Dare To Be Healthy

Posts Tagged ‘Health

Popeye PowerPopeye Power2So here’s my new kitchen toy, VITAMIX, woohoo!! I have wanted this product for such a long time and since getting it, I have been making smoothies, ice cream, sorbets (no judging, I know it hasn’t exactly been great weather for cold stuff – indulge me) and soups. I’m getting ready to start making my own almond milk, sauces, nut butters etc. Mega exciting stuff!!

The vitamix came just in the nick of time – my smoothie maker had just given up on me. So the first thing I made with it was my awesome, yummy green smoothie – here’s the recipe with pictures to boot!! I also made a fabulous mango ice cream, recipe to follow, and will be posting more recipes I make with this fab, fab product, so keep checking back.

The great thing about the vitamix is that it’s quite versatile for a blender. You can make smoothies, ice cream, sorbets, soups (actually heats up), bread mix (which I will be trying out soon) and sauces. It’s so easy to use and clean, and here’s the absolute best part – it comes with seven years warranty. Is that cool or what?!! Anyway enough of me going on, here’s the smoothie recipe.

Mega Fibre Smoothie
4 broccoli florets
Handful spinach
½ cucumber
1 apple
Inch ginger
1 lime
Cup of water
1 tsp. milled flaxseed (I use Linwoods brand)

Put the lot in your juicer or blender (vitamix) except the flaxseed and juice. Pour in a glass, add the flaxseed, mix thoroughly and enjoy!


So I’m sitting in front of my laptop about to write this article, I look out the window and realise it’s the middle of March and still no sign of spring. I bet you’re all Spring2wondering like I am what’s happened to spring. With the very limited amount of sunlight, hardly any at all if I’m being honest, we need to look to boosting our bodies with supplements. Where am I going with this? Vitamin D – the “sunshine vitamin”.

Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because it is produced by the skin in response to exposure to sunlight. We cannot get adequate amounts of Vitamin D from our diets so for those of us who live in a climate that has less sunshine, we need to supplement to keep our Vitamin D levels at its best.

So why do we need Vitamin D? We all know as we’ve been taught over the years that along with calcium, vitamin D builds strong bones, which is true to an extent. Here’s how it really works – vitamin D is actually crucial for the absorption of calcium in your intestines. It is activated in the body by the liver and kidneys before it can be used. Without adequate Vitamin D, the body cannot absorb calcium which means taking calcium is ineffective. Vitamin D also prevents osteoporosis, depression, prostate and breast cancers and affects diabetes and obesity.

How do we know if we have adequate levels of vitamin D or are deficient? Some symptoms of mild Vitamin D deficiency include feeling tired, vague aches and pains, and a sense of not being well generally. In more severe deficiency known as “osteomalacia”, symptoms include more severe pain and weakness. Weakness of the muscles may cause difficulties in moving around, bones can feel tender when moderate pressure is applied – according to Andrew Weil M.D., “if it hurts to press firmly on your sternum, you may be suffering from chronic Vitamin D deficiency”.

Children are more prone to infections such as respiratory infections if deficient in Vitamin D. Breathing can be affected due to weakness in chest muscles and ribcage. It can also cause irritability and poor growth, and in more severe cases muscles spasms in babies.

Research has shown that a high number of people in the UK (in the winter and spring, 1 in 6 adults) and some other countries like Canada and some states in the USA are vitamin D deficient. This is because these countries lie further from the equator to have enough UVB rays from sunlight to make vitamin D.

There are some other instances where the body would not be able to make the necessary vitamin D such as:

  • Elderly people who have thinner skin than younger ones so are not able to produce as much vitamin D which leaves them at risk of deficiency
  • People who have darker skin e.g. Africans, Afro-Caribbeans are not able to make as much vitamin D. They may need 20 to 30 times as much exposure to sunlight than those with fair skin.
  • People who stay indoors a lot or those who cover up their bodies a lot e.g. wearing a veil or burqa are also at risk of deficiency.
  • Using sunscreen could potentially lead to deficiency especially those with SPF (factor 8 or above). Our bodies can produce vitamin D on their own when exposed to sunlight but the skin must be free of sunscreen, sunblock and clothing which all interfere with the process.
  • Vitamin D deficiency can also occur in people with medical conditions which can affect the way the body handles vitamin D and also people on certain types of medication.

To find out if you are vitamin D deficient, go to your doctor and ask to have a blood test done. Chronic vitamin D deficiency cannot be reversed overnight. It takes months of vitamin D supplementation and exposure to sunlight to rebuild the body’s bones and nervous system so it would be a good idea as part of daily routine to supplement and eat foods that have some amount of vitamin D present to prevent becoming deficient.

Oily fish like sardines, tuna, salmon, mackerel and cod liver oil are the best dietary source of vitamin D. Milk and some cereals are fortified with synthetic vitamin D which are not adequate for the body. A person would have to drink 10 tall glasses of milk every day in order to just get the minimum levels of vitamin D into their diet, so I wouldn’t recommend relying on those.

While we are still without sunshine for now, and throughout the year, I would recommend getting vitamin D supplements to boost health and body. Eat healthy and exercise, and when spring and summer come around, get out there and get your free prescription of the sunshine vitamin – you totally deserve it!

Peace and Fabulous Health!

So third and final day…at least that’s what I thought. Woke up feeling a little more clear-headed but with a slight migraine nothing too major and the sore gums still. I didn’t feel too bad; the good effects kind of outweighed the migraine for the moment so I carried on with my routine. Glass of lemon and warm water, did my yoga and meditation and then made my juice for the day. Here’s the recipe:

Handful of kaleIMG_1491

1 avocado

Handful of parsley

1 apple

2 celery sticks

Cup of water

Really wanted to improve my skin as it was looking all dry and also to get some good fats in, this is why I threw in the avocado. This of course all goes into a blender, cannot juice avocado – very bulky smoothie (add water to thin it out a bit).

Because the migraine was lingering a bit, decided to have a salad earlier than I would have and besides I was catching up with a friend I hadn’t seen in what felt like forever (only a few weeks!), so went to lunch and was very good and had only the salad and loads of water. That seemed to get rid of the migraine totally, got home and carried on with my smoothie, water and green tea. Day 3 over and done with, woohoo!!

So what was supposed to be a 3 day detox turned into four days. Woke up the next morning and felt really good and decided to carry on with my detox for one more day.

Peace and Fabulous Health!

Woke up feeling quite hungry, as expected but couldn’t stop now, already starting to feel a bit lighter. So as usual first thing lemon and warn water to cleanse me from the night before and get my metabolism started.  Then yoga and meditation for about 40 minutes and then made my juice for the day. Here’s the recipe:

3 celery sticks

Handful of parsleyLemon

1 pear

2 handfuls of kale

1 inch ginger

½ lemon

1 kiwi

So what do the new ingredients parsley, pear and kiwi do for you?

Parsley: is one herb that is usually just used for garnishing food. It is rich in carotenoids, chlorophyll, calcium, Vitamins A, B, C and iron. Parsley is known for its blood-cleansing and healing properties. It is a strong diuretic, anti-inflammatory and a powerful antioxidant. Parsley neutralizes toxins in your liver, inhibits abnormal cell growth (preventing tumours and cancers), and boosts the immune system.

Kiwis have similar properties to bananas, as well as contain vitamin E which helps improve skin radiance. They also help cleanse and energize our bodies.

Pears are an excellent source of soluble fibre and contain vitamins A, B1, B2, C, E, folic acid and niacin. They are also rich in copper, phosphorus and potassium. The high vitamin C and copper content act as good antioxidants that protect cells from damage by free radicals and are critical in building the immune system.

Towards the end of the second day, I started getting the sore gums. Not quite sure why this happens but it always does. Guess it’s the body’s way of letting you know it’s awake and responding to the detox!

Peace and Fabulous Health!


Health is Wealth

Hey folks, hope you’re all good and keeping up with your New Year’s resolutions to get healthy and lose weight this year! Oh wow, it’s almost the end of January already – I figure a few people might have or are on the verge of giving up on the healthy living – please don’t, you’re doing so well!It’s been a busy start to the year for me so wasn’t able to start my detox right at the beginning of the year. Have now started…better late than never, and will be writing about the experience during the process for the next 3 days. Did I mention, you’ll be in need of the bathroom all day, you will have the urge to wee (urinate – one way our bodies get rid of toxins) a lot, so do this when you know you’ll be home most of the time.

Here’s my first day!

Day 1 of detox

My first day of detox was a tough one for me which was surprising as I tend to detox at least one day a month. I had the urge to actually quit half way through the day but stuck it out with all the willpower I could muster up. I started the day with a glass of warm water and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice which I usually do every morning.

So what am I juicing today? Green juice, it’s had to be – even though there is   a specific juice I make for my detox, I decided to start with that and change it up slightly each day. Here’s the recipe which can be found in my book “Healing Foods Healthy Foods” called cleanse smoothie:

2 handfuls of kale

1 cucumber

5 celery sticks

1 inch ginger

1 lemon

½ yellow bell pepper

Here’s what the ingredients contain and how they help cleanse you:

Ginger: is high in antioxidants and also has anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger contains ginerol, a compound that is thought to relax blood vessels, stimulate blood flow and relieve pain. Ginger also helps to ease congestion and cleanses the body.

Kale: has anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and antioxidant properties. It is packed full of fibre, vitamins A, C, E, K, B vitamins, copper, magnesium, iron, calcium and copper.

Cucumber: is a very good source of vitamins A and C, and folic acid. The skin is rich in fibre and a variety of minerals including magnesium and potassium. Cucumber is a top choice as a diuretic. It can help control constipation, stomach disorders and acne.

Celery: is high in vitamin A, B1, B2, B6 and C, and ample supply of potassium, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, iron and essential amino acids. Celery helps flush the body of excessive carbon dioxide and reduces acidity.

Lemon: is a powerful antiseptic and anti-microbial, which destroys bacteria in your mouth and intestines while clearing mucous build up. High in vitamin C, they will support your liver, improve your absorption of minerals, promote weight loss, cleanse your blood, and alleviate indigestion.

Yellow bell pepper is packed full of vitamins B and C, beta-carotene, folic acid, potassium, iron, calcium and magnesium. Good for cleansing the liver and intestines.

I have left out the apple this time as I didn’t want to sweeten the juice, it actually tasted ok! Juice the lot in a blender or juicer (you’ll need to add some water if making in a blender). I tend to make about a litre of it or enough to last me the whole day. In between I drink a lot of water, green/detox teas to really cleanse out my system.

Towards the end of the day, I had a green salad with extra virgin olive oil and lime dressing. I have to go through the action of actually chewing something cause my body from experience refuses to function otherwise (will not be able to sleep)!  Woohoo…so proud of myself I got through the first day and didn’t give up!

Peace and Fabulous Health!

I hear quite a lot of people say they would like to reduce or cut out carbohydrate from their diet or they are starting one of those carb-free fad diets to lose weight. When I ask why, the common answer is that carbs are not good for you because they make you fat. I know people are entitled to their own opinions and ideas but I’d like them to have the necessary information to enable them make an informed choice before embarking on these diets – and there are a lot of fad diets out in the world that encourage eliminating carbohydrates.

So, what are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are an ideal source of energy for the body obtained from food. They provide much of the energy needed for normal body functions such as heartbeat, digestion and exercise. This is because they can be readily converted into glucose which is a form of sugar that can be transported and used by the body. A diet high in carbohydrates can cause an imbalance in the body’s blood sugar level, which results in changes in energy and mood which leave you tired and irritated but that depends on the type of carbohydrates being eaten.

There are two types of carbohydrates and we need to understand the difference between them – we have simple and complex carbohydrates.

Most simple carbohydrates are highly processed, contain refined sugars and have very few vitamins and minerals. Processed foods contain short chains of sugars which enter the bloodstream almost immediately after ingesting them. This then causes a rapid rise in glucose levels in the body (commonly known as “sugar rush”). The rush is ultimately followed by a crash at least a couple of hours later, depending on the individual. The body interprets the high level of sugar as an emergency state and works hard to burn it up quickly, after which the blood sugar level drops rapidly. Natural foods like fruits contain naturally occurring simple sugars – the difference is that fruits also have a high fibre content which helps slow down digestion, limiting the amount of sugars that flow into the bloodstream.

Complex carbohydrates appear naturally in foods like vegetables and whole grains. Complex carbs contain long chains of sugar which are bound within the food’s fibre. The body processes this form of sugar by breaking the chains and releasing the fibre into the body slowly which means the sugars are absorbed into the bloodstream at a steady pace for many hours, providing energy for longer.

So for example, if you have oatmeal for breakfast, you will find that you will feel fuller for longer and would not get hungry until about lunchtime. Whereas, if you have white bread or cereal bars for breakfast, you will find you’ll get a burst of energy for a while and shortly after, you feel that dip in energy and feel hungry sooner.

We can find carbohydrates in everything from chocolate bars and biscuits to vegetables and whole grains. Here’s the thing, we need to understand the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates and be able to identify where we find or get them from.

To distinguish between them, simple carbohydrates are found in most processed foods and foods that contain high amounts of refined sugar while complex carbohydrates are obtained from natural food sources like grains and vegetables. Keep in mind though that fruits also contain simple sugars, but as mentioned earlier, because they are very high in fibre, the amount of sugar that flows into the cells is limited.

Simple sugars can lead to weight gain because our cells don’t require large amounts of glucose at one time, and extra sugar is then stored in the adipose tissues as fat. So if you want to lose weight fast, switch from simple to complex carbohydrates. By doing so, you will not only lose weight, but you will improve your health as well.

Plant foods are so low in calories that they force the body to burn its own fat. The best diet to be on is a diet that is balanced in carbohydrates, protein, fibre and a little healthy fat like olive oils, nuts and avocados.

I do hope this article clears up the carbohydrate confusion and will help you make an informed choice in creating a healthy diet that feeds and nourishes you. We are all individuals, which is why no one diet suits everyone – we all metabolise differently. Experiment with yourself and try to find a diet that works for you.

Check out the rest of my blog for some healthy recipes that will nourish you and get you started, or for more information and to contact me, please visit my website.

Peace and fabulous health!


Helps relieve constipation, high blood pressure, aids digestion, reduces fluid retention, supports liver and kidney function, and cleanses toxins. Packed full of vitamins A, C, B, K, beta-carotene, iron, iodine, potassium, folic acid and calcium.

Handful of kale

6 broccoli florets

½ inch ginger

1 apple

4 celery sticks

1 tbsp. spirulina (optional)

4 ice cubes (optional)

Juice the lot in a juicer or blender, add ice and enjoy! Serves 2.


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