I know that being in the throes of the C Virus-19 can be really hard right now. And even though it may not be on the top of your list, one concern might be how you’re going to keep up your healthy eating. Then there’s knowing what to cook when you can’t get hold of your normal foods and healthy ingredients. So, I’ve written this short piece to help you stay HEALTHY and to FEEL WELL.
I’ve chosen a few simple recipes that are all based on ingredients that I’ve found available in the supermarkets right now.
The good thing is that the recipes are not only nourishing, but many also contain relaxing nutrients too, so there’s plenty of added benefits for you. Here they are. I hope you’ll enjoy them.
Lentil and potato soup
How it’ll benefit you. Using an onion base provides you with an injection of quercetin which supports anti-inflammatory processes and helps to prevent cholesterol from clogging the arteries. Although that may not seem so relevant right now, having clean arteries means that your oxygen carrying blood supply is able to flow more easily. Onions also support the enzyme function so it means that other foods are able to be broken down more easily. And the strong sulphur compounds (which make you cry) are protective as they have antibacterial nutrients.
Lentils are a great source of fibre which means that they are able to support healthy bowel function. And a healthy bowel means the release of toxins and harmful products from your body. It also means that nutrients are more likely to be well absorbed and converted into easily utilised forms for our cells. That means less digestive problems (dare I say constipation) and a lot more energy.
They’re also rich in B vitamins and magnesium, which are calming and relaxing and they contain folate which is an important component of breaking down homocysteine. When homocysteine which is a protein derivative accumulates in the body it can be harmful, so breaking it down and converting it into the more beneficial methionine means it can be more readily used to support healthy cell function.
Potatoes provide tryptophan (a protein derivative) which you may have heard of in relation to supporting relaxation and sleep. It’s especially known for to its sedative like components. *A note about potatoes, it’s always best to keep the skins on when you can, even for soups.
How it’ll benefit you. This is such an easy dish to put together (providing that you can get hold of eggs). Eggs are along with onions and potatoes are key! Eggs, provide a small amount of tryptophan as well as B vitamins. So, this may help to nourish and relax you. Eggs may also support bone health and it’s still so important to keep active at these times.
You’ve got lots of options to spice a frittata up. You can really add anything that’s to hand, peppers, courgettes, leaks, spinach or kale, cheese, salmon or even ham.
How it’ll benefit you. Falafel again is one of those versatile meals, you can have them by themselves, with a salad or cous cous if you have it. Falafel are great because they contain 3 brilliant simple ingredients; fibre rich chickpeas, parsley and coriander. You might know that Parsley is often used to cleanse the digestive tract and ease fluid retention and even freshen the breath due to its potent apiol oil.
This mixed with coriander, which has been shown to possibly aid urinary tract infections and lower cholesterol (as it assists in breaking it down and transporting it to the bile duct and then on to the liver for full processing) makes it a sure winner.
Then add in the benefits of chickpeas. These are fibre rich protein sources, but they also contain oxygen carrying iron and potassium which supports our muscle contractions and nerve function.
There are still a few more to go. So, keep reading.
Fish pie with spinach or kale
How it’ll benefit you. I love this recipe because it’s so versatile and you can make small batches and freeze them. You can also use fresh, frozen or tinned fish or a mixture of these. You also get to play with the toppings, so especially now think of mixing it up a little. You could choose from potatoes (sweet or normal, skins on or off) or add mashed celeriac or even butter beans.
Fish, especially oily fish like salmon, mackerel or tuna contain omega-3 fatty oils which are good for supporting the outer parts of your cells (the membranes). When these are strong and pliable it means that only beneficial nutrients or substances can get in and waste can easily get out. One of the reasons that we feel unwell is because of toxins getting into our cells, so we really need to protect them. Oily fish is also good for our nerves and muscle contraction and for keeping our joints healthy and not inflamed. It’s also good for our skin and our heart.
It’s great if you can get some parsley to make a sauce (you can always use dried herbs), but if not spinach or kale are good. Remember Popeye! Spinach is good for the heart and lowering unhealthy cholesterol. It’s also good for the development of stronger bones and generally cleaning out our systems. Kale is great at helping to protect against infections and colds as it has a high level of vitamin C and it may help to tone down a stressed digestive system and ease the process of foods going through. So, it’s good if you can get it.
How it’ll benefit you. I know it seems weird adding this in as it’s so easy. But from a nutritional point, it’s a really good allrounder and if you bake the fibre rich outside for long enough, it’ll be beautifully crispy. A quick tip: steam them for 20 minutes before putting them in the oven. It cuts the baking time in half (at least).
Then add whatever’s to hand. Curried vegetables, soy mince, fish, meat and salad (and don’t forget to add a nice dob of butter if that’s to your liking).
Haloumi and beetroot salad
How it’ll benefit you. I adore haloumi with its thick chewy and salty taste. It’s so satisfying and it’s something that I’ve been able to get hold of which is great. Nutritionally, it provides a good level of calcium, which is so essential for bone health. Then there’s the beetroot which is another one of my favourites. It’s a brilliant cleanser and also rich in vitamin C, calcium and magnesium.
Salad seems to be available in different forms, so it’s a good idea to add leaves whenever you can. These have a huge amount of benefits. Lettuce leaves are a great diuretic, so good for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels! But they may also have sedative properties to help you to relax. And If mustard leaves or watercress are available add those in too. Watercress for its namesake is helpful in sustaining the body’s water balance and mustard greens are a good anti-inflammatory.
If you still want something sweet but which is also healthy these are for you.
How it’ll benefit you. Oats are so versatile (my favourite word) but having them is a great way to balance blood sugar levels. So, if you’re not eating as much as you usually might, oats can stop those spikes and leave you feeling more balanced for longer. They’re also useful at supporting the control of cholesterol so it doesn’t get too high.
You can add seeds, dried fruit or even some apple or dates to make flapjacks a little sweeter and some cinnamon to spice things up. Cinnamon may help to support the removal of unhealthy cholesterol so prevent clogged and hardened arteries.
How it’ll benefit you. Bananas really are a queen fruit for me and although I’m not into naming particular nutrients as superfoods, this is one SUPER nutrient. I say that because bananas are rich in potassium, which is important to sustain our energy levels and magnesium as well as vitamin B6 which we need to have healthy blood cells. Bananas can also leave us feeling calmer and soothed as they build our serotonin (feel good chemical) levels.
To pack in the nutrients, I like to sometimes add walnuts, sesame seeds, cocoa or mixed spices. Dig out whatever’s in the cupboard and give it a try.
A few more tips:
Freezer freedom. Fresh is always best for me, but I do add frozen at times. One thing people may not realise is that frozen foods are frozen when they are at their most fresh, so they may contain as high a level of some fresh foods. It may seem obvious but freezer foods can be really useful (vegetables, fruits, frozen fish or soy mince) as a base or even to bulk out a dish. Think fish pie or vegetarian shepherd’s pie.
Bulk it out. If you have access to beans, now’s the time to use them. Add to shepherd’s or cottage pies, curries or bolognaise. Lentils work equally well. All of these add nutrients to your meal and help your body functioning.
Start from scratch. I wasn’t able to get any tinned tomatoes to bulk out my normal tomato sauce recipe. So instead, I used celery, onions and a few fresh tomatoes and added in some tomato puree and then blended as usual. The thing with starting from scratch is that you know everything that you’re putting in it and so know it’s healthy.
Make it easy. One of the easiest ways to get a whole load of great micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) quickly is through vegetable juices. I do it all the time. You can have them on their own (slightly diluted) or by mixing them with a small amount of fruit juice and even blending in some soft vegetables. There’s a range to choose from:
Carrot and apple (or apple juice) alone or blended with cucumber and/or celery.
Beetroot juice with apple or pear juice and if blended with avocado, cucumber and spinach.
Tomato juice with celery, apple and a bit of lemon juice packs a great punch.
Enjoy and appreciate. This is one of the best ways to make the most of the foods you have whether that’s a little or you’re more fortunate to have a lot. Here’s to you and your enjoying these health minimal ingredient recipes.
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