Are you nutritionally overdrawn?

Are you nutritionally overdrawn?

These days it’s so easy to eat, isn’t it? We can be exposed to literally hundreds of food options on a daily basis. Just walking into a supermarket or a fast food outlet and you’ll instantly see dozens of options.

But is the food you’re eating making regular deposits into your nutritional bank account? What I mean by this is, when you eat are you really nourishing your body?

Pretty much everyone understands the concept of a traditional bank account. Wages and other funds are paid in and your bank balance increases. Bills and other spending goes out and the balance goes down again.

Depending on the rate you spend and how often you have income to deposit your bank account balance is likely to fluctuate up and down over time.

If you’re good at budgeting you may have a little left over each week or month to build up a buffer so that you can enjoy treats and holidays or should anything come along out of the blue like a burst pipe or an expensive car repair you’ve got it covered and won’t need to dip into an overdraft or borrow money to pay for it.

Or on the other hand, you may struggle to make ends meet. Bills seem to come in faster than you can earn money to pay for them, your overdraft is almost at it’s limited and you’re not sure how you’ll make it to the next pay day.

Have you ever considered that the same principles apply in your body?

Every day you consume food and drinks and every day your body uses up nutrients to heal and repair and to perform both vital and non-vital functions. This causes the levels of nutrients to go up and down, just like the funds in your bank account.

Hopefully, if you’re eating lots of healthy foods you’ll be depositing plenty of nutrients to enable your body to put together the right combinations to carry out all of the functions it needs to do each day.

If your diet is mainly processed or convenience foods you may be eating plenty of food but you may not be getting a good amount all of the nutrients you need.

When nutrient levels fall too low and you dip into your overdraft this is when you may experience health issues. The symptoms you experience may be minor and over quickly but if you stay overdrawn for too long chronic health conditions may creep up on you.

Unlike a traditional bank account though the combination of nutrients available in your body is also important. Don’t worry, you don’t need to over complicate things, it’s not necessary to scrutinise all of your different nutrient levels on a daily basis.

Simply start to focus on eating a variety of different plant based whole foods and this will provide your body with the majority of what it needs.

Need help with this?

If you’re concerned that you’re not getting the right balance of nutrients to support a happy, healthy you, I offer one to one nutrition coaching (which can be via phone of video call) and I also run a variety of workshops in my local area, please contact me at clare@vibrantlyheathy.co.uk to discuss your unique requirements.

Veganuary has made me a little uneasy

I’ve been reflecting on the whole Veganuary thing over the last couple of weeks and whilst I LOVE the fact that so many people are taking the plunge and giving plant based eating a whirl I can’t help feeling a little uneasy about it.

With so many plant based products flooding into the shops at the moment it must feel like there’s never been a better time to switch to plant based.

I don’t want to come across as a party pooper here, but just because it’s easier to find plant based products it doesn’t mean they are good for you.

All of those fake meats and cheeses may start out using natural ingredients such as coconut, peas or soya beans but by the time they have been processed into something vaguely resembling cheese or a burger or sausage they’re far from natural.

Your glorious fruits and vegetables are being turned into Frankenfoods and are a far cry from the bountiful source of nutrients that nature had packaged up so beautifully for you and that your body knows instinctively how to use.

Take your average pea protein burger on the other hand. If you study the ingredients list you’ll almost always see ‘pea protein isolate’ listed. It sounds innocent enough doesn’t it? The trouble is your body doesn’t instinctively know what to do with pea protein isolate This is not something that is found in this state in nature.

If you eat a pea it contains all of the vitamins, minerals, fibre, enzymes and other phytonutrients that help your body to identify it as ‘pea’ and digest and absorb it appropriately.

Pea protein isolate, or any other protein isolate for that matter, isn’t a whole food, it doesn’t contain all of the nutrients and co-factors found in a pea in nature and so your body may not recognise what you are eating.

If your body can’t recognise the foods you eat as natural, nutritional foods it may trigger an immune response. You might not notice any symptoms or side effects if you indulge in a vegan burger every now and again but if you’re using meat or cheese substitutes in most meals you could be unwittingly overloading on substances that are causing your body extra challenges and symptoms may start to become apparent.

Whole foods plant based eating on the other hand focuses on eating food in as close to natural state as possible. Any processing you’re able to do in your home kitchen is unlikely to change the foods beyond recognition so you’ll be getting maximum nutrition from your meals.

My advice?

Cook from scratch and then you know exactly what you’re eating.

Find meals you love eating and batch cook and freeze if possible so you’ll always have a wholesome ready-meal in the freezer ready to go and you won’t be tempted with those substitute products so often.

If you must eat meat substitutes or other fake-foods make it an occasional addition to an otherwise whole food diet.

Need help to know what the heck to eat? I offer natural nutrition coaching sessions in person, by phone or video call. Drop me a line at clare@vibrantlyhealthy.co.uk if you’d like to find out more.

Sprinkle, sprinkle and sprinkle some more

Sprinkling seeds onto your food can really ramp up the nutrient levels in your meal.

Seeds are tiny powerhouses of nutrition. It makes sense when you think about it, they have everything they need, with the exception of water and light, to burst into life and grow.

Different seeds have different specific nutritional values some are higher in calcium and others have more zinc but all seeds are packed full of goodness which makes them a fantastic way to boost your nutrient levels.

Eating a few different types of seeds will help you to get a great variety of different nutrients so why not make up a seed mix and store it in a small glass jar. It’ll be ready to sprinkle anytime you need it and you won’t have to keep opening all of the individual packs or jars each time.

You can even take your seeds with you when you’re out and about to add to meals or for a nutrient boost during the day.

This super seed sprinkle combines four different seeds

Super 4 seed sprinkle

Makes 100g

40g pumpkin seeds

30g sunflower seeds

20g flaxseeds

10g black sesame seeds *

Put the seeds into a bowl or jar and give them a good stir or shake and you’re ready to enjoy them.

This combination works well and gives a nice mix of the different seeds. This is just a guide, you could change the ratios to suit your own preference.

So now you’ve got your seed mix what will you do with it?

Start sprinkling extra goodness onto your food of course.

They’re great on porridge in the morning, salads at lunchtime or even sprinkled onto soups and stews in the evening.

You can even add seeds to cookies and desserts for extra crunch.

*I like to use black sesame seeds for the colour but regular sesame seeds work just as well if you can get the black ones.

Oyster Mushroom Satay

Oyster mushroom satay

This oyster mushroom satay serves 2 hungry people and is so easy to make from just a few ingredients.

I don’t often use pre-prepared products in my cooking but this recipe does utilise a few of my panty staples to create a super-tasty dish with minimal effort.

When buying tamari, creamed coconut and peanut butter always go for organic whenever possible and for the creamed coconut and peanut butter choose the 100% versions that don’t have any unwanted added ingredients.

Tamari is a gluten-free version of soy sauce so it is suitable if you are following a gluten-free diet.

400g oyster mushrooms
½ teaspoon coconut oil
1 small onion
1-2 cloves garlic
Small piece fresh ginger
1 teaspoon organic tamari soya sauce
100g creamed coconut
150 – 200mls water
75g organic crunchy peanut butter
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of chilli flakes (optional)

Cooking the oyster mushrooms

Place the oyster mushrooms in a single layer into a large dry frying pan over a moderate heat.

Allow the mushroom to cook and dehydrate gently whilst you prepare the sauce. If you don’t have a big enough pan you may need to do this in a few batches.

I find that cooking oyster mushrooms in this way gives them a slightly chew texture and the gentle caramelisation adds a slightly sweet and nutty flavour to the mushrooms.

It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten chicken but this cooking method kind of reminds me of eating roasted chicken thighs way back. The mushrooms have slightly crispy edges but are soft and juicy inside.

Meanwhile…

Finely chop the onion and mince or grate the garlic and ginger.

Melt the coconut oil in a small pan and add the onion, garlic and ginger. Gently fry until softened.

Add the tamari, creamed coconut and 150mls water and continue to heat gently until coconut cream is melted.

Remove from the heat and use a stick blender to blend the mixture until smooth.

Return to the heat and add the peanut butter, black pepper and chilli flakes, if using, stir well until peanut butter is incorporated into the sauce.

If the sauce is too thick at this stage add a little more water.

To serve pile mushrooms over short grain brown rice and spoon the sauce over the top, finish with a squeeze of lime and a few chopped spring onions if you have some.

Enjoy!

To see more plant-based, gluten-free and refined sugar free recipes and ideas visit my Vibrantly Healthy website or follow me on Instagram or Facebook

Please forget about all this new year, new you nonsense!

New Year, New You – It’s something I’ve seen and heard 100’s of times in the last couple of weeks. It’s always the same at this time of the year, it seems the world has gone ‘new you’ crazy. Promising the body or life of your dreams if you follow the latest plan or system.

Every time I see or hear ‘New Year, New You’ I want to put my fingers in my ears, close my eyes and block it out.

Why?

Because the underlying message here is you are not good enough as you are, that you need to be something different, something more.

But that’s total rubbish!!

You are enough already, whatever the state of your health or your life right now, YOU ARE ENOUGH.

Instead of trying to become someone or something else, I suggest changing your focus to one of cultivating love, compassion and respect for yourself – right here, right now.

This is the one of the most important first steps you can take towards vibrant health and happiness.

When you learn to treat your body with loving kindness, you will naturally begin to nourish yourself with health promoting foods and introduce more nurturing practices into your daily life.

Your body has everything it needs to repair, restore, heal, and to shed weight too if that’s what you’re looking to achieve.

Your body is a miracle. It is a complex collection of cells, tissues, organs and systems that work together to keep you in optimal health BUT it can only work with what it has got.

As a species most of us have forgotten how to listen to our bodies and understand what they need to thrive. We move through our lives stressed out and under nourished (physically and mentally) and then wonder why we live with digestive discomfort, pain, blood sugar imbalances, circulatory issues, weight gain, and so much more.

The first step to changing all of this is to learn to give yourself the love, compassion and respect you deserve.

So forget about New Year, New You and learn to love who you already are.

If love feels like a stretch, why not start with gratitude. Maybe try writing a daily gratitude list, thanking your body for the amazing things it does for you every day.

If you’re living with a health condition this can seem a little out of reach at first but it doesn’t have to be huge things that you’re grateful for. It can be small, simple things in the beginning and as you put this into practice I’m sure you’ll be surprised how many things your body does that you can be grateful for.

If you’re wondering how to get started, here are a few examples:

  • I am truly grateful that my heart knows how to beat all by itself
  • I am truly grateful for my eyesight that allows me to see the beauty in nature
  • I am truly grateful that I am able to get up out of bed and make a cup of tea this morning.

Even just this small change could make a difference and help you to start to love and appreciate the miracle of you.

Oh, and it costs nothing so why not just give it a try and see for yourself, you’ve got nothing to lose.

If you need help with the more practical aspects of nourishing and nurturing your body with the best foods for you head over to www.vibrantlyhealthy.co.uk to find out more about nutrition coaching and workshops.

Knitting is a superpower

I was taught to knit by my grandma as a child but very quickly got distracted by music and boys and whatever else teenage girls were distracted by in the ’80s and knitting was history! It just wasn’t cool!

It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I took up knitting again. I used to always be on the go and found it hard to sit down and do nothing. The trouble was my forever busy lifestyle wasn’t doing much for my health. Health issues crept up on me slowly and it wasn’t until I was close to burnout and my body and mind couldn’t cope with anything too strenuous or taxing that knitting found it’s way back into my life and then it was my lifeline.

Knitting meant I could be doing something productive, which satisfied the ‘always doing something’ part of me yet at the same time sitting in mindful (almost) stillness, resting and allowing my body the space and time to heal.

You don’t have to be living with a chronic health condition to find the superpower in knitting though, and if you’re already a knitter you’ll know some of the ways knitting reveals it’s superpowers.

Here are just a few…

The power to calm an anxious mind and create a little calm and stillness. This has to be hands down the most impactful of knitting’s super powers for me. I’ve suffered with stress and anxiety periodically for about the last 15 or so years and during these times I find knitting, combined with mindfulness and meditation (not necessarily all at the same time) to be a very healing combination. For me, knitting is a form of moving meditation and after so many years of mindful knitting practice my body responds by reducing the level of my anxiety.

The power to slow down an over active mind. This is similar but different to the point above. You don’t have to be living with anxiety to create a mindful practice through knitting. If you tend to have a racing mind that won’t let up, knitting could help. Gently bringing your focus onto the feeling of the yarn in your hand and the stitches you’re creating can have a profound impact and quieten that monkey mind.

The power to relieve loneliness. There are communities for knitters online and in real life. Ravelry is a fantastic platform to ‘meet’ other knitters in the virtual world. Search for groups which interest you, join in and get to know people. Joining a Ravelry group has brought me real life friendship too as I’ve discovered other knitters who live near by and we now meet regularly. If you prefer real life connections, knit groups can be found in most towns and I’ve always found them to be very welcoming.

The power to strike up a conversation with a stranger. If you’ve ever taken your knitting out in public you’ll already know that it can be a real conversation starter. Other knitters will come over and say ‘oooh I wish I’d thought to bring my knitting along with me’ or curious non-knitters might ask you what you’re making. Either way you can have a lovely conversation with someone you’ve never met before. I’m quite shy so I would never just start talking to someone in a cafe or on a train but if I’m knitting someone will usually strike up a conversation with me.

The power to make someone’s day. Receiving something hand made, with love knitted into every stitch has to be one of the best feelings. I’m not talking dodgy jumpers here but thoughtful gifts that have been lovingly created. Each time you wear the hat, scarf, shawl, sweater etc you can’t help but think about the person who knit it for you and it makes your day all over again.

The power to create something beautiful. You may think ‘oh I’m just not that creative’ but there are a wealth of gorgeous hand-dyed yarns out there which make even a simple garter stitch scarf look like a work of art.

The power to provide warmth & comfort. Who doesn’t love a woolly hat or scarf on a cold day? Or what about snuggling up under a knitted blanket. Sounds good to me!

Do you knit? How does knitting reveal its superpowers to you?

Looking for some knitting inspiration? Click to check out the patterns in my Ravelry store

Plan to be healthy

Plan to be healthy - blog

Planning is something we do naturally in certain areas of our life, work, booking holidays, finances but how well do you plan for your health?

Your health should be one of your top priorities. Afterall, without vibrant health how will you care for your family and do all the things you want to do in life?

It’s all too easy to get distracted by everything else that’s going on in your life and let unhelpful and unhealthy food choices creep in or take over.

How often do you just have coffee for breakfast, eat on the go or a pick up a take away on your way home from a late meeting.

Whilst it may seem like the only option at the time you’re not really giving your body what it needs. Stodgy sandwiches or greasy takeaway food doesn’t provide the nourishing nutrients your body needs to thrive and you could be filling your tummy yet starving fr nourishment.

Do you have a bucket list?

How many of the things on your list are you able to tick off? How many things on your list are for ‘one day’ in the future when you have the time, energy, money…

Have you considered that if you’re not planning to be healthy now, your health may become the limiting factor in the future. You may have all the time in the world but if you don’t have your health you still won’t be able to do those things.

There always seems to be a reason to not do things now and to put them off until later and it can be exactly the same with your health. Do you catch yourself thinking ‘I know I should eat healthier foods but I’m too busy right now so I’ll start next week’

Don’t put off your health until ‘one day’. Start planning to be healthy now.

Don’t wait until Monday or the start of the next month or until you have time to empty the fridge and clear out the kitchen cupboards.

Start right now, from where you are and with what you have. You can figure out the rest as you go along and if you find it all a little overwhelming I’m here to help so please get in touch.

Contact me by email at Clare@vibrantlyhealthy.co.uk for information about nutrition coaching or for details of upcoming workshops.

“I’d love to eat more healthily but it’s just too expensive”

“I’d love to eat more healthily but it’s just too expensive” I hear this a lot and, every time I do, I have to bite my tongue because honestly this is total rubbish!

Eating healthily doesn’t mean buying only trendy, expensive, artisan products from posh health food stores.

Your local supermarket has everything you need to create delicious, wholesome and healthy meals that don’t break the bank.

In fact, have you noticed that all of the UK supermarkets seem to be trying to out-do each other on who can sell the cheapest vegetables and fruits?

This week in my local Tesco the root vegetable medley pack that included an onion, a parsnip, 4 carrots and a whole swede was on offer at 75p.

All of this for just 75p! I know it’s crazy, right? And it’s only £1 for all of this even at full price.

Anyway, I’m a sucker for a bargain so I grabbed a pack and set about thinking what I could make with it.

Butter bean and vegetable stew was the answer.

To my bargainous veg pack I added some celery, garlic, butter beans, herbs, stock and black pepper.

You can make this kind of stew with all kinds of veg – celeriac, butternut squash and turnips also work really well and kale is a good call too. So look out for bargains and make the most of them.

Oh and if you have tomatoes in the fridge that need using up they make a great addition and introduce a pop of colour too.

My impromptu version made 6 good sized portions of stew and whilst that was cooking I also boiled up all of my trimmings with some herbs and black peppercorns to make a batch of vegetable stock.

Bonus!

The total cost of all the ingredients was well under £3 so that’s less than 50p per portion.

But how can that be? Healthy eating is expensive, isn’t it?

To see more recipes and inspiration pop over to follow Nourish Nurture Knit on Instagram and Facebook

Five simple ways to restore your inner calm

How are you feeling today? Really?

Don’t fool yourself with the standard automatic ‘I’m fine’ but really check in and notice whether you’re feeling calm and in control or stressed, frazzled and exhausted.

Stress, or more correctly, the stress response is a major nutrient and energy zapper. It affects how almost every aspect of the body functions and uses up a vast amount of vital nutrients and so can be a factor in nutritional deficiencies. It also prevents the body from repairing and restoring itself which can have a broader health impact.

Sometimes referred to as the fight or flight response, the stress response is essentially a self-defense mechanism that evolved way back to help human beings respond to a threat or a perceived threat. Back in those days a threat was likely to be a life or death situation, like coming across a wild animal that wants you to be its next tasty meal.

When it’s triggered appropriately the stress response is a vital, intelligent action of the body, but it isn’t intended to be a permanent state of being and our physiology hasn’t evolved as quickly as our lifestyle has changed.

These days there are almost endless causes of stress, some of which you may find surprising, but, no matter what causes the stress, the physiological response is the same. The numerous changes in the body include changes to blood pressure, heart rate, hormone production and digestive efficiency.

These 5 simple tips can help you reduce the negative effects of stress and restore some calm. Continue reading “Five simple ways to restore your inner calm”

Hello, it’s so nice to meet you

Hello! Hey there!

Clare Crouch Nourish Nurture Knit

I’m Clare, it’s nice to ‘meet’ you!

Am I a knitter with a love of food and nutrition?  Or am I a food and nutrition nerd with a love of knitting?

I guess I’m both, a food and nourishment nerd and obsessive knitter. So that’s what I’ll be talking about here at Nourish Nurture Knit.

A bucketful of plant-based, real food recipes that will nourish and nurture your body, a handful of knitting patterns, tips & ideas, a sprinkling of mindfulness and some nurturing rituals thrown in for good measure. Continue reading “Hello, it’s so nice to meet you”