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?

A Shout Out to The Farmers Market

* by Mark

I am a sinner, for I partake in the nasty habit of smoking and so I am often relegated to the cold and wet outside to satisfy my cravings. Over the years I have grown accustomed to the downside of my habit and accept it as a norm. Oh yes before you think it I have tried to quit and sure one day I will quit with the help of vaping but for now success eludes me. So you may now be wondering what on earth this has to do with a farmers market, let me explain…

We smokers are often told from learned and wise people that one of the many downsides to our habit is a reduced or even the total loss of our sense of smell and taste and as they are indeed wise I for one took them at their word.

In a busy and hectic modern lifestyle we as a society have reduced our foraging for food down to the weekly visit to one of the main supermarket chains, its normal and everyone does it. Now as I wander around the fruit and veg section of our local supermarket the smells are muted and in many cases missing, even in the cut flower section. Once home and dinner is prepared my taste buds experience the same muted sense. It must be because I smoke right, my fault right….

A Shout Out to The Farmers MarketNow we live in the deepest darkest corner of Bulgaria, miles from anything resembling a supermarket and having missed the summer so the veg patch is currently bare we have to go foraging in a new way. So to the farmers market we go on a chilly but sunny Wednesday morning to browse a hundred different stalls stacked high with seasonally appropriate vegetables and fruit. This is where I had one of my life changing experiences.

Maybe it was a miracle, maybe Bulgarian cigarettes are made different whatever it was my sense of smell was reeling from all the inputs. I could smell everything and in many cases I didn’t even have to be an inch away but several paces away was close enough to smell the produce. It was an amazing experience and has left a lasting impression on me. When we returned home and prepared some of our newly acquired food my taste buds also joined in with the revelation of working again as the taste of everything was distinct and filled my mouth. I am hooked.

…and yes I still smoke, probably more now than ever as the novelty of £2 a pack makes quitting just a little harder!

So why, I was left wondering, why have my senses returned to me so suddenly after all these years of being dormant. Turns out if you eat stuff grown in clean soil, that’s clean in the sense of not being saturated in chemicals and in a natural environment as it is meant to be grown as stated by Mother Nature the end product smells and tastes amazing. If you eat stuff grown out of season, stuff that grew in a polly-tunnel and that was fed chemicals to facilitate the fastest possible growth cycle to maximise profits the flavour and smell is muted. It is all to do with the micro-organisms in the soil, all the creepy crawlies who defecate and die in the soil, the rain water and the whole ecosystem that the plant grows in. Things we probably don’t want to think about as we are eating but are vital to the amount of smell and taste we experience at the end of it all. Commercially grown stuff tends to be shielded from all that stuff and we pay the price.

So I return to my starting point, with a huge shout out to the farmers market, they are not perfect but they are a far better option than the supermarket shelves of commercially churned out produce. So support your local business person and visit your farmers market and spend a little extra cash, trust me your nose and tongue will thank you.

5 Benefits of Walnuts

Who knew that walnuts are truly the nut of wonder… well actually they aren’t nuts but seeds but you get the point. They are among the oldest foods grown by humans, dating back to 7000BC, super rich in nutrition and with countless benefits to our body.

Who knew that walnuts are truly the nut of wonder… well actually they aren’t nuts but seeds but you get the point. They are among the oldest foods grown by humans, dating back to 7000BC, super rich in nutrition and with countless benefits to our body.I was never a huge fan of walnuts. I do like them, don’t get me wrong, but given the choice of different nuts I would usually go for almonds, cashews or even hazelnuts. Since coming to Bulgaria we have discovered that walnuts are the only protected tree in this country, which obviously means no chopping without very special permission, as a result there are walnuts everywhere! And I really mean everywhere! I can go for a 5 minute walk to my local village shop and come back with a basket of walnuts if I was to collect only those that have dropped from the trees along the sidewalk.  With such an abundance of these nuts I have started to look closer into them and to my big surprise I have discovered that they are truly nuts of wonder with many benefits which really shouldn’t be overlooked.

Heart health

Walnuts contain the plant-based omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is an anti-inflammatory and may prevent the formation of pathological blood clots. Research shows that people who eat a diet high in ALA are less likely to have a fatal heart attack and have a nearly 50 percent lower risk of sudden cardiac death. They also decrease LDL cholesterol, which is the so called “bad cholesterol” and increases production of the good one.

Brain health

Walnuts have a very high antioxidant content, which means that they can improve your brain functions including the memory function, comprehension and possibly even slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease.

Weight control

Surprisingly those fatty, fairly high calorie nuts can help us lose weight. If added to your diet they will help to keep us fuller for longer. One study has shown that people who included walnuts in their breakfast had a sense of fullness for much longer than the group which didn’t, which means less snacking, less other foods, less calories…

Source of vitamins and minerals

Walnuts are an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals including: folic acid, vitamin B, vitamin E, magnesium, copper, phosphorus.

Beauty nut

Well, walnuts can help us with the quality of our sleep (thanks to melatonin), they will strengthen our hair (thanks to biotin / vitamin B7) and make our skin glow (thanks to vitamin B and antioxidants) so how could we not call it a beauty nut?

 

Those are just five of the main benefits of walnuts. According to many articles on the net there is many, many more, some less proven then others but the bottom line is: walnuts are good for you, really good! Now, it’s just a case of finding some “healthy” (aka organic grown) walnuts near you. And if you struggling give me a shout I can share our stash with you 🙂

Source:
https://authoritynutrition.com/foods/walnuts/
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/05/19/7-walnuts-benefits.aspx
http://www.thehealthsite.com/fitness/go-walnuts-13-health-benefits-of-this-awesome-nut/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19910942
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16825686

9 Homemade Snack Bars Perfect for Kids Lunch Box

9 Homemade Snack Bars Perfect for Kids Lunch BoxIt’s back to school time again which means that all of us who have kids are starting to scratch our heads yet again in search of something new and exciting to put into their lunch boxes.

I was wondering about the perfect lunch box contents but the more I thought about it, the more confused I became and I would end up turned around in my own thoughts… sandwiches, salads, fruits, veggies plus some special “pick me up” treat. Normally this treat would be a shop bought snack bar but lately I’ve started making my own energy bars… they aren’t perfected as yet so I can’t share them with you… I did however go on the hunt through my favourite food bloggers in search of that something special to put into the lunch box.

I have picked for you a lovely selection of homemade bars which would make a perfect addition to any bento lunch box.

Savoury Bars

Bacon Jam Crumble BarsBacon Jam Crumble Bars

These bars contain bacon spread which can be purchased from most supermarkets but if you are a vegetarian 10thkitchen has a few great ideas with regards to substituting the bacon content.

Oat Bars with Olives and Sun Dried TomatoesOat Bars with Olives and Sun Dried Tomatoes

Lovely vegetarian bar which can be adapted to suit omnivores too. I love sun dried tomatoes so this recipe sounds perfect to me. For the full recipe please click here.

Pizza Snack BarsPizza Snack Bars

I am sure this one will become many kids favourite. As long as you call something pizza they will eat it, am I right? These bars are whole grain, gluten and oil free. For a full recipe please visit Healthy Helper Blog.

Sweet Bars

Vanilla Almonds Granola BarsVanilla Almonds Granola Bars

Wonderful looking and packed with good ingredients and if you want to go one step further Bowsesssed has the recipe for homemade almond granola too 🙂

Chocolate Chip Walnut Granola BarsChocolate Chip Walnut Granola Bars

Lunch with no chocolate? Well not to worry, I picked some chocolate bars too. The full recipe can be found on Shweta in the Kitchen.

Kitchen Sink Snack BarsKitchen Sink Snack Bars

Don’t let the name put you off, these bars are truly amazing. They are packed with oats, nuts, seeds and berries and look like fun… oh, and they are gluten free! For the full ingredients list and the recipe itself please visit Kim’s blog.

No Bake Bars

Strawberry and Cream Snack BarsStrawberry and Cream Snack Bars

Vegan, allergy friendly, gluten free and with a paleo option, they are very kid friendly. All you need is one bowl and 10 minutes of your time. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Visit The Big Man’s World to see how they are done.

Coconut Almond Quinoa Granola BarsCoconut Almond Quinoa Granola Bars

Lots of wonderful ingredients disguised as a sweet bar, especially with a chocolate drizzle on top who would think these are the healthy option? These might not take 10 minutes to make but they are well worth it. Full recipe can be found on The Spiffy Cookie blog.

M&M Protein BarM&M Protein Bar

You have to admit they do look super kid friendly. What kid could resist a bar like this? But in addition to the M&M’s which stand out in these bars they are packed full of goodies like oats, nuts, seeds, coconut… For a full recipe please visit Mommyhoods Diary.

These are all looking like wonderful bars, wouldn’t you agree?

And they are so much better for them than many shop bought “slabs” of chocolate bars which usually take up a place in our kids’ lunch box.

And on the topic of lunch boxes…. Fancy having your lunch in style?

I have a wonderful MB original green bento box from monbento to give to one of you. Monbento boxes not only look totally fab but they are also microwave-safe, dishwasher-safe, soft touch, airtight, BPA-free and are made from food grade materials. So if you fancy winning yourself this award winning, cool looking lunch box just follow the steps on the Gleam app below.

#win MB Original from monbento

Good Luck!

T&C:
1. Open to UK readers only.
2. This giveaway is sponsored by Bark Time in connection with monbento.
3. There will be 1 winner chosen at random from all valid entries. Winner will be chosen by Gleam.
4. The winner will receive one MB Original bento box from monbento. The prize will only be fulfilled by Bark Time.
5. The winner will have 7 working days to claim the prize, after this time, a new winner will be selected.
6. Closing date for the giveaway is Monday 28/09/2015 at 23:59pm.

ThePrizeFinder – UK Competitions
Loquax – Home of The Lucky Duck
SuperLucky Blog Giveaways Linky
Competition Hunter – UK Competitions Community

Clean & Green – Almost Green Cleanser

Clean & Green – Almost Green CleanserAll varieties of shakes, juices and smoothies are usually, very popular during the summer time. We have an abundance of fresh fruit and veggies to consume and so we try to mix them up in order to create something special. Some of these mixtures will no doubt have a pure self-indulgence purpose but some can be very tasty and a healthy addition to our daily diet.

This “almost green cleanser” was inspired by the Green Cleanser recipe from Clean & Green by Parragon Books. This lovely book is packed with an amazing selection of green juices, smoothies, shots and soups… and just as the title states they are all green 🙂

Most recipes don’t require any cooking (well… the soups do); all you need to make most of them is a blender or a juicer. So if you have these two kitchen appliance I would highly recommend buying Clean & Green.

But back to my almost green cleanser… I called it almost green as the original recipe calls for avocado, which would make the final smoothie really green. I skipped the avocado and replaced it with pineapple and redcurrants… so let’s start with the ingredients:Clean & Green – My Almost Green Cleanser

  • 30g curly kale
  • 2 springs of parsley
  • 2 kiwi fruits
  • 2 slices of fresh pineapple
  • 1 apple
  • Handful of redcurrants
  • Handful of crushed ice (optional)

Method:

Wash, trim and peel (if needed) your fruit and veggies.

Cut them into smaller pieces which will be more suitable for your juicer.

Feed all the ingredients, one by one, into your juicer.

Pour into a glass filled with crushed ice and serve and enjoy!

Clean & Green - Almost Green CleanserDo you like fresh juices and smoothies during the hot summer months?

Does the hot weather inspire you to eat more fresh fruit and veggies?

What would be inside your favourite green cleanser?

***

Clean & Green
ISBN 978-1-4723-8936-7
Published by Parragon Books Ltd in 2015
Part of Love Food
Number of pages: 128
RRP: £10.00
Paperback; perfect bound

*I received this book for free from Parragon as a part of my Book Buddy pack.

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