So, kids returning to school is imminent. While we’re clinging to the last days of summer as best we can, another angst looms… the school lunchbox.Continue reading
Last week I was asked to give my 5 top super foods and discuss them with Andrea Gilligan on Newstalk’s Lunchtime Live. You may have missed our chat so I thought I’d do a post on the topic of our conversation.
‘Super Foods’ as a concept is an interesting idea. To me ‘super foods’ is really a marketing term for nutritionally dense foods, so can be applied to a huge range of foods. There is a sense of being fad-ish, something I don’t usually buy into.
5 Top Super Foods
However, it got me focussing on what food groups are the best in terms of nutrient density. So, I thought I’d cover my top 5 ‘super foods’, or groups of foods, for this time of year as the following (and in no particular order):
- Leafy greens – spinach, butterhead lettuce – High in Vitamin A, C and calcium. Also source of fibre. – aim to have a handful with most lunch and dinner. Add to soups, currys and stews and have as salad (and breakfast If possible – smoothies, with eggs)
- Cruciferous veg – Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower – Source of fibre, vitamins A&C, phytonutrients. Thought to help reduce the incidence of cancer. Cauliflower is about ¼ protein so great for vegetarians, vegans and those looking to cut back on meat consumption.
- Wholegrains – oats, brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat/grain – Complex carbohydrates, high in fibre (soluble & insoluble) – great for gut health, balancing blood sugar, keeping you feeling full for longer. Suggestions: Swap pasta, rice and bread for brown versions. Try other grains. Have fun. Be experimental.
- Nuts & seeds – almonds, hazelnut, walnut and chia, flax, sunflower…. – source of protein, healthy fats, fibre – great for gut, skin and hair – calorie dense so be careful not to over-consume – Suggestions: add to breakfast oats, salads, have as a snack, baking etc.
- Legumes – kidney beans, black & red beans, soybeans, peas, chickpeas, lentils – Great source of protein so good for vegetarians and vegans, complex carbs, high fibre – Add to currys, stews, soups and salads
(Note: In summer we would look at berries and tomatoes as nutrient dense also)
The balanced approach I would take to ensure a nutritionally rich diet are to consider this holistic approach when shopping and preparing food. Here are some top tips to achieve this:
- Shop in-season
- Shop local
- Consume a wide variety of foods, particularly wholefoods – fruit and veg, wholegrains
- Organic is best if it’s within budget – Environmental Working Group (EWG) have the ‘Clean 15’ and ‘Dirty Dozen’
- Frozen foods are a good option – say berries and peas for year round use
- Balance the macro-nutrients – carbs, proteins, healthy fats
- Keep refined sugar and saturated fats to a minimum
- Fish are a great source of protein and healthy fats
- Live bio yoghurt is a great source of probiotics so good for your gut
- Stay hydrated
There are so many positive outcomes to eating a balanced, whole foods, nutritionally rich diet with good portion control. Here are some of the stand out ones that are possibly more easily achieved than you might think:
- Balanced blood sugar – consistency in energy levels
- Balanced hormones – helps with mood, skin and hair
- Healthy gut – impacts brain health
- Reduce inflammation
- Improves functionality of the many systems of the body
If refining and planning how you can improve what, and how, you eat is something you are looking to tackle right now, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange your free discovery call with me. Sometimes all we need it to set aside the time, have the relevant info and throw in some focus and you would be amazed what you can achieve.
As a skill meal planning may not be regarded as sexy. But it has incredible qualities that shine through and make it very desirable. What other activity can offer a combination of improving your time management, reducing stress, improving nutritional intake, cost effectiveness and is sustainable too? I mean come on, surely we should all give it a try.
The problem so many people have is that they are short on time in the first place. When it comes to meal planning people sometimes think they want to be handed a finished meal plan and that’s the extent of it. For guaranteed success, however, the reality is different. There is a bit of work involved up front but the pay-off, already outlined, is well worth it.
It really is the starting point of taking control of your health, your way, entirely on your terms. It has the best chance of succeeding this way. If it doesn’t work for you straight away, you’ve invested in it personally so you know how to go about tweaking it so that you can revise it to work for you.
The three things you need to approach meal planning for success are:
Set the right goals so that you stay motivated and on-track. Being clear of your objective in terms of meal planning is the recipe to success. Is there an underlying reason you want to get meal planning from a nutrition perspective? Maybe you want to eat more healthily, become more sustainable by incorporating in-season ingredients into your daily meals or you might simply want to improve the habits of your family. It could be that you want to manage your weight better, increase your energy or reduce your household costs. Knowing your why is critical to your success. It’s important to spend a bit of time asking yourself ‘why meal planning?’ because it’s when things start to falter you can remind yourself of this and get motivated to stick with it.
Once you understand the outcome you want to achieve then you can have this as a focus when you are choosing your meals. Get informed as much as you can in terms of nutritional needs for your circumstances. Learning more about reading food labels may be something to consider. There will undoubtedly be taste considerations that need to be addressed also. Decide how you want to address these. You may want to push the introduction of a wider variety of vegetables into your weekly diet, or your children’s diet. This can be incorporated into your plan. You are in control.
Having the most appropriate tools for you is key. An approach or template or format that you can relate to and can make work for you is the first step. Then you need to make the plan work for your schedule and circumstances. Knowing the limitations and boundaries to your schedule and the people who will be impacted by your meal plan will allow you to tailor and tweak the plan to optimize success. Don’t plan to overhaul your entire diet in one go. Take on small changes and allow yourself time to bed them down and succeed at them before moving on to the next. Start with X number of dinners a week, or choose which meal to address so that it suits your needs right now. Your shopping then can become streamlined to avoid waste and maximize nutrition, maybe even taking into account what’s in season.
SOLUTION FOR YOU
To really get you in gear and help you bed down meal planning into your weekly routine then this online programme is for you. ‘3-Steps to Meal Planning for Health’ is The WellNow Co.’s video led online programme full of tools and information to get you meal planning like a pro. Check it out now, you won’t regret it.
I wanted to put together a post with lots of helpful tools, gadgets and products for you to feel more healthy, organsied, eco-friendly and amazing all at the same time this summer. I thought this list of 12 things to help keep you healthy this summer should hit the spot for most people. You’ll find all these products are really practical and useful and will help you make better choices to stay healthy and well along the way.
Whether you are looking to get more handy in the kitchen while we continue to dine at home a lot more than before, or looking for useful on-the-go products for when you’re out and about picnicking with family and friends, or you want to give your skin and hair a bit more love and attention. It’s all here, we’ve got you covered.
You can find a wider selection of products than this summer edit in our shop. And like our shop, this article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small fee for promoting the products, but you won’t pay any more.
Cool Kitchen gadgets
Ice pop moulds are one of the most used ‘toys’ in our kitchen over the summer. They are such a great way to have a cooling, sweet treat that isn’t packed with additives and loaded with added sugar. You can have great fun playing with flavours – pineapple and mango is a firm favourite. I particularly love these because of the lids being attached to the body of the mould. It avoids anyone distractedly throwing the lid out by accident!
The great thing about using glass storage containers is that you can avoid cling film and still be really organised. These ones can be stored in the freezer and used in the oven. Reducing food waste has a huge impact on the environment, and your wallet too!
These fermenting jars come in loads of different sizes. I have a range of them and use them for so many things from pasta and rice, to nuts and seeds. They keep everything really fresh, are handy to bring to bulk food shops and look pretty too!
These were a game-changer for our kitchen. I always had a mish-mash of bowls, so to have a selection of different sized bowls, that stack so don’t take up much space and have lids so can store things and keep them fresh is amazing. They clean well and easily and I’m now never short of bowls when prepping multiple salads, dressings and marinades.
I used to feel a pang of guilt every time I used a plastic pod in the coffee machine. When I discovered these I was so excited. I now have a swagger as the machine goes bbbrrrrrr with the coffee I love in it.
On The Go
The beautiful range of stainless steel bottles from Irish company, Mother Reusables are like a work of art. They are an ethical company with serious credentials. You are not just supporting Irish, but helping the environment by reducing single use plastic water bottles and for every bottle sold they will plant a tree. The bottles will keep you cold drinks cold or hot drinks hot. Perfect for a day outing!
They even have a gorgeous range of kids bottles which are a really handy size. Check them out for the full range.
These bento box lunchboxes are so handy for summer picnics, not to mention school lunches and work lunches. They are great for bringing a variety of salads, food types and flavours and not have them all crossing over. They come in different sizes and configurations but this is my personal favourite. Easy to manage and the perfect size.
Whether you’re looking to reduce your plastic at home or on-the-go, these stainless steel straws are a really smart option. There are 12 straws and they come with different coloured silicone tips to make it easy to claim your own. It also comes with two handy cleaning brushes and a cloth pouch to keep them all together.
Another handy option for picnics, but also for when you’re back working at the office and getting take-out lunches, is this neat set. A stainless steel cutlery set with chop sticks and two straws. So handy for on-the-go.
8. Coffee Cups
These stainless steel Keep Cups are the ultimate in re-usable cups. They keep your hot drinks hot for longer or cold for longer. They are easy to look after and designed for life. Get yours now!
For any of you that already follow us on Instagram or Facebook you will know that Indeora is our fave healthy deodorant. No nasty chemicals so perfect for keeping your toxic load under check while also adding magnesium. Good for you, and also great for teens and tweens in these warm sporty months. Use ‘WELLNOW15‘ for your discount of 15%.
10. Yogandha Oils
We have been using Yogandha Oils for years and just can’t get enough. The quality and texture of the oils is just luxury in a bottle . The range covers relax to muscle soothe to balance and beyond. This Irish company is internationally renowned and I can’t recommend enough. I use the roll-on oil in the morning to balance my mood and instead of perfume. Try it for yourself!
You may be aware of our bulk shopping offering. We have loads of home cleaning and personal care products in 5 litres sizes to help reduce plastic use, save money and be super convenient too. We added the award winning Green People sunscreen to this offering. Note: The sunscreen is not a bulk item but compliments any busy family’s bulk order perfectly!
These are our favourite shampoo and conditioner. We have a whole range of their beautiful scents. They say it best themselves:
“All our natural vegan shampoos are animal cruelty free, are SLS and paraben free and are vegetarian. We use no synthetic colouring, fragrances or artificial preservatives in our shampoos to ensure that they are as natural as possible. We pride ourselves in creating paraben free shampoos made with 100% natural fragrance.”
That should keep you healthy and well for the summer! If you have any suggestions of products that have really helped you stay on track with your health goals, I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a line at email@example.com and let me know your top products so I can share. And if you use any of the above I’d love to hear how you get on with them too!
As a busy working parent, I can totally relate to the struggle of juggling it all. Then throw a pandemic and homeschooling into the mix and there’s a perfect recipe for overwhelm and all the different ways that can play out for you. I’ve pulled together 7 simple strategies to staying well and feeling good to help you feel and manage the juggle a little better.
I thought I’d share some of my strategies with you for managing some areas that may be causing stress. None of this may be rocket science, but that’s the beauty of it. Sometimes we just need reminding of these simple things, and permission to do them.
Start by asking yourself how you’re feeling and whether you could tweak your habits and routine to make you feel less stressed, more energised and more productive both at work and for you and your family. Then take a look at the suggestions below and see which ones might just be doable over the next week for you. Maybe just pick one or two to start with if that works for you. Or maybe you’re more gung-ho and want to change lots all at once. Changing behaviour is very individual so just be sure that ‘you do you!’. Take or leave as you wish:
- Take regular breaks that involve moving your body and settling your mind – if tight on time, then a few stretches and a few mins of box breathing can benefit hugely.
- Coffee has been a lifeline for me over the last year. I’m not joking! But it can play havoc with your body and mind, we know this. So, reducing your intake to 1-2 cups a day, and trying to limit to before lunchtime is best. This will have a positive impact on your sleep too.
- Stay hydrated – this is one I have to consciously do because otherwise distraction gets in my way. My trick to consuming my 2 litres per day is to fill my stainless steel water bottle in the morning (or even the night before so it’s to hand while I’m getting ready for the day), and drink some with my breakfast and then the bottle follows me to my desk and on my breaks, refilling it frequently. I can accurately tell how much I’ve had. It’s a game changer to be properly hydrated.
- Set clear boundaries, if you can. This is a tricky one. But as much as you can, delineate between working and not working. And similarly with homeschooling, whatever the duration that works for you, set a clear time for it. Have the phone off and focus on the task at hand.
- Have healthy snacks to hand. It’s not to say you can’t have something unhealthy to eat, but to opt for a healthy treat will stand to you, your energy and mood so much better than a raft of highly processed sugary ‘treats’. You can download WellNow’s Snack Recipes and Ideas for some inspiration.
- Stay connected. Talk to at least one friend or non-work related person every day, eve for just a few minutes. It may be to have a laugh, vent or just simply to say hi. It will keep your spirits lifted in this tough time.
- Journal – putting down on paper how you feel can offer a great release. You can also track your small changes in nutrition or movement and how your feeling so you can see your improvements or when you might need to tweak how you’re approaching something.
As I said, there’s nothing revelationary here, but keeping things simple is just fine. I hope something here helps you feel a little better than before.
Stay safe and stay well.
Silver linings are few and far between at the moment. We all now know first hand how hard living through a pandemic is. And while the pressures are very individual, nobody has escaped some form of hardship. However, the silver linings may be the best prize we get out of the situation.
What is undeniably true, is that the pandemic has given us the opportunity and the time to focus on ourselves and our family, enjoy the outdoors and nature more and to put in place the necessary routines to ensure that we come out of this in a healthier and happier place. So, let’s grab that silver lining and run with it.
1. Review Your Eating Habits
While many of us are at home trying to work and homeschool, feeling like we are not nailing either, it can be a great time to look inward at our family’s eating habits. Increasing awareness around what we eat, how much we eat and when we eat it can be really helpful to improving our families’ health through nutrition. Keep a food diary over a few days with as much detail as possible and be as honest as you can. Then review it and see where you can cut back or change anything. Some things to look for:
- Are you eating enough fruit and veg? Don’t worry, most people don’t. So consider where you can squeeze in a few more portions each day.
- Nearly everyone puts the blinkers on around their snack consumption. Be really honest about what you’ve eaten each day – yes, that third biscuit counts! You may need to look at decreasing sugary treats.
- From a health, environmental and cost perspective many of us need to consider reducing the amount of meat we eat (if you’re not vegan or vegetarian). Think about eating more plant based foods or vegetarian options.
- Fibre is such an important aspect of our gut health and the western diet is naturally low in it. Increase fibre by replacing white with brown – bread/rice/pasta
- Hydrate – It’s difficult to remember to keep our water intake at the optimum level regardless of time of year. Use a water bottle and fill it at the start of the day, and refill it throughout the day until you have reached your goal of approximately 2 litres.
2. Time to delve into your nutrition-related pain points – Fussy eaters, food waste & overspending on food?
You are not alone if you find yourself whipping up two or three dinners for just one sitting in order to accommodate the different (fussy!) palates. Very often our children reject foods and we take the path of least resistance as we pick our battles carefully! Not only is this not sustainable for the busy working parent who is already stretched to their limits, but it’s not helping our child develop tastes and interests in other foods. It is also a huge source of food waste, and with food waste, there is money waste also.
Now is the time to help your kids really understand why we should eat a certain way and what the benefits to them are. By realizing they can enhance their learning ability, and their running speed from choosing the best foods for them is a good start. Empowering them is rewarded with buy-in from them. Broadening their food horizons is good for their health, your time, your wallet and the environment. Two effective activities to task them with are:
- Let them create their own meal plan for their lunches during the week. It helps taking the daily thinking out of it for parents and they can keep doing when they go back to school.
- Do an ‘Eat The Rainbow Challenge’ for the kids or the whole family. See how many portions of the different colours everyone eats across a week. This can highlight where increases or changes can be made to your eating habits, but done in a fun and engaging way.
3. Take the time for a Household Audit
Scrambling from week to week is no way to live. Most of us would like a calmer life to allow us to enjoy ourselves more and feel optimally productive. A really effective approach to improving how you run your home is to do a ‘Household Audit’. Three effective ways to make your household more efficient are:
- Look at your household budget to help you to optimally understand and refine your spending.
- Meal Planning and shopping list templates will help you reduce costs, waste and trips to the shops.
- A review of your household cleaning and personal care products will allow for clarity. Should you buy certain products in bulk, reducing waste and costs. Could you look at buying a more environmentally clean product which is better for you personally but also the planet.
4. Think it, plan it, do it!
Each and every choice we make for ourselves has an impact on our health and how we feel. Some habits we have we know we want to change. Becoming aware of what we would like our life to ultimately look like and deciding what it will take to get there will help inform what new habits we want to form, and what old ones we want to lose.
Whether stress is a big factor in your life, or whether you want to increase your exercise and movement, or if poor sleep is impacting your life or your work/life balance is out of whack, establishing clear goals is critical to succeeding with positive behaviour change. A couple of ways to help figure out what your goal is, and the action steps to make it happen are:
- Ask yourself how you want the situation to look when you have succeeded in achieving your goal. Use this visualization to look realistically at what changes need to be made in order to get there.
- Write out the list of things that need to change to achieve your goal. This can be a long or short list depending on your circumstances and what the goal is. Then rate how ready you are to make each of the items on the list from 1-10. Choose the three top-rated steps that you are most ready to change first, and work your way down the list.
5. Find your pot of gold
The silver linings may end up being your pot of gold when the pandemic finally ends. Taking a simple approach with small steps of change we can look at our lives in terms of nutrition, lifestyle and how we want to change them. Tap into your positive thoughts to make it happen.
If you would like to make a change for either yourself or your family, The WellNow Co has a range of one-to-one virtual health coaching packages sessions. Alternatively, they have a range of Online Wellness Programmes available from meal planning to stress management. In addition, they also have Workplace Wellness packages available for corporate clients.
Bone broth has had something of a resurgence in the last few years but it is essentially stock, which is made from boiling bones of turkey, chicken or beef or another healthy animal. And who doesn’t want to have a healthy Christmas to help counteract some of the indulgences we all have?! Bone broth is packed with nutrients that help to support immune and digestive health along with having lots of benefits for the skin, teeth, hair and bones. It’s so easy to make but does take time to boil. If you don’t have a slow cooker or the full 8 hours to be at home while it’s cooking, boil it for as long as you can.
It’s a great use of the turkey leftovers and will contribute to having a healthy Christmas by taking advantage of all the benefits of bone broth and being sustainable while you’re at it. It makes it really sustainable to use any meat to it’s fullest. And by freezing any stock you don’t use straight away, makes it the Christmas present that keeps on giving! I usually make a big soup and freeze in portions, and will add it to casserole and risotto when using up other leftovers too.
I have included the vegetables that I regularly use when making bone broth but like many of our recipes, you can mix this up, depending on what you have in stock (pardon the pun!).
1 Turkey carcass (preferably organic)
1 onion cut in half
2 sticks of celery, roughly chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic
2 litres of water (this might vary depending on the amount of bones and the size of your pot)
1 tsp dried turmeric
1 tsp Freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
2 springs thyme
Salt (preferably pink Himalayan) & pepper to season
- Place the turkey carcass into a large saucepan along with the onion, celery, carrots and garlic.
- Pour in enough water to almost cover the turkey (approx. 2 litres).
- Now add the turmeric, pepper, bay leaf, thyme and season with the salt and pepper.
- Bring to the boil and then reduce to a light simmer.
- Leave to simmer with the lid on for up to 8 hours to get all the goodness from the bones. The longer the better!
- Remove the turkey and veg so you’re just left with the liquid. I usually drain the liquid into a separate container using a large sieve to catch the carcass and veg.
- The stock can be used straight away or left to cool and frozen.
Note: The stock can be frozen in small containers or ice trays for use in dishes as and when you need it.
At the start of winter, we become conscious about how robust our immune system may be and look to how best to support it. This winter it’s even more critical. We need more than ever to ensure we keep as healthy and strong as possible in order to prevent unnecessary colds and flus which can be mistaken for the dreaded coronavirus. So what approach can we take ourselves in our day-to-day lives to best support our health?
Our immune system is complex. In order to function well we need to approach looking after it in a balanced way. Healthy nutrition is really important, and the best approach for this is to eat a whole foods diet with plenty of lean protein. We also need to manage our stress levels as this can impact our immunity. Plenty of exercise, some or all of which could be done outside, along with getting our required amount of sleep, will help keep our immune system functioning at its best.
While there are numerous vitmains and minerals that help support the immune system, we focus on vitamin C here, as it is a well known supplement that is taken with a view to prevent colds and flus. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient, meaning our body cannot produce it so we must consume it. It has multiple functions, including the formation and maintenance of collagen. So it’s also needed to give support and shape to the body (ligaments, skin, bloods vessels). It is used up in about 2 hours by the body and takes 3-4 hours to be gone from the blood. So consuming foods high in vitamin C regularly will ensure ongoing support.
It is generally recommended that we consume about 600 – 1,200mg of vitamin C daily. This can be managed through a balanced diet and can be boosted by focusing on foods known to be high in vitamin C.
The best sources are fruit and vegetables. Vitamin C is quite unstable though and can easily be lost during cooking, especially when using sources high in water and then cooking in water. This is why steaming is often recommended as a way to prepare your vegetables. There is definitely less loss of nutrients this way.
Eating local and in-season fruit and veg means you are getting these foods at their best in terms of nutrient values. It also means they are more abundant, and usually best value. In addition to this you are supporting local producers so you are helping to ensure a steady flow of the food production over time.
While Vitamin C has been shown to stimulate the immune system, it is not stand alone and we need a range of essential nutrients to ensure good health. We need to focus on a healthy balanced diet, high in variety of fruit and veg, fibre, lean protein, healthy fats and generally take a whole foods approach to ensure we are optimizing the function of our body’s systems. By taking this approach we can avoid getting bogged down by the minutiae and get back to living a healthy and well life.
So there are many things we can do to support our immune system, many of which are small changes to our daily routine but can have a massively positive impact on our health and wellbeing. Consider taking on 1-3 small changes this week, and every week, to improve your health now.
If you’re looking to improve your meal planning to incorporate positive change, or you would like to manage your stress better, check out our online programmes and see which one is right for you. Or get in touch if you are interested in one-to-one health coaching.
I was really delighted to be asked in for a chat with the fab @clareslair on her show ‘Alive and Kicking’ on @newstalkfm. It’s now available as a podcast in the usual podcast places!Continue reading
She is probably most recognized as one half of the massively influential healthy-living chefs and wellness advocates Hemsley+Hemsley, but Jasmine Hemsley is a wellness powerhouse in her own right.Continue reading