My favourite thing about this time of year is the inspiration I get from all the amazing food that's in season.
Here are 10 superfoods that you should be using in the kitchen this autumn!
Be Happy, Be Healthy...Nick
Ok so pumpkins are part of the 'winter squash' family but it deserves a little mention of its own. This halloween decoration is also a superfood packed with carotenoids, fibre, vitamins B, C, E, iron, potassium and folate. You could use pumpkin for soups, muffins, flavoured rice and cous cous.
2. Winter Squashes
As with the pumpkin, winter squash is full of nutritious goodness and carotenoids which may give protection against heart disease and cancers. Probably the most well known is the butternut squash but there are a huge variety of these autumn veggies for you to try. Think of tagine, risotto or roasted when you come to cook them.
This one is a bit controversial but I love sprouts! Sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable the same as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. They are high in anti-oxidants thought to reduce the risks of diseases. Don't over cook these until they're all mushy, sauté with some bite, add garlic, onions, ginger or chestnuts.
4. Sweet Potato
Like all these foods listed you can get them all year round. However if you get them locally and when truly in season you will get the best out of them. Sweet potatoes are what I like to call a 'smart' carb and contain vitamin A, C, calcium and potassium. As well as the usual mash or wedges, try using them in curries, soups or even as a dip.
This little beauty has a whopping 40% of your recommended intake of vitamin C and is packed full of anti-oxidants. Pomegranate makes a great snack on its own, sprinkled in salads or yogurt and it goes great with salty cheese.
The humble pear has to be one of my favourite fruits and are a great source of vitamin C and copper. Pears are a good choice if you want to increase your fibre intake. Getting enough fibre aids digestion, improves gut health, controlling blood sugar, helps weight management and improves skin health. You could blitz them in smoothies, slice on yogurt or toss in salads. Check out my'pear & halloumi'
These nutty, sweet, white root veggies contain high amounts of potassium and are very versatile. Potassium helps to balance the negative affects of salt and lower blood pressure. As well as making good mash they work well in soups and stews. Roast some off and use them as a handy snack.
This may be an obvious one but apples most certainly a food you should be eating ("an apple a day...") Eating plenty of these during the autumn will give your anti-oxidants a big boost. Make sure you eat the skin as this contains the most nutrition, much more than the flesh alone. I put apples in smoothies, salads or healthier gluten-free crumble.
The grapefruit is a good choice to start eating during the autumn months. It is high in vitamin C and can give your immune system a real boost. Some studies suggest this fruit can help lower stress levels and lower cholesterol levels. Great on it's own but goes well with cumin and coriander.
I was actually surprised when I researched the health benefits of dates (yes those little brown things your nan would try and feed you!). As well as being a good source of protein, potassium and fibre, they contain 23 types of amino acids and 15 different minerals. You can use dates as a binder or natural sweetener. Eat dates sparingly because they are high in fructose (sugar).
There's lots of misconceptions about weight loss and a lot of confusion over which foods to eat, which exercises to do and which one's to avoid.
It's so confusing for most folks, especially as you hear different things all the time and it changes from one week to the next.
Here are 9 things you don't want to do (although you think you do) for weight loss.
1. Don't rely on exercise (only) to lose weight.
Exercise alone is certainly not the ket to weight loss! In fact you have to make sure your exercising properly for your goals, your body type etc. Some studies have shown that too much of the wrong kind of exercise can actually holt weight loss all together.
Don't neglect exercise though as the overall health benefits are untold and gaining lean muscle the right way will help with fat loss. Nutrition is king when it comes to weight loss. You could train every day but if you don't change what's going in your body, your body won't change.
Remember, you can't out-train a poor diet!
2. You don't have to skip meals or snacks.
If you purposely ship meals to cut calories you will probably end up eating more. You will make yourself more hungry, more irritable and likely to snack on something unhealthy. Skipping meals will also throw your blood sugar levels (insulin) around which is the opposite of what you want to be doing. In general it is better to eat less but more frequently, spaced out during the day, including snacks. Be aware of your portion size and eat snacks that are high in nutrients and fibre (veggies are always a good choice).
3. You don't need to do endless hours of cardio.
This may surprise and delight some of you! Some think that pounding the treadmill four hours is the best way to burn fat. It's no surprise as most of the cardio machines tell you about the 'fat burning zone'. It takes a long time for your body to actually get into the 'fat burning zone' and your body can start to save calories (energy). A well designed mixed program of resistance training and higher intensity cardio is more affective and you will be burning more calories at rest. Genetics will play a role in how your body responds to certain training. You may have to try different things but have some fun along the way!
4. You don't have to achieve a six-pack.
Getting a six-pack or washboard abs may seem like the holy grail of being fit and healthy. This just isn't realistic for most people. Achieving it and staying motivated is very difficult. Improving your health should be a big motivator and of course you will shed pounds along the way. Think about the positive affect on your heart, your bones, your posture and your mental well-being.
Improvements to your diet shouldn't just be about your biceps or buns. Increase your intake of whole nutritious foods, feel energised and reduce the risk of chronic illness.
5. Don't be duped into buying loads of gadgets, apps or equipment.
Any product that promises a big return for little effort should ring alarm bells. You may have seen the infomercials about the latest 'ab blaster' or miracle juice drink. Don't look for the quick fix! Nothing can beat tried and trusted basics of healthy daily habits done consistently. Being consistent with exercise and eating well will help to keep you in the calories deficit, needed for weight loss (approx -500 cals).
This means regular exercise and eating a diet of whole nutritious foods that match your activity, body type and lifestyle. There is no 'one-size-fits-all' exercise or 'diet'. Everyone is different so experiment, try new things, you will find a way that suits you and your life and your goals. Hey, why not speak to a professional? We are here to help!!!
6. You don't have to go 'gluten-free'.
Gluten free diets have been a big thing the last few years and it has been promoted by some as a sure way to lose weight. It will only be healthier to cut out gluten if you have coeliac disease or gluten intolerance, which has a damaging metabolic affect on the autoimmune system which can lead to serious health problems. You won't lose weight or improve your health just by cutting out gluten. Looking at your diet as a whole and making adjustments to your all-round intake is where you will make the biggest impact.
7. You don't have to eat ridiculous amounts of protein.
Yes protein is very important for lean muscle growth and helps you to feel more full. However, protein has the same amount of energy per gram (4 calories) as carbohydrate. In general most people don't eat enough protein so getting some with each meal (1 palm-size for women 2 for men or equivalent) should be ok. This is a starting point that would need to be adjusted depending on your goals, amount of exercise etc. Be aware of protein that is high in fat or protein bars/products that are high in sugars as this will add up in your daily calorie intake.
8. You don't have to cut out fat from your diet.
If you ditch all high fat foods like butter or only choose fat-free versions of your usual favourites then you will probably feel hungry or unsatisfied. Getting a balance of healthy fats like omega 3 and 6 into your daily diet has been shown to help with cravings and feelings of fullness. There are also health benefits of getting healthy fats daily. Be cautious of low-fat versions of foods as they will often have added sugars to compensate for flavour. Choose 'real' natural versions of healthy fats in moderation.
9. You don't have to cut out fruit.
I have seen and read about some 'diets' that ban fruit all together because of their amount of sugar. The natural sugar in fruits is a much slower digesting than added processed sugars so won't cause such a 'spike' in blood sugar levels. There is the added benefit of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and fibre in fruits. Like all the food groups, be mindful of how this fits into your diet in the bigger picture.
Stop guessing & start progressing...✌️
The first thing to remember about supplements is that they should only be used to supplement good nutrition, regular exercise and a good recovery strategy. My first recommendation for 'supplements' is to eat real foods and to work on getting a good sleep ritual.
There are so may supplements out there, some good, some bad, some work, some don't. Of course there are many supplements out there that are good.
Before I use or recommend a supplement I research it and look for independent studies that back up the proclaimed benefits. A lot of supplement companies will hold their own 'studies' so you have to be cautious of this.
Here are 10 supplements that I know do work and that I take or have taken myself.
Stop guessing & start progressing!
This makes a great lunch or dinner...
You have a good mix of 'smart' carbs, protein, fats and veggies. There's nothing like a good kick of chilli to rev-up the metabolism! (as always...it's optional 😗 ) 👇 WATCH SHORT CLIP BELOW 👇
What you need.
(For 2 people)
✔️ 2 medium/large sweet potatoes
✔️ 6 pieces of smoked streaky bacon (trim the fat if you like)
✔️ 1 large onion
✔️ 2 cupped hands of feta cheese
✔️ 1 pack of tender stem broccoli (220g)
✔️ Rape seed oil (I used Lemon infused)
✔️ Crushed chilli flakes
How to do it.
➖ Preheat oven to 200c
➖ Get a pan of boiling water going
➖ Pearce sweet potatoes several times and microwave for 2-3 mins on each side
➖ Put potatoes in oven for approx 10-15 minutes to finish
➖ Chop onion and bacon finely and sauté in a pan until onions are soft and bacon starts to get a little crispy (the fat from the bacon should be enough, otherwise a drop of healthy oil)
➖ Boil the broccoli to your liking (I have to have mine 'al dente')
➖ To serve, slice the potato in two, put the bacon and onion on top, crumble your feta, drizzle your oil then add your crushed chilli to finish
You can either watch the video below or if you can't stand looking at my ugly mug for a few minutes, check below for how to do it...👇
👉 What you need
✔ 500g turkey mince
✔ 500g passata
✔ 4 large handfuls of plum tomatoes
✔ 2 large cupped hands of broad beans
✔ 2 table spoons of tomato paste
✔ 1 chicken stock cube
✔ Large handful of flat leaf parsley
black pepper (or chilli, herbs etc.)
✔ 2 table spoons of rape seed oil (or any other healthy oil)
✔ 1 egg
✔ Half-fat crème fraiche
✔ 2 large cupped handfuls of green pea fusilli (or approx. 75g per person)
👉 How to do it
➖ Mix the turkey mince and egg in a bowl and add your seasoning.
➖ Take a portion of the mixed mince and roll into ball shapes.
➖ Heat a large frying pan, add the oil and get it to a nice and hot temperature.
➖ Add the meatballs and brown on all sides.
➖ Add the tomatoes and soften for a few minutes.
➖ Add the passata and bring up to boil then turn the heat down to a gentle simmer.
➖ Add the tomato paste and the stock cube.
➖ Leave to simmer for about 20 minutes and add the broad beans with 5 minutes to go to cook through.
➖ Get a pan of boiling water ready for the green pea fusilli as this will takes 6-8 minutes.
➖ Lastly add the chopped parsley to the sauce just before serving.
➖ Get a serving bowl add your cooked fusilli then put your turkey meatballs on top. Add a nice spoonful of crème fraiche and a grating of Grana Padano or Parmesan cheese.
This is what I am doing some mornings for breakfast...my 'morning ritual'.
It's healthy quick and easy...😋 💚
30g of protein per serving!
Macs (per serving)
Protein 30g - Carbs 13.6g - 13.6g - Cals 296
What you need...
How to do it...
1. Preheat oven to 180c normal (160c fan), Gas Mark 4, 350f.
2. Place all the ingredients in food processor & blend until finely chopped & semi-smooth.
3. Using dessert spoon as measure, take spoons of mixture & form into balls. Then flatten slightly.
4. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper & place the fish cakes on the tray. Bake for 10-15 minutes.
Top your yogurt with at least one fruit and add some healthy fats like coconut, mixed seeds or crushed nuts. One of my faves is pineapple, grated coconut and goji berries.
Eggs & Avocado
This is best kept simple. Top 2 slices of whole-grain toast with 2 two eggs (however you like them) and smashed avocado. Season to taste. I like a squeeze of fresh lime juice and some chilli flakes on mine!
Cook your quinoa and add whatever mixed fruits and berries you like. Then dress it with some honey, lime and fresh basil. Mint also works well instead of basil.
We are now coming to the last few weeks of Simon's Pegg’s training cycle for 'Mission: Impossible 6'. I am glad to report that 'Agent Benji Dunn' is in tip-top condition and will be ready for action. In fact, he's in the best shape of his life! You can see a snap-shot of Simon's training schedule for weeks 8-12 in the picture below.
As usual Simon has been dedicated to both his training and nutrition plan. The change in his body composition and fitness level reflect this. What has been really interesting this time is, as well as the training and nutrition methods that worked well for previous film roles, we've added Genetics into the mix!
We have tweaked both his training and nutrition plan based on the results of a DNA test.
The results of this test told us about Simon's response to power and endurance training, recovery and gave us detailed information on his micronutrient needs. His recommended 'diet-type' is low-carb as his geno-type suggests. The nutrition plan he is following is based on this but adjusted for his training and goals.
Look out for examples of Simon's training, workouts and results which will be posted soon!
If you would like to learn more about how genetics can help you optimise your training and nutrition or you would like to train like 'Agent Benji' then get in touch.
Be Happy, Be Healthy...
Macro info per serving
Protein - 19g
Carbs - 70.2g
Fat - 13.5g
Energy - 478.3kcal
Shopping & Ingredients List:
900g Sweet Potato, peeled & cut into chunks
200g Fromage Frais
2 tbsp Mixed Dried Herbs
1 Onion, chopped
2 Carrots, peeled & cubed
2 Celery stalks, finely sliced
2 tsp crushed Garlic
1 Red Pepper, deseeded & cubed
250ml Vegetable Stock
400g tin Chopped Tomatoes
400g tin Green Lentils
100g grated Vegetarian Cheese
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1. Preheat oven to 180c normal, 160c fan, gas mark 4, 350f.
2. Boil sweet potatoes for 15 mins until tender enough to mash. Add fromage frais & mixed herbs. And mash until smooth.
3. In large frying pan onion & oil and stir fry until soft, about 4 mins. Add carrot, celery, garlic, pepper, stock, tomatoes. Bring to boil then reduce heat & simmer for 10 mins.
4. Drain lentils & wash. Add to the vegetables & cover. Simmer for 10 mins.
5. Place in large pie dish. Top with sweet potato mash & sprinkle with grated cheese. Cook for 20-25 mins.
Author, Nick Lower
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