Book review: ‘Lights Out’

Lights outAlthough most areas of my life as are healthy as they could possibly be, sleep has seriously let me down over the last few years. This was what lead me to read Lights Out. That and the fact that I have suffered from numerous bouts of pneumonia/chest infections over the last year, and I had a sneaking suspicion that my lack of quality sleep may be partly to blame.

First up I will say that Lights Out is relatively old (published 2001) and that there has no doubt been a great deal of new research done on the topics discussed in the intervening period. Also the style of writing is extremely sensationalist. Chapters conclude in a style not unlike that of The Divinci Code writer Dan Brown, and I could almost hear dramatic music and the end of each chapter.

That said, I thought this was a really interesting read. It blames a huge number of western society’s chronic and increasing diseases (such as obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease) on the invention of the light bulb. It documents compelling research that shows a steady increase in these conditions as light bulbs became more readily available.

This makes sense. As light bulbs became more widely used our days grew longer. We could work more hours than ever before, businesses such as factories suddenly needed night workers and as a result our sleep patterns became messed up like never before.

Now we have the ability to stay awake longer, we of course need more fuel in order to do so. Yet more compelling research showed that we fuel these extra waking hours with carbs (aka sugar). As a species we evolved on minimal seasonal carbs; a handful of blueberries when we stumbled across a ripe bush, a few apples at the start of autumn. Research shows we can get by without any carbs at all, and many people (myself included) find they feel and function better on low carb or ketogenic diets. The combination of less sleep and more sugar we live on nowadays is quite simply deadly.

The book suggests that we do as much as we possibly can to ensure we get at least nine hours of sleep a night, particularly in winter months, during which our ancestors would have slept whenever the sun wasn’t up. Our rooms should represent caves at nighttime. Blackout blinds should be installed, and no lights should be visible, including “stand-by” lights on electrical items, or digital clocks. We should also not look at screens or consume carbs for a good few hours before bedtime.

I finished this book a good month ago and since have tried to implement as many of these suggestions as possible. Given that prior to this I clocked in an average of about 5.5/6 hours of sleep a night, I felt that nine hours was an extremely tall order.

I gave it my best shot however, and now I do manage to get nine hours of rest several times a week, something I literally never thought I could do. Several nights of the week I teach exercise classes, and on these nights I tend to get to sleep later than I would like, but on the other evenings I try my best to go to sleep by about 9pm.

This of course has its disadvantages. The hubby and I get less time together, which is annoying, and I get less time to myself, which I can only get when the kids are in bed. As I now go to bed only about an hour or so after them, time to read or watch TV is very limited. Also socialising becomes tricky. Either I have to leave really early, or I sacrifice my sleep time and feel rubbish the next day.

Getting to sleep is never a challenge for me, but staying asleep proves difficult every night. I now have various relaxation tracks and apps (including the fabulous Headspace app) that I use to help relax me when I wake early. Even if they don’t enable me to get back to sleep, they at least lower my heart rate so much that my FitBit “thinks” I’m asleep, which I reckon means I’m getting sufficient rest time. I used to use my early wake-up time to work, catch up on emails or to exercise, so there is no doubt that my new technique is far better for me, even if I don’t actually manage to get back to sleep.

The first few times I clocked nine hours sleep I actually felt worse for it. I felt spaced out and not unlike being hung-over. I guess it was so alien to my body that it didn’t quite know how to manage it. Scientifically I suppose my endocrine system was flooded with hormones in levels it was simply not used to. I no longer get this feeling though, and I certainly feel more with-it than I have for a long time. I also no longer fall asleep in front of the TV, as I’m in bed long before I’m tired enough to do that.

I’ve become better at giving in to my body’s cries for sleep, as I realise just how important it is, and how unnatural it is to fight sleep. I now think of quality sleep as important as decent gym sessions, which certainly helps me prioritise my sleep. This is something I never used to do. In fact at busy times sleep was always the first thing to go, as I just didn’t realise quite how important it was.

Time and again when I hear or read about today’s biggest health hurdles, sleep is mentioned. I’ve even heard a PT say that unless his clients were willing to put the sleep hours in, he simply refused to work with them. I whole-heartedly agree with this now. Sleep is more important to your health then anything you could do in the gym.

This book has most definitely changed my life. I would recommend it to anyone, not only those who have a particular sleep issue. In fact it’s probably more beneficial to those who don’t think they have a problem with sleep but who only clock about six or seven hours a night. At least those who struggle with sleep know they have to do something about it.

Lights Out is worth anybody reading, so long as you don’t stay up reading it into the wee small hours of the night.

Quick nutritious breakfasts

For most people, week-day mornings are a flurry of teeth brushing, school uniform, packed lunches, trying to make yourself clean and vaguely presentable (in my case), and harassing the children to quickly eat their breakfast. It’s no surprise then that many mums fail to eat breakfast themselves, and that many who do munch on something that is severely lacking in nutrients, while trying to perform seven other tasks at the same time.

There is another way however. With a savvy shopping list and a little advance preparation advance, you can start the day in a much healthier way.

Here are a few breakfast ideas for those who feel their breakfast has reached a desperate state.

  • Granola
    You could make a batch of granola at the weekend

    Scrummy granola – I bake a batch a week. In the morning just add some milk or yoghurt (natural and organic if possible) to it, and fruit if you have time (I buy frozen berries and put a mixture in a tupperware in the fridge to defrost the evening before).

 

  • Chia seed pudding – I use the recipe in Ella’s book rather than this one, but the fundamentals are the same. Either way you can make it the night before and it’s ready to eat in the morning. This is a great option for eating on the go if you’re really tight on time, or if you can’t stomach eating first thing. Plus chia seeds are super good for you!

 

 

  • porridge
    Soak the oats the night before and you can make this porridge quickly the next morning

    Creamy coconut porridge – When I first discovered this recipe I had it daily for months. It’s wonderfully filling, delicious and nutritious. If you soak the oats overnight the 10-min cooking time reduces to two mins, and also increases their nutrient density too.

 

  • Scrambled eggs (preferably organic) on toast – at first this sounds like too much faff. But if you have a microwave this is easy peasy. Simply whisk an egg, milk, a little butter and pepper together, and microwave for about 90 secs, beating every 30 secs. Your toast will probably take longer than the eggs. We should all eat at least one egg a day, so this way you get yours in early, plus the protein of egg is slow to release so we feel fuller for longer. Add a little mashed avocado to this for a truly heavenly start to the day.

 

  • If like me, you are a frequent visitor to high-street cafes, you will have noticed that bircher is all the rage at the moment. No it’s not a type of tree but an oat, apple and lemon juice-based breakfast option. Jamie’s Overnight Bircher is another nutritious choice you can prep the night before.

 

So hopefully that list has inspired you in some way, and saves you from the bacon butties in the work canteen at least a few days a week. If you have any other breakfast suggestions, then please share them.

Scrummy and nutritious granola

Granola.jpgI’m often asked about quick yet nutritious breakfasts. This granola is a great option. I usually make a batch a week.

To make it I get 240g oats and add about 300g of nuts (brazils and almonds used here), about 300g pumpkin/sunflower seeds and about 200g milled flax seeds, but you can adjust those amounts depending on what you like and what you have in the cupboard.

In a saucepan melt 4 tbsp of coconut oil and 4 tbsp honey and two tsps cinnamon together. Poor the melted mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients, mix together and bake in the oven at about 180C in a fan oven, or 200C in a conventional oven.

Stir it every ten mins to ensure everything toasts evenly. It will take 30-40 mins to cook. Once it’s done add a big handful of raisins to the mixture.

Enjoy with yogurt and fruit, or just on its own as an on-the-go snack.

Recipe books that help me stay healthy

If you’re anything like me you’ll have a vast number of recipe books in your bookcase, but actually use just a handful regularly. As many of you may be in the early stages of a new resolution to eat healthier, I thought now might be a good time to let you know the recipe books that I frequently turn to for inspiration.

Ella

Deliciously Ella by Ella Woodward – I love that most of Woodward’s recipes are based on a list of core ingredients, so that once you have those in the kitchen you can make loads of the recipes without having to buy a list of obscure ingredients you only need a tiny bit of. I use Ella’s almond butter, coconut porridge, chia seed pudding and cinnamon pecan granola recipes all the time, and  many more are frequently used too. It’s probably the most-used recipe book I’ve ever had.

Slow cooker

Hamlyn All Colour 200 Slow Cooker Recipes – Slow cookers are a great way to ensure that you don’t start raiding the cupboards for quick fixes as soon as you get home. Instead of quickly filling up on processed foods you can tuck into a delicious wholesome meal that’s been bubbling away all day. My family’s favourite recipe from this book is the sausage and onion gravy casserole.

 

Super JamieEveryday Super Foods by Jamie Oliver – In this book’s accompanying series Jamie states, “I want you to eat healthy foods not because you have to, but because it’s delicious.” Now that is an ethos that I totally agree with, and with recipes like these I think it’s very easy to achieve. I’m working my way through the book, and the recipes are all very tasty and simple to prepare. I think the family favourite so far is the vegetable lasagne made with spinach and roasted butternut squash. Delicious.

RiverfordRiverford Farm Cook Book – I use this book when I have a few veggies hanging about that need to be used up, as the contents are listed by veg. This allows me to be much more creative with veggies, which is fun for me and also means that my children and far more likely to eat them.

 

 

Neal's YardNeal’s Yard Healing Foods – This book turns your kitchen into a pharmacy, as it advises you which foods to use (and how) to cure a whole range of ailments. You can either look up a particular food, or the symptom you wish to ease. There are also meal plans with a particular focus, for example to improve heart health, maintain healthy joints and to help relieve stress.

 

Clean and leanClean and Lean Diet by James Duigan – This book was a bit of a game-changer for me, because as I read it I experienced quite a lot of “light bulb” moments that enabled me to see where I’d been going wrong with my nutrition for years. Having implicated the changes Duigan suggested I saw my body shape improve in way that it never had before. Ever better was the fact that those changes were unbelievably simple, and also perfectly logical once I stopped to think about it.

Good FoodBBC Good Food website – Ok, I know this isn’t a book, but I use it all the time so I couldn’t not mention it here. There are recipes on here from many celebrity chefs and you can search by difficulty level, preparation time, dietary requirements and more. Like the Riverford book I often use this when I have a particular ingredient I wish to use but am lacking in inspiration.

Do you have any other books that you would add to this list? If so please comment on this post.

 

Keeping healthy in the Timsbury/Bath area

Green Park Market
Green Park Market, by Andy Powell (flickr.com/photos/andypowe11/)

As you may imagine, I’m always on the look-out for places and people who can enhance my wellbeing. Time and again I find myself recommending the same places to people, so I thought it was about time I posted my list on here. Please feel free to comment on this if you have any others of your own.

Best health food shop

The Green Shop in Midsomer Norton – knowledgable staff and a great range of products

Best cafe

The Connies, Timsbury – lots of healthy options available in a friendly setting

Best place to grab and go

Beyond The Kale, Green Park Station – delicious food, lovely products and friendly staff

Best fit gear retailer

Tony Pryce Sports, Wells – a great mix of equipment and functional yet flattering apparel

Best local market

Green Park Market – a wide range of delicious and locally sourced foods

Best local pharmacy

Timsbury Pharmacy – friendly and knowledgable staff are always happy to help

Best treatments

Creations Studio – Emilia delivers massages that are tough to beat. Plus she is very welcoming and knowledgeable.

Best gym

CrossFit & YMCA Bath – I had to pick two as these are both great. I love CrossFit because it delivers high intensity workouts combined with brilliant technique coaching. I love the YMCA because of the awesome team running it, who create a down-to-earth community feel, that can be hard to generate in gyms.

Best yoga instructor

Emma Farrell – Emma is highly knowledgable in many aspects of health. She also teaches Free Diving and Hypnobirthing, and is a trained reflexologist too.

Best butcher

Tunley Farm Butchers – Mark sells great produce that is locally sourced unless stated. He delivers to your door or you can visit him in Green Park Station.

Best yoga studio

Bath Yoga Studio – This lovely warm yoga studio in the centre of Bath offers yoga for all abilities. All the instructors are very approachable and experienced.

Best magazine retailer

Churches, Keynsham – Any magazines this place doesn’t sell isn’t worth reading.

Best children’s class

Little Ninjas @ Jamie Woodland’s Blackbelt Academy – This is a fab class for children over the age of three. Jamie is great at teaching the children in a way that they enjoy, but that is disciplined at the same time.

Best group

Timsbury Cycle Group – I haven’t actually been out with this group myself, as I don’t really get the chance to cycle very often, but I hear very good things about it. Turn up at 7.30am at Conygre Hall on any Sunday (and some Saturdays) to join their ride. Distances vary each week, and you can choose a group to ride with, depending on your cycle speed.

Best spinning® tracks of 2015

Spinathon.JPGWith 2015 firmly behind us, many of us are starting the new year in the usual way; with a vow to get fit and healthy.

For those of you who, like me, are physically unable to exercise without some awesome tunes to keep you motivated, I thought I would tell you which 2015 tunes worked best in my Spinning® classes throughout the past year.

I spend a great deal of time planning the soundtracks to my classes, in particular group cycle (or “Spinning®”), because as a participant, I know that I work much harder if I enjoy the music.

I hope you enjoy these tunes. Please let me know your favourite workout tunes of the past year. I look forward to seeing what great new workout tracks 2016 brings us.

  1. Mumford and Sons – ‘The Wolf
  2. The Chemical Brothers – ‘Go
  3. Years and Years – ‘Shine
  4. Fleur East – ‘Sax
  5. Foxes – ‘Body Talk
  6. Sia – ‘Alive‘ (for hill climbs)
  7. Taylor Swift – ‘Bad Blood‘ (for hills)
  8. Bloc Party – ‘The Love Within
  9. Disclosure ft. Sam Smith – ‘Omen
  10. Major Lazer ft. Ellie Goulding – ‘Powerful‘ (for cool down)
  11. Ellie Goulding – ‘Love Me Like You Do‘ (for cool down)

 

Bend over backwards to fit yoga into your life

Love that yoga feeling (photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/blancalala)
Love that yoga feeling (photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/blancalala)

You have three hours a week to exercise. If you want maximum bang for your buck the chances are yoga would not be your first choice. I know that I’m guilty of this mindset, despite having practiced yoga on and off for all of my adult life.

However having recently been fortunate enough to spend a week at fitness retreat The Body Holiday, I have been reminded about the virtues and power of yoga, and of the fact that it should have a place in every fitness schedule.

Who should do yoga?

Although yoga can be gentle enough that those who are new to exercise should be able to hold their own in a class, it shouldn’t be underestimated. Give a crow or headstand a go and you’ll see why. It is great for newbie exercisers but it is equally, if not more, beneficial to those who regularly partake in taxing workouts.

Cardiff-based yoga teacher Cathryn Scott agrees, “Yoga can be so beneficial for people who are already committed to practicing another sport or fitness discipline. I often get hard-core exercisers coming to my classes, as well as cyclists, surfers, rugby players, people who do MMA [mixed martial arts] and so on, and they have all noticed a big difference in their primary discipline since taking up yoga.”

Yoga is great wherever you do it (image by https://www.flickr.com/photos/sugarmeloncom)
Yoga is great wherever you do it (image by https://www.flickr.com/photos/sugarmeloncom)

Why should I do yoga?

If you don’t regularly exercise it’s a great starting point, because it doesn’t require high levels of cardiovascular fitness or strength in order for you to reap the benefits. If you are already blessed with these skills however, they will definitely payoff in a yoga session, and can also be improved.

Three of the biggest benefits to be gained from yoga, for olympic athletes and newbie yogis alike, are flexibility, concentration and improved breath control.

Better flexibility can lead to improvements in an athlete’s main discipline. Cathryn Scott agrees, “Often these people are physically fit and very strong – but they lack flexibility. Becoming more flexible can aid their strength and help them improve on techniques they have been struggling with or take them to a new level.”

Equally, improved breath control and concentration has pay-offs that carry over into many aspects of life, including other sports. “A lot of people notice their concentration improves through yoga, which can help their focus in their prime discipline,” says Scott. “The breathing techniques we learn in yoga can also help with other disciplines. Runners and cyclists, for example, often find good breath control and an increased lung capacity can help their stamina,” she continues.

How can I fit it in, my life’s busy enough as it is?

You struggle to make it to the gym three times a week though. How are you supposed to make it to a yoga class as well?

The beauty is, you don’t have to. There are brilliant yoga apps and YouTube channels out there, offering yoga classes aimed at particular disciplines, fitness levels, specific aches and pains or particular mental improvements.

My favourite is Yogamazing, a podcast which I’ve been using regularly since the hubster and I went travelling seven years ago. Each of instructor Chaz Rough’s episodes is put together in response to a request that he has been sent.

Rough is not a condescending yogi but a regular guy, who tells you to, “Leave your ego at the door, and to go when you can go.” His sessions are rarely longer than 30 mins meaning it is easy to fit one in before or after work, during your lunch break or while your baby naps or children watch CBeebies (often mine end up joining me when I do this.) Best of all, it’s totally free.

Of course once you’ve been doing yoga a while you will have a selection of favourite poses up your sleeve, which you know your body and mind respond well to. You can do these whenever you like, and actually it’s hard to think of a better way to end a workout than with a few yoga poses, especially if coupled with some controlled breathing exercises and relaxation. In fact I often throw a few poses into cool-downs with clients and class participants.

Yoga teacher Scott agrees to the benefit of yoga relaxation post workout as well, “The relaxation techniques yoga teaches helps the body’s autonomic nervous system switch off, taking us out of that fight or flight mode that the adrenalin from exercise can often leave us in.”

So roll out a mat, relax your mind and give yoga a few moments of your time. You’ll be glad you did.

Cathryn Scott has been teaching yoga for seven years and runs the Yoga Sundays Cardiff classes. Find out more about her and her classes on Facebook.

Pack your bags, jet set, go!

beach run
Discover beautiful new places (pic by https://www.flickr.com/photos/nathaninsandiego/)

Summer holiday season is well and truly underway, thank goodness as I have had to get my gillet back out today it’s so cold.

Holidays are no doubt good for the soul but sometimes the body doesn’t fair too well. A week or two of indulgence coupled with a exercise regime that generally consists of a quick dip to cool down, and a wander to a restaurant normally help to undo months of hard work we’ve been doing leading up to the dreaded “B-Day” (Bikini Day).

Sure holidays are there to be enjoyed, and I’m not for a second suggesting otherwise. However there are little tweaks you can make that mean you come back feeling revitalised and energised, rather than guilty and disheartened that all your hard work so quickly became undone.

Here are a few tips for keeping fit and healthy while away, without reducing your enjoyment:

  • Pack your trainers. Even if you’re not a regular runner a little plod in a new place is much more fun than pacing around familiar territory. It’s also a really good way to explore the place you’re visiting, and if you go straight after waking up you will feel like you have it to yourself.
  • Suspension training
    Suspension training is fun and versatile (pic by https://www.flickr.com/photos/mariachily)

    Buy a suspension training kit. There are loads available at various prices and they’re really versatile. Strap them up to a tree, door frame etc and you have a multitude of exercises on offer, at any intensity you choose.

  • Swim. Choose the hotel pool or sea and challenge yourself to a certain distance or time, increasing it gradually throughout the holiday.
  • Plank. No equipment needed. Just hold it for as long as you can.
  • Try something new. Check out locally available activities such as paddle boarding, diving, climbing, mountain biking and try something new. You’ll be so busy concentrating and enjoying yourself that it won’t feel like exercise. You may even find you make new friends or find a new hobby.
  • Allow yourself treats but also try to be healthy. A 80/20 rule is good to follow (80 per cent healthy, 20 per cent treats that is, not the other way round). If you’re staying in a hotel this can be hard, especially if you’re all-inclusive but allowing yourself treats you really love you should find it easier to make healthier choices the rest of the time.
  • Think drink. Drink loads of water, especially in intense heat. Choose clear cocktails that aren’t packed full of cream, or juice and when drinking wine alternate with water.
  • Limit the ice-cream. Ice lollies carry fewer calories but better still is iced water, served with a twist of lemon, lime or orange to make it more refreshing.

Most importantly have a good time. Life is hectic most of the time so chilling out and enjoying yourself with your nearest and dearest does your soul and cortisol (stress) levels the world of good.

If you’re going away and would like me to put together a plan to do while you’re away then get in touch.

‘Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us’ by Michael Moss

Salt, Sugar, Fat bookThis is something of a book review but also a reiteration of something I read and talk about a lot. That is the simple fact we as individuals are not as responsible for our own waistlines as we might think. The food manufacturers have got a great deal to answer for, as it is due to their addictive products, savvy marketing and the scientifically planned food shops that are actually largely to blame.

The people behind all the fattening and sugary products out there know full well that human beings are hard-wired to seek out the most delicious and fattening foods available. This harkens back to our caveman days when sweet foods meant the occasional berry bush you may stumble on, and fattening meant the fat of the animals you had hunted down with your bare hands. Of course food gathering is very different these days but our biology hasn’t changed. So the tastes and macronutrients (fat, protein and carbs) we were only supposed to consume sparingly, can be consumed as much as we like, and we do. As the book says, “They’ve discovered that the brain lights up for sugar the same way it does for cocaine, and this knowledge is useful, not only in formulating foods.”

And the people behind the products know this, as pointed out in the book with a quote from the former CEO of General Mills, the company behind Cherrios, Lucky Charms and the Betty Crocker products: “Don’t talk to me about nutrition,” he said, taking on the voice of a typical consumer. “Talk to me about taste, and if this stuff tastes better, don’t run around trying to sell stuff that doesn’t taste good.”

Some of the top food execs have had more of a conscience than others and tried to make changes to the nutritional profile of their companies’ products, but generally these execs have not lasted long when they have tried out this approach. Their companies are there to make money after all, and therefore the more people like the products the more they will buy, and the more money they’ll make. Duh!

The book talks about the various diet trends we go through, and how the food manufacturers cash in on this. All those “low fat” or “sugar free” products attract people to their products who would usually avoid them. But the loss of fat or sugar comes at a dietary cost. In order to make up for the removed element, a long list of additives are usually added to make up for the loss in flavour. As I’ve said in previous posts this makes for foods that our body is not designed to process, which leads to all manner of problems for the human body. It is very telling to me that the book points out that a great many of the people who work for the big companies avoid all processed foods.

I could go off on one because this is a topic that really riles me, but if you are in anyway interested then I urge you to read the book. The reason that I wanted to blog about it is because I want people to realise that the products that cause us to pile on the pounds have been painstakingly created so that you can’t resist buying and eating them, in order that you make the companies behind them lots of money.

We all beat ourselves up when we indulge and blame our lack of willpower but the reality is that in this day and age it is extremely hard to rise above all the salt, sugar and fat that is out there to tempt us. Once you know what the food manufacturers are up to however, you can see through their marketing strategies and consequently get much better at resisting their products. And when you do and realise how much you feel much better for it and it is strangely liberating.

Buy ‘Salt, Sugar, Far: How the Food Giants Hooked Us’ on Amazon.

What are chia and quinoa?

If you even so much as flicked through a health magazine or book in the last few years then no doubt you’ve seen quinoa and chia seeds mentioned. The chances are you know you should be eating them but aren’t sure what they are and exactly what benefits they offer. I thought it was time I offered some answers as lots of people ask me these questions a lot.

Photo by Larry Jacobson (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ljguitar/)
Photo by Larry Jacobson (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ljguitar/)

Chia seeds

Originating from Mexico and Guatemala chia seeds are tiny but packed with nutrients meaning that you get lots of benefits without having to eat loads of calories.

28 grams of chia seeds contains:

  • 11 grams of fibre
  • 4 grams of protein – this relatively high protein content is what helps them suppress appetite and therefore help those who are trying to reduce their weight
  • Nine grams of fat, including five of the important Omega-3 variety
  • A high quantity of calcium (great for those who don’t eat dairy), magnesium, zinc and some B vitamins
  • Lots of antioxidants
  • They absorb up to 12 times their own weight in liquid so once ingested absorb make you feel more full. This property also means they can be turned into puddings which vaguely resemble rice pudding without much bother.

The other great thing about chia seeds is that they are really easy to add to your diet as they are flavourless so can be added to a wide variety of foods including:

  • Fruit and yoghurt
  • Smoothies
  • Breakfast cereal
  • Baked goods
  • Curries
  • Salads
  • Puddings

And those are just a few ideas to get you started.

Quinoa

Photo by Jennifer (https://www.flickr.com/photos/sweetonveg/)
Photo by Jennifer (https://www.flickr.com/photos/sweetonveg/)

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) heralds from South America and in technical terms is a pseudograin. What this means is that it can be used in place of things like couscous and rice and offers very different nutritional benefits:

  • Gluten-free so is a great alternative for coeliacs or others wishing to avoid gluten
  • High in protein so great for vegetarians and vegans
  • High in some B vitamins
  • High in minerals such as iron and zinc
  • Reasonable offering of calcium so good source for those who can’t have dairy

You cook quinoa in the same way as rice, boiling for 10-12 minutes. Here are a few ideas of how you could eat it:

  • In place of rice when eating curry
  • As a substitute for couscous
  • Cold sprinkled over salad
  • You can buy quinoa flakes to which you add a little water and then can be mixed in with yoghurt and fruit for breakfast (I have this every morning actually)
  • Can be served with meat and fish
  • Can be used in baking

So I hope that answers a few questions. If you have any other health, fitness or nutrition questions that you’d like me to answer please email me on laura.f.hilton@gmail.com.