In my post last week I shared the wonderful health benefits of The versatile Egg..and if you missed the post, you will find all the nutrients eggs contain and how important they are for the body.
I have mentioned before that I eat within an eight hour window have done so for the last seven years and if you are unfamiliar with intermittent fasting here is a brief summary.
To be honest I am not an advocate for complete fasting over extended periods. Even under medical supervision I always feel that unless it is a method of eating that the body has developed over time, it can add more stress to the organs and our emotional response to food. Additionally those who embark on a fast unsupervised may have an underlying health problem that can cause serious issues. For very young people particularly teenagers this can be a very dangerous and complicated process that can result in not just physical damage but emotionally and mentally too. So first and foremost, do seek advice before contemplating any form of radical dieting.
Intermittent Fasting advocates claim that there are a number of health benefits outside of steady weight-loss. These include reversal of Type II diabetes. Here is a summary.
- Blood levels of insulin drop which leads to more efficient fat burning
- Your body has downtime when it can initiate vital cellular repair.
- Blood levels of human growth hormone increase dramatically which also encourages fat burning.
- It is claimed that intermittent fasting increases your metabolic rate encouraging weight loss and reduction in fat in stubborn places such as the belly.
- Type II diabetes has responded well to intermittent fasting with a significant drop in fasting blood sugar levels and fasting insulin levels.
- Some research is indicating that intermittent fasting can benefit oxidative stress on cells and reduce inflammation.
- There are many studies into the benefits currently and new evidence is being published frequently and is worth keeping an eye open for.
- If you choose to follow this form of eating pattern you can choose from eating 500/600 calories for two days of the week and eat normally for the other five days.
- Or eat between an 8 hour window every day.
If you are very active you might find the two low calorie days very tough and certainly I don’t recommend for growing children or teenagers. However if you are in isolation at the moment and not very active you can still eat reasonably well on 500 calories by eating substantial salads without dressing and homemade vegetable soups.
We prefer the second approach and so we tend to have brunch rather than an early breakfast and here are two of our favourite dishes.
Image by mhburton from Pixabay
Ingredients for two people for two days (keeps well in the fridge and can be reheated in the microwave)
- Six eggs whisked
- 200ml full fat milk, or plain yoghurt (skimmed milk is too watery)
- One onion finely chopped and cooked off in a little butter in a skillet
- Two tomatoes finely chopped
- One small red pepper finely chopped
- Small handful of fresh spinach
- Or any leftover cooked vegetables you have in the fridge (broccoli, carrots, leeks peas)
- Two ounces of grated cheddar, parmesan, or favourite cheese
- Two ounces of unsalted ham, or leftover chicken, sausage or salmon
- Pinch of salt
- Herb of choice.. I use a fresh basil.
How to prepare
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees (180 fan assisted) Gas Mark 6
- Grease a ceramic oven proof dish with reasonably high sides with some butter
- Mix the ingredients (apart from the cheese) together in a bowl and pour into the dish.
- Place a plate over the top and microwave for 10 minutes
- Remove and sprinkle the cheese on top
- Place in the middle of the oven for ten minutes.
- It should rise in the dish like a souffle,
- Cut into portions and serve with a side salad, or if hungry some fresh baked bread and butter.
Add half an Avocado
Avocados contain unsaturated fats and also contain phytosterols which have shown to lower the more harmful small particle cholesterol LDL (low density cholesterol) which clumps together in the arteries causing blockages. Avocados are great for heart health, skin, eye and bone health and also promote the absorption of fat soluble vitamins such as A,D,K and the Vitamin C aids your body to absorb iron and Vitamin D in the eggs.
The second recipe today is a popular dish served by all cafes and bars particularly in the morning. We would head out for coffee and Tostada and combine with our grocery shopping. It is simple and delicious to make at home and you can eat earlier in the day as breakfast.
Whilst it makes this post a little longer than a simple recipe I wanted to illustrate how nutritionally important this dish is for our health by giving you a brief overview of the ingredients too.
But first the recipe.
You can make several days’ worth of the tomato topping and store in an airtight container in the fridge. As there are no artificial additives and refined sugars it is a great alternative to other spreads and you can enjoy any time of the day. We have eaten in the evening for a supper from time to time. When we have guests we might also add some lean chicken or a piece of roast beef to the top.
I tend to use my own homemade wholemeal Irish Soda bread which is yeast and sugar free. It can be a little crumbly but delicious with the tomatoes.
Or you can buy a wholegrain baguette from a bakery where it has been made on the premises (no additives).
Basic Tomato recipe.
- You will need one tomato per serving. Using up tomatoes that have gone a little soft is great and just wash and take out the central stem.
- This recipe is based on four tomatoes cut into cubes and put into a blender.
- Add 1 dessert spoon of Extra Virgin Olive oil and a pinch of salt. Blend until a puree.
- The skin of the tomatoes will solidify the mix so scrape into a dish or a storage container to serve as soon as blended.
- If you would like to add some more depth to the spread you can add 1/2 teaspoon of Pimiento Dulce which is lovely and smokey.
Red pepper addition with onion and garlic.
To make the tomato spread especially rich and also even more nutritionally dense, chop up half a red pepper, half an onion and a clove of garlic and cook off with a little coconut oil or olive oil in a pan; or in a microwave without oil with a little water for 10 minutes. Add to your tomatoes and blitz it all up together.
Putting it together
Take a fairly thick slice of bread and toast both sides, or split a small sized wholegrain baquette and then drizzle a little olive oil over while hot. Use a spoon and add a good amount of the tomato spread making sure that it covers the surface of the toast.
If you have the time to read, here is a brief look at the health benefits and the nutrients that are packed into this simple tomato dish.
Although it contains fats they are healthy fats and if you need to lose weight just use less on your toast as there is plenty of flavour in the spread already.
Extra virgin olive oil which is from the first pressing of the olives is the best oil to use as it contains higher levels of nutrients, particularly Vitamin E and Essential Fatty Acids.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are necessary fats that humans cannot synthesise and must be obtained through diet.
Omega-3 (Linolenic Acid) is the principal Omega-3 fatty acid and is used in the formation of cell walls, improving circulation and oxygen. A deficiency can lead to decreased immune system function; elevated levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat.
Omega-6 (Linoleic Acid) is the primary Omega-6 fatty acid. Omega-6 can improve rheumatoid arthritis, PMS, skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis.
In a human trial it was found that polyphenol rich olive oil included in the diet improved the health of blood vessels which was not the case for another group of volunteers that included oil in their diet with the phenols removed. Obviously the healthier the blood vessels the more effective the entire circulatory system
Tomatoes contain Vitamins A, C, and K. Folate and Potassium and provide good quantities of B Vitamins Thiamin, Niacin, B6 as well as the minerals magnesium, phosphorus and copper.
With the addition of fibre, regular inclusion of tomatoes in your diet, helps protect you against high blood pressure, too much oxidised low density lipoprotein cholesterol (the unhealthy kind) and heart disease.
Combine this with beta-carotene which is found in brightly coloured foods such as carrots, eating tomatoes offers some protection against sun damage. The lycopene content also has been show to make the skin less sensitive to UV light damage helping keep your skin looking younger.
As we age we also lose bone density and the Vitamin K, calcium and lycopene are essential in the production of new bone.
Red peppers are packed with vitamin C, in fact more than most citrus fruits, and they have a high anti-oxidant level including Vitamin A, adding to that already present in the tomatoes.
They also add more B vitamins into the recipe including B6 which makes neurotransmitters that might help inhibit the development of breast cancer.
As well as the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc, red peppers have a good amount of manganese, needed for bone density and tendons and cartilage.
Onions and Garlic
Onions and garlic fit well into the category of ‘Superfood’ as they are both nutritional and can influence health in a very positive way.
The onion has a powerful sulphur-containing compound, which is responsible for the pungent odour and for the health benefits. Onions contain allyl propyl disulphide, chromium, Vitamin C and flavonoids, the most beneficial being Quercitin.
Allyl propyl disulphide lowers blood sugar levels by competing with insulin, which is also a disulphide for space in the liver where insulin is normally deactivated. This results in an increase in the amount of insulin available to move glucose into cells causing a lowering of blood sugar.
Chromium is a mineral that also helps cells respond efficiently to insulin, which in turn decreases blood sugar levels. These two properties in the onion make it a vegetable worth including in our daily diet as we get older to help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Chromium has also been shown to improve glucose tolerance, lower insulin levels, and decrease total cholesterol levels whilst increasing levels of the healthy cholesterol (HDL).
Garlic contains many helpful compounds including thiosulfinates such as allicin, sulphates including alliin and dithins the most researched being ajoene.
(Just a quick note on the addition of garlic you might want to time this ingredient so that it does not clash with a business meeting or a romantic date….)
Research has identified that garlic lowers blood pressure, decreases the ability of platelets to clump together forming clots, reduces blood levels of lousy cholesterol (LDL) whilst increasing levels of healthy cholesterol (HDL). It also helps our blood vessels relax which prevents atherosclerosis, heart disease and the risks of heart attacks and strokes.
Garlic, like the onion is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral. With the current concerns that we have about potential ‘Super bugs’ it is interesting that garlic appears to be an effective antibiotic, even against some of these resistant strains.
Cancer protection is essential for all of us. The compound ajoene might be effective in the treatment of skin cancer and eating two or more servings a week of garlic may help prevent colon cancer.
See what I mean about nutrient dense! – Next time a main meal that boost your nutrient intake
©Just Food for Health 1998 – 2021
I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-three years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines, radio programmes and posts here on Smorgasbord.
If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2021
Thanks for joining me for this series and as always delighted to receive your feedback… keep young at heart… thanks Sally.