Tweaklet #60 – Celery

Some people are going to want to run in the other direction today because I am going to talk about Celery and celery is one of THE most hated vegetables in the world!

I love pretty much all foods so I am very curious when people express a strong dislike of something and celery is one that comes up often.

People who hate celery are generally not picky eaters. They will often say I eat everything, just not celery!

Those of us who like it can’t understand what all the fuss is about. We know it contains excellent fibre and makes a great crudité to use in dips. It’s virtually calorie free, so that’s a bonus and medicinally it’s been used for centuries because of its anti-inflammatory properties to treat things like gout, arthritis to lower cholesterol and to provide pain relief. Celery helps protect our hearts our livers prevent ulcers and improve digestion.

Lovers of celery think it tastes quite sweet and mild, with no particular smell. Celery haters describe a strong soapy, dirty rainwater taste and an odour that cannot be masked even when wrapped and bagged and stuffed way in the back of the fridge or sneakily buried under a strong tasting sauce!

And if you try to convince a celery hater to give it another try, all they hear is BLAH BLAH BLAH as they try to block out what you’re saying.

I am not mocking you celery haters, honest. In fact you’ve inspired me to do more research on foods people hate, so thank you. I am only sorry I have not found any useful research on why celery tops the hate list.

It is a member of the Umbellifer family and as well as carrots and parsnips, other members include spices like dill, parsley, caraway, cumin (which some people have an issue with. Someone I know says cumin smells like sweaty armpits!) and another member of the same family is Coriander, which in its leafy state is another food that’s top of the most hated list! Is there a correlation between Celery and Coriander? I don’t know. But one of you might, so if you have some good information on this topic, please let me know. And if you have a violent dislike of any particular food I’d love to hear about that too.

So dear Tweakleters I will leave you in peace. I won’t go on any more about celery, at least not today!

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Tweaklet #57 – Green Tea vs Black Tea

Are you a tea drinker? If you’re not then I might have a few incentives for you to consider.

Next to water, tea is one of the most consumed drinks in the world. Recently green tea has received more attention for its health benefits, than black tea, but actually, they both contain many beneficial substances that boost good health.

So black and green tea come from the same camellia sinesis plant. They are both harvested from the upper buds and leaves of the plant. Green tea is dried slightly and then heated to stop oxidation and enhance the flavour.

Black tea is crushed and rolled and allowed to oxidize and turn a dark colour before it is harvested. This gives it a stronger richer flavour.

Both green and black tea contain large quantities of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, but different types. What they have in common are flavonoids which protect our bodies against chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes and more.

These flavonoids protect the heart and blood vessels to lower cholesterol, harmful plaque and blood pressure.

Green tea has some other powerful protective compounds that help to burn fat, boost the immune system, help with allergies and asthma. It also contains very useful amino acids and trace elements such as calcium, magnesium, chromium, manganese, iron, copper and zinc.

Green and black tea both contain caffeine, generally green has slightly less, and both have less caffeine than coffee. Interestingly though it’s the way tea affects brain chemicals that for many people make it preferable to coffee.

Tea helps us feel awake and alert but in a relaxed state of mind, which is a really beneficial balance for your brain and your general state of well being. Hmmm, I like it – calm and alert! Something to strive for!

If you’re wondering which type of tea to choose, studies show both types of tea contain similar beneficial health benefits, but green tea wins big in terms of the amounts of antioxidants it contains.

So all that’s left to be said is get brewing! As always choose a quality product and work out what feels good when you drink it. Sharpening our intuition around food that suits our body is a wonderful thing to practice.

Green tea, black tea another tiny food tweak from Tweaklets.

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Tweaklet #52 – Salmon

We’ve talked about the health benefits of eating fish before and one of the absolute best is salmon. Salmon is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. Salmon is nutrient dense and particularly recognised for its high levels of Omega-3s.

The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish or fish oil help enhance bone health to keep conditions like osteoporosis at bay. They act as a natural anti-inflammatory to relieve inflammation and protect the nervous system from oxidative stress and age-related damage.

Studies show that salmon can do everything from helping boost brain function, sperm production and eye sight, to improving bone and skin health. It is full of heart-healthy fats, protein and rich in vitamins like A, D and calcium.

As demand for salmon has increased a lot of it is now produced in farmed conditions. There is a lot of debate about wild salmon versus farmed salmon. Generally speaking wild salmon has a much better nutrient profile than farmed salmon, but the biggest difference is the condition of many salmon farms. Living in a closed environment means the fish are more likely to need to be treated with chemicals which they readily absorb and pass on.

So when you’re shopping for salmon how can you tell the difference between wild and farmed?

The first sign is the colour. Farmed salmon is lighter and more pink, while wild has a deeper reddish-orange hue. Farmed fish will also a lot more fatty marbling in its flesh—those wavy white lines—since they aren’t fighting against upstream currents like wild ones.

Salmon is very versatile. It’s great simply pan-fried. Or it can be grilled or roasted or cooked in a paper parcel in the oven to seal in the flavour. And it takes flavour well so you can add a pesto or a crust or any of your favourite spices or herbs, and turned into an Asian, Indian or Mediterranean delight. You can crisp up the skin or take it off altogether.  And if you can’t buy fresh then good quality tinned salmon is OK too.

I find that even people who aren’t big fish lovers like salmon so if you haven’t had any fish for a while now’s the time to shop for a nice juicy deep reddish orange piece of salmon.

Mmmm, that’s got my mouth watering and some ideas flowing, so I’m off to get some salmon!

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Tweaklet #49 – Chilli

Do you like spicy food? Do you always reach for the chilli sauce or chopped chilli to go with your main meal? Or are you the opposite and shy away from anything spicy?

I love spicy food but I can’t handle spice that burns the back of my throat and makes me break out into a sweat. But according to new research, eating hot chillis could be the secret to a longer life!

Chillis, otherwise known as hot peppers, have been grown and used in food for thousands of years and like a lot of spices they have excellent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

They’re also good for weight loss as they speed up your metabolism, stop cravings and are natural appetite suppressants.

The capsaicin found in spicy foods actually lowers cholesterol levels by reducing cholesterol accumulation in the body. And chilli’s anti-inflammatory properties make it great for heart health generally.

So what’s your spice level? If you’re new to chilli ease in gradually or you’ll put yourself off and that would be a shame. Build up gradually and try some ground spices like paprika and cayenne and if you’re buying fresh peppers, do your research to find out just how hot each variety is. Remember some of the smallest in size can be the most fiery!

A little tip, from painful personal experience, is when you’re chopping up fresh chilli peppers remember to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards and even then don’t go touching your eyes! Boy did I learn that one the hard way several times!

So, whilst we wait for further research on whether spicy food will help us live longer, let’s just get on and enjoy experimenting with adding some heat to our food. Time to spice up our lives Tweakleters!

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Tweaklet #43 – Blueberries

Which is your favourite berry?

All berries are a good low-sugar, low calorie option when it comes to a fruit snack. One perhaps gets rather overlooked and that’s the blueberry……..

This tiny dusky purple skinned beauty is, in fact, the most nutritious …..most anti-oxidant rich fruit in the world!

It does many good things from enhancing brain health to keeping your heart strong.

Blueberries are actually another heroic, cape wearing SUPER FOOD! Yep, here’s another superfood alert!

So the antioxidant properties of blueberries mean that they precent cell damage and they also protect against several types of chronic disease, including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. That’s to do with having the highest levels of antioxidants but also the profile of them, which includes phenols, flavonoids and anthocyanins.

Studies have shown that blueberry extract was able to inhibit the growth and spread of stomach, prostate, intestine and breast cancer cells and
Blueberries provide a whopping 3.6 grams of fibre per cupful, which gives you up to 14 percent of your daily fibre needs and this means it’s great for slow digestion and therefore blueberries are great for helping with weight loss and digestion.

One of the most impressive health benefits of blueberries is its ability to enhance brain health. There have been many studies suggesting that eating blueberries could improve memory and cognition.

So blueberries – delicious, nutritious, fibre rich and low in sugar – you are my first choice for a breakfast smoothie or an afternoon snack.

What a wonderful superfood you are!

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Tweaklet #42 – Lemons

Lemons are one of those things that people swear by. From cleaning pots and polishing furniture to using lemons as a bug spray, they are everyone’s favourite cure-all.

And in fact their use in our diets is very versatile and beneficial. Because they are full of vitamin C and antioxidants, lemons help boost our immune systems and fight inflammation. And we know, don’t we, that inflammation is at the root of so many health issues and diseases.
Fighting rogue cells in the body, like those that form cancer cells, are definitely part of a lemon’s life work.

Lemons also help prevent kidney stones, increase iron absorption and improve the health of your skin.

The interesting thing is that lemons, with their ultra-tart taste, are thought of as very acidic, yet inside our bodies they are highly alkaline, so that means they are great for restoring a healthy balance in our gut.

Perhaps their most impressive benefit is their effect on heart health. Again the high levels of vitamin C make them the most beneficial, out of any fruit or vegetable, in keeping our hearts healthy and strong.

I find the easiest way to include lemons in my diet is with a daily hot water drink with a slice of lemon and grated ginger. I have it before anything else most days. It’s like drinking a cup of absolute goodness and even if the rest of my day’s eating goes horribly wrong, at least I know I’ve given myself a real lemon boost.

So when life gives you lemons……..consider yourself lucky!

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Tweaklet #38 – Raw vs Cooked

An interesting topic of discussion amongst foodies and nutritionists is raw versus cooked. There is a growing amount of evidence to support the health benefits of eating raw food as opposed to cooked and in fact shifting to a completely raw diet is no longer thought of as a fad.

A raw food diet is usually one that includes a wide selection of fruits and vegetables and eliminates all packaged and processed foods.

Contrary to popular belief raw food is actually more easily digested than cooked, plus raw food retain more nutritional value from not having been heated.

Raw foods help to alkalize the body and reduce acidity and the digestive enzymes mean they are more easily eliminated which means there is less chance of food fermenting in our body.

Some of the benefits of eating raw, apart from better digestion, getting more fibre, and easier pooping….. include a lowering of inflammation………. improvement in heart health and liver function…… as well as giving us more energy and better clearer skin.

Raw versus cooked is a really interesting topic and a fun one to play around with. As with any kind of dietary change, take it slowly and do your research to find out what suits your body the best.

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Tweaklet #36 – Chocolate

Nothing contentious today. No dangerous subjects. Nope, today we’re talking about chocolate! I do love a nice piece, or three…….. of chocolate. But like everything else, not all chocolate is created equal.

I am still a lover or milk chocolate and the odd bit of white chocolate but instead of doing us good those two choices really don’t.

Dark chocolate is a whole different thing, however. There are a number of pretty impressive benefits associated with eating dark chocolate.

First and foremost dark chocolate is full of antioxidants that neutralise free radicals and protect the body from damage. These antioxidants include vitamins and minerals and, significant studies have shown, that eating moderate amounts of dark chocolate definitely has a positive effect on heart health.

Lots of research is being done but there are correlations to dark chocolate lowering blood pressure,…..improving blood flow to the heart and brain…..an improvement to heart circulation….. and improved blood clotting.

Now don’t take this as a license to eat a chocolate bar a day, although I have to admit to being tempted, the results are positive and well-founded.

So, if you’re a chocolate lover, look for a good quality brand that is nice and dark – 70% and above.

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Tweaklet #35 – Fish

I know cooking fish can be a bit divisive!

It can be slimy to handle. When it cooks it can be smelly. Do you buy fresh or frozen and how do you deal with a whole fish?

Don’t worry, I completely understand. I love eating fish and I know healthwise it’s really worthwhile, for all those fabulous omega threes that keep our hearts healthy and stave off cancer and inflammation, but I have to admit I am not the bravest when it comes to dealing with fish.

I’ve got a few tips though about choosing fish and about cooking it so that your hands and your home remain smell-free!

Fish types vary from region to region but a few things are true everywhere.
Firstly, buy from the best source possible as you want to avoid farmed fish.

Generally speaking, farmed fish does not have the same level of nutrients, can cause inflammation and they are often treated with antibiotics which we don’t want to be eating.

When it comes to buying frozen or fresh – fresh is great if you know that it really is fresh. A lot of fish is frozen on the boats these days so arguably frozen could mean fresher. Just do your best to still buy a local fish as a lot of frozen fish travels a very long way and can have been in the deep freeze for many months.

Now to the fun cooking part! If you have some reasonably firm fillets, like salmon or cod or whatever your local robust fish is, you can make a lovely almond crust and bake it in the oven, or wrap each one up in baking paper along with some Asian flavours of garlic and chilli and ginger and a little tamari and bake them in the oven.

Making a light curry is also great for flaky fish. Then for lighter more delicate fish you can dust the fillets with spices and simply pan fry them in a little olive oil or coconut oil.

Of course there are endless options for cooking fish and we’ll do more of that in the cooking series but for now, go on, be brave, and buy some fish!

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Tweaklet #25 The Cruciferous Family: Superfood Crusaders!

What did our mothers always tell us? To eat our greens….right?? Which I guess either made you love them or hate them.

These days it seems that whether we like them or not, green vegetables are pretty essential. And the ones in the cruciferous family……the WHAT family, I hear you say? I’m just showing off because I’m learning about them too.

The cruciferous family includes green vegetables like Broccoli…..cauliflower……cabbage……Brussel sprouts…..Asian greens like Bok Choy and pak choy……rocket or arugula……kale….collard greens….mustard greens……radishes…….watercress……kohlrabi and quite a number of others.

Why are members of this family such superfood crusaders? Well because they work so hard at defending our health.

They reduce inflammation…..regulate blood sugar and enhance heart health……They balance our hormones and help us lose weight.

They are full of fibre but low in carbs so they’re great for digestion and keep us fuller for longer.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t always listen to my mother, so if you haven’t been eating as many greens as you should then when you up your intake you could expect to experience a bit of wind……flatulence I mean…..but it will pass…..so to speak……so stick with it and start noticing the difference that these little superfood crusaders are making to your health.

Thanks for watching todays Superfood Tweaklet! We’re all doing our best to Tweak our health aren’t we.

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