A Spring in your Step!

Monday 5th February 2018

Often flat and miserable, January and February are probably the least favourite months of the year for everyone. As I write this, it is sleeting heavily outside my study window, so, true to form and not very inviting!
 
We all tend to rush through December like mad things and then all of a sudden Christmas is upon us with its extravagant excesses.
 
Treat January and February as a completely new beginning.  Make a few subtle, yet definite changes to diet, and consciously start to take more exercise.   The beneficial effects on your body and weight will actually begin to show within days.  Believe me, it really does work fast.
 
Western diets are packed with processed foods, sugar and refined carbohydrates and are often low in fibre and nutrients.  Make an effort to ditch salt and sugar, avoid ready meals, cooking from scratch instead, even if you just make scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast with tomatoes for supper.  Use as many fresh vegetables and fruits as you possibly can in the meals you prepare for family and friends. Avoid desserts and opt for plain full fat yoghurt served with fresh fruit in season instead of the low fat flavoured yoghurts which tend to be loaded with sweeteners or sugar.  Plain yoghurt is great for healthy guts too.
 
Vary the protein foods you eat, sometimes replacing cheese and meat with eggs or beans and make use of the pulses like chick peas and red kidney beans. Use seeds and nuts, but not the salted variety!  Make more of quick to cook fish, which is low in saturated fat and high in protein, vitamins and minerals. Major on both oily fish, such as sardines, mackerel and salmon which is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, essential for healthy brains as well as white fish like cod and Pollock. 
 
Eggs are one of the cheapest and most nutritious fast foods around, yet we seem to forget them, except at breakfast time.  High in protein, low in calories, and containing a mineral and vitamin boost, in every single one, we really should make more use of eggs.
 
Get moving
 
 A daily 30 minute walk boosts the immune system and helps us lose weight faster, so wrap up warm, don a pair of boots with good grips and get out there, whatever the weather! We often look out of the window onto a dreary scene and opt to stay sitting by the fire.  Once out there, you will soon be enjoying the elements and the excursion, trust me!  A brisk stroll also boosts our mental system and makes us feel better almost instantly.  It helps if you can find a walking buddy.  We are more likely to make time for walking, if we have a regular partner to chivvy us into action, should we feel like staying in the comfort and warmth of home!
 
Cut down on the booze
 
In my opinion, total abstinence is just one step too far!  Instead, try to have three booze free days each week and when you do indulge, make healthy choices.  Swap a large glass of wine for a wine spritzer made by putting a little white or red wine in the base of a tumbler, then top up with soda water or low calorie tonic. Add ice and a slice of lemon or lime for a long refreshing drink.  If you drink spirits, dilute them with double the amount of “mixer”. Follow each drink with a glass of water or tonic water.  Soon you will feel better in body and soul and your sleeping pattern will improve too.
 
Healthy Dinner Party Main Course
 
I have included two healthy recipes that both taste extremely good on a cold winter’s evening.
 
Easy Coq au Vin and the Colourful Cauliflower, Carrot and Red Pepper Salad are both colourful and delicious. Serve them together, and ditch the rice or potatoes, as a healthy supper or lunch party.
 
I hope you enjoy making the healthy menu set out for you. The aim is to make entertaining friends and family a little easier and healthier.

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