You would be forgiven for thinking that all fruit and vegetables are in season all year round, after all they are available all year round in our local supermarkets!

However, eating seasonally could actually be the best way to eat sensibly as there are real health benefits in sticking to fruit and veg that’s in season.

Here’s why:

  • Produce tastes better – When you eat produce that’s in season it’s a taste sensation as opposed to produce that’s in transit for nearly two weeks. The transit time alone and chilling reduces the flavour. When a fruit or vegetable is ripe and picked fresh not only will it taste better but it’s nutritionally superior too.
  • It’s better value – it stands to reason that when a farmer harvests produce in season it will not only be plentiful but cheaper because storage and transport are not necessary as its usually heading somewhere local.
  • It’s better for the planet too – our planet needs all the help it can get these days and every little helps. Buying local produce reduces fuel to fork costs, helping to reduce pollutant gases into the atmosphere. Growing fruit and veg in season requires lower levels of artificial inputs like heating, lighting, pesticides and fertilisers, making it better for the environment and you.
  • Seasonal vegetables suit our body – Our bodies our wise and we need to move with the seasons. What’s grown in nature each season is what our bodies crave for nourishment and optimal nutrition. In the summer we lean towards berries and salads but in the winter hearty soups and stews made from root vegetables is what we need. So build a comforting friendship with your crock-pot. After all, winter is all about grounding yourself and we can do this through food too.
  • We can support our local farmers –support and connection is really important for our health and wellbeing. When you buy local you not only help to support your local farmer but you also make a real connection to where your food came from.

Here’s a list of what’s in season now:

All year round you will have onions, carrots, chard, mushrooms, spinach, garlic, potatoes and salad leaves.

liz cook veg seasonal winter veg Liz Cook charts BUY HERE

December: Chestnuts, field mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, parsnips, leeks, turnips, pumpkins, celery, rhubarb, red cabbage, kale, cauliflower, swede, cabbage, celeriac, beetroot, pears, cranberries, cooking apples and apples

January: Cabbage, Red cabbage, cauliflower, kale, swede, Brussels sprouts, celery leeks, parsnips, turnips, celeriac, beetroot, rhubarb, apples, pears, cooking apples

February: Purple sprouting broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, beetroot, cabbage, kale, turnip, rhubarb, celery, celeriac, red cabbage, apples, pears, cooking apples

I love shopping local and my! it’s a very different experience to the supermarket. My son is 6 and has built a relationship with the people at my local market. He knows where food comes from and is interested in the process. From farm to fork without all the logistics is preferable where possible. So please try and support our own and shop locally. Here’s a link to the market I attend in Dublin 8. Check it out The Green Door.

Christy Stapleton greendoor

healthy lifestyle

FACT:

So this may come as a surprise to most people but BEING HEALTHY DOES NOT HAVE TO MEAN LIFE WILL BECOME BORING!!!

Believe me this was also my greatest fear after all for years I perceived exercise as hard work and eating healthy food as a boring and a tasteless waste of time. I also thought happiness could be found at a party, when I booked my next big gig or indeed when I became accepted by my peers, so yes very sadly I worried what people thought of me. I searched for years and years for that slippery sucker called happiness but it felt that every time I got near it, well, it disappeared again.

Being healthy was the last thing on my mind as i never really thought that being healthy meant that much. Now I realise that I really didn’t value myself and probably didn’t feel like I deserved to be healthy and happy.

You see being happy is not something you can buy, a place you can travel too or indeed a company you can be employed by! It’s inside of us all already but we need to mind it and nourish it with a good lifestyle and good life choices.

The way I see it is that for years I worked hard at partying and sabotaging things for myself and the end result was depression and anxiety but now I spend time and work hard at being the best I can be and the reward for all this hard work is vitality, energy, contentment and excitement every day for what’s coming next!

Being healthy is the single greatest gift I have ever given myself. But my advice is that small changes make a big difference so don’t try to overhaul your lifestyle overnight.

Here are some great starting points:

1. Find an exercise you actually like

2. Drink more water and start each day with lemon water

3. Get enough sleep!!

4. Be grateful – write down 5 things each day you are grateful for.

5. Nourish your body with fresh foods – every thing you eat becomes a part of who you are!!

Start simple and build from there. Feeling good feels so good that it is definitely something I want to hang on to.

So take the first steps and learn to love yourself and in turn you’ll start to love your life. Believe me you won’t regret it!

I really enjoyed this interview with Izabela Chudzicka for her new chat show APT 115. We had a great chat about living a healthy lifestyle, eating better and the effect food has on our mental health. We also talk about being a parent and trying to find that elusive work life balance.

I hope you enjoy watching it

Ali xxxx

h

MY NUMBER ONE TOP TIP:

START YOUR DAY THE MATCHA WAY

With 137 times more antioxidants than regular green tea, 70 times the antioxidants of orange juice and 9 times the beta carotene of spinach it is most definitely in my top ten ‘must have’ food picks.

If you have secretly always wanted a superpower as a kid make this your superpower secret. Matcha is drunk as a fine powder and can be added to smoothies, juices, yogurts or drank as a shot. I mix it into a bottle of water and carry it with me all day. It also curbs sugar cravings and can also help with weight loss.

But for quality choose wisely and do your homework. There are a lot of cowboys out there trying to sell matcha cheaply and in bulk but look closely at the ingredients and on some of them you will even find rice bran solubles forming the bulk of main ingredients so please aboid these offers. I always go to www.matcha.ie where you can choose from 3 different strengths depending on your needs.

Tea+Grades

Drinking matcha just once a day can boost your metabolism by 35-43% . I always take a shot of matcha before a workout as it can increase fat oxidation.

How can one drink do so much I hear you say? Well to me matcha is magic. It has helped me enormously in my fight against depression and anxiety because it calms the nervous systems and has so many antioxidants.

Try replacing your morning cup of coffee with matcha and watch your skin, nails, hair, energy levels and focus improve.

TOP TEN BENEFITS AT A GLANCE:

1. Energy levels

2.Skin, hair, nails

3. Anti-carcinogen

4. Lowers blood pressure

5. Boosts metabolism

6. Full of antioxidants

7. Prevents from UV damage

8. Improved memory and Longevity

9. Anti-Aging

10. Protection against Heart Disease and Diabetes

Here are a couple of short videos where I show you how I make my matcha:

https://alisoncanavan.com/alison-tv/my-matcha-way-to-start-the-day/

https://alisoncanavan.com/alison-tv/matcha-tea-how-i-take-it-with-me/

If you have any questions please feel free to comment below or email me at alison@alisoncanavan.com

xx

You can live for up to 50 days without food but without water you will only survive for a few days

HYDRATION

BUT HOW MUCH WATER DO WE ACTUALLY NEED?

On average our bodies are made up of about 60% water so keeping hydrated is really important. We lose water all the time by sweating, going to the bathroom and even breathing. Its suggested that we drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day but I find drinking plain water really hard so here are some ideas for sprucing up your water and getting more fluids into you on a daily basis:

1  Keep a bottle of water with you all the time- in your bag, the car or on your desk at work

2  Add a slice of lemon or lime to your water- I start every day with warm water and lemon. When you wake up your body is dehydrated after a long nights sleep so this is an ideal way to start every day .It is now simply a daily habit that I do automatically.

3  If you find it tough to remember to drink water set an alarm on your phone. I do this if I’m really busy and it works!

4  Remember that we often mistake hunger for thirst so if in doubt drink first as true hunger will not be satisfied by drinking water.

5  Experiment with the different flavours of herbal teas and reduce the amount of caffeinated drinks you have as caffeine is a diuretic.

6  Include more water rich foods in your diet. A few examples are: cucumber, watermelon, strawberries, star fruit and peppers.

7  Check your urine to check your hydration. If you’re well-hydrated your urine will be mostly clear with a tinge of yellow.

helenabarker.com

ARTWORK BY : www.helenabarker.com

I just turned 37 last week and I’m at a time in my life where most of my friends are either having children or trying really hard to have children. Infertility now affects 1 in 7 couples in the UK and I imagine we are not far behind here in Ireland. There are so many factors that affect our fertility including elements that we have no control over like toxic chemicals in the air, food, water and cosmetics we use.

 

But what we do have control over is our lifestyle and we now know that what we eat has a profound influence on our health and indeed our quality of life. The saying from ‘womb to tomb’ really does ring true but maybe in this case we should bring it back even further and focus on the prospective parents health before conception??

 

Improving nutrition and lifestyle can rapidly improve a couple’s health and in turn their fertility. We often focus just on the female but if you think of the sperm as a ‘seed’ and the egg as ‘soil’ its obvious we should be focusing on both. Show me a plant or tree that has ever been grown without a seed? Exactly

 

Voluntary poisons like smoking, alcohol and caffeine should definitely be stopped and replaced with filtered water and a healthy diet. The easiest way to explain a healthy diet nowadays is make sure you spend the majority of time in the fruit and veg aisle and if you eat meat buy high quality animals proteins. Lets get back to using knives instead of tin openers in the kitchen and very simply stay away from packaged processed foods and sugars.

 

The reproductive system does need specific nutrients though which is why recent a pilot study into a natural nutrient supplement called pre-conceive, is so exciting. It showed improvements in key fertility parameters for both men and women.

 

The 90 day clinical study into pre-Conceive, which is Irish owned and manufactured showed that incorporating a healthier diet and lifestyle alongside the supplement, provided optimistic results for the 20 infertile Irish couples who took part. The results, after careful independent analysis, indicates better fertility rates in men and women, boasting improvements in DNA and motility, to name but a few.

 

More than eight out of 10 Irish men showed improvements in their sperm motility and also reduced cellular damage to their sperm. The clinical study is Europe’s first ever examination of a nutritional supplement and the effect on both male and female fertility parameters. Progressive motility, which measures sperm cells swimming in the right direction, was also greatly improved and reduced cellular damage to sperm cells was also noticed.

According to independent medical expert, Dr David Smallbone. “This new study shows that pre-Conceive combined with nutritional and lifestyle advice improves the environment for healthy sperm cell and egg development”.

Pre-Conceive is designed speci­fically for couples finding it hard to conceive. It can also help couples who are preparing for Assisted Reproduction, those who are looking to support the health of the mother during and after pregnancy, plus the health of the embryo and women who have had a miscarriage, or recurrent miscarriages.

 

Dr Smallbone believes that the report favourably shows that providing adequate nutritional materials can and does influence the body systems and that it becomes apparent that important systems, such as the endocrine system, can be affected by correct nutrition. However it does need time and six months is not an unreasonable amount of time, especially when several years of nutritional abuse lie behind the problem. Unless the nutritional requirements of the body are specifically catered for, it is highly unlikely that full health can be expected.

 

Mark Whitney of Pillar healthcare plans to conduct further research in the coming months but if this study is anything to go by its an exciting time for couples struggling to conceive. This is a great way for any couple to start their journey into the world of fertility. It can lay down all the groundwork for the male to produce ‘strong sperm’, the expectant mum to develop a healthier egg and positively influence the baby’s health.

 

Results Are In

Pre-Conceive is available through pharmacies, health food stores and online. It is recommended that couples follow at the very least a 90-day programme. Each box contains one month’s supply, containing 30 sachets and the highest strength fish oil on the market. (90 capsules / 3per day). Each 30 day supply costs €170. www.pillarhealthcare.ie

I’m A HUGE fan of finding what works for you and how and what we feed our kids is no different. The one thing we simply can’t escape is that good nutrition is important.

If you have been reading any nutrition articles lately I imagine your head is spinning at the fact that we have been lied to for years about fats and cholesterol. We have been warned off all fatty foods and as a result have made some companies who make low fat products very wealthy. Fats were feared and butter and cheese were demonised.

However no matter what studies come out and what we are told the fact remains that our Western diet is unbalanced. Sugar is now the enemy. I realised this a few years ago during my fight with depression.

As soon as I cut down on sugar and processed foods my mood lifted. Of course, general lifestyle and exercise habits play an important role too, but eating unhealthy foods can cause inflammation, which leads to illness. There are now studies showing links between inflammation and depression.

One is by George Slavich, a clinical psychologist at the University of California in Los Angeles. He told The Guardian newspaper that depression has as much to do with the body as the mind. ‘I don’t even talk about it as a psychiatric condition any more,’ he says. ‘It does involve psychology, but it also involves equal parts of biology and physical health.’

A family of proteins called cytokines sets off inflammation in the body, and switches the brain into sickness mode. Both cytokines and inflammation have been shown to increase when people become depressed and fall when they’re better.

Omega 3 fats worked for me in my recovery from depression. I notice a dramatic difference in my mood when I don’t take them. Omega 3s are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. They are essential fatty acids that the body cannot make for itself. There are two EFAs (essential fatty acids) Omega 3 and Omega 6. Omega 6 fatty
acids have been growing in prevalence in modern diets. Some research suggests that too many Omega 6 fats can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. They are in margarines, cakes, some fast foods, dressings, nuts… the list goes on. Many studies are now showing us that we need more Omega 3s instead.

Foods that provide Omega 3s include flax seeds, walnuts and green vegetables. However, our bodies need to convert Omega 3s into the active form that the body can use called EPA or DHA. The body is not very efficient at doing this. It is estimated only 5 per cent of flax oil is converted to EPA and DHA. Shellfish and oily fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines and anchovies already have EPA and DHA in its required form but how many of us eat oily fish three times a week or feed it to our children?

Scientists are still working to reveal how Omega 3s work during brain development, learning and cognition. Dr Alex Richardson has been researching this area for years. She is the author of They Are What You Feed Them, in which she talks about the effect a lack of Omegas has on children’s behaviourand development.

eskimo kids

I give James Eskimo-3 (visit eskimo3.ie for stockists) kids everyday as it combines the unique stable fish oil, Eskimo-3, with Omega 6, Omega 9, vitamin D and vitamin E. I used to add it to yogurts, porridge, smoothies and even spread it on toast to get it into him but now he is used to the taste and takes a tablespoon every morning. A lack of EPA and DHA affects all parts of our body including our bones, blood, organs, skin, hair and mental health. They might be only one piece of the jigsaw but they are a very important piece.

I caught up with Jason Vale a couple of weeks ago and he shared a couple of great tips about juicing. If any of you are fans of my Facebook page www.facebook.com/alisoncanavanofficial you will know that I’m a huge fan of both juicing and blending.

I kept getting mails asking about the difference between juicing and blending and also for some of my recipes so here’s a full page that I did as part of my minding mum series with the Daily Mail. Enjoy xxx

ALISON week 4 minding mum jpeg

As you will know by now I’m a big fan of doing a lot of little things to keep healthy. By this I mean eating well, exercising, meditation, keeping a gratitude diary every day and, much more. The trick is to find what works for you and everyone is different. As a busy mum my nutribullet has been a lifesaver as sometimes I simply don’t have time to juice in the morning and my nutribullet is just so easy to clean but there is a difference between juicing and blending and a nutribullet is a blender.

 

The main difference is that juicing removes the pulp and extracts most of the liquid nutrients and water from the fruits and vegetables. Blenders pulverize the whole produce making it into a smoothie. The pulp is what is called indigestible fiber, which has no nutrient content but is essential and very important for a healthy diet. It helps to keep your digestive system and gut healthy and it also slows down the absorption of sugar which is why you should not juice a lot of fruits together as the sugar will get absorbed quite quickly leading to your blood sugar becoming unbalanced which causes mood swings and believe it or not energy loss!

 

The trick is to use mostly vegetables when juicing or blending. When I’m juicing however I always notice how much more produce I go through so as Jason Vale says juicing really is “a nutrient express”.

I’D LOVE YOU TO TRY SOME OF MY RECIPES ABOVE AND LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK? XX

This year I’m delighted to be the ambassador for Honda again and also for the “wings for life” (www.wingsforlifeworldrun.com) run thats happening in May. I ran last year and it was an amazing experience. My running career since has been pretty bad and I also have a bad back so because I’m all grown up and sensible this year I decided to take a trip to Lifestyle Sports in Dundrum and get proper trainers for running. Here’s what I discovered:

Barley wholegrainIt’s January and we’re all on a mission to become healthier but for most people that means taking drastic measures and not implementing small changes into your lifestyle that you’ll stick too which is the only way true lasting change will happen.

 

Today I’m going to focus on Barley and it’s benefits of which there are many. Barley is a wholegrain. But what is a wholegrain??

 

Well all grains actually start life as whole grains. In their natural state growing in the fields, whole grains are the entire seed of a plant. And yes WHOLE GRAINS ARE HEALTHIER. They contain all three parts of the kernel. Refining (processing) normally removes the bran and the germ, leaving only the endosperm. Without the bran and germ, about 25% of a grain’s protein is lost, along with at least seventeen key nutrients. This is why you’ll often see added vitamins on cereals and breads, which are really just the ones they took out in the first place!

I always remember Barley in my soup as a kid. I loved those little pearls but you don’t see it so much anymore and that’s a shame because it’s a very good source of nutrients including molybdenum, manganese, dietary fiber, selenium, and a good source of copper, vitamin B1, chromium, phosphorus, magnesium, and niacin.

It’s really important that we look after our digestive health as it’s where a lot of our bigger health problems have their origin. You’ll often hear people referring to the Gut as being the real brain in our body because if it’s not healthy it can contribute to poor mental health, IBS, impaired immune and nervous system function and it can also wreak havoc with our hormones.

Barley’s dietary fiber provides food for the friendly bacteria in our gut and is naturally high in Beta-glucan, a soluble fibre which slows digestion in the stomach.

Beta-glucan is also scientifically proven to lower cholesterol and reduce blood sugars with authorised health claims from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). When consumed it turns into a thick gel that binds with excess cholesterol and sugar, which slows and reduces its absorption into the blood stream.

There’s a new product called Heart Up+ which I really like its a 100% natural whole grain Barley food supplement. It’s ideal for those with high cholesterol, or digestion problems such as irritable bowel or stomach bloating, diabetics or those who simply want to maintain normal healthy cholesterol and insulin levels.

Group Heart Up IMG_8444

If you’ve seen any of my nutribullet recipes this can be added to them. You can also add it to soups, porridge, scrambled eggs, yogurts, casseroles and the list goes on. As you will notice from my facebook posts www.facebook.com/alisoncanavanofficial I’m a big fan of adding nutrient rich supplements especially if they can alleviate or help with health issues.

 

Taking 3g (3 scoops) of Heart Up+ per day a person will lower cholesterol.  Heart disease is the biggest killer in Ireland and taking simple steps such as reducing your cholesterol can have a huge impact on your cardiovascular health.

Taking 4g (4 scoops) per meal which contains 30g of carbohydrate will reduce blood sugar rise and insulin levels after the meal as it acts like a natural food statin.

In short Heart Up+ provides the following health benefits:

 

         Lowers cholesterol

 

         Reduces blood sugar rise and insulin levels

 

         Prebiotic for gut health

 

         High in Folic Acid

 

         Feel fuller for longer

 

Heart Up+ is available in three natural flavours including original, blueberry and red berries. The RRP is €7.79 and it is available in Lloyds Pharmacies, Sam McCauley Chemists, The Health Store, selected Dunnes Stores and  Super Valus, Eurospar, Spar stores and pharmacies and health stores nationwide as well as online at www.truelifehealthfoods.com.