Why it’s good to be nuts about nuts

Nuts are such an underrated snack.

Different types of nuts offer different nutritional benefits but they’re all packed full of goodness including plenty of fibre, good fats and protein. Yes, they are high in fat and 100g cashews typically contains 553 calories but before you vow never to eat a handful again let me tell you why nuts ARE in fact good for you and although high in fat, it’s good fats and fat like this is our friend to use a tired but true cliché.

30g is the ideal snack size for nuts so try and stick to that. I’m talking about unsalted, non-honey coated nuts here too!

They’re so easy to snack on as well. You don’t need to keep them in a special Tupperware and they have a long shelf life which is perfect if you want to buy in bulk.

I’ve put together a bit of info to highlight the nutritional benefits different nuts offer.

Let’s start with…

 Almonds:almonds
These nuts are packed full of fibre which is good for your digestive system. They’re also rich in vitamin E which is a great antioxidant and is good for the skin. If you’re avoiding dairy then stock up on almonds as they’re calcium and phosphorous rich. Finally, these nuts are especially good for your heart if they have their skin on as it is full of heart-protecting nutrients.
Try them in porridge or add ground almonds to home-made energy bars.
30g contains roughly 173 calories.

casjhews  Cashews:
Cashews are a definite brain booster as they contain lots of magnesium which is supposed to help with age –related memory loss. Some studies have even gone as far to say that eating cashews can help to warn off Alzheimer’s. Not only that but these nuts are also rich in iron and zinc which is good if you’re a vegetarian and lacking minerals usually found in red meat.
Try them in this really easy to make Pad Thai dish.
30g contains roughly 166 calories.

brazil nuts  Brazil nuts:
If your immune system needs a boost then grab a couple of Brazil nuts. They’re a good source of selenium which boosts immunity and also helps those who have a low thyroid function. It has also been suggested that selenium might help to prevent certain cancers including prostate and breast cancer. An ideal serving would be 3-4 Brazil nuts, it’s important not to over-do it with these.
Perfect simply as an afternoon snack or on your cereal.
30g roughly contains 197 calories.

hazelnuts  Hazelnuts:
We all love a hazelnut shot in our coffee but like other nuts these boast a high amount of good fat. Hazelnuts in particular are full of mono-unsaturated fats which can  improve heart health. The nutrients in hazelnuts help to balance out homocysteine levels – amino acid homocysteine has been linked to heart problems according to medical research.
Try them in home-made crunchy granola.
30g roughly contains 184 calories

walnuts  Walnuts:
They can often look like a brain and the image fits as these nuts are rich in omega -3 and mono-unsaturated fats which are both food for the heart. They are also a good source of calcium, iron, selenium and magnesium. Calcium and iron will help with strong bones whilst selenium is a fantastic anti-oxidant. Walnuts have also been proven to help lower cholesterol.
Try them in a salad with raisins or grapes and feta cheese.
30g roughly contains 196 calories

 

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Eat your greens at breakfast!

To celebrate Breakfast Week I wanted to write a piece about how I believe breakfast should be done and share with you my most recent breakfast creation.

breakfast sleep

We’ve always been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and in my opinion it really is. Recently I’ve changed the way I do breakfast and I wanted to share these changes with you. This is just my opinion though and it’s what works for me, everyone will be different.

First things first, your breakfast should be your biggest meal of the day. Skipping breakfast is a big error as it takes a toll on your energy levels and will leave you reaching for the nearest/easiest snack possible when hunger hits which will most likely be something that’s not going to fuel your body or be the most nutritious start to the day.

Big meals don’t have to mean bad meals; it’s all about picking the right foods to make up that meal. A big breakfast will set you up for the rest of the day and if it’s healthy it will help you to make healthy choices for the rest of the day as well.

Not only that but instead of reaching for a snack when you get to work or when 11am hits, a big breakfast will keep hunger levels satisfied through to lunch time. If you get in to a habit of doing this you’re likely to consume fewer calories throughout the day as well which is good if your target is to lose some weight.

breakfast info graphic

Ok, so what should you be having on your plate on a morning then? This will vary for different people depending on what your goals are. For example, when I’m training on a morning I like to have oats made with water and some nuts/seeds thrown in to add some healthy fats in there. Nuts also provide a reasonably high protein content too. I find that the carbs keep me full until lunch time especially after training. However on the days I’m not training or if I’m training on a weekend and I’ve got more time to make breakfast I’ll have scrambled eggs with veggies and some form of protein.

The ideal breakfast for me will consist of fats, protein and veggies on a plate and in my opinion everyone should try and have some vegetables at breakfast.

Those who start their day with greens on their plate have higher energy levels, improved concentration and don’t crave sugary/bad foods by 11am.

Add your veggies to an egg scramble or to an omelette for something quick on a morning. It’s also a great way to use leftover veg from the previous night’s dinner.

Now to address that dreaded word….fat. Without sounding like a total cliché, fats are your friends! I’m talking about good fats here such as coconut oil, avocados, nuts and nut butters rather than the bad, processed unhealthy fats.

Cooking your eggs in coconut oil or adding almonds or avocado slices are all great to add to your omelettes or shakes/smoothies.

Eating fats will give you energy, ward off hunger pangs for longer and let’s be honest, eating just veggies and meat (protein) does not fill you up!

Be careful though, although these are good fats it is still important to exercise portion control and adapt the amount you need depending on how much exercise you’re doing. Listen to your body and be mindful of when enough fat is enough. Believe me, I’ve been there and know all too well how easy it is to inhale a jar of peanut butter before you can blink.

Most importantly though, the concept is simple- eat real food! You’ve only got one body so why wouldn’t you want to fuel and feed it with the most nutritious foods possible? You’ll feel fuller for longer, have more energy, be alert throughout the day at work and generally just feel more healthy and positive in yourself.

Here’s a phenomenal (if I do say so myself!) breakfast recipe which I made at the weekend to fuel a day of work and training. It’s got some healthy carbs in there, fats from the avocado and protein from the eggs and smoked salmon. The smoked salmon is packed full of Omega-3 which is good for heart health and reducing high blood pressure. Rye bread also has a higher fibre and lower GI content compared to normal bread and so releases energy more slowly keeping you fuller for longer. It is also better for people who are sensitive to wheat or wheat intolerant.

Below is the recipe and nutritional breakdown.

IMG_6687

You will need: 
-Rye bread
– Eggs
– Avocado
– Smoked salmon
– Black pepper to season

Method:

– Put a small amount of coconut oil in a pan and heat before adding beaten eggs to the pan and stirring to scramble.
– Toast the rye bread and then mash the avocado on to the toast instead of butter.
– Top the avocado toast with eggs and the smoked salmon and voilà, a healthy and nutrient dense breakfast.

breakfast breakdown

Check out my other breakfast recipes I’ve posted including these low carb burpee breakfast tarts.

What’s your go-to breakfast? Do you eat the same thing or do you change it depending on work or training schedules? Let me know 🙂

 

10 ways to keep healthy with a busy lifestyle

This morning as I opened up my emails an interesting messaged pinged into my inbox with the subject title “failed again.”

What I opened turned out to be one of the most entertaining emails I had ever received.

Here’s a little snippet from it:

“My willpower is zilch, I have had three chocolates. There are boxes up in the staff room with post-its saying “eat me”- leftovers from Christmas where staff are trying to save themselves – obviously they do not know that I am already sprinting up the stairs to help them out – waistband is tightening by the minute, but even that does not deter me – help…………!!!”

I wasn’t laughing at the fact that this person wanted help but if you knew her like I did you too would be amused at her sprinting up the stairs to help her colleagues out with left over Christmas chocolate. My response: well at least you’re getting some cardio in with those stair sprints- ha-ha.

In all seriousness though this got me thinking about the pressures we put on ourselves in January to eat clean, take up the gym or cut out sugar following the indulgent festive period. January is also a really busy month with people starting back at work, paying off Christmas bills and children heading back to school.

I’ve put together a list of 10 ways to help you stay healthy every month even when you’ve got a super hectic schedule.

healthy ways 3

  • Water – This is such a simple change to make but one which has major health benefits. Keep a jug or a bottle of water on your desk at work or in your car at all times. Having it there will remind you to drink plenty throughout the day. Drinking lots of water will also improve your skin, help your body to flush out toxins and keep you alert at work as it increases energy and fights fatigue.
  • Snacks – Make the fruit bowl your friend and keep it stocked full at all times. You can also buy nuts such as almonds and take a handful of those with you to work. That way if cakes or treats appear in the office you will have healthy snacks on hand to curb those cravings and satisfy you until lunch time. Eating better makes you feel better.
  • Read an actual book – Take time away from your computer to read a book or the newspaper. You’ll feel as if you’ve really had a break from work and will come back in the afternoon with your brain refreshed ready to take on the rest of the day.
  • Ban phones from the bedroom – This includes iPads and anything else electronic for that matter. Set aside some time each night to really relax and unwind before getting into bed. Read a book, meditate or just take some time without your phone to switch off. The bright lights will interfere with your sleep pattern and getting a good night’s sleep is so important. You will wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and energised.
  • Green tea – It’s absolutely fine if you love a caffeine boost in the morning but why not try and switch to green tea in the afternoon and limit your caffeine intake. Although green tea does still contain caffeine it doesn’t have as much caffeine as coffee. It also has amino acid L-theanine which works with the caffeine to improve brain function and concentration.
  • Eat your greens – as well as green tea make sure you eat your vegetables. Again, it’s such a simple thing and it’s not meant to sound patronising but vegetables are packed full of nutrients and antioxidants which are guaranteed to improve your mood and leave you feeling healthier and happier in general.
  • Get moving – Set your alarm ten minutes earlier and go for a walk or do some burpees before work. HIIT (high intensity interval training) is great if you are pushed for time and if you get it done in the morning you’ll feel the benefits of those endorphins for the rest of the day.
  • PMA – Positive mental attitude! Starting your day with positive thoughts and having a can do attitude will boost your mood and basically sets the standard for a good day ahead. Think positively when you’re faced with a challenge.
  • Write things down – Make yourself an achievable to–do list either on your phone or when you get to work each day. There’s something strangely satisfying about ticking something off your list and getting stuff done.
  • No pressure- leading a healthy lifestyle isn’t a diet; it’s a way of life. Don’t put extra pressure on yourself by stressing out if you have a chocolate or miss a workout, you’re only human! To get back on track forget about it and move on, health is about so much more than just a physical thing it’s about mental well-being as well.

healthy ways 1

What are your top tips for staying healthy and happy? Let me know!

You can also Tweet me at @hannahbryan91 or email me at hbryan91@gmail.com

Food cravings: what they really mean

Whether it’s that chocolate bar during the post lunch slump or the urge for a cool glass of Pinot on a Friday night, we all get cravings.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t give in to our cravings but it’s all about balance and it wouldn’t be healthy to give in to them every single day.

I decided to write this post after I began craving some odd things. When I started CrossFit for example, all I wanted to eat for breakfast lunch and dinner was pineapple. After a quick internet search I learnt that my body was craving pineapple because my muscles were inflamed. They weren’t used to being worked in the way that CrossFit was working them and that craving was the result.

Ever since then I have been fascinated to learn about what particular food cravings mean. Often when we crave chocolate or something salty our body doesn’t actually need these things, it needs something else.

Research conducted by vouchercodespro.co.uk found that there are more nutritious ways to satisfy these cravings. For example, you might be interested to learn that when you think you’re craving a bar of chocolate your body actually needs magnesium which can be satisfied with a small handful of nuts. Similarly, when you fancy a glass of wine that craving can be satisfied with a serving of protein.

Check out their helpful infographic below:

Research from vouchercodespro.co.uk

Research from vouchercodespro.co.uk

Now that’s not to say that every time you crave something you should reach for an alternative but if you’re craving the same thing every day it might be a good idea to see if you are lacking in certain nutrients. A sign of low iron for example is when you are craving a good steak or any kind of red meat.

Aside from that, here are five of my tips to tackle unhealthy food cravings:

  1. Distract yourself – When we have food cravings it can often be because we are bored. If you find yourself craving something, start doing something else. Keep yourself busy and I guarantee that with your mind on other things it will soon pass.
  2. Have a drink – Often when we think we are hungry it’s actually because we are thirsty. When a craving hits, head to the kitchen for a glass of water or juice instead.
  3. Pay attention to what you’ve recently eaten – I always find that if I eat something sweet I then start craving other sweet foods for the rest of the day. Make a note of when cravings hit and you’ll soon start to see a pattern.
  4. Have healthy alternatives on hand – Keep nuts, fruit or carrot/celery sticks at work so that when you start feeling like you want to give in to a craving you’ve got healthy alternatives on hand.
  5. That said, giving in to a craving is fine – Why not try just having a quarter of what you would usually have though. If it is chocolate you really want, have a couple of squares of dark chocolate rather than a whole bar.

Meat free Monday

Every Monday morning when I get in to work my Twitter feed is scattered with #meatfreeMonday Tweets.
Intrigued, I decided to check it out.

As a devoted meat eater I personally think I would struggle to be vegetarian but this initiative, of going meat free for one day a week, seemed like it could be doable and with added health benefits I decided to give it a go.

Not only that, but the campaign is dedicated to helping the planet by reducing carbon emissions of meat production.

I’ve often heard that too much red meat is bad for you yet too little can leave your iron stores depleted meaning you are left feeling tired with little energy. It’s a tough balancing act but according to Oxford University’s department of public health eating meat a maximum of three times a week could prevent an astounding 31,000 people dying from heart disease.

Added incentives to join Meat Free Monday include the cost. By skipping your daily meat one day a week you could save some pennies as meat free alternatives are noticeably cheaper – an ideal time to save money with the festive season ahead.
And of course there are the animals to consider as well.

With all that in mind, I checked out the McCartney’s website and my meat free Monday began.

My meals today were far from inventive but were more quick and easy due to being back at work after a week off and a training session to cram in – but I’m looking forward to trying out some new and exciting recipes, many of which can be found on the website, next week.

So today, I had:
Breakfast: Porridge with blueberries
Morning snack: banana and raisins
Lunch: Cottage cheese salad
Afternoon snack: carrot sticks and rice pudding
Dinner: Spinach, mushroom and tomato omelette with vegetables

The recipe I’m going to be trying next week is Deep Dark Black Bean Soup. Check it out here and I’ll post how I got on with making it next week.

Have you tried meat free Monday? Have you felt any health/bank balance benefits? Comment below and let me know 🙂