Creamy cucumber salad

This classic creamy cucumber salad is an easy side dish using sliced cucumber, onion and radishes toassed in a tangy sauc with fresh dill. Light, healthy and fresh and staple at any picnic, barbecue.

Ingredients

2 English Cucumer thinly sliced

1 red onion thinly sliced

5-6 Radishes sliced

1/2 cup yogurt

1/3 cup sour cream

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

salt and peppers

How to make

First make dressing by adding yogurt, sour cream and dill, combine well untill you get smooth creamy consistancy.Add salt and balck peppers.

Now add cucumber, red onions and radishes and tossed untill well coated.

Keep in refrigertor for at least 1 hour for best taste.

Some other variations on this recipe

Omit onion

Add tomatoes

You can add fresh mint or coriander in place of dill

Substitute sour cream with plain yogurt and add lemon juice.

Green lentil ( Mung beans) salad

Lentils are underrated food, although they are inexpensive way of getting a wide range of nutrients. Lentils are loaded with fiber, good for our gut health and heart healthy.

Green mung is high in important minerals, vitamins protein and fiber and known as one of the best vegetarian superfood. Green mung beans have low Glycemic index and good for diabetics, as they lower insulin resistance and cholesterol levels.

This salad is easy to make with just few ingredients and suitable for vegan and also gluten free.

Ingredients

1 cup green lentils ( green mung), you can also use pre cooked lentils

1/2 cup cucumber finely sliced

1 fresh tomatoe finely sliced

1 red onion finely sliced

1 /4 cup fresh parsley

1/3 cup feta cheese ( you can use vegan feta)

FOR DRESSING

1/3 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup olive oil

2 garlic cloves minced or grated

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook lentils until tender or according to package directions.
Once cooked, strain and rinsed with cold water to cool and set aside.

Prepare dressing by combining all ingredients.

In a large bowl add cooked lentils, veggies and drizzled with dressing. Toss all together and sprinkle feta cheese.
Serve as light lunch or as a side dish.

Roasted chickpeas

These roasted chickpeas are cheap and easy to make . Perfect as garnish, in salads or as a snack.

Chickpeas are an excellent source of protein, iron and fiber. A cup of chickpeas provides almost one- third of an adult daily protein needs and 12.5 gm of fiber.

ingredients

2 cans of chickpeas

1 teaspoon paprika powder

1teasppon garlic powder

1 tablesppon olive oil

pinch of salt

preparation

Pre heat the oven to 400 F

Drain and rinse can of chickpeas and now dry the chickeaps to make them more crunchier.

In a separate bowl, add dried chickpeas, salt , paprika powder, garlic powder and olive oil. Toss well to coat evenly

Spread chickpeas out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet

Roast for about 15-20 minutes, or until crispy and brown .

what should you do with roasted chickpeas

you can use as toast topping along with avacado, fresh tomato and feta cheese .

use them in any of these recipes

Roasted chickpeas salad with couscous and kale

Roasted chickpeas salad with couscous and kale

Summer is perfect time of year to enjoy the quick but delicious salads packed in seasonal flavours. salads are bland as people think , eating salad mean just leaves of lattuce with cucumber and tomatoes. Here are my few tips for making healthy but delicious salad, and that definitly not bland.

I love making salad with different grains like chickpeas, coucous and quiona as they lend nutty flavour and indulgent texture, and also a good source of protein. if you love meat you can add grilled chicken.

Use green as base of your salad, lettuce, kale, arugula and spinach are excellent source of fiber, minerals and makes yoy fuller for long.

To make my salad extra filling, used some roast vegetables in bowl. Roast vegetables are perfect for meal prepration, I always make big tary of roasted veggie and add them to my meals during the weekdays.

Spices and fresh herbs also add flavour. They can added to dressing or tossed right into your salad before eating. Try oregno, rosemerry, thyme for itlian feel. Cumin and corinder or suumac also add flavours, for summery flavour, add basil, fresh mint or coriander.

Try to add some fats like avacado, nuts, seeds or cheese.

Top it off wth fresh dressings like thiani lemon dressing, mint and yohurt dressing, You can use store bouhgt dressing but be aware of hiden salt and sugar.

Here is my version of salad, quick and nutritious…..

ingredients

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 cup cooked giant couscous
  • 1medium sized sweet potatoes
  • 1 Avocado
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1 medium sized tomatoe
  • 3-4 radishes
  • 1 teaspoon paprika powder
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

How to make

The couscous prep will vary depending on the type you use. I used wholewheat pearl couscous – it is my favorite. So, follow the instructions on the package you buy.

I used some leftover roasted sweet potatoes and chickpeas , you can find recipe for roasted vegetable tray bake on my blog

Now make dressing with combining simple ingredients like lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper.

Now assemble by putting kale leaves, roasted sweet potatoes, chickpeas, couscous, cucumber, tomatoes and raddishes.

To serve, add fresh herbs like coriander, rosemary and avocado and drizzle yogurt mint sause.

Preventing type 2 Diabetes: Healthy Lifestyle Matters

Diabetes is one of the most serious chronic illnesses affecting around 4.2 million people worldwide. It is a clinical syndrome characterized by high blood glucose levels due to absolute or relative deficiency of insulin, this lack of insulin impairs the metabolism of carbohydrates, protein and fat. There are three types of diabetes

  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Gestational diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is caused by the immune system destroying pancreatic cells means not enough insulin to function normally, resulting in high blood glucose levels. While type 2 Diabetes is a condition in which our body produces insulin, but target cells do not respond to insulin and cannot use it properly. At first, the pancreas makes more insulin to overcome this high glucose level but eventually, it can’t keep up, and sugar build up in our body.

Causes and risk factors:

Insulin resistance is the hallmark of pre -diabetes and type 2 diabetes, lets understand what factor causes insulin resistance…

MODIFIABLE RISK FACTORS FOR TYPE 2 DIABETES

Understand your risks⬇️

➡️ OVERWEIGHT/OBESITY; Being overweight (BMI of 25-29.9), or affected by obesity (BMI of 30-39.9) or severe obesity (BMI of 40 or greater), greatly increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The more excess weight you have, the more resistant your muscle and tissue cells become to your own insulin hormone.

➡️Sedentary Lifestyle
Inactivity and having excess weight go hand-in-hand with a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Insulin receptors are more in muscle cells as compared to fat cells, so an individual can decrease insulin resistance by exercising. Being more active also lowers blood sugar levels by helping insulin to be more effective.

➡️Unhealthy Eating Habits
Unhealthy eating has duel effects as it is a major contributor to obesity and also increase the risk of insulin resistance. A diet with too much fat, not enough fibre and too many simple carbohydrates all contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.

➡️High Blood Pressure and High Cholesterol
In addition to causing damage to the cardiovascular system, untreated high blood pressure has been linked to the development of diabetes. High blood pressure and high cholesterol may increase the risk of developing heart diseases, stroke, and other complications of diabetes.

Smoking

There are several other factors which cannot be avoidable but play an important role in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes.

➡️History of Gestational Diabetes
. When pregnant, gestational diabetes generally lasts the duration of pregnancy and approximately 5 to 10 percent of females with gestational diabetes will continue to be affected by diabetes after delivery.

.➡️Family History and Genetics
Type 2 diabetes is also linked with genetics as suggested by #twinstudy. you are two to six times more likely to get type 2 diabetes if you have parent, siblings or child with diabetes.

➡️Increased Age
Age is an important factor for type 2 diabetes. As we age, the risk of type 2 diabetes becomes greater. Even if an elderly person is thin, they still may be predisposed to developing diabetes. The pancreas ages right along with us and doesn’t pump insulin as efficiently as it did when we were younger. As our cells age, they become more resistant to insulin as well.

Healthy habits for managing and reversing Pre -Diabetes;

Prediabetes or borderline diabetes is a condition in which blood sugar levels are raised but not high enough to labelled as diabetes. According to Diabetes.co.uk, around 7 million people in the UK are estimated to have prediabetes and thus have a high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Pre -diabetes is now recognized as a reversible condition. By adopting healthy habits like making healthy changes in diet and regular physical activity, people with prediabetes can prevent the development of type 2 Diabetes.

Healthy diet; There is convincing evidence that diet rich in whole grains protect against diabetes as the bran and fibre in whole grain cause a slow rise in blood sugar. Avoid processed meat and red meat as they increases the risk of diabetes. Select polyunsaturated fats like olive oil, nuts, seeds, and try to eliminate trans fats (margarine, fried food).

Check your portions: Practicing portion control can help you lose weight and eat a healthy diet. Eating too much or too little of any of the major food group can be bad for your health. For more information about portion size visit, https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/enjoy-food/eating-with-diabetes/portion-sizes

Be Active: Being physically active can lower your risk of developing diabetes. 30 minutes per day or 150 minutes per week physical activity is recommended, as it reduces the risk of getting obese and improves insulin resistance.

Lose weight if you are overweight or obese: Fat accumulation in the liver and pancreas affects how type 2 diabetes develops, and losing this fat can help put your diabetes into remission.

Reduce stress level as stress increases cortisol level which may interfere with glucose metabolism and increases blood glucose level.

Quit smoking: smokers are roughly 50% more likely to develop diabetes as compared to non -smokers.

take home message

Type 2 diabetes is preventable through lifestyle changes even if you are at high risk, It is very important to find out if you have prediabetes. If you are diagnosed with pre- diabetes,you should discuss a diabetes prevention plan with your doctor. There are alot of evidence -based information available on the following websites; https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/type-2-diabetes/food-and-keeping-active/

diabetes.org.uk

Curried Red beans

When you have no fancy ingredients in your fridge, but you want something delicious, filling and cheap, this red kidney bean curry is perfect. Soft and creamy kidney beans simmered in spicy tomato sauce and can be ready in only 20-25 minutes.

Cumin seeds and coriander seeds provide a flavourful base for every curry, Adding tomatoes gives a thick and soft consistency to this yummy curry.

This recipe is ideal for vegetarians or vegan. Kidney beans are low in cholesterol but high in protein, iron, fibre, magnesium and folate. Canned or dried kidney beans are most versaltile ingredient and pair easily with different cusine; soups, salads, bean chilli or this traditional curry. You can find more red kidney beans recipe on my blog

Ratatouille with Red kidney beans

MEDITERRANEAN BEAN SALAD

BEANS CHILLI WITH SMOKEY SWEET POTATOES

You can make it by using dried kidney beans, but it take more time as you should soak them for over night.

Ingredients

  • 2 can of red kidney beans
  • 2 medium sized onions
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon of grounded coriander
  • 1teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon of gram masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon kasuri methi
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 table spoons of coconut butter or oil
  • fresh coriander leaves

how to make

warm up the oil in a skillet, add cumin and bay leaves, and cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Once the nice aroma is out, add finely chopped onion and allow onion to soft and caramelised.

Now blitz the ginger and garlic to a paste, add in the pan, cook for about a 2 minutes, then add chopped tomatoes and all spices except gram masala. With the cooking spoon, carefully mash and breakdown chopped tomatoes into smaller pieces, cook for about 2-3 minutes.

Add kidneybeans, kasuri methi and gram masala and bring your mixture to a low simmer, cover with lid, and cook for about 10-15 minutes stirring ocassionally until beans are slightly softened. sprinkle with freshly chopped coriander.

Serve with flatbread or basmati rice.

Easy Dip Recipes

HUMMUS

This is basic recipe of hummus, you can make with roasted bell pepper, beet root or even with peas.

Ingredients

  • 2 can chickpeas
  • 2 medium garlic cloves minced or grated
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika powder
  • chickpea juice from the can

how to make

Blend all ingredients untill you get smooth ad creamy consistancy.

Some would say the presentation is as important as the taste of your dish, especially if you have guests or you want to bring your dish to a party or family dinner. For serving, I used shallow platter and place huumus in a centre and decorate with some roasted chickpeas, olives, red onions, tomatoes and paprika powder.

GAUCOMOLE

Another yummy dip made from few ingredients, served with any dish from tacos to burrito bowls or can be a healthy snack, goes well with vegetables like cucumber, carrots and bell peppers.

what you need for gaucomole

  • 3 Ripe avocados
  • 1/2 Red onion, finely sliced
  • 2 teaspoons of fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander
  • 1 medium fresh tomato
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

instruction

  • Pit 3 avocado and use a spoon to scoop them into a mixing bowl, mash with potato masheror by using fork.
  • now sequeez lime juice directly over the top of mashed avocado, this will prevent browning.
  • add diced tomatoes, red onion, season with salt and peppers and mix well.

serve with any main course.

Gluten Free Diet: Fad or Necessity

Nowadays, a gluten free diet (GFD) has become a global trend, more and more people claim that they have some gluten related disorders but is it really true that gluten has turned into our enemy??. let’s see the whole picture.

Gluten is a group of protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Gluten acts as glue and hold food together. There are two common forms of gluten; gliadin which gives bread the ability to rise during baking and glutenins, which is responsible for dough’s elasticity.

Who actually need GFD

A gluten- free diet is the only treatment for patients with celiac disease and non celiac gluten sensitivity. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects 1% of the population. The consumption of gluten from wheat or barley causes damage to intestinal villi causing the intestine to become inflamed results in the malabsorption of certain nutrients. Patients with celiac disease experienced symptoms including

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating/cramps
  • Diarrhoea/ constipation
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Extra- intestinal symptoms (Dermatitis, Osteoprosis, Iron deficiency anaemia, and Infertility)

Gluten rich food

Gluten can be found in Wheat, barley, rye, malt,  couscous, kamut, spelt, semolina flour, packaged soups, sauces and condiments. Recent studies have clearly demonstrated that oats are nontoxic for patients with celiac disease; however, contamination of oat products with other prohibited flours during harvesting, milling, or processing of oat products is a concern.

GFD for healthy individuals

There is NO evidence to support that a gluten- free diet leads to weight loss. Some people choose to follow a gluten-free diet merely because it provides structure to eating healthier and adopting a healthy lifestyle. Eating gluten-free often may cause you to eat more whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and lean meats. These diet changes are often healthier and lower in calories, and people may experience healthy weight loss. However, this weight loss can be achieved by simply limiting junk food, eating a balanced diet along with regular physical activity.

Gluten-free does not necessarily mean healthy because all gluten-free foods are not equally nutritious. Gluten- free products can be higher in calories, fats,and sugar in order to compensate for the texture and mouthfeel that gluten provides. A gluten-free diet can results in deficiencies of important nutrients, including B vitamins; folate, iron, thiamin, niacin, fibre, and riboflavin if not properly planned. Whole food bread and cereals are packed with B vitamins. Eating fiber rich foods are important, especially for breakfast, in order to get and maintain normal intestinal and bowel movement. Removing whole grains will add to digestive problems overall, not correct them.  It is possible to get more fibre from brown rice and fruit, which are gluten-free, but a person must be committed to eating enough of these foods on a daily basis to achieve a similar effect of foods rich in fibre like wheat bread and cereals.

TAKE HOME MESSAGE

The gluten- free diet is the primary treatment for celiac diseases and may help to improve symptoms in conditions related to gluten sensitivity. There is no evidence that gluten -free diet is an effective weight loss method. Diet and exercise are both important components of weight management and healthy lifestyle.

 

Pearl barley salad with roasted vegetables

Salads are not always boring, you can add vegetables, raw or cooked and pair them up with any kind of grains. This yummy, nutritious salad is perfect as side dish, or you can eat as a whole. Grain based salad are always my favourite as they are so filling, and adding vegetables make it a perfect balance. If you are tired of using rice or quinoa, barley is another healthy option for salad.

Barely is nutritious grain contain antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. It is an excellent source of fibre, which is responsible for most of its health benefits. Barley comes in different forms like hulled and pearl, and people often confuse which one is best for their recipes. Let’s have a look

  • Hulled barley : Hulled barley is the whole grain form of barley, with only outermost hull is removed, chewy and rich in fibre. It is dark in colour and has a little bit of a sheen.
  • Pearl barley: it is a refined form of barley, but much healthier than any other processed grains. pearl barley cooks more quickly than whole grain as it does not require presoaking.

For salad recipes, I prefer pearl barley as it takes less time to cook.

ingredients

  • 1 medium sized courgette
  • 1 medium sized sweet potato
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 medium sized onion roughly sliced
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese/ vegan feta

How to make

Cook barley in a large saucepan of boiling, salted water for about 25 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain well.

Pour 3 tbsp of the oil into a roasting tin, evenly spread vegetables, season with pepper, salt, mixed Italian herbs, and smoked paprika, and roast for about 20-25 minutes at 250 C.

In a large mixing bowl, add barley, all roasted vegetables and give a good stir.

Drizzle tahini based lemon dressing, and serve with crumbled vegan feta cheese on top.

Mediterranean diet: Is it good for your health??

Mediterranean diet is considered the healthiest diet and widely recommended by physicians and nutritionist. This diet encourages nutrient-dense food and promotes plant-based food like vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts and healthy fats. The Mediterranean dietary pattern (MDP) also includes moderate consumption of fish and shellfish, white meat, eggs, and dairy products.

WHAT MAKES MEDITERRANEAN DIET(MD)

  • Wholegrains
  • Seafoods
  • vegetables and fruits
  • Legumes; lentils, chickpeas and beans
  • Nuts: almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pistachios
  • Herbs: rosemary, thyme and basil
  • Spices: nutmeg, cinnamon and saffron
  • Fish, poultry and minimal intake of red meat

Evidence for health benefits of Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean Diet is associated with a lower incidence of mortality from all-causes, and is also related to lower incidence of cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases.

The evidence so far accumulated suggests that adopting a Mediterranean diet may help prevent type 2 diabetes; moreover, a lower carbohydrate, Mediterranean-style diet seems good for HbA1c reduction in persons with established diabetes.

PHENOLIC COMPOUND

Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, which have been considered a good source of phenolic compounds. Berries, pomegranate, oliv oil, all contain variety of phenolic compounds. The potential benefits of olive oil for the prevention of type 2 diabetes have been confirmed in a meta-analysis of 29 prospective studies in which the highest olive oil dietary intake category showed a 16% reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes. Thus, current evidence suggests that diets enriched with olive oil might prevent new-onset diabetes, an effect that, at least in part, could be attributed to the polyphenol content of oil.

HEALTHY FATS:

Mediterranean diet is very low in saturated fatty acids (SFA), and mostly fat comes from plant sources like olive oil and avocado, both are rich source of monounstaurated fatty acids (MUFA ). Ratio of MUFA to SFA is the key components for the health benefits of the MD. This diet also recomend frequent intake of nuts, which is best source of omegea 3 fatty acids, essential fatty acids that our body can not make. Fish are also important in mediterranean diet. Oily fish like sardine, mackerel, salmon and lake trout are rich in omega 3 fatty acids.

In a cohort study of 25,994 women in the United States, adherence to a Mediterranean diet was associated with a one-fourth relative risk reduction in cardiovascular disease, which was explained by reductions in inflammation, insulin resistance, body mass index, blood pressure and lipid profile (low -density lipoprotein and triglycerides).

FIBRE

There is strong evidence that consuming a fiber rich diet is associated with reduced risk of heart diseases, type2 diabetes, stroke and bowel cancer. Mediterranean diet is traditionally a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables all are good sources of fiber.

Mediterranean Food pyramid

Take home message

The Mediterreanen diet is very similar to the government healthy recommendation, which is set out in the eating welll guide. Studies showed that longterm adherence to mediterranean diet is associated with better health outcomes. However, I must point out that the Mediterranean diet is not able to produce, by itself, the benefits listed above if you do not change at the same time other risk factors such as a reduced or absent physical activity, caloric intake in excess of the energy needs of our body.

References
(21) (PDF) The Mediterranean Diet: A History of Health. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/242018034_The_Mediterranean_Diet_A_History_of_Health