foods contain different amino acids and thus a balanced and a varied diet ensures you have covered all of the bases. Not all of the ingredients need to be complete proteins, as long as your daily intake is covered.

Here are a few simple tips to give you a head-start when it comes to fulfilling your protein quota on a plant-based diet! 

First of all, mix your rice with beans. The beans complement the low lysine content of the rice and the rice compliments the beans’ methionine. Check out my delicious recipe for making baked beans at home! 

Secondly you can eat your bread with humous to create another a lysine-methionine power couple. Alternatively, try peanut butter. A two slice sandwich with two tablespoons of peanut butter contains an impressive 15 grams of protein!

Finally, add more spirulina into your diet. You can effortlessly do this by adding a dash to your grains and oats. Spirulina on its own lacks cysteine and methionine, but that’s nothing a tasty green porridge can’t fix!

To put it simply: you probably don’t have to worry about your protein count if you are eating a healthy and varied plant-based diet!

For more top tips on nutrition head to The Flexi Foodie Academy now!

Hemp Seed Smoothie Bowl

Think of this as almost like a chocolate milkshake but one that is actually filled with all things good! You might think that this is impossible…..but give this one a go and I think you’ll agree it’s thick, creamy, and slightly chocolatey too!

If you haven’t heard the hype about hemp seeds yet then you are certainly missing out! They are loaded with goodness, from healthy fats to an abundance of protein and essential nutrients. The omega-3 fatty acids found within hemp seeds are great for nourishing your mind as well as your heart. This kind of fat reduces inflammation in the body as well as promoting cognitive function and memory. For this reason, having one of my hemp seed smoothie bowls first thing in the morning can really help you to start the day with your best foot forwards!

Hemp seeds are also amazing because they contain all of the essential amino acids. This makes them a complete source of protein which is fantastic for those on a purely plant-based diet. Just three tablespoons of these seeds equates to 10 grams of seriously high-quality protein!

Hemp Seed Smoothie Bowl2To make this smoothie bowl for two people, you will need the following ingredients:

2 cups / 5oz / 140g of spinach
2 cups / 5oz / 140g of kale
1/2 a cucumber, roughly chopped
1 ripe banana
1/2 an avocado, peeled and de-stoned
1 tbsp of hemp seeds
1 tsp of spirulina
1 cup / 8fl oz / 225ml of coconut milk
1 tbsp of raw cacao
A handful of ice (optional)

Hemp Seed Smoothie BowlTo make this smoothie bowl, all you need to do is place all of the ingredients (except the ice) into a blender. You can then blitz for approximately two minutes, or until the mixture becomes thick and creamy.

If you want to chill the smoothie, you can then add the ice to the blender and blitz again. Once everything is combined together, spoon it into bowls and serve immediately.

This is one of the recipes from my book – Eat Real Foods – which was released this week!!! You can order your copy in the UK by clicking here and order your copy in the U.S by clicking here!

Wowsers Wheatgrass – a GIY (grow it yourself!) post

Okay, so I have been SO excited about this post for over a week now (10 days to be exact)!  Nearly freaking out! I just couldn’t wait to get started on writing about how to Grow Your OWN Wheatgrass!  It’s simple, fun, inexpensive and self-fullfilling!  Need I say more?  If you’ve got kids (I’m happy to hire one of mine out for the day :)), they will love watching this magical grass grow right before their BIG eyes!  And to be perfectly honest, I was excited to see the photos that my husband took of each cool stage of growth.  I hope you enjoy this post as much as I enjoyed posting it!

To start, make sure you get some good wheatgrass seeds – look online, they’re everywhere! Take 250g of the seeds and soak them overnight or a good 8-12 hours.

ImageOnce soaked, rinse and then allow the seeds to sprout first before planting.  To do this, put the seeds into a muslin pouch for 2 days,  a glass jar will do fine too!  Make sure you rinse the seeds 3 times a day during those 2 days of sprouting.  ImageOnce those cute seeds have formed their adorable tails, you are ready to plant them!  I used a 9×13 tray, filled it with soil (basic potting mix or top soil work great) and then gently placed the seeds on top of the soil, not in the soil.  To keep them wet, you gotta water them and cover them up for the next 3 days.  I used another tray to cover them but a tea towel is fine too.  During these 3 days, water them heavily in the morning.

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 When the grass has grown about 1-2 inches in length, you can then uncover those gorgeous blades and watch them grow even more.  Little hint:  I don’t advise having the grass in direct sunlight though.  Just find a good spot in your kitchen that doesn’t get too much of it.  Living in London, that’s not too hard! Over the next several days, watch your amazing creation grow to around 8- 10 inches and then it’s ready to be cut, juiced and gulped!
ImageIf you don’t know the SHAMAZING benefits of Wheatgrass, then keep on reading.  There are SOOOO many to list that I could write a novel about Wheatgrass!  But instead I’ve listed my top EIGHT favourite benefits!Image
1. Wheatgrass juice contains up to 70% chlorophyll, which is a huge blood builder.  YUP, these chlorophyll molecules so closely resemble our bloods haemoglobin. The only major difference is that the chlorophyll molecule contains magnesium as its central atom and our blood contains iron.  Other than that, these guys chlorophyll and haemoglobin are nearly identical.
2. The Chlorophyll in Wheatgrass contains awesome enzymes which helps to slow down the ageing process.  Am all over that one!
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3. Yucky bacteria and toxins are stopped and flushed out by our best friend Chlorophyll.
4. Chlorophyll, yes, can be extracted from a lot of plants, but wheatgrass is SUPERIOR because it has been found to have over 100 elements needed by us!
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5. Carrot juice and fresh fruit juices are great at detoxing the body, but once again Wheatgrass is superior in the detoxification department!
6. 1 ounce of Wheatgrass juice is equal to 2 pounds of dark, green leafy veg therefore, it naturally shuts off the appestat in the brain.
Image7. Wheatgrass is jam packed with vitamins and minerals, including 13 essential ones, dozens of trace elements and enzymes, rich in protein and contains 17 amino acids: the building blocks of protein.
8. And lastly, this juice aids in skin problems such as eczema or acne, can be gargled for a sore throat, improves digestion and keeps the hair from graying (OMG – love that!)
ImageSo, there you have it – Wheatgrass really packs a punch, right?!  And this is just a glimpse of the many benefits of Wheatgrass.  So, run out now, get your seeds and start your glorious growing!  Your body will LOVE you for it!
For any nutritional advice, head to my Website Here and/or if you liked this post then why not Like my Facebook Page!

Chia Seeds – A Cool Superfood!

Chia seeds may not be a health food that you are already familiar with, however if you are looking to give your body a boost – it is something you should become acquainted with! Much research has been done to discover the incredible health benefits of chia seeds and the advantages of eating them are many and varied.

It has been suggested that these seeds can make you feel fuller for longer which in turn helps with weight management and weight loss. When they enter your body they are thought to absorb ten times their own weight in water. This assists in creating the feeling of being full which should prevent you from snacking between meals!

chia seeds a cool superfood! grassrootsandgrains3

Athletes are among the many people realising the potential of chia seeds as they hydrate the body, something which is obviously particularly useful during sports. There is also strong evidence to suggest that they will reduce your blood pressure and slow down the speed at which your body converts carbohydrates into sugars. This reduction in carb conversion time is particularly beneficial for sufferers of diabetes as it aids the control of blood sugar. The Omega-3 content of chia seeds is also something to get excited about as it is the richest plant source of this fatty acid, containing even more than a portion of salmon! As you may well already know, Omega-3 is an essential fat that protects the body against inflammations and is also great for the brain and heart.

As well as being packed full of Omega-3, chia seeds are also high in protein and dietary fibre as well as being gluten free! The protein count is especially impressive as it contains all eight essential amino acids. These seeds also boast an amazingly high amount of antioxidants, calcium, vitamin C, iron and potassium! All of these components combined make it a fantastic food for promoting healthy skin, hair, nails as well as everything on the inside! chia seeds a cool superfood! grassrootsandgrains2

To make the most of the remarkable benefits of eating chia seeds, you should aim to include approximately 15g (roughly one tablespoon) in your diet every day. However, due to the high fibre content, you must also remember to drink plenty of water. There are countless ways to incorporate the seeds into your meals, the easiest being to simply sprinkle them on top of whatever you are eating. There is no need to cook the seeds before you eat them and they will dramatically improve the nutritional value of any dish, be it cereal, soup, salad or anything else! If you’ve got more of a sweet-tooth, but still want to enjoy the benefits of chia seeds, then why not try the recipe below for my Chocolate Chai Chai Pudding!

To make this treat for four you’ll need to shop for the following ingredients:

• 1/4 cup of chia seedschia seeds a cool superfood! grassrootsandgrains4
• 1 cup of unsweetened almond (or coconut) milk
• 5 pitted Medjool dates
• 1/2 a vanilla pod
• 1/2 a teaspoon of cacao powder
• 1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon
• 1/8 of a teaspoon of cloves
• 1/8 of a teaspoon of nutmeg
• 1/8 of a teaspoon of ground ginger

All you need to do is combine all of the ingredients, except for the chia seeds, in a high-speed food processor and blitz until completely smooth. Next, pour your concoction into a bowl and stir in the seeds before separating into serving dishes and placing in the fridge  for several hours whilst it becomes thick.

chia seeds a cool superfood! grassrootsandgrains5

chia seeds a cool superfood! grassrootsandgrains6Once ready you can top with a couple of blueberries and tuck into this tasty treat with absolutely zero guilt, knowing that you’re body is as thankful for every spoonful as you are!

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Coconut Breakfast Bowls

What better way to combat Monday morning and start the week properly then with a seriously tasty and incredibly healthy Coconut Breakfast Bowl! This is my absolute favourite breakfast treat and is one of the first things I tuck in to on at least three occasions during the week! It’s not just a favourite of mine but also of all four of my kids and is so simple to make that even my oldest at 14 can easily prepare a bowl for the entire family – when she’s feeling helpful that is!

coconutbreakfastbowls3Across all of the Pacific Islands, palm trees are known as ‘The Trees of Life’ and they believe that coconuts are the cure for all illness. Whilst this may not actually be true, coconuts are fantastic for the immune system as they’re anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal – essentially they have the capacity to kill of harmful things which threaten your body. Not only this but they’re also totally delicious and a nutritious source of vitamins, amino acids, minerals and fibre. Add to this that they’re loaded with calcium, magnesium and potassium as well as containing a high concentration of electrolytes. I could go on and on and on about these amazing fruits, however instead here is the recipe to make Coconut Breakfast Bowls by yourself. The ingredients listed below are enough to feed two but you can always double up if you have more mouths to feed!

coconutbreakfastbowls2

Handful of chopped, fresh coconut
1/2 a banana
1/2 an avocado
1/4 a cucumber
A handful of blueberries
2 dates, de-stoned
8 basil leaves
The juice of 1 lime
1 inch piece of ginger
1 cup coconut water

All you have to do is combine all of the ingredients together in a food processor and blend together! No mess, no fuss then you can serve in a bowl and enjoy!

If you’re looking for a fantastic way to cleanse your body and increase your energy levels then check out my 21-Day Green Smoothie Challenge!  By just including one smoothie a day in your diet you can soon get your body working and looking the way you want it to. With improved energy and a healthier body you’ll also notice that your ability to focus will also improve and you’ll experience better moods.

coconutbreakfastbowls4Having a diet that contains a decent amount of fresh fruit and vegetables is such a great way to maintain your general health and contrary to popular belief it doesn’t have to be difficult or overly expensive. By removing processed, fatty foods from your diet and replacing them with healthier, natural alternatives, you will readily be able to notice that difference in yourself and your attitude to the world around you!

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