Articles

The Health Benefits of Lentils

Lentils are perhaps the ingredient that most commonly spring to mind when the term ‘health food’ is mentioned, and have long been associated with the hippy counterculture. But they’re excellent for everyone – you don’t need to be called Flower and say “mellow” a lot to enjoy the awesome health benefits of this wonderful legume!

There’s evidence that lentils have been eaten by human for at least 10,000 years, and there are hundreds of varieties in existence. They remain a staple food today in large parts of the world, epecially India, where red split lentils are commonly made into a tasty, spicy stew called dahl. The other main types used around the world are brown lentils, black lentils (also called Beluga lentils), green lentils and Puy lentils (also known as French lentils).

But why exactly should we be eating more of these delightful little things? Let’s take a closer look….

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Healthy Treats for Your Kids this Halloween!

People have always enjoyed telling each other spooky stories about monsters and ghosts every 31st of October, and it’s a really special time for kids, who love dressing up as witches and wizards, having parties and taking part in ‘trick or treat’ outings in their neighbourhoods to celebrate all thinks creepy, eerie and scary. Perhaps the scariest thing of all about Halloween, though, is the amount of refined sugar and saturated fat we often give to children!

Unhealthy treats can play havoc with kids’ healthy development, and shockingly, an increasing amount of research is strongly suggesting that coronary heart disease and other chronic conditions aren’t just things that happen to the elderly – their foundations are laid in early childhood. Our kids are precious, so it’s essential we do all we can to limit damage to their bodies and biological processes. Kids still need treats every now and then – so here are some knockout ideas for what we can make them (or put in their trick & treat sacks) to ensure our little horrors stay healthy!

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The Best Tea Infusions

Many of us lead increasingly hectic lives, and nothing quite pampers the soul and soothes a frazzled mind like curling up on the sofa with a hot mug of tea. Tea sustains us, breaks up our day, gives us an excuse for a natter with friends and family, and can confer a whole load of rather wonderful health benefits on us.

We drink around 100 million cups of tea every day in the UK, with 96% of these made using teabags, and 98% taken with milk.[1] It’s good to drink tea, as a few cups a day will help you stay hydrated. But if you look beyond traditional black tea and are looking for other tastes than brilliantly healthy green tea, you’ll find a whole world of different beneficial (and supremely tasty) flowers, herbs, spices and other plants available which can be used to make a lip-smacking and fantastically healthy cuppa.

If you’re interested in reaping benefits from the food you eat, it stands to reason you should also investigate how the beverages you make can also enable you to be healthy, happy and wise! So let’s have a look at ten of our most popular tea infusions and delve deeper into how a simple cuppa can make your day a bit more magnificent….

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Our Favourite Bonfire Night Recipes

We love Bonfire Night! It’s a wonderful excuse to get together with family and friends, enjoy watching a bonfire burn, and see the night sky lit up with colourful fireworks – and of course, feast on some wonderful treats!

This great British tradition, which commemorates the events of 5th November 1605, when Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators in the Gunpowder Plot were arrested while trying to blow up the House of Lords, is a wonderful time to serve filling, healthy food to loved ones, and we’ve collected some of our favourite and most suitable recipes for you to try. Why not give one or two of these a go….

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Pumpkin Spice and All Things Nice

Autumn is a wonderful time of year. As the nights draw in and a chill comes to the air, eating habits often change from the lighter salads, wraps and dips of summertime towards more robust stews, casseroles and soups – with lots of lovely sweet treats for afters!

Integral to the flavour palate at this time of year is pumpkin, which is central to Halloween celebrations, where it’s traditionally carved into spooky faces. Pumpkin is also excellent to eat, low in calories and very nutritious too. It’s full of vitamins C and E, and contains a good amount of beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant which our body converts into vitamin A, brilliant for our immune system and eye health.

Pumpkin can be used in savoury dishes, but it’s the sweet treats using pumpkin that are particularly associated with autumn, and many of these contain pumpkin spice, a mixture of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and sometimes allspice that seems to have a special affinity with this lovely, versatile winter squash. All of these spices (especially cloves and ginger) are high in antioxidants, meaning that even a pinch will have a marked effect on managing inflammation and blood sugar (with cinnamon especially beneficial to diabetics).

As long as we don’t stuff our dishes with refined sugar and unhealthy fats, there’s no reason why we can’t have pumpkin-based treats that are healthy as well as lip-smackingly delicious! Let’s take a look at a few of our favourite pumpkin spice recipes….

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Why is fibre important, and where can we get it?

We’ve all heard that we should make sure we eat plenty of fibre in our diet (sometimes also referred to as ‘roughage’), and that this will make us into glowing pictures of health and keep our bowels ticking over wonderfully. But what is fibre, and how come it’s so important?

The British Nutrition Foundation defines dietary fibre as ‘plant-based carbohydrates that, unlike other carbohydrates (such as sugars and starch), are not digested in the small intestine and so reach the large intestine or colon’.[1] As our bodies can’t digest or absorb fibre, it travels all the way through our bodies virtually intact. When it arrives at our colon, that’s where the real magic starts – the friendly bacteria who live there feast on the stuff, and reward us with all kinds of miraculous health benefits. Something called short-chain fatty acids are produced by this process, which are excellent at reducing inflammation and fighting cancer.

Let’s look in closer detail at the wonderful world of dietary fibre….

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Healthier Snack Swaps To Improve Your Diet

We all get cravings every now and then for something naughty to plug that gap between meals. Sometimes the wait between breakfast and lunch can seem endless, and when our tummies are rumbling, there’s nothing easier than to pop to the corner shop for a packet of choccy biscuits, or to grab a big bag of crisps from the kitchen cupboard!

Anyone serious about avoiding unhealthy snacks probably shouldn’t have a cupboard stocked with fattening treats in the first place – but this is easier said than done when you share a home with family or flatmates who want to have them on hand!

So here are some canny suggestions for what to stock in your cupboard for those times when your cravings get the better of you and you’d rather you munched on something filling which didn’t drag your health down into the gutter but filled you up with nutrients and good things….

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How to Fight Fatigue – Natural Energy Boosters

We’re all prone to energy slumps, especially at the time of year when evenings are getting darker and a chill is in the air. We tend to move away from summer’s salads and light meals towards more carbohydrate-rich fare in the autumn and winter, and this can cause us to put on weight and experience a spike-and-crash cycle in our blood sugar, leaving us feeling sluggish, grumpy and depleted. When combined with the increase in melatonin, the ‘sleepy hormone’ which is released in response to darkness, it’s no wonder our energy levels can dip severely!

Don’t fear – we’re turning the energy levels up to 11 with eleven natural energy boosters so you can feel alert, active, sunny and bright even when it’s dark and stormy outside!

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What are the health benefits of aloe vera?

Aloe vera is a wonderful plant that has been used for thousands of years, both internally and externally, to improve health and wellbeing. It’s a perennial succulent, similar in many ways to a cactus, and grows across large expanses of the world including North and Central America, Australia, Spain, India and China. It thrives in places with low levels of natural rainfall and is a very hardy when it comes to pests. Large scale agricultural production of aloe vera is now widespread and products containing extracts from its leaves are available in most supermarkets.

Even though its name sounds amusingly like someone greeting an old lady, the health benefits of aloe vera are not to be sniggered at! As a folk medicine, and one of the most popular home remedies in use, aloe vera has been popular for thousands of years. It contains a gel, also known as latex, which has a cornucopia of widely-used applications. But what are the health benefits of aloe vera, and are they backed by science? Let’s take a closer look….

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Our Top 10 Snacks to Help Boost your Workout

It’s good to work out! Our bodies need exercise as it helps get oxygen and the essential nutrients we need to our organs and tissues, and lowers the risk of disease. It can help us lose extra pounds and maintain a healthy weight, and it also triggers the release of chemicals in the brain which cause us to feel more perky and upbeat, as well as improving our cognitive function. Whether you’ve joined a gym or you’ve invested in some home equipment – or if you just like to turn the radio up and jump around every now and then – there are many things you should be eating to ensure your body’s prepared and well-nourished in readiness for whatever exercise regime you choose.

One of the very best things to make sure you’re getting enough of is fruit and vegetables – a study in Northern Ireland found that increased intake of fruit and veggies is associated with an increase in muscle power.[1] There are a whole wealth of natural, beneficial things you can eat to make sure you’re building your body up with strength and vitality in readiness for your next gym session – here are ten of our favourites….

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