Sunflower Seeds – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Sunflower seeds – small, tasty and healthy; eaten as a snack or as a part of a proper meal this fruit of the sunflower has a lot to offer us but just like most things in life, even sunflower seeds have to be consumed in moderation as too much simply isn’t good for us…

Some countries are much bigger on sunflower seeds consumption than other. I’ve read that in Russia for example, you can simply ask a friend for a handful of sunflower seeds once you run out, just like you would bump the proverbial cup of sugar from your neighbour in the UK; they are just so common and everyone eats them. I personally love sunflower seeds, to the point that Mark thinks I should look like a parrot by now. Anyways last night whilst multitasking (re-watching season 4 of House MD and playing Jelly Saga bubbles on my phone at the same time), I heard the episode with the diagnosis – B6 toxicity as a direct result of excessive sunflower seed consumption… well, this caused me to stop nibbling and got me thinking, so here I am sharing with you the headlines from what I have been researching for the last few hours 🙂

Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of polyunsaturated oils; they are rich in Vitamin E, copper, Vitamin B, manganese, selenium, magnesium, folate and almost 70 other nutrients.

The main health benefits of eating sunflower seeds:

  • Weight control – due to their high levels of oil they will quickly take care of any hunger pangs, thus making a perfect snack.
  • Some anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits due to their high levels of vitamin E.
  • They help lower cholesterol levels.
  • Anti-depressant – high level of magnesium can help with low moods, as well as help calm muscles and ease blood vessels.
  • Antioxidant – the selenium in sunflower seeds can help with thyroid health and help to repair any damaged cells within our body.

All is good in the world of sunflower seeds that is until we eat too many of them… Well, one might ask how many it too many… apparently, a single 1oz serving per day is the magic number… eating more can lead to several undesirable effects and contribute to:

  • Weight gain! Yes, the same seed which promotes weight loss in moderate amounts when eaten uncontrollably (the habit of nibbling them is very addictive) will inevitably lead to way too many calories and fats and undesirable weight gain.
  • Excess salt, especially if you snack on the salted version of the seeds.
  • General mouth and dental problems due to cracking too many shells.
  • Stomach problems due to high levels of fiber from eating both shelled and unshelled seeds.
  • Vitamin or/and nutrients overdose. All those good nutrients which were highly beneficial in a small amount can lead to problems when over consumed, especially manganese, selenium or B6 (just as House said).

I still love sunflower seeds but I might stick to a serving of roasted seeds as an addition to my salad from now on and lay off snacking my way through a 100g pack of it every other day.

Do you like sunflower seeds?

Have you ever considered that something can be beneficial in a small amount yet can be harmful when over-consumed?

Morning Fruit Booster Smoothie

A fresh and zingy morning smoothie which will wake you up and help you stay energized for those busy hours to come.

A fresh and zingy morning smoothie which will wake you up and help you stay energized for those busy hours to come.Sometimes it’s really hard to wake up in the morning and once we are up even a cup of coffee can’t always help us to stay awake. Well, next time you have one of those mornings, try my fruit booster morning smoothie. It will definitely help your energy levels peak and it will also provide your body with some much-needed vitamins and microelements.

One thing to remember: quality over quantity! Good quality ingredients are becoming harder to come by. Low-quality food, including fruit and veggies, is cheap but at the same time worthless to our body. I know it might sound like a no brainier to some but always buy organic ingredients… yes, I know they cost more but we are what we eat… I think it is better by any measure to buy less of something and get to truly enjoy its real taste rather than a big plastic-wrapped bag of intensely farmed produce at a knocked down price. That’s not to mention the benefits obtained from eating healthy naturally grown foods. Thus ends the sermon, now what do we need for that pick me up smoothie…

Ingredients:

  • 250ml chilled coconut water
  • 1 banana
  • 1 large red grapefruit
  • 1 orange
  • 1 pear
  • 1 red apple
  • Ice cubes (optional)

A fresh and zingy morning smoothie which will wake you up and help you stay energized for those busy hours to come.Method:

Wash and quarter the apple and pear.

Wash and peel the banana and orange then chop into smaller chunks.

Chop in half and remove all the red flesh from the grapefruit. If you have a sweet grapefruit or you don’t mind an abundance of zinginess you might just peel and chop it. I normally just add the fleshy parts without any of the white pith bits which separate the segments as these can be very bitter.

As for the preparation part of the process simply add the coconut water into your blended, pop all your prepared fruits in and blend for 10-15 seconds on a high speed or until it is visibly smooth.

Serve over ice if you fancy a colder refreshment.

Enjoy!

Morning Fruit Booster Smoothie. A fresh and zingy morning smoothie which will wake you up and help you stay energized for those busy hours to come.

Keeping Kids Hydrated

Water is essential for life therefore it’s a crucial part of our diet… after all we are nearly two-thirds water! Many of us forget about the importance of the right hydration levels or simply have not enough knowledge on how to ensure it but the right hydration level is crucial to our wellbeing and development, especially for young children so we should do all we can to get it right!

Water is essential for life therefore it’s a crucial part of our diet… after all we are nearly two-thirds water! Many of us forget about the importance of the right hydration levels or simply have not enough knowledge on how to ensure it but the right hydration level is crucial to our wellbeing and development, especially for young children so we should do all we can to get it right!Two out of three parents have no idea how much water their kids should intake every day. Infants and young children have a higher proportion of water in their body mass when compared to adults so it’s especially important to maintain the correct hydration level.

A child between the age of one and three needs about 1.3 litres of fluids a day, this amount will rise depending on your child’s activity levels or the weather conditions. Some of those liquids will come from the food they eat but most of it will require serving as a drink.

Drinking water is a perfect choice as it provides the required liquids, helping with hydration without additional calories in the child’s diet. But plain water can be a little bit boring, can’t it? Well, this may be true but we should lead by example. If you drink water instead of juices or canned drinks, the chances are that your child will do the same. The best tip from me is to “get them whilst they are young”. If your child will get used to drinking water at a young age, they will most likely still drink it when he or she is all grown up. It’s much easier to teach them this good habit when they are young… as it might really become a nightmare trying to convince them to swap fizzy drinks for example for water later on in life.

So what to do when plain water isn’t really an option?

Well, Robinsons to the rescue!

Water is essential for life therefore it’s a crucial part of our diet… after all we are nearly two-thirds water! Many of us forget about the importance of the right hydration levels or simply have not enough knowledge on how to ensure it but the right hydration level is crucial to our wellbeing and development, especially for young children so we should do all we can to get it right!With real fruit in every drop, Robinsons is a tasty way to enjoy drinking more water. The Robinsons range contains no added sugar, is free from artificial colours and preservatives and is a great way to stay refreshed this summer.

Water is essential for life therefore it’s a crucial part of our diet… after all we are nearly two-thirds water! Many of us forget about the importance of the right hydration levels or simply have not enough knowledge on how to ensure it but the right hydration level is crucial to our wellbeing and development, especially for young children so we should do all we can to get it right!This small, handy and super concentrated squash offers 20 servings per bottle and it comes in a choice of six delicious flavours:

  • Apple & Blackcurrant
  • Citrus
  • Lemon & Lime
  • Orange & Peach
  • Passion Fruit & Mango
  • Summer Fruit

With such an ace up your sleeve there really should be no problems with hydration this summer!

Do you have any trick and tips which can help to drink more water?

Water is essential for life therefore it’s a crucial part of our diet… after all we are nearly two-thirds water! Many of us forget about the importance of the right hydration levels or simply have not enough knowledge on how to ensure it but the right hydration level is crucial to our wellbeing and development, especially for young children so we should do all we can to get it right!

* This post is an entry for BritMums #EnjoyMoreWater Challenge, sponsored by Robinsons

8 Fat Burners in Your Fridge & Pantry

Losing weight and burning fat is never easy. Most diets are all about saying ‘NO’ to things we love to eat (unless of course you, just like me, follow Thinking Slimmer and eat what you fancy, when you fancy it, simply by listening to your body)… but even then it’s good to know which foods can help us burn fat faster. Below you will find a list of 8 “fat burners” with expert explanation as to why and how they work.

Losing weight and burning fat is never easy. Most diets are all about saying ‘NO’ to things we love to eat (unless of course you, just like me, follow Thinking Slimmer and eat what you fancy, when you fancy it, simply by listening to your body)… but even then it’s good to know which foods can help us burn fat faster. Below you will find a list of 8 “fat burners” with expert explanation as to why and how they work.

Chilli
We all recognise that chilli helps us heat up, even making us break a sweat after consuming it. ‘This is called diet-induced thermogenesis. It is this process that is excellent for those who want to lose weight as it encourages our body to burn up calories rather than storing them. It is the active constituent capsaicin that creates the heat in our body from the food ingested. Studies have also shown that chilli may help to decrease your appetite too. More good news for those wanting to reduce their snacking between meals!’ explains nutritionist Elouise Bauskis.

Brown rice
This is a much better choice than white rice for many reasons. ‘Firstly, it is much more nutritious, as it hasn’t been as refined as white rice, and therefore maintains more of its fibre, protein and nutrients. On the glycaemic index of foods brown rice is a medium GL food, whereas white rice is a high GL. If you want to lose weight and for proper blood sugar balance generally, which will help you on many levels, you should ideally consume only low and medium GL foods daily.’ says Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading nutritionist, author of The Natural Health Bible for Women.

Quinoa
‘This is a fabulous substitute for rice or pasta. Quinoa is actually a seed, so lower in carbohydrates, higher in protein and it’s very nutritious with generous amounts of minerals. It’s also alkalising and it will be much more beneficial for balancing blood sugar levels as part of a meal. Balanced blood sugar levels will decrease fat storage.’ says Elouise.

Almonds
Almonds are high in essential nutrients especially the minerals and vitamins. They are also full of nourishing healthy fats as well as being high in protein. Fat and protein make you feel fuller for longer, which should encourage you to snack less. They also help to balance your blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity, which is an essential part of healthy weight loss and management.’ explains Glenville.

Cinnamon
‘It can help weight management by helping to stabilise and normalise blood sugar levels, which can keep you fuller for longer, while reducing cravings for sweetness. It is also a digestive herb, gently warming your stomach, aiding in the breakdown of your food more efficiently.’ adds Elouise.

Green Tea
‘Green tea contains a wealth of antioxidants, the most powerful of them being EGCG, a substance that can boost metabolism. To put it most simply the nutrients found in green tea increase the levels of hormones that tell the fat cells to break down fat. This results in fat being released into the bloodstream making it available as energy.’ says Bauskis.

Coffee
‘Caffeine boosts your metabolism by up to 3-11%, which may aid in weight loss. It has also been shown to increase fat burning, by up to 10% in individuals who are obese, and 29% in those who are lean. This effect may decrease over time though as your body becomes used to the caffeine. The chlorogenic acid in coffee helps reduce glucose absorption. Coffee can also dramatically boost your physical performance, on average by 11-12%. By releasing fatty acids from the fat tissues for the body to use as ‘fuel’, and by increasing adrenaline levels in the blood, it makes our bodies ready for physical exertion. Coffee will increase your energy prior to a workout, whilst also strengthening endurance, which will enhance athletic performance.’ Elouise explains.

Eggs
They are one of the healthiest foods on the planet! ‘The yolk is super nutritious. It contains lecithin, nutrients and antioxidants, especially lutein and zeaxanthin. Eggs are full of good quality protein that is easy to assimilate. Plus they help you feel fuller for longer, which will encourage you to eat less. They have a positive effect on cholesterol levels, increasing our “good” HDL cholesterol whilst decreasing the “bad” LDL cholesterol.’ explains Glenville.

*Post based on press release. To find out more visit: www.nutricentre.com and www.marilynglenville.com

Dry Apples & Cinnamon Muffins

Quick and easy to make these dry apples & cinnamon muffins make for a perfect sugar free treat.

Quick and easy to make these dry apples & cinnamon muffins make for a perfect sugar free treat. Frankly when I entered my kitchen the other day I was all for baking with coffee. My mind was set for a coffee treat but once I started preparing my ingredients I came across a big bag of dried apples which my mum had lovingly prepared for me… suddenly the coffee was out the window and the apples were in. As they were dried apples I wasn’t really sure what to do with them so I settled for yet another sugar free muffins. It was a good choice. The muffins came out perfectly oozing with rich apple flavour.

Ingredients:

  • 200g dry apples; chopped
  • 50g raisings
  • 250ml strong tea
  • 140g flour
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs; beaten
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1tsp vanilla essence

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C fan and prepare a 12 muffin tin by lining it with paper muffin cases or silicon ones.

In a medium sized cooking pot place your lovely chopped dry apples, add 250ml of freshly brewed tea (I used black vanilla tea) and bring it to a gentle simmer.

Cook on a low heat for about 5 minutes or until all the liquid has incorporated into the apples.

Put aside and allow it to cool for a few minutes.

Quick and easy to make these dry apples & cinnamon muffins make for a perfect sugar free treat. In the meantime, sift your flour and mix with the bicarbonate of soda.

Beat the eggs.

Now back to our apples…

Add the butter and stir until melted and mixed in.

Add the cinnamon and vanilla essence and stir well.

Finally fold in the flour and bicarbonate of soda mixture, add the eggs and raisings and mix until fully combined but try not to over mix it.

Use a table spoon and scoop one heaped tablespoon of mixture into each muffin casing.

Pop into earlier preheated oven and bake for 18-20minutes at 180C fan.

When the time is up, remove from the oven, remove from the baking tray and place on wire rack and allow them to cool completely.

Quick and easy to make these dry apples & cinnamon muffins make for a perfect sugar free treat. Quick and easy to make these dry apples & cinnamon muffins make for a perfect sugar free treat. Enjoy!