Nutrition for Tackling Stress

The foods that you choose to consume will have an impact on how well your mind is equipped to deal with stress! There are also of course many other factors, such as the hours that you work and your home-life. However, nourishing your body with the vitamins and minerals that it needs will go a long way to helping you stay happy and relaxed.

Vitamin B

When we are stressed out our vitamin B stores become depleted and this can affect the function of our neurotransmitters, which are the chemicals that communicate information around the brain. Therefore, eating a diet that is rich in B vitamins will help to ensure that our health does not suffer when stress does strike.

Nuts are an optimum source of B vitamins and also contain beneficial levels of healthy fat. Regularly eating a range of raw, unsalted nuts can also help to keep your cholesterol down and combat inflammation in the body.

An adequate presence of vitamin B12 in the body is essential for combatting stress, as well as keeping energy levels up. Your energy levels can have an impact on your stress levels if you have a lot to get done without the energy stores to do so! Taking a B12 supplement is a good idea if you follow a plant-based diet as it does not generally occur naturally in these foods.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an essential component of mood management and can help to keep stress down whilst also boosting the immune system. Certain studies have shown that a person’s blood pressure will return to normal quicker if that person were to consume vitamin C before completing a stressful task. Oranges are one of the most popular sources of vitamin C, but it can be found at beneficial levels in many fruits and vegetables.

Magnesium

The presence of magnesium in the body is also essential for tackling stress. Low levels of magnesium can lead to fatigue, as well as headaches and other visible signs of stress. Leafy green vegetables are a fantastic source of magnesium and you should try to get several servings throughout the day.

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we enter 2017!

Strawberry Cacao Ice Cream

This ice cream recipe is incredibly simple to make and will literally take you five minutes from start to finish (excluding the freezing of the bananas obviously)! I always like to have a stash of frozen bananas in my freezer so whenever the mood strikes – or one of my children asks – I can quickly whip up a batch of healthy ice cream.

Using raw cacao in ice cream is such an amazing way to make your dessert super healthy. Cacao beans come from the cacao tree, which is native to Mexico and Central America. Raw cacao generally has a nutty taste but can be quite bitter. Cacao beans are absolutely bursting with antioxidants, which as we know are essential in the fight against free radicals in the body. Cacao beans also contain a happy dose of iron, calcium and magnesium. The health benefits of consuming raw cacao regularly range from alleviating depression, lowering blood pressure and improving circulation.

Including a cup of strawberries in your ice cream recipe not only gives this dish a beautiful colour and luxurious flavour, but it also brings a wealth of nutrients to the dish. Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, as well as folate and fibre. Similarly to raw cacao, strawberries are bursting with antioxidants. Strawberries also contain an abundance of potassium. Potassium is essential for many functions in the body, not least of all balancing your electrolytes. Potassium also helps the muscles to function properly and works to keep your blood pressure at an optimum level by combatting the presence of sodium in the body. Just one serving of strawberries is enough to provide a daily dose of potassium – so my ice cream is the perfect answer!

To make enough for two people to pile their bowls high you will need the following ingredients:

2 frozen bananas (remove the peel, chop and then freeze overnight)
1 Tbsp. of raw cacao
1 tsp. of vanilla essence
1 cup of strawberries
200ml of almond milk
A squeeze of honey (or any other natural sweetener)

All you have to do is place the frozen bananas in your blender with the almond milk and then blitz until creamy. You can then add in the rest of the ingredients and blitz again for a few moments. Serve into two bowls and enjoy!

You can find a raspberry variation of this delicious recipe on my soon to be released second course on The Flexi Foodie Academy!

Do You Know Why Plant-Based Foods Are Health Essentials?

As we know, there are vast differences between foods made from animal products and plant-based foods. Beyond the obvious difference of where these two food groups come from, there are also nutritional differences that it are great to be aware of.

You might not have heard the reasons why it is essential to not negate plant-based foods as a prominent part of your diet. In this post I am going to discuss certain nutrients that you simply can’t get in adequate amounts from meat products.

Vitamin C

First of all, and perhaps most importantly, vitamin C is not present in beneficial amounts in any cooked animal products. On the flip side, vitamin C is found in abundance in many vegetables and fruits. This is an essential vitamin that maintains connective tissue, as well as preventing a wide range of health problems that are caused by vitamin C deficiency. It can also help to regulate blood pressure and promotes the optimum function of your blood vessels.

Flavonoids

One of the most important groups of antioxidants to consume for good health is flavonoids. They are present in practically every plant-based food you can get your hands on, making it easy to get an adequate amount with a varied plant-based diet. Flavonoids have many uses in the body, not least aiding your brain function, protecting the cardiovascular system, lowering blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, as well as helping to protect against cancer.

Lignans

You may not have heard of lignans before, but they have several incredibly important roles to play in the body. Not only do they help to regulate our hormone levels and support the immune system, but they are also thought to aid in the relief of menopausal symptoms. This is due to the way they interact with estrogen. However, they also interact with testosterone in such a way that they can improve prostate health! Lignans are phytonutrients that are high in antioxidants, which of course also means they are perfect for fighting free radicals in the body. The foods which are richest in lignans are whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds! So, as you can see, a varied plant-based diet will allow you to benefit from the fantastic benefit of lignans!

There are of course many more amazing nutritional benefits to be gained from eating a range of plant-based foods every day but hopefully these top three will motivate you to get started!

Want to learn more about nutrition? Head over to The Flexi Foodie Academy!

Eating for Healing!

Any type of surgery can take a serious toll on the body and getting back to 100% health should always be the first priority. Similarly, if you are recovering from an illness, then focusing all of your energy on recovery can help to avoid potential complications and further illness. In both of these instances, your diet plays a huge role in how your body heals and opting for proper nutrition is one of the best things you can do. Continue reading Eating for Healing!

Eating for Oral Health

Your smile is often the first thing people notice about you and taking care of our teeth is an important aspect of overall good health. When you negate your oral health, problems can quickly arise which could lead to a costly trip to the dentist! The foods and drinks that we consume can play a big part in how healthy our teeth are and it’s not difficult to make certain dietary changes to make improvements. In doing so, you can work to avoid painful problems and discolouration.

Encouraging the production of saliva in your mouth is a great way to keep your teeth clean. If you do this by eating foods that are quite crunchy, then you will also be helping to remove plaque from your teeth at the same time. Try apples, celery, nuts and raw carrots to start. These foods make great snacks at any point during the day and will be of particular use if you consume them after a meal.

Strawberries are not only a delicious sweet treat but they are also fantastic for the health of your teeth. In fact, any fruit or vegetable that is high in vitamin C will do good things for your oral health. This is because they encourage collagen growth as well as the development of connective tissue between your gums and your teeth. Vitamin C helps blood vessels to become stronger whilst also reducing inflammation, both important factors in combating the common oral health problem, gingivitis.

Raisins are a popular snack, especially amongst young children. If you ensure that you are eating a brand that has no added sugar then this food type will also provide benefits for your oral health. This is because raisins contain phytochemicals which prevent the growth of certain bad bacteria in the mouth. Adding raisins to your diet once or twice a week is a good way to improve the general health of your mouth.

It is also possible to use certain foods to directly whiten your teeth. For example, taking a piece of orange peel and rubbing it over your teeth is known to be a good way to remove stains. In fact, the majority of citrus fruits are thought to be good for this purpose, but oranges are the most preferable as they cause the least amount of damage to your enamel. If you do this just two or three times a week, then you will soon notice the stains on your teeth begin to get better in appearance.

It is important to both eat the correct foods and make regular visits to your dentist. In doing so you will preserve your beautiful smile and avoid problems in the future!

To learn more about eating for optimal health, check out my e-learning portal, The Flexi Foodie Academy!

Top Five Foods to Make Your Skin Glow

There is so much varying advice when it comes to taking care of your skin. Whilst one person swears by one thing, another person might be totally against it altogether! However, even though it can be confusing, skincare is definitely something that we should pay attention to – especially as we age!

As a teenager, I wasted a lot of money using different skin care products, trying to find an amazing product to do absolutely everything I wanted it to do. It’s only when I stopped looking at creams and lotions and turned to food that I found a genuine answer! By eating a well balanced, plant based diet, your skin will soon begin to glow and feel a great deal healthier.

Although eating well and eliminating animal products will get you on the road to having better skin, there are certain foods that you can aim to include to speed the process up. These five foods are my top suggestions!

figs_theflexifoodieFigs

Figs are full of vitamins and minerals that aid the body in the process of removing toxins and mucus from the body. It is only when these things exit the body that your skin will truly have a chance to shine. It’s easy to include figs in your diet and they’re delicious whether eaten on their own or even in a smoothie. Blending them down into a smoothie is actually a great idea as more antioxidants are released as the seeds become pulverised!

cucumber_theflexifoodieCucumbers

The enzyme-rich water in cucumbers makes them perfect for improving the health of your skin. Cucumbers are also packed with B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron. All of these things combine together to create some serious hydration.

rocket_theflexifoodieRocket

Rocket (or Arugula as we know it in the States!) is rich in Vitamin A which has shown to help with acne. It is even thought that a Vitamin A deficiency could be partially responsible for the occurrence of acne. On top of that, rocket is highly alkaline which assists in cleansing and neutralising toxins in the blood system. This in turn contributes to the overall health of our skin!

almonds_theflexifoodieAlmonds

Like most nuts, almonds are a great source of Vitamin E. Vitamin E is the antioxidant found in human epidermal tissue and goes a long way to promoting smooth, supple skin. It is particularly important to up your Vitamin E intake if you have unwittingly allowed the sun’s UV rays to cause damage to your skin.

Red Bell Peppers

Red bell peppers are so incredibly high in Vitamin C that they actually help to regenerate collagen in the body! Although they are technically a fruit, red bell peppers are very low in sugar which makes them perfect to snack on throughout the day. They also contain silicon which has been shown to help keep wrinkles at bay by strengthening the connective tissue!bellpepper_theflexifoodie

So there you have it, five great food choices that will have you positively glowing! Why not include all of these things in one incredible salad to really take advantage of their fantastic benefits!

Green Pea Hummus

Green Pea Hummus is a simple to make dip that is bursting with nutrients. If you’re having a party or just a few people over then this is a great dish to make, especially served with some toasted pitta bread. It’s so quick to make that you can put it together fresh every time with absolutely minimal fuss. To create this recipe you will only need a handful of ingredients and most of you will already have a bag of frozen peas in the freezer ready to be used. So, what you will need is:

500g or 1lb 2oz frozen peas
2 tablespoons of tahini
Juice of 1-2 lemons
1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1/2 bunch fresh coriander
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
A pinch of cayenne pepper, to serve

Firstly take the 500 grams of frozen peas and boil them in a pan of water for approximately five minutes. Once they have boiled you should drain them and give them a quick rinse under some cold water. You can then place all of them in your vitamix or food processor whilst also adding the tahini, the juice of the lemons, a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil, the peeled garlic cloves and the cumin and coriander.

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Once you’ve blended everything together you may find that you have to add two or three tablespoons of cold water to thin it out slightly, however this isn’t always the case so if it already looks great, then leave it! Now you can mix in some sea salt and black pepper to taste and serve in a bowl. The final touch to this tasty dish is to sprinkle cayenne pepper over the top and it’s then ready to be eaten! The colour and appearance of this dip is much more appealing then a normal hummus dip and is sure to get any guests asking for the recipe.

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Green peas are amongst the most nutritious vegetables and are full of a huge variety of anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals. They are also low in calories and contain absolutely no cholesterol. Peas are an especially great source of vitamin C which is essential for helping your body fight infections and illness. Vitamin K is also found in abundance in green peas which is necessary for maintaining healthy bones and ensuring your blood clots as it should.

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