Pearl barley salad with roasted vegetables

Salads are not always boring, you can add vegetables, raw or cooked and pair them up with any kind of grains. This yummy, nutritious salad is perfect as side dish, or you can eat as a whole. Grain based salad are always my favourite as they are so filling, and adding vegetables make it a perfect balance. If you are tired of using rice or quinoa, barley is another healthy option for salad.

Barely is nutritious grain contain antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. It is an excellent source of fibre, which is responsible for most of its health benefits. Barley comes in different forms like hulled and pearl, and people often confuse which one is best for their recipes. Let’s have a look

  • Hulled barley : Hulled barley is the whole grain form of barley, with only outermost hull is removed, chewy and rich in fibre. It is dark in colour and has a little bit of a sheen.
  • Pearl barley: it is a refined form of barley, but much healthier than any other processed grains. pearl barley cooks more quickly than whole grain as it does not require presoaking.

For salad recipes, I prefer pearl barley as it takes less time to cook.

ingredients

  • 1 medium sized courgette
  • 1 medium sized sweet potato
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 medium sized onion roughly sliced
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese/ vegan feta

How to make

Cook barley in a large saucepan of boiling, salted water for about 25 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain well.

Pour 3 tbsp of the oil into a roasting tin, evenly spread vegetables, season with pepper, salt, mixed Italian herbs, and smoked paprika, and roast for about 20-25 minutes at 250 C.

In a large mixing bowl, add barley, all roasted vegetables and give a good stir.

Drizzle tahini based lemon dressing, and serve with crumbled vegan feta cheese on top.

Mediterranean diet: Is it good for your health??

Mediterranean diet is considered the healthiest diet and widely recommended by physicians and nutritionist. This diet encourages nutrient-dense food and promotes plant-based food like vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts and healthy fats. The Mediterranean dietary pattern (MDP) also includes moderate consumption of fish and shellfish, white meat, eggs, and dairy products.

WHAT MAKES MEDITERRANEAN DIET(MD)

  • Wholegrains
  • Seafoods
  • vegetables and fruits
  • Legumes; lentils, chickpeas and beans
  • Nuts: almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pistachios
  • Herbs: rosemary, thyme and basil
  • Spices: nutmeg, cinnamon and saffron
  • Fish, poultry and minimal intake of red meat

Evidence for health benefits of Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean Diet is associated with a lower incidence of mortality from all-causes, and is also related to lower incidence of cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases.

The evidence so far accumulated suggests that adopting a Mediterranean diet may help prevent type 2 diabetes; moreover, a lower carbohydrate, Mediterranean-style diet seems good for HbA1c reduction in persons with established diabetes.

PHENOLIC COMPOUND

Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, which have been considered a good source of phenolic compounds. Berries, pomegranate, oliv oil, all contain variety of phenolic compounds. The potential benefits of olive oil for the prevention of type 2 diabetes have been confirmed in a meta-analysis of 29 prospective studies in which the highest olive oil dietary intake category showed a 16% reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes. Thus, current evidence suggests that diets enriched with olive oil might prevent new-onset diabetes, an effect that, at least in part, could be attributed to the polyphenol content of oil.

HEALTHY FATS:

Mediterranean diet is very low in saturated fatty acids (SFA), and mostly fat comes from plant sources like olive oil and avocado, both are rich source of monounstaurated fatty acids (MUFA ). Ratio of MUFA to SFA is the key components for the health benefits of the MD. This diet also recomend frequent intake of nuts, which is best source of omegea 3 fatty acids, essential fatty acids that our body can not make. Fish are also important in mediterranean diet. Oily fish like sardine, mackerel, salmon and lake trout are rich in omega 3 fatty acids.

In a cohort study of 25,994 women in the United States, adherence to a Mediterranean diet was associated with a one-fourth relative risk reduction in cardiovascular disease, which was explained by reductions in inflammation, insulin resistance, body mass index, blood pressure and lipid profile (low -density lipoprotein and triglycerides).

FIBRE

There is strong evidence that consuming a fiber rich diet is associated with reduced risk of heart diseases, type2 diabetes, stroke and bowel cancer. Mediterranean diet is traditionally a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables all are good sources of fiber.

Mediterranean Food pyramid

Take home message

The Mediterreanen diet is very similar to the government healthy recommendation, which is set out in the eating welll guide. Studies showed that longterm adherence to mediterranean diet is associated with better health outcomes. However, I must point out that the Mediterranean diet is not able to produce, by itself, the benefits listed above if you do not change at the same time other risk factors such as a reduced or absent physical activity, caloric intake in excess of the energy needs of our body.

References
(21) (PDF) The Mediterranean Diet: A History of Health. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/242018034_The_Mediterranean_Diet_A_History_of_Health

The Best Crispy Roast Potatos

Roast potatoes are perfect as side dish for sunday roast to a BBQ party. They are super simple, vegan, gluten free side dish perfect with ANYTHING.

Tips for crispy potatoes

The best and easy way to make crispy roast potato, first boil them for 10-15 minutes, depend which type of potatoes you are using. I prefer Desiree potatoes,or red skined potatos. Par boiling the potatoes allows outside to get soft enough to rough them up, creating the best surface for crisp.

You can use fresh herbs or dried mixed itilan herbs, it depends on what you have. Infusing oil with garlic and herbs gives the potatoes crust extra flavour. BUT when you are suing fresh herbs donot put inthe begining, herbs go black and not nice in eating. you can use any kind of herbs like sag, reosemary, thyme again choice is yours.

When in the oven, turn them with a spatula or fish slice halfway through the cooking time to get a nice browning all over

ingredients

  • 1 kg potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • pinch of salt and peppers
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 30 gm unsalted butter or any plant based butter

instruction

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Cut the potatoes into golf-ball-sized pieces, put them into the water, and cook for 12 minutes. Drain and allow to steam dry for 1 minute (this will give you crispier potatoes). Toss the potatoes in the pan while still hot so their outsides get chuffed up and fluffy – this will make them lovely and crispy when they roast.

Pre heat the oven to 220c/430F. and put a lareg roasting tray in the oven with butter and heat in the oven for few minutes.

Now add potatoes, herbs and garlic in a heated roasting tin, spread them in a single layer, so all potaoes chunks coated well . Cook for about 30 to 35 minutes, turning once or twice in between, until golden brown.

Wnjoy warm….

Roast Vegetables and Chickpeas Tray bake

Tray bakes are ideal for meal preparation and also perfect fuss free meals. This recipe is easily adopted depending what you have available. You can only bake veggies and pair up with any grains like couscous, quiona or pearl barley.

For seasoning I used itialian herbs , like rosemary, thyme as they give nice flavour.

some vegetables take more time, like sweet potatoes and onions around 30-35 minutes, so put them first in the tray, while zucchini, brussels sprouts and broccoli takes 20-25 minutes.

Cut all vegetables into same sized wedges and always spread evenly and try not to overcrowd.

Use high heat for more crisp, the ideal temperature is 300 to 350 degree and do not forget to preheat the oven

first

ingredients

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1 courgetts
  • 1/2 aubergine
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 2 tin of chickpeas
  • 6-8 cherry tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons mixed Italian herbs
  • Pinch of salt and peppers

Instructions

Pour 3 tbsp of the oil into a roasting tin, scatter and roll the vegetables (except cherry tomatoes and courgettes) and chickpeas in the oil and season with herbs, salt and pepper. Roast for about 20 -25 minutes at 250 C and then then add courgettes and cherry tomatoes. Now roast for another 15-20 minutes untill vegies are cooked through and browned.

Serve with any dip, I made gree chutney or sauce with fresh coriander, mint, garlic, spring onions, green chillies, 1/2 avocado, 1/2 fresh tomato pinch of salt, 1/2 teaspoon zeera and few drops of water. Blend all until get smooth consitancy. Avocado in this sauce gives a valvety texture .

THYROID and DIET

The thyroid gland is an essential gland in our body that control all body functions, and healthy thyroid means a healthy body. The principal function ofthe thyroid gland is to produce T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine). The hypothalamus and pituitary glands release thyrotropin- releasing hormone (TRH) and thyroid – stimulating hormone (TSH) respectively, and this stimulates the release of T3 and T4 directly from the thyroid gland. The hypothalamic-pituitary- thyroid axis is regulated by negative feedback. Thus, sufficient production or overproduction of T3 and T4 lead to reduced secretion of TRH and TSH. Thyroid hormones play a role in the regulation of metabolism, body temperature, digestion, cognition, muscle strength and cardiac contractility.

Primarily thyroid disease develops when thyroid gland produces too little or too much T3 and /or T4. BUT there is no specific food or dietary supplements that are helpful in treating thyroid disorder. There is no magic diet for a thyroid disorder, as claimed by some social media nutritionist. However, there are certain areas where our diet may be of relevance in the management of throid disease.

Micronutrients essential for healthy Thyroid

Iodine : Iodine is essential for the synthesis of T4 and particularly important in women who are pregnant as it is needed to ensure the development of a baby’s brain during pregnancy and early life. Iodine deficency results in enlarged goitre (thyroid swelling) and an underactive thyroid. However, in UK and other developed countries iodine deficiency is very rare. Sources of dietary iodine are fish, milk, seaweed and iodized salt. excessive intake also results in hypo or hyperthyroidism

If you are taking levothyroxine for hypothyroidism or for a goitre, there is no need to take iodine supplements

selenium: selenium is essential for a healthy thyroid, DNA synthesis, and also protect against infections and oxadative stress. Selenium is required for the enzyme which causes activation and deactivation of thyroid gland. In adults, the thyroid gland has the heighest concentration of selenium in the body. Adding food rich in selenium like Brazilian nuts, tuna, sardines, eggs, and legumes boots your selenium levels. The majority of data on selenium and throid disease are regardring chronic autoimmune throditis, and some studies suggested thast selenium supplement may be beneficial in this autoimmune thyroditis, however, still we ned lareg randomized trials to conclude this.

Zinc: Zinc is essential for activation of thyroid galand also regulate TSH production. Zinc deficiency is very rare in developed countries as it is abundant in many foofds like seafood, eggs, beans, poultry, nuts ( cashew and almonds).

Vitamin D : Vitamin D is required to activate thyroid hormone receptors, and insuffient Vitamin D impairs thyroid function . There are no large scale randomized trials showing VItamin D directly influence thyroid hormone level. Graves` disease is known to cause bone loss, which is cpmounded by Vitamin D deficiency. This bone loss can be regained by treatment and vitamin D supplementation before and after treatment.

Vitamin A : Vitamin A has been shown to regulate throid hormones metabolism and inhibit thyroid stimulating hormone via down regulation . Vitamin A deficency increases TSH secretion from pituitary gland and reduces iodine uptake by thyroid gland. Vitamin deficency is rare due to being in so many foods Animal source (Rertinol) is more potent as compared to plant derived form Carotenes.

Food to avoid

There is no food to avoid completely, eating balanced diet is important for a healthy thyroid. However there are some foods that should be eaten in moderation like

Brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower, kale etc) may contribute to the formation of goitre in some cases, but consumption would need to be very high before this is a real concern. In the UK, under normal dietary conditions, this is not normally a problem and the risk is very low.

Soya interferes with thyroxine absorption, therefore if you are taking thyroxine you should try to avoid soya, but numerous studied have found that consuming soya doesnot cause hypothyroidism in people with adequate iodine stores. If you wish to take soya, there should be as long a time interval as possible between eating the soya and taking the thyroxine.

Avoid products such as kelp, as they may interfere with thyroid function and wellbeing. Kelp is derived from seaweed and is naturally high in iodine. Because of this it is sometimes marketed as a ‘thyroid booster’ and can be purchased in dry preparations and tablets. As with iodine itself, it is of no health benefit to those with thyroid disease. 

TAKE- HOME -MESSAGE

A heart healthy diet that includes vegetables, fruits, lean protein, fibre, and omega 3 is paramount. If you still don’t feel well despite your medication, improving your diet and starting an exercise program may help.

Always consult your doctor, or pharmcist before taking any supplements or vitamins, as some can interfere with your throid function or your thyroid blood test.

Courgette Masala (zucchini curry)

Courgettes are most versatile and with delicate flavour, adapt to wide range of recipes from bread, fritters, creamy lasagne to grilled courgettes, but i am introducing a yummy, slightly spiced courgette masala/curry. Courgette masala or zucchini whatever you named it, is a delicious pakistani recipe, require very few ingredients. In this recipe, I also used bell peppers and believe me, it is a game-changer.

Ingredients

  • 3 large courgettes
  • 1 Bell pepper
  • 2 medium sized onions
  • 1/2 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon gram masala
  • 1/2 teasppon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup green chillies
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil/or cocunut butter

Instructions

First, heat oil in a non-stick pan, add finely sliced onions and saute for 5 minutes. Now, add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute until a pleasant aroma appears.

Now add diced courgettes and bell pepper, cook for about 2-3 minutes; now add all spices and chopped tomatoes. Mix well, ensuring that courgettes are well coated.

Cover the lid and cook for about 3-4 minutes on medium heat, stirring once in between.

Now add green chillies and lower the flame, cover the lid and cook for 15 minutes. Once all water dries, garnish with chopped fresh coriander

Served it with homemade flatbread.

Polyphenols; what they are, why you need them

Polyphenols are plant-derived dietary compounds that have been postulated to protect against certain chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, neurogenerative diseases and and cancer.

what are polyphenols

Polyphenols are classified into different groups on the basis of their chemical structure. The main classes are phenolic acids, flavonoids, stilbenes, and lignans.

Despite extensive research, the exact mechanism of action of polyphenols in the human body remains unclear.It is suggested by research that gut mictrobiota modulate these polyphenols and transform them into physiological active compound that can be absorbed and have been linked with reducing risks of chronic diseases

Health benefit of polyphenols

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Glucose metabolism

Polyphenols regulate glucose homeostasis glucose as they increase insulin secretion. Additionally, studies show polyphenols inhibiting two enzymes vital for metabolizing glucose from dietary carbohydrate: α-amylase and α-glucosidase, slowing down glucose release and absorption and ultimately reducing high blood sugar following a meal. varios studies link intake of ployphenole rich diet to prevention of insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and type 2diabetes. Accordingly, individuals at risk of type 2 diabetes are encouraged to eat more plant foods, which of course are rich sources of polyphenols.

Heart diseases

Adding polyphenols in your diet may improve heart health. In many studies, regular consumption of cocoa, or flavanol extract of cocoa, is associated with reduced blood pressure and cholesterol. Cocoa, green tea, and black tea all contain Epicatechin, an imortant polyphenol which act at cellular level and imporve endothelial function and inhibit platlet aggregation, thus reduces the risk of heart diseases.

Cocoa and Cardiovascular Health | Circulation

Brain health

Polyphenols exhibit tremendous potential in treating and preventing neurodegenerative disease like Alzheimer disease, Parkinson and huntington disease. Metanalysis and epidemilogical studies strongly suggest that polyphenols rich diet improve cognitive functions in elderly people.

May protect again cancer

Polyphenolsact as antioxidants and anti inflammatory and have been reported to be efficaious in the prevention of cancer. Polyphenols can inibit the proliferation of prostrate, bladder, lung, gastrointestinal, breast and ovarian cancer.

Oral health

Polyphenols are actually present in the highest concentration in oral cavity, and it is believed that they may prevent dental caries formation. This effect is based on polyphenols’ antibacterial activity, but it can be also mediated by inhibition of enzymes glucosyltransferase B and C, responsible for the production of insoluble polysaccharides, that can form a plaque and contribute to adherence of oral bacteria to the dental surface.

Divers polyphenols, divers health benefit

  • Coffee (phenolic acids)
  • Tea (condensed tanninGrape (resveratrol)
  • Apple (flavonoid)
  • Berries (anthocyanins)
  • Buckwheat (Rutin, Quercetin)
  • Oat (Avenanthramides)
  • Alfalfa (Apigenin)
  • Beetroot (Betalains)
  • Various herbs

shall i take polyohenols supplement

Polyphenols rich supplemet confer additonal health benefit but high dose cause toxicity. However, the upper limit of plasma concentation of polyphenols before the elobration of advers effect is unkown. Morover, a considerable amount of evidence support the hypothesis that polyphenols can cause advers effect through their pro oxidative action.

Consumption of polyphenols as healthy dietary component is consistent with the advice to eat five or more potions of fruits and vegetable per day, but it is still unclear the exact dose of specific polyphenols that can be safely and beneficiially consumed.

tandoori chicken skewers

This is an easy and simple recipe made with litttle or no effort.

ingredients

  • 500g boneless chicken
  • 1/3 cup yoghurt
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp paprika powder
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil

instruction

  • Marinate the chicken and vegetables and leave it for a minimum of 1 hour. The wait will be worth it as the longer you leave it, the more flavour it will have.
  • Once the chicken and the vegetables are ready, simply thread them on skewers. Its that simple.
  • Then add to the grill or pan and let it cook for 15-20 or until they are brown but you must cook it for at least 12 minutes
  • Once done, serve with dip of your own choice and salads
  • enjoy

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NEAT; a new strategy to increase energy expenditure

NEAT is the energy expended for everything we do other than sleeping, eating food or doing sports like activity. There are several ways by which we can burn more calories without doing planned exercises. There are three principal components of human energy balance basal metabolic rate (BMR), the thermic effect of food (TEF), and activity thermogenesis. Other small components of energy expenditure may contribute to the whole, such as the energetic costs of medications and emotions.

lets explain these in more detail

B.M.R: BMR is the energy used for basic functions when body is at rest. This account for 70% of our total energy expenditure

T.E.F(Thermic effect of food); it is the energy used to breakdown food. Different macronutrients have different thermic effects. Evidence suggests that the thermic effect of food accounts for roughly 5 to 10% of the ingested food’s energy content. Protein hs the highest T.E.F., and this means our body burn more calories, breaking it down than it does with fats or carbs.

E.A.T; The energy used in planned physical activity. E.A.T makes up the smallest proportion of our daily energy expenditure.

Commonly EAT accounts for a maximum of 15-30% of TEE in those who regularly participate in the recommended physical training, and it explains 1-2% of the variance in TEE. However, for the majority of people in modern society, EAT is believed to be negligible. Also, adherence to the recommended exercise intensity and duration remains low in obese patients, and consequently, EAT is nearer to zero.

1 hour of exercise = 4% of the day

NEAT= 60-65% of the day

WAYS TO INCREASE NEAT

  • walking towards workplace /school
  • Climbing stairs
  • cooking
  • cleaning
  • Washing your dishes rather putting up in dishwasher
  • get up and move for every 2 minutes after every 30 or 60 minutes of desk work.
  • Pace while talking on the phone.
  • Typing
  • Undertaking agriculture work
  • Working in backyard
  • Toe tipping
  • Shopping
  • Dancing, playing the guitar

factors involved in the level of NEAT

The factors that impact a human’s NEAT are readily divisible into environmental factors, such as occupation or dwelling within a “concrete jungle,” and biological factors such as weight, gender, and body composition.

NEAT is the most variable component of energy expenditure, both within and between the subjects, ranging from ∼15% of total daily energy expenditure in very sedentary individuals to 50% or more of total daily energy expenditure in highly active individuals. Browsing in a store (walking at 1 mph) doubles energy expenditure, and purposeful walking (2–3 mph) is associated with doubling or tripling energy expenditure.

evidence behind NEAT benefits

In this obesogenic environment, where putting on weight is too easy, a conventional intervention aimed at energy imblance. However, this strategy has mixed results in long term studies. Hence an alternative app-roach has emerged, focused on reducing the total amount of time spent doing sedentary activities. It is estimated that around 14-15 hours a day we spend sitting and not moving our bodies.

There is growing body of evidence showing people with higher levels of NEAT have lower rates of impaired glucose control, diabetes, and obesity.

take-home message

By avoiding prolonged sitting, promoting motion, and engaging in simple, repetitive, and creative activities, a significant amount of extra calories may be expended that can reduce weight and perhaps prevent the cardiovascular and metabolic complications associated with obesity.

So the next time you’re looking to rev up your calorie burn, choose the N.E.A.T. way to stay active. N.E.A.T. is a beneficial addition to your exercise routine that does not take time away from home or family—perfect for those who find time is their worst enemy.

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”— Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

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Aubergine and chickpeas curry

A perfect recipe you can make with pantry staples like chickpeas, tomatos and some spices. Aubergines never go wrong with chickpeas, lentils or fresh (frozen peas).

Ingredients

  • 1 aubergine, sliced into 2cm cubes
  • 1 tin of chickpeas
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp of chilli powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp Gram masala.
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 onion finely sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves diced
  • 1 handful of fresh coriander
  • 1/4cup sesmic seeds
  • 1/2 cup of tahini-based dressing
  • Naan, pita bread(optional) for serving

How to make it:

  • Frist, roast the aubergine and cherry tomatoes; drizzle with olive oil, a pinch of salt and peppers and place in the oven. It will take 15-20 minutes but keep an eye as oven will vary.
  • In a large pan, add the onions in olive oil and cook for 5 minutes until the onion becomes soft now add garlic and give them a good mix.
  • Now add all spices, add chickpeas and a half tin of tomatoes and leave to simmer for 10 minutes gently.
  • When the sauce becomes thick, add roasted aubergine and cherry tomatoes and give a good stir and cook on low flame for about 5 minutes.
  • Now add fresh coriander. I like to drizzle over some tahini based dressing. You can make this dressing at home by simply adding some water and lemon juice.
  • serve this curry with naan or rice.
  • Enjoy.

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