Eat Well to age well article Autumn 2020

Saturday 26th September 2020

Cookery writer Beverley Jarvis, of Ashford, Wye & District U3A, has appeared on the BBC and written 23 books. Here are her healthy eating tips, plus some recipes for you to try.

You can still enjoy delicious meals while cutting down on red and processed meats. While red meat is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals, eating too much of it is linked with high cholesterol, increased risk of cardiovascular disease and bowel cancer. The Department of Health recommends we eat no more than 70g of red and processed meat a day.

So it is a good idea to replace red and processed meats by eating more chicken, fish, eggs and pulse vegetables such as chickpeas and red kidney beans. Carbohydrate is your body’s main energy source, fuelling all our activities. However, excess carbohydrate that does not get burned will quickly be converted by the body into fat and stored long-term.

Try to eat less processed carbohydrate foods, such as sweetened white bread and pastry, biscuits, cake and fizzy sweetened drinks and cut down on white potatoes, while eating more valuable carbohydrates such as wholemeal bread, brown rice and wholemeal pasta, plus lot of vegetables. Sweet potatoes can be counted as one of your 5-a-day (ordinary potatoes don’t count), which I believe should become 8-a-day for anyone over the age of 60! Always wash fruit, veg and herbs before use. Try to eat less animal fat, such as butter, suet and lard, and instead replace it with products, such as olive oil, sunflower or rape seed oil, and yogurt. In sandwiches, use a spread made with olive oil.

More information on healthy eating can be found at Anyone suffering persistent health problems should always seek advice from their GP. 


I have enjoyed working as a home economist and cookery writer for more than 50 years.

In 1986, I presented a six-week series called Microwave Magic for Pebble Mill at One on BBC 1. It was probably the most exciting thing I have ever done! It came about largely due to my first cookbook, Microwave Cooking, which I had written in 1985 while working as a microwave demonstrator for an electrical store.

To date, I have had more than 23 cookbooks published, many about healthy eating, and am currently working on a new healthy cookbook for the over 55s.

I joined Ashford, Wye & District U3A in 2013. I have belonged to the choir, walking group, book group and play-reading group. I have loved hosting a regular cookery spot in my home and I also write a cookery column for our newsletter.

To age well, we all know we need to eat a healthy diet and exercise on a regular basis. I live in the countryside and love to walk, aiming to reach my 10,000 daily steps. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but it really does help my arthritis.


I use ripe cherry tomatoes instead of sweets, keeping a bowl of them in the kitchen and sitting room to dip into when a “snack attack” strikes!

Some of the healthier foods I suggest you include in your diet, may come as a surprise: Fresh herbs have been used as a healthy alternative to medicine for years. They add flavour, are believed to have healing properties and often make a great alternative to salt.

Add freshly chopped basil, parsley, coriander, dill, thyme, tarragon and so on to recipes. Herbs are easy to grow in pots on the kitchen windowsill, by the way.

Garlic contains manganese, vitamin B6 and vitamin C. Use to enhance soups, vegetable dishes, stir-fries and curries.

Knobbly ginger freezes well and can be grated straight from the freezer, so no need to waste it. Ginger is understood to prevent nausea, reduce muscle pain and stiffness and is believed to have anti-inflammatory benefits. It is therefore great for arthritis patients, like me. However, those with a history of oxalate-containing kidney stones should avoid eating too much ginger.

Vitamin D Many of us now know that our bodies need vitamin D, particularly as we get older. Vitamin D helps to regulate how we use calcium, which is necessary for strong bones and teeth.

As we absorb most of the Vitamin D we need from sunshine, it is important, particularly during the winter months and if housebound, to try to include Vitamin D-rich foods in your diet. You can also take a daily vitamin D supplement but your GP will advise. Good dietary sources of Vitamin D are egg yolk and oily fish, such as mackerel, tuna, salmon and sardines.

Turmeric, an ingredient in curry powder, is believed to be one of the most powerful healing plants in the world. Clinical trials have found it beneficial in reducing pain and swelling in people with osteo or rheumatoid arthritis. It is available as a supplement but it is a good idea to get used to including curry powder and paste into your cooking.

Freshly ground black pepper is a rich source of magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, iron, potassium and vitamins B, C and K, so it is really good for you. Grind plenty of black pepper into your cooking and use it at the dinner table – but leave the salt pot alone!


Salt As a nation, most of us are eating too much salt. According to the NHS, adults should eat no more than 6g – or a teaspoon – of salt (2.4g sodium) a day. About 75 per cent of the salt we eat comes from processed foods such as ham, cheese, cakes, biscuits and canned produce. Reducing your salt intake can help prevent high blood pressure, reduce headaches and help with water retention. Instead of adding salt when you cook vegetables, try using herbs and a little lemon juice instead. I promise you that very soon, you won’t even miss it.

Sugar is high in calories and with no nutritional value. Don’t forget that sugar is hidden in many foods such as breakfast cereals and tomato sauce, while desserts are usually laden with sugar.

Herbs are easy to grow on your windowsill


For a great afternoon pick-me-up, grate about 2.5cm of peeled, fresh ginger into a mug. Fill it two-thirds with boiling water, leave to steep for 5 minutes, then strain into a second mug and stir in one teaspoon honey. Enjoy.

Stuffed field mushrooms


1 Make up 1 x 110g packet supermarket own-label Mediterranean Inspired Couscous, exactly as directed on the packet. Set aside, covered, for 5 minutes.

2 Stir in 1tbsp olive oil.

3 On a chopping board, remove stalks from 4 large, clean, field mushrooms. Chop the stalks and stir into the prepared couscous.

4 Arrange the mushrooms on a greased baking sheet.

5 Spray each mushroom, on both sides with about 4 sprays of spray oil. Alternatively, brush mushrooms on both sides with a little olive oil.

6 Divide the prepared couscous between the mushrooms. Top the fillings, evenly, with about 25g each of crumbled Feta cheese. Bake the mushrooms at 200C fan, gas mark 6, for 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Optional One heaped tablespoon of freshly chopped parsley or coriander added to the filling is delicious, should you have fresh herbs available.

Speedy smoked mackerel pate


It is surprising how quickly you can make a delicious pate from a packet of smoked mackerel fillets and some Greek natural yoghurt. The pate also makes a delicious filling for jacket potatoes, transforming it into a tasty main meal. Serve with coleslaw or mixed salad.

Leftovers are delicious the next day, when used as a filling in sandwiches.


1 x 237g (approx.) pack smoked mackerel fillets, skins removed

3 spring onions, white part only, chopped

4 heaped tbsp Greek natural yoghurt

Juice ½ small lemon

2 tbsp freshly snipped chives

2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley, preferably, or 1 tsp dried parsley

Freshly ground black pepper

4 mini gherkins, sliced (optional)


Carrot and celery sticks; freshly made wholemeal toast

1 Roughly chop the smoked mackerel and put it into a medium-size mixing bowl

2 Add all remaining ingredients, except the gherkins

3 Beat well with a wooden spoon to combine into a rough textured pate

4 Fold in the chopped gherkins

5 Turn into a small pate dish, cover with cling film and chill until ready to serve

Fruit compote


1 In a medium-sized saucepan, simmer 300g frozen mixed berries or summer fruits with juice 1 large orange and 1 tbsp of Demerara sugar, stirring, until syrupy.

2 Spoon into sundae dishes and top with a dollop of thick Greek yoghurt. Sprinkle with a little extra Demerara sugar, on serving.



I aim to include a few delicious, healthy recipes in each issue of TAM and hope you will get in touch and let me know how you get on making the dishes. Perhaps a photo of the spoils, taken on your smartphones, could be included?

Contact me at beverley.jarvis@


Put sprigs of fresh herbs into a mug and snip with kitchen scissors. Almost instant chopped herbs! T


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