Vitamin D, sometimes referred to as the “sunshine vitamin”, is a hormone-like, fat-soluble vitamin that your body produces when it is in direct contact with sunlight. Sunscreen however, important for protection from melanoma and rapid aging of the skin, blocks these rays. So while we do make it naturally, it is recommended to take supplements.

Vitamin D is vital to the intestinal absorption of many minerals and vitamins that we need to stay healthy and a lack of vitamin D can have dire consequences on our bones, immune system and heart health.

Approximately 10 percent of American adults are vitamin D deficient, however vitamin D deficiencies affect all ages at all stages of life. A vitamin D deficiency is characterized by the following symptoms;

  • Weak muscles
  • Bone pain
  • The inability to think clearly
  • Fatigue
  • A frequency of bone injuries such as breaks and fractures
  • Excess sweating
  • Soft bones

Every single cell in your body relies on vitamin D in order to function normally.

1. Vitamin D Fights Seasonal Depression

Seasonal Affective disorder (SAD or also known as winter blues) is when your mood and temperament is affected by the weather or the lack of sunlight during the winter months in colder countries (1). Colder and darker weather affects your mood as the production of serotonin (a neurotransmitter produced in the brain that maintains mood balance) is linked to the amount of sunlight you get. Symptoms of SAD include;

  • Weight gain
  • Feeling depressed
  • Feeling lethargic
  • Anxiety
  • Becoming quickly irritated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • A decreased libido
  • An increased intake of food

A randomized medical trial has found a relationship between a lack of vitamin D and SAD (2). Brain tissues contain vitamin D receptors and when these receptors are activated they stimulate and increase the growth of nerves within your brain. This process is important to mental health and brain function .

2. Vitamin D Can Ensure A Healthy Pregnancy

An expectant mother with a vitamin D deficiency in her first trimester is at risk of having a baby with extremely low birth weight. A study funded by the University of Pittsburgh found that low levels of vitamin D in the early stages of pregnancy put a baby at risk of stunted growth while in utero (3).

Babies that are born smaller are ultimately born with a higher risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and hypertension later on in life as well as a high risk of mortality within the first month after birth.

Vitamin D is so important for pregnancies because of the vitamin D receptors present in gestational tissues (4). Vitamin D2 and 3 are the most important compounds for human development (5).

10 micrograms per day is recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers (6).

3. Vitamin D Supports Healthy Lung Function

Obstructive pulmonary disease (including emphysema and bronchitis, various diseases that have been grouped as they are all characterized by obstruction in the lungs resulting in poor airflow) and asthma are two chronic lung diseases that are worsened by a lack of vitamin D (7).

These diseases are chronic which means that they are permanent.

Studies show a link between a strengthened reaction by the immune system against infection of the airways caused by manufacturing of antimicrobial peptides and vitamin D, especially when combined with the use of an air purifier.

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A flare up of any of these lung diseases are characterised by uncontrollable coughing, chest tightness, excess mucus buildup in the lungs and difficulty breathing. These flare ups could result in hospitalization, or in extreme cases, even death. Studies show the patients suffering from these conditions could decrease their instances of flare ups by nearly 40 percent by taking vitamin D supplements (8).

Vitamin D deficiencies have a physical effect on the shape of the lungs. A study found that vitamin D deficiencies can change the volume of the lungs and the lung development (9).

4. Vitamin D Aids Calcium Absorption

The most important nutrient needed for the correct absorption of calcium in the body is Vitamin D. Without vitamin D our bodies would struggle to absorb calcium at all. Calcium and vitamin D work hand in hand to stave off or reduce the effects of osteoporosis (10).

Calcium is also important for proper heart, muscle and nerve function as well as blood clotting.

As we age our bodies ability to create vitamin D from sunlight exposure and to properly absorb calcium begin to decrease. When our body does not have enough vitamin D it cannot produce a hormone called calcitriol which regulates calcium levels in the body. The body then takes calcium stored within the skeleton. This weakens the existing bones and prevents new bone formation (11).

A serious vitamin D deficiency is likely to result in the development of rickets in young children and can also be responsible for osteomalacia (when bones soften due to a lack of calcium or vitamin D) in adults. (12)

5. Vitamin D Supports The Brain And Nervous System

Vitamin D plays an important role in regulating the health of the brain and nervous system both during its development and throughout the rest of our lives.

Studies carried out on rodents observing the effect of vitamin D on the brain found that pregnant mice that were vitamin D deficient gave birth to babies with thinner and longer brains which had larger than usual ventricles. This unusual brain shape is caused by excess brain cells not dying off when they should. This process of getting rid of unnecessary brain cells is needed for important cell connections to develop within the brain (13).

Mice born to vitamin D deficient mothers also exhibited behaviours similar to behaviours seen in people with schizophrenia and autism.

Hypovitaminosis D is the decline of vitamin D in the system due to old age. Elderly with a lack of vitamin D in their systems are at a higher risk of developing dementia or having a stroke. As of now, five studies have reported a link between hypovitaminosis D and dementia.

6. Vitamin D Promotes Weight Loss

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin so it is stored within the fat cells in our bodies.

Vitamin D receptors tell the body whether it should store or burn the fat we consume. When you provide these receptors with more vitamin D it promotes the burning of fats over storing it (a). If receptors in your brain do not get enough vitamin D you tend to feel hungrier which can lead to excess snacking.

Research shows that most people battling obesity have much lower vitamin D levels in their blood (14). When a study put 38 overweight adults on a specialised 11 week eating plan it was found that participants who started the diet with higher levels of vitamin D in their blood were more successful in losing weight than participants with low starting levels of vitamin D.

The vitamin D levels in participants were also a precursor to the successful loss of belly or abdominal fat (abdominal fat most notable visceral abdominal fat is particularly harmful as it surrounds your organs and usually leads to health complications like type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and insulin resistance).

Being unable to lose weight could be a sign of a vitamin d deficiency.

7. Vitamin D Fights Disease

Vitamin D is actually a prohormone which means that the body is able to convert it into a hormone. When the body is depleted of vitamin D you are at risk of developing heart disease, muscle weakness and some cancers.

Colorectal (cancer of the colon), breast and prostate cancer and the mortality caused by them have been linked to low levels of vitamin D in the blood. Studies have found that an uptake of vitamin D can help protect the body from these cancers (15).

Vitamin D receptors are also found in the nuclei (the nucleus) of the body’s immune cells. Further evidence links a vitamin D deficiency to diseases like systemic lupus erythematosus (a disease where your immune system begins to attacks itself causing a rash on the face, severe fatigue and joint pain) and rheumatoid arthritis (16).

A study that hopes to explore the extent to which vitamin D is useful in protecting the body from cancer, diabetes, depression and hypertension is currently underway. The study will span five years and include 20 thousand participants (17).

8. Vitamin D For Healthy Infants And Toddlers

The development of rickets is the potential danger for babies and toddlers that are vitamin D deficient (18). Babies that are at highest risk of developing rickets are babies who have a darker skin tone, those born premature, who are being or have been breast fed and babies whose mothers have low levels of vitamin D.

Vitamin D is essential for normal body development and growth. When a baby is deficient it does not have the correct biological material to build healthy teeth and bones and will most likely have retarded bone growth. A few signs that your baby or young child has rickets are;

  • Weakened muscles
  • Projection of the breast bone
  • Pain and discomfort in the legs, pelvis and or spine
  • Thickened ankles and wrists
  • Abnormal leg shaped such as knocked knees or bowed legs
  • Slow growth (19)

If rickets is not addressed and treated it could lead to permanent skeletal damage, dental defects, seizures and a curved spine. Sunlight is not an option for increasing levels as prolonged direct contact with the sun holds too many risks for infants.

Babies who are breastfed are at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency as vitamin D is added to infant formula. The recommended dose is 8 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D daily for breastfed infants under the age of one (20).

9. Vitamin D Can Ease Various Skin Issues

Vitamin D receptors in the cells are directly linked to cell differentiation (when a cell becomes specialized to performing a certain function) and cell proliferation (a process which increases cell numbers). These receptors are also linked to healthy immune function, this is important because a weak immune system cannot fight cell damaging free radicals, and free radicals can cause major damage to skin cells (21).

Nearly 40000 of your cells die within a minute. The system of cell renewal is heavily dependant on vitamin D. This process occurs in cell called keratinocytes and they make up over 90 percents of all cells in the epidermis (the skin). When they receive the right amount of vitamin d these cells are able to differentiate and multiply. Because of this these cells provide a constant flow of younger cells to replenish the epidermis and create a layer of moisture trapping tissue.

The actual rate at which cell multiply and differentiate is prompt by vitamin D. When your body does not get enough, this process slows down and skin can become thin and damaged.

Eczema, excess sweating, wrinkles and acne are all signs of vitamin D deficient cells. Vitamin D also acts as an antiinflammatory within the skin and that can prevent or lessen the severity of acne (22).

Contact with sunlight is one way to get vitamin D but it can also be damaging to skin cells so it is advisable to limit your direct contact with sunlight to less than 30 minutes a day and to use sunscreen. Foods high in vitamin D and supplements are less harsh on the skin.

10. Vitamin D Prevents Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction or impotence is when a man is unable to achieve or maintain an erection for the purpose of intercourse. It can be a physiological problem or a physical one. ED has been found to have negative impacts on the self esteem of men suffering and their relationships as well as making it difficult for couples to conceive (23).

ED is a potential risk factor or precursor in developing high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.

A study in America carried out on over 3000 men over the age of 20, all suffering from a vitamin D deficiency, found that 16 percent of them had ED (24). The same study stated that men lacking in vitamin D have a 32 percent higher risk of developing ED.

Men who have been diagnosed with ED are likely to also develop endothelial dysfunction (when the capacity of the inner blood vessel linings to control vascular relaxation and regulate immune function and blood clotting becomes compromised). Low vitamin D levels inhibit nitric oxide synthesis. Nitric oxide secretion is key to smooth muscle relaxation in the corpora cavernosa (the bulk of the erectile tissue) (25).

11. Vitamin D Improves Symptoms Of Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease of the respiratory system that can also have an impact on the brain, spine and kidneys. Although symptoms do not always occur they include;

  • Phlegm build up in the lungs
  • Sudden weight loss
  • A cough that has persisted for more than three weeks
  • Loss of appetite
  • Night sweats
  • A fever and or chills
  • Coughing up mucus and or blood
  • Persistent fatigue

TB can be active or dormant. Approximately 1 in 3 people worldwide have dormant TB while 1 in 10 will develop active TB. Drug or alcohol abuse, and having cancer, diabetes or HIV or AIDS can result in dormant TB becoming active as they weaken the immune system (26).

Vitamin D increases the increases the amount of proteins in your immune system that kill foreign and potentially harmful bacteria. Studies show that TB patients who have been given vitamin D doses had faster rates of recovery and experienced fewer TB symptoms.

A study in Pakistan determined that low vitamin D levels were partly responsible for the progression from dormant to active TB. Low vitamin D levels can be looked at as a sign of possible latent TB or a sign of the patient having been diagnosed with TB once before (27).

To treat TB with vitamin D it is recommended to take no more than 10,000 IU (international units) a day.

12. Vitamin D Influences Gene Expression

Vitamin D is involved in the process of gene expression, which is where certain functions of cells are turned off or turned on.

Gene expression is a process in which genes synthesize products (usually proteins that go on to become hormones, enzymes and receptors that carry out important functions) according to genetic instructions provided by our DNA.

An analysis carried out on 8 vitamin D deficient adults found positive changes to the actions of 291 different genes. These genes were directly involved in 160 pathways that are linked to infectious and autoimmune diseases, cancer, the way cells respond to stress, DNA regulation and heart function (28).

Vitamin D downregulates and upregulates proteins manufactured by gene regulation (29).

13. Vitamin D Can Ease Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease where your immune system targets and damages the myelin sheath that protects your nerve fibers in your spinal cord and brain (the central nervous system) that causes a problem with the communication between the brain and body. MS could eventually cause permanent damage (30).

The symptoms of MS vary. The more damage done to the nerves, the more severe the signs are (loss of vision, feeling permanently fatigued, heavily impaired coordination and pain). At its severest, people with MS may lose the ability to walk.

MS has found to be more common in areas that are further away from the equator and thus get less sun year round (31). Research shows that babies born with lower levels of vitamin D in their blood are more likely to develop MS later on in life.

Patients suffering from MS report less attacks during Summer months which correlates with more exposure to direct sunlight which results in the body creating more vitamin D (32).Studies hoping to determine the effects of vitamin D on myelin repair and its role in neuroprotection are currently underway (33).

14. Vitamin D Improves Your Eyesight

People with low vitamin D levels are at risk of developing wet macular degeneration. Wet macular degeneration is a chronic disease of the eye and causes a person to develop a blind spot in their field of sight or blurred vision. It is caused by unusual growth of blood vessels within the eyes that secrete excess fluid or blood.

Vitamin D prevents angiogenesis, the process by which blood vessels form. It is also an anti inflammatory which also helps to prevent wet macular degeneration as the disease is worsened by inflammation in the eye (34).

15. Vitamin D Improves Metabolic Syndrome

Elevated blood pressure, excess amounts of body fat in the stomach area, atypical cholesterol levels and high sugar levels are all a part of metabolic syndrome. The dangers of metabolic syndrome are high risk of stroke and heart attacks.

Metabolic syndrome affects up to 25 percent of the adult population worldwide. It is caused by a vitamin D deficiency coupled with a diet high in saturated fats and carbohydrates (35).

Vitamin D spurs on manufacturing of defensins, molecules which maintain and restore the health of gut flora (microorganisms in the digestive tract). Healthy bacteria in your gut reduces the fat in the liver and regulates blood sugar.

Vitamin D also boosts the diversity of bacteria in your gut which reduces risk from harmful pathogens (36).

15 Best Vitamin D Foods

1. Egg Yolks

Egg yolks have a bad reputation for being high in cholesterol, and they are, but with High Density Lipoprotein cholesterol which is also known as the “good” cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is considered good because of it’s relationship with LDL cholesterol (low-density protein which is considered the “bad” cholesterol).

HDL searches for and finds LDL within the blood stream. It then takes the LDL to the liver where it is reprocessed. HDL is also constantly working to keep the endothelium (the inside of blood vessels) in good shape. When these inner walls become damaged a process called atherosclerosis begins and the artery walls start to thicken. This can have life threatening results such as strokes and heart attacks.

Eggs yolks are mucher higher in vitamins than egg whites.

Egg yolks contain the carotenoids zeaxanthin and lutein which together significantly lower the risk of macular degeneration (an age related incurable eye disease) and cataracts. These eye diseases are the result of damage caused by free radicals. The carotenoids are antioxidants which prevent and reverse the damage the free radicals cause.

Choline is an important macronutrient found in egg yolks that most people do not get enough of. Choline is important because it builds and strengthens cell membranes. Choline is also involved in several bodily functions such as brain, liver and muscle function.

Choline aids the development of DNA methylation and an American study found that women with diets that contained high levels of choline had a nearly 25 percent less chance of developing breast cancer.

2. Salmon

Salmon is an incredible source of protein. Protein is important as it aids the process of muscle healing caused by aging and physical activity.

Salmon is also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 is a healthy fat (natural polyunsaturated fat) that our body cannot make by itself. Omega-3 is a popular supplement (fish oil) and offers a range of health benefits including;

  • Regulating menstruation and thus improving fertility in women
  • Reducing or healing skin ailments such as acne, psoriasis and eczema
  • Combatting dry eye syndrome
  • Soothing anxiety symptoms
  • Strengthening brain growth and development
  • Keeping your heart rate normal
  • Regulating blood clotting
  • Reducing fatty liver
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Reversing insulin resistance
  • Countering inflammation
  • Fighting autoimmune diseases

3. Cheese

The calcium content of cheese is very high. Calcium is needed to keep bone and teeth health from deteriorating. Another benefit for teeth is that cheese has a very low lactose content. In high amounts lactose can cause damage to the teeth.

Cheese is high in vitamin B. Vitamin B is an important one for pregnant or lactating women, children and the elderly as it is a vital component in first the formation and then the strengthening of cartilage and bones.

If weight gain is recommended for health, cheese is a good food to include in your diet.

4. Shrimp

Astaxanthin is a carotenoid found in shrimp. Astaxanthin is an effective antioxidant that reduces damage done to the skin by exposure to direct sunlight and UVA. UVA is responsible for the development of sunspots, premature aging and wrinkles in the skin.

A zinc deficiency within the body has been found responsible for accelerated hair loss. Zinc (found in shrimp) creates and maintain new cells, including the very cells responsible for the health of skin and hair. Other symptoms of a zinc deficiency include;

  • Sudden weight loss
  • Development of white spots in the fingernails
  • Onset of depression
  • Dulling of taste and smell senses
  • Diarrhea
  • Unusual bone growth

Shrimp contains omega-3 fatty acids which has exhibited soothing effects of cramping and pain associated with menstruation.

5. Oysters

One serving of oysters contain almost 90 percent of the recommended daily requirement of iron. Iron is vital to the process of generation of red blood cells. The increase of oxygenated blood in the body provides the bodies organs with fuel to keep the functioning at optimal levels.

Getting enough iron is essential to combating anemia, a condition that can result in chronic fatigue, stomach problems, weakening of muscles and cognitive malfunction.

Oysters contain zinc which is a key component in wound healing and accelerated recovery from injury.

Oysters also contain vitamin E which increases the flexibility and strength of the membranes of various cells.

6. Soy Milk

The isoflavones in soy beans have been shown by studies to be beneficial to menopausal women in that it can balance the amount of oestrogen being lost through the process of menopause. The isoflavones are a kind of phytoestrogens, these are plant based (fruits and vegetables) and mimic oestrogen effects within the body.

Soymilk helps to defend the liver from stress caused by oxidation because of its hepatoprotective properties.

Soymilk has added calcium and unlike a diet high in animal protein, a diet high in soymilk protein reduces the likelihood of losing calcium via urinary excretion. These factors make soymilk a good tool for fighting brittle bones and bone break down.

7. Pork

Pork contains vitamin B1 or thiamine. Thiamine has a few important functions within the body including allowing electrolytes to flow into and out of muscle and nerve cells, metabolising carbohydrates and aiding bodily enzymatic processes.

The body does not produce thiamine and can only retain it for about 18 days, thus it is important to keep up a healthy intake. A few symptoms of a thiamine deficiency (knows as beriberi) include;

  • Developing depression
  • Nausea
  • Pains in the abdomen
  • Headaches
  • Irritability

Pork tenderloin is also leaner than chicken making it a healthier source of protein.

8. Tuna

Tuna has a very high omega-3 fatty acid content. Omega-6 (the unhealthy fatty acid) and cholesterol tends to build up in the blood vessels and arteries, increasing the risks of developing heart disease. Omega-3 strips away the Omega-6 fatty acids.

A single can of tuna yields up to 80 percent of the recommended daily dose of protein. Having protein in your body is pivotal to muscle development and growth. Protein is also responsible for quickening the rate at which wounds on the body heals after an injury.

The anti-inflammatory properties of tuna helps to lower hypertension and keep your blood pressure regular.

Tuna is full of a range of B vitamins. B vitamins are linked to improving your overall organ function and boosting your metabolism.B vitamins are also known to increase the amount of energy your body produces daily.

Tuna is very high in iron. Iron increases the amount of red blood cells in your circulation system and the actual volume of blood.

The sodium and potassium levels in tuna helps when it comes to managing the balance of fluid in your body. When there is a fluid imbalance in your body stress is put onto the kidneys and they are not able to function properly.

Cooked tuna produces peptides which are important for protecting cell membranes including those in the brain.

9. Beef Liver

Beef liver is very high in many different minerals and vitamins. One of these vitamins is vitamin B12. B12 is crucial to DNA synthesis, the formation of red blood cells and healthy neurological functions.

A vitamin B12 deficiency has been linked to multiple neurological disorders like dementia in older patients. Other B12 deficiency induced disorders include neuropathy (a disease that affects the nervous system), myelopathy (a disease that affects the spinal cord), disturbances to usual behaviour and overall weakening cognitive activity.

To get the most minerals and vitamins out of beef liver, be sure to buy hormone free.

10. Sardines

Macular degeneration is a disease that affects the eyes. It is mostly prominent in the elderly. The more it progresses the higher the chance of permanent damage to the retina.

The fish oil in fatty fish increases the bodys immune cell count which builds up a stronger immune system.

Sardines are high in the mineral selenium. Selenium goes directly into the nucleus of DNA cells and repairs any damage present. If this damage is not fixed the cell could become cancerous. Selenium has shown signs of cancer prevention, most notably liver, prostate and lung cancer.

Studies have pointed to selenium having a direct affect on the activity of the thyroid and the continued production of thyroid hormones. Your thyroid affects your weight, temperature, sleep patterns, appetite and energy levels.

Selenium is present in sperm mitochondria and very high or very low levels can have a negative impact on sperm count.

Low levels of selenium are prevalent in those suffering from chronic asthma.

11. Fortified Cereals

Cereals are complex carbohydrates that are enriched with vitamins and minerals. Fortified cereals range from oats to rye to rice.

Cereals provide a uniquely high level of energy. As cereals are so high inexpensive and calorie rich, they make up nearly 30 percent of calorie intake in North America and this percentage only increases in poorer countries.

Cereals contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. High fiber has many health benefits, such as keeping blood sugars at healthy levels and preventing disorders of the colon and constipation. When you eat, glucose is secreted into the body. Fiber slows this process down. Cereals improve the process of peristalsis (when the muscles in the intestines contract in such a way as to assist the movement of food within the digestive tract) and also increases the bulk of stools which keeps your system clean.

It is best to avoid cereals if suffering from celiac disease.

12. Fish Roe

Fish roe are fish eggs also known as caviar. Fish roe is another high omega-3 fatty acid food. Omega-3 reduces inflammation that is associated with many autoimmune diseases.

Fish roe also contain vitamin B12, magnesium, calcium and iron. Including foods high in magnesium can;

  • Reduce anxiety and nervousness
  • Prevent migraines
  • Relieve muscles spasms and aches
  • Increase your energy
  • Aid digestion
  • Regulate sodium levels

13. Mushrooms

The potassium in mushrooms works as a vasodilator (something that widens the blood vessels which allows more blood to pass through) and relaxes tension within blood vessels. This results in lowered blood pressure.

Potassium is also responsible for better cognitive function because when blood vessels are relaxed and more oxygenated blood is flowing to the brain, higher levels of neural activity are stimulated.

Mushrooms contain copper which is a trace mineral. Copper increases the rate at which our bodies absorb iron which in key in avoiding developing anemia. Copper also regulates your heartbeat and ensures that the body grows at a normal rate.

Copper can reduce the signs of aging because it stimulates the production of collagen.

Mushrooms are a form of natural antibiotic that is very effective in protecting people with diabetes from developing infections in their arms and legs. They also support proper function of the pancreas, certain endocrine glands and the liver. They promote insulin formation and regulation.

14. Orange Juice

Just one serving of orange juice has over 200 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C, or ascorbic acid. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects the immune system against free radicals making it stronger and less susceptible to infection. Another important function of this antioxidant is keeping DNA of cells that are healthy from mutating and becoming cancerous. Vitamin C and ts antioxidant properties are the first line of defense against colds, flus and more serious diseases.

Orange juice has a very high folate content. Folate is most notably responsible for the growth of young cells and creating DNA. Folate is also important for creating more red blood cells and for promoting blood flow to your extremities.

The antioxidant hesperidin, which is found in orange juice, impacts the function and activity of the smaller blood vessels. Hesperidin can lower high blood pressure and significantly decrease your chances of developing heart disease.

Orange juice contains fiber which regulates bowel movements and can lower cholesterol levels.

The citrates and citric acid in orange juice can prevent the development of kidney stones. Kidney stones are solid mineral deposits that develop in your kidneys. They can cause debilitating abdominal and or side and back pain as well as urine in the blood.

15. Infant Formula

Infant formula is becoming the world’s most popular fortified food. While breast feeding is preferable some mothers are unable to (low milk supply, baby not latching etc) and are thus unable to pass on antibodies and nutrition to their babies. Infant formula is enriched with the minerals and vitamins babies need to grow and thrive.

Certain types of infant formula even have an added probiotic called bifidobacterium lactis which reduces the effects of colic (a condition where seemingly healthy babies cry for three or more hours per day), decreases the chance of developing food allergies and reduces diarrhea. Infant formula can also reduce allergies in babies.

This article was first published on Jen Reviews, check out her site if you liked this article.

Christmas can take its toll on our immune system as a lot of us eat more and move less.

If you are tired of cooking and entertaining I have the perfect recipe using shitake mushroom that’s not only quick and easy but nutritious and delicious too.

Shitake Mushroom’s are known not only for their great taste but they’re packed with B vitamins and have the power to fight cancer cells, cardiovascular disease and infections. They have anti bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. During the winter months they are one of the few foods that provide vitamin D and they also help to boost energy and brain function.

As we move into January our food becomes even more important as many of us struggle with low mood and feel a bit of a crash post Christmas. It’s important to remember that January is a month for selfcare and not crazy resolutions. It’s still the middle of winter, which is the gestation period for both nature and us. It’s a month for inward reflection as we prepare for the year ahead.

To do this we need nourishing food, nourishing thoughts and nourishing rest. Pop in some movement and air and you will be ready for Spring where you will emerge stronger ready for the year ahead.

Try this simple recipe, which is great for all the family and it will help you to ease into the new-year with comfort and calm.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

3 Cloves garlic

Large handful of shitake mushroom’s (see video)

1 Lemon

Handful of Basil

Fresh Parmesan

Salt/Black pepper

Barilla Spaghetti

DIRECTIONS

Boil water and put in pasta with some salt

  • Heat the pan and add oil and garlic
  • Add chopped shitake mushrooms and cook until softened (5-8 mins depending on mushrooms)
  • Add in ½ a lemon zest
  • Squeeze in ½ juice of lemon
  • Save a cup of water from the pasta
  • Add pasta and then parmesan and stir through
  • If it’s a little dry add some of the water
  • Plate and serve with fresh black pepper and parmesan shavings

Barilla calling on students to unlock their inner TriHero

triheroes, shitake mushroom, barilla, recipes, schools, exercise, selfcare, shitake mushrooms, sport, pastaPrimary and secondary schools are being encouraged to register for TriHeroes, a schools triathlon programme which brings together the lifelong activities of swimming, cycling and running to inspire, motivate and challenge children to participate in a healthy and active lifestyle.

The TriHeroes programme, delivered by Triathlon Ireland and supported by Barilla, a family owned Italian food company and advocate for a healthy lifestyle, helps teachers introduce triathlon activities in a safe and positive environment.

Delivered by Triathlon Ireland’s development team, the programme is typically run over six 90-minute training sessions with students taking part in a mini triathlon at the end of the programme giving students a taste of this hugely popular sport and exposing them to three sports that could see them excel in the Leaving Cert and later life.

Primary and secondary schools can find out more about the TriHeroes programme at www.triathlonireland.com and register their interest at schools@triathlonireland.com.

A gourmet selection of recipes, perfect for budding triathletes and prepared with seasonal ingredients for vegetarians, as well as meat and fish lovers is available at www.barilla.co.uk.

There’s a lot of talk these days about healthy eating, but some things I hear make me question if we really understand what eating healthily means

 

I have teamed up with the butlers pantry to explore the area of healthy food on the go. I have been given some of their winter menu to sample for this series of articles.

The idea of excluding whole food groups from your diet does not seem to me to be a sustainable or healthy way of eating, and I enjoy my food too much ever to be able to give up bread, butter, or good dark chocolate. That said, I love my fruit and vegetables too, and cram as many of them into my daily diet as possible.

What’s clear to me is that it’s important to eat good quality food, and to keep processed food to an absolute minimum, and that includes the so-called ‘healthy’ foods in the supermarkets.

The Butler’s Pantry, which is celebrating 30 years in business this year was ahead of its time when it started out, because it focused on making wholesome fresh food from the very best of ingredients, always putting flavor to the fore. Over the years, some of the dishes have changed to keep up with changing tastes, but The Butler’s Pantry has stayed true to its core values, and its team of chefs and bakers make the food for its shops from scratch each day in its own kitchen in Bray.

Why eat healthily?

It may seem obvious, but to me it makes sense that if you eat good, fresh and nutritious food, you are making the best choice for your mind and body. And freshly-prepared food is far more nutritious than anything made with additives and preservatives to prolong its shelf-life.

Here are some top tips for eating more healthily:

Replace salt with alternatives

Although we all need salt in our diet, the ideal amount is just a teaspoon a day and some processed meals can contain that much in a single serving! If you have elevated blood pressure, restricting the amount of salt in your diet can help lower your blood pressure.

Some great substitutes for salt are pepper, fresh herbs and spices, all of which add flavour to your food. At The Butler’s Pantry, they use dillisk (powdered seaweed) in some of their delicious meals – it’s particularly suited to fish dishes. 

Make sure you are eating real bread, like proper sourdough

Sourdough bread is everywhere these days, but how much of the bread that’s labelled ‘sourdough’ is the real deal? True sourdough bread contains only flour, water and salt, is fermented slowly and has great flavour. The Butler’s Pantry’s bakers make fresh sourdough bread each day, using a ‘mother’ or ‘starter’ that they have nurtured carefully for several years. The slow fermentation using naturally-occurring lactobacilli and yeast that produces real sourdough bread breaks down hard-to-digest gluten into more easily absorbed nutrients, and adds B-vitamins. When you eat proper sourdough, you ingest lots of the good bacteria that are important for maintaining and promoting a healthy gut microbiome.

Commercial sourdough brings none of the healthy benefits of authentic sourdough because neither the process nor the time allowed for fermentation permit the breakdown of gluten or the growth of good bacteria.

How do you spot a good sourdough from an imposter? Cut open a good sourdough and inhale – it’s slightly sour, tangy, and very comforting.

At the end of the day, choose real food 

After dinner once a week have a small piece of a delicious seasonal dessert such as the Winter Fruit Crumble from The Butler’s Pantry. The recipe is below if you fancy making it yourself at home. 

 

THE BUTLER’S PANTRY WINTER FRUIT CRUMBLE

 

Healthy Apple Crumble

Serves 4 – 6


Ingredients:

Plums                          4

Apples                         4

Blackberries                2 punnets

Sugar                         100g

Vanilla                         1 pod

Butter                          50g


Almond crumble
:

Ground almonds                     100g

Butter                                    100g

Sugar                                     100g

Plain Flour                               100g

Method

  1. Cut the plums into quarters and remove the stones.
  2. Core the apples and cut into eighths
  3. Heat a large frying pan, add the butter and split vanilla pod and, when the butter starts to foam, add in the fruit and sugar.
  4. Toss in the pan and cook for a couple of minutes before transferring to a an 8 inch pie dish.
  5. For the topping, mix all the ingredients together until it becomes a crumb.
  6. Sprinkle on top of the fruit and bake in a preheated oven at 160c/ fan 140c / gas mark 3 until golden brown.
  7. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream

Anxiety is one of the most common neurological disorders, affecting 1 in 13 people in Ireland. Anxiety differs from fear in that, while fear is a rational response to a real danger, anxiety usually lacks a clear or realistic cause.

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Feeling anxious occasionally is normal.. people may feel anxious coming up to exams, before getting married, at work sometimes. Though some anxiety is normal and even healthy, higher levels of anxiety are not only uncomfortable but can lead to significant problems.

Anxiety is often accompanied by a variety of symptoms. The most common symptoms are heart palpitations, rapid breathing, breathlessness, sweating, excessive and undue worrying, disturbed sleep, insomnia, muscle tension, headaches, morbid thoughts, hyperventilating, dizziness, digestive disturbances and fear of losing control. In severe anxiety, one may experience panic attacks – intense feelings of fear.

While anxiety is a disorder in its own right, Stress or prolonged stress can be the trigger for the anxiety. Its very difficult to pinpoint the reason one develops anxiety – it may be a death in a family, financial worry, being in an unhappy environment. Whatever the cause, implementing dietary factors that manage stress is useful in reducing the severity of anxiety.

Dietary Recommendations for dealing with Anxiety

Foods to Include:

  • Low GI Foods: Low GI or GL carbohydrates are mainly non-starchy vegetables (root vegetables are considered starchy vegetables), pulses, and lentils, fresh fruit. Foods with a low GI/GL value release their energy slower, avoiding a ‘sharp’ rise in blood sugar levels. Choose: Apples, Berries, Buckwheat, Cherries, hummus, Cinnamon Green tea, Lentils & pulses, Oatbran and flakes, Oatcakes, Pears, Plums, brown bread, cashew nuts, almonds and grapefruit.
  • Complex Carbohydrates: Complex carbs take longer to digest. Your body digests them more slowly so they supply energy at a slower and more sustained rate than refined carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are thought to increase the amount of serotonin in your brain, which has a calming effect. Choose: whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, rye, oats) wholemeal bread, whole-wheat pasta.
  • Omega-3 rich foods: Oily fish provides the most beneficial and active fatty acids, commonly referred to as EPA and DHA. These omega-3 fatty acids are vital for neurological health. Studies show that the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA found in oily fish (sardines, anchovies, mackerel, salmon, tuna and herring) can be uplifting and enhance your mood. The higher your levels of omega-3, the higher your level of serotonin will be. The reason for this is that omega-3 fats help build the brain’s receptor sites for serotonin, the feel good hormone.

Omega-3 also reduces your tendency to depression. A large Norwegian study of nearly 22,000 participants revealed that those who regularly took fish oil, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, were about 30% less likely to have symptoms of depression than those who did not. Omega 3s supports brain, eye, and heart health throughout life. Surprisingly, a massive 89% of Irish people are not consuming sufficient oily fish in their diet, so often there is a need to take a good quality omega-3 fish oil such as Eskimo-3.

  • Protein and Turkey: Protein is the ultimate fill-me-up food – it’s more satisfying than carbohydrates or fats and keeps you feeling full for longer and helps keep blood sugar stable and moods stable. Turkey is a brilliant meat to include as its a source of tryptophan – a precursor to serotonin – the feel good hormone. So be sure to incorporate healthy proteins like turkey, seafood, lean meat, eggs, yogurt, cheese, soy, nuts, or beans into your meals and snacks.
  • Keep Hydrated: Dehydration can cause more than just thirst and dry lips. It can also set the heart racing and make you feel light-headed and dizzy, all sensations that are common during anxiety attacks. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day along with green tea and relaxing herbal teas.

Foods to Avoid:

  • Caffeine: Caffeine should be avoided by anxiety sufferers. Even a small amount of coffee, tea, coke, or anything that contains caffeine can be detrimental because caffeine raises your heart rate contributing to symptoms. Caffeine also inhibits levels of serotonin in the brain, and, when serotonin levels are suppressed, you can become depressed and feel irritable.
  • Refined Carbohydrates and Sugars: refined carbohydrates (sugar and white flour) are known to contribute to problems with blood sugar control, especially hypoglycemia. The association between hypoglycaemia and impaired mental function is well known. Unfortunately, most individuals whom experience anxiety or other mental health issues, are not informed about the importance of  reducing refined carbohydrates and sugars to balanced blood sugar. Avoid white bread, white rice, white pasta, bagels, biscuits, crackers, pancakes, waffles, cakes and pastries, sweets, chocolate and anything containing sugar or sweeteners. Replace with complex carbohydrates as stated above.
  • Alcohol: While alcohol may give you a momentary feeling of happiness, it can also elevate the heart rate just like caffeine, contributing to anxiety symptoms. Also, you can become very low in yourself in the days following.  Avoid alcohol as much as possible.
  • Food Sensitivities: Some people have negative reactions to foods such as gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs, nuts or sugar. Reactions can include mood changes, including irritability or anxiety. Do an elimination diet to find out if any of these foods are contributing to your symptoms.
  • Processed Foods: These would include hotdogs, sausages, pies, shop prepackaged cakes, frozen ready meals, prepackaged ham etc. This foods are usually low in nutrients, high in sugar and gluten. Research found that people who eat a diet high in processed foods 58% more chance of suffering with depression than those eating a healthy diet with fruits, vegetables and fish.

Lifestyle Tips:

  • Exercise: According to some studies, regular exercise works as well as medication for some people to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and the effects can be long lasting. Exercise increases endorphins — such as serotonin — that improve mood and may improve sleep quality, which in turn reduces stress. Exercise also helps you to manage stress as it produces a prolonged relaxation response. Do: Exercise for at least 30 minutes, 3 times a week at a minimum. Walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, skating, hiking, aerobic classes are all types of aerobic exercise. Find something you enjoy and Just Do It!
  • Relaxation: Learning effective anxiety relaxation techniques is an important part of coping with stress and anxiety. Try yoga, pilates or meditation to help relax and reduce anxiety.
  • Meditation: Mindfulness meditation has long been known as an antidote for anxiety. in a study, researchers recruited fifteen healthy volunteers with normal levels of everyday anxiety. These individuals had no previous meditation experience or known anxiety disorders. All subjects participated in four 20-minute classes to learn a technique known as mindfulness meditation. In this form of meditation, people are taught to focus on breath and body sensations and to non-judgmentally evaluate distracting thoughts and emotions. Anxiety was significantly reduced in every session that subjects meditated. Louise Hay and Abraham Hicks are two people offering a wide range of great guided meditations online. 

Food Supplements to help manage Anxiety:

  • Eskimo-3: This is a premium food supplement rich in EPA and DHA, the omega-3 fats which are vital for neurological health. The higher your levels of omega-3, the higher your level of serotonin will be. The reason for this is that omega-3 fats help build the brain’s receptor sites for serotonin, the feel good hormone. Omega 3s supports brain, eye, and heart health throughout life. Eskimo-3 has the highest levels of EPA and DHA available in a single serving.  On the market for more than 20 years and with over 120 scientific studies, the Eskimo range represents probably the finest quality fish oil on the market, providing Omega-3 rich oil of legendary purity, freshness & stability. The oil is always from sustainable sources, and there is full traceability and quality control throughout the production process, from the fishing boat to the finished oil.
  • L-Theanine and Lemon Balm: Viridian L-Theanine & Lemon Balm is most commonly used to reduce stress, anxiety, nervousness, restlessness and tension by inducing a more relaxed mental state. L-Theanine is an amino acid which is present in green tea. It acts directly on the brain to induce a sense of calm, which can help you to de-stress. Lemon balm offers similar benefits in that it can induce a sense of calm, reducing stress and anxiety, but interestingly research shows that it does not decrease accuracy.
  • Mag365: Magnesium is a vital nutrient that is often deficient in modern society. It is responsible for over 300 enzymatic functions in the body. Many studies have shown that a deficiency in magnesium contributes to several mental health problems, including anxiety. Magnesium is a calming and relaxing mineral. It regulates the nervous system and may help you cope with stress so as to prevent anxiety, fear, nervousness, restlessness and irritability. Magnesium is also very protective of your heart and arteries, which is important for anyone experiencing regular anxiety. Mag365 is available in a variety of flavours in health food stores nationwide.
  • Multi Vitamin/Mineral Formula: A good multi-vitamin mineral supplement could help safeguard your health. If you are deficient in any one vitamin or mineral, this could be contributing to your anxiety symptoms. By taking a good multi, you can correct all deficiencies, and hopefully positively affect your health.

Research has shown that making changes in your diet, lifestyle and reducing exposure to toxins can boost fertility for both you and your partner and also reduce the risk of miscarriage. 

Three months is the optimum period of time for these changes to take effect because it takes approximately three months for the follicles on the ovaries to develop before one is mature enough to release an egg at ovulation. Although as a woman you cannot change the number of eggs you have (ovarian reserve), you can certainly change their quality and this is the important point. By improving the quality of your eggs, you are increasing your chances of conceiving naturally and also preventing a miscarriage. If you are going for an assisted conception technique, like IUI, IVF or ICSI, you will also want your eggs to be as healthy as possible so as to give the technique the best chance of success.

Many women I see in the clinic are told that they have ‘old’ eggs and that there is nothing wrong with the IVF technology, the problem is with them.  That is devastating terminology and it is true that the eggs in a woman of 35 are older than when she was 20 but as long as she is ovulating it is possible to change the quality of those eggs to either give her the chance of conceiving naturally or achieving success on an IVF cycle with her own eggs. 

With men, it also takes at least three months for a new batch of sperm cells to mature, ready to be ejaculated. Men produce sperm all their lives so it is always possible to not only improve the quality but also the quantity of sperm by making certain lifestyle and nutritional changes. 

Although it goes without saying that a healthy diet is crucial to a successful pregnancy and a healthy baby, many people are unaware of the fact that what you eat may affect your ability to conceive.   Also you want to avoid the three main fertility busters; caffeine, alcohol and smoking as they have all been linked to an increased risk of infertility in men and women.

Having four cups of coffee or any caffeinated drink a day makes it 26% less likely that a woman will conceive and drinking only 2 cups of coffee a day is associated with a 25% increased risk of miscarriage. And problems with sperm health are connected with increased coffee intake.

Alcohol will also make it more difficult to get pregnant with only just three alcoholic drinks or more a week. The same is true for male fertility and alcohol will also block the body’s ability to absorb fertility boosting nutrients like zinc.

A woman is twice as likely to get pregnant if she doesn’t smoke compared to a woman who does. And smoking is linked to 5,000 miscarriages per year.

Chemicals in tobacco smoke can damage DNA in sperm which can make it harder to conceive because fertilisation can’t take place or if it is does, it can increase the risk of a miscarriage as nature will always work on survival of the fittest.   

Stress for both the man and woman can affect fertility and this needs to be addressed.

If a couple has a combination of four negative lifestyle factors (including tea/coffee, smoking and alcohol) it can take them seven times longer to get pregnant.

As well as looking at what you eat and drink there is now a great deal of scientific knowledge about the use of nutritional supplements and their beneficial effects on both male and female fertility.   The most important nutrients for fertility are zinc, folic acid, selenium, vitamin E, vitamin D, vitamin C, omega 3 fatty acids for you and your partner plus two amino acids, arginine and carnitine specifically for boosting male fertility.  In my clinics we test for nutritional deficiencies and supplement to correct those deficiencies where necessary.  I also use NHP’s Fertility Support for Women and Fertility Support for Men available from good health food shops.

The aim is also to make sure you are a healthy weight.  Women are most fertile when they are neither too thin nor too heavy. You need at least 18% body fat to ovulate and the best chance of conceiving is when 20-25% of the body mass is fat tissue. On the other hand, the menstrual cycle can be disrupted by too much fat, which affects oestrogen levels. Being 25% over your ideal weight can stop ovulation. It’s important for the man to keep his eye on his weight too as there is an increased risk of infertility or poor sperm quality and quantity in men who are overweight or obese.

Don’t miss this opportunity to come and see Dr Marilyn Glenville PhD, the UK’s leading nutritionist specialising in women’s health. You will find out how to use food, vitamins and minerals to increase your energy, eliminate mood swings, improve your memory, reduce stress and lose weight without dieting.

Dr Marilyn Glenville will be visiting Ireland from October 24th to 26th in Dublin, Galway & Cork.

For more information please visit: https://balanceyourhormonesnaturally.eventbrite.ie   

Dr Marilyn Glenville PhD is the UK’s leading nutritionist specialising in women’s health.  She is the Former President of the Food and Health Forum at the Royal Society of Medicine and the author of a number of internationally bestselling books including Getting Pregnant Faster.  Dr Glenville runs clinics in Dublin, Galway, Cork and Kilkenny, for more information see www.glenvillenutrition.ie.

Instant-messaging, food-to-go, flash sales, relentless emails – all factors contributing to the increasingly fast pace of modern day life. Staying calm before and winding down after a busy day have never been trickier to master.

 

Ashwagandha hand

All of us are beautifully unique and have different ways of managing this busy lifestyle but fortunately, to supplement these there is a natural remedy out there to help restore calm and balance to our bodies and minds.  

Introducing ashwagandha…

Whilst some of us are still to learn of the benefits of ashwagandha in the UK, it has been used for hundreds of years in India to not only manage stress-related conditions but also help with chronic fatigue, insomnia and adrenal fatigue to name a few.  

Classed as a modern-day ‘adaptogen’, ashwagandha adapts to the needs of the body, helping to support it and reduce negative changes during times of emotional and physical stress.

Here are five ashwagandha benefits:

  1. Stress is often at the root of our sleeping problems. When we’re troubled, our sleep is too. Ashwagandha nourishes and strengthens a weakened and over-anxious nervous system, helping the body respond better to stress. Thus helping us to relax enough to get a better night’s sleep.
  2. Ashwagandha acts as a depressant to the central nervous system, exchanging feelings of anxiety for feelings of calmness. Stress normally causes a surge in the adrenal hormones – adrenaline and cortisol – that increase alertness. Ashwagandha tackles the problem at the root as it acts directly on the trigger of stress by regulating the imbalanced cortisol level and nourishing the adrenal glands. A recent study found that ashwagandha safely and effectively improved chronic stress levels in adults taking it daily for 60 days.
  3. A big added bonus of taking ashwagandha capsules is its ability to protect your skin. Stress can play a large role in skin damage by producing high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which in turn, blocks the production of important proteins that are necessary for healthy skin. One of these proteins is collagen, which helps to keep skin firm and elastic.
  4. Further studies have found that taking ashwagandha capsules can improve muscle strength, making it the perfect solution for reducing stress, improving sleep and making those trips to the gym even more effective.
  5. Ashwagandha can be taken to help improve libido in women and testosterone and stamina in men, a recent study has shown. When we are stressed we produce a lot more adrenaline and place pressure on our adrenal glands and organs such as our kidneys. Ashwagandha regulates the amount of adrenalin produced and strengthens organs; improving stamina as well as increasing sperm count and motility in men, and improving libido and ability to achieve orgasm in women.

Wholistic Ashwagandha 60 Caps – RRP €28

 

ashwaganda product shot

Ashwagandha is an organic whole root, native to the dry regions of India and is often referred to as ‘Indian Ginseng’. It’s considered one of the most powerful herbs in Ayurvedic healing and has been used for centuries. Pukka’s Ashwagandha contains only the highest grade, sustainably cultivated organic root. Ashwagandha is an excellent supplement for helping strengthen the immune system, particularly after an illness. It’s made from organic ashwagandha and is suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Pukka’s Wholistic Ashwagandha is also free from dairy, wheat grain, gluten, added sugar and soy and is available from all good health stores nationwide.

The Sun is shining, bees are buzzing, we are dining outdoors and every young lad in the country has a big aul farmers tan. This can only mean one thing. Summer is here and while it seems to last for just one day rather than a full season, it is still the perfect excuse to whip up a cool treat to beat the heat.

 

Bite Size Bowls

This week we are thrilling and chilling that sweet tooth with gluten and dairy free ice cream. This recipe is perfect for those of us who (like myself) are currently staring into a fruit bowl full of almost over ripe bananas. So chop them all up and pop them into the freezer. What you don’t use now for ice cream you can always use later for a smoothie.

Bananas are full of potassium and vitamin B6 but aside from their health benefits they also provide the perfect texture for our vegan ice cream.

This heavenly dessert tastes so good that it must be a sin, but it’s really a saint as we are adding sweet zinc filled strawberries, anti oxidant packed blueberries and magnesium rich cacao nibs (which deserve and entire blog of their own).

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 Bananas
  • 2 Tbsp Raw Cacao Nibs
  • 2 Tbsp Crunchy Organic Peanut Butter
  • Handful of Blueberries
  • Handful of Strawberries
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • Maple Syrup
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract (optional)

Ice cream


Method:

  1. Slice and freeze the bananas.
  2. Once frozen add them to a food processor and blend.
  3. Chop the strawberries and add them to the blender along with the blue berries, cacao nibs, sea salt, peanut butter and vanilla extract.
  4. Whiz it all up until the texture is similar to ice cream.
  5. Drizzle with maple syrup and serve in a wafer, cone, bowl or any way you like. 

All the ingredients mentioned above can be found at The Green Door Market. Like us on Facebook and follow me on Instagram as I continue my culinary adventures.      

Black Garlic – White Tofu – Red Peppers

Farmers markets can be hubs of culinary discovery. They surround us with tastes from our locality and from much further afield. My taste buds are frequently sent on mouthwatering adventures, from the sweet exotic flavour of the papaya fruit to the more savoury flavours of the salty succulent samphire. This week we are delving deep into the dark side of cooking as we take a look at black garlic and tofu.

Tofu, The Green Door, Black Garlic, Crispy tofu, recipe, organic food, Food Ideas, Dublin 8, Christy Stapleton, nutrition, foodWhat is Black Garlic?

 Many people believe that garlic is turned black through caramelisation or fermentation but this is incorrect. Fermentation requires microbial action and caramelisation requires pyrolysis (the use of heat to separate chemical composition). The process that occurs in the case of black garlic is known as the “Maillard Reaction”. It involves a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars.

Tofu, The Green Door, Black Garlic, Crispy tofu, recipe, organic food, Food Ideas, Dublin 8, Christy Stapleton, nutrition, foodFresh bulbs of white garlic are aged under controlled levels of heat and humidity over the course of a month until they have become black. This process alters the flavour of the garlic bringing it from its savoury beginnings to something a lot sweeter, milder and sticky to the touch. Perhaps most importantly it wont leave you with pungent garlic breath.

Black garlic can have many uses in your kitchen. It can be spread on bread, turned into sauce, tossed in a soup or mixed into a marinade. Today however, we are going to blend it with some dark soy sauce and maple syrup to create a sweet coating for crispy tofu cubes.

 

Crispy Tofu with Black Garlic

What’s black, white and red all over? Well aside from a newspaper, it’s this delicious quick and easy recipe! I promise it will taste better than the Irish Times.

Tofu, The Green Door, Black Garlic, Crispy tofu, recipe, organic food, Food Ideas, Dublin 8, Christy Stapleton, nutrition, foodIngredients:

  • 1 block of tofu
  • 6 cloves of black garlic
  • 3 tbsp peanut oil (vegetable, avocado or chilli oil all work great too!)
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 red pepper
  • bunch of chives

Method:

  1. Drain the tofu and chop up into bite size cubes.
  2. Slice the red pepper into strips and set aside.
  3. Place the black garlic, maple syrup, soy sauce and peanut oil into a blender and whiz up until it is a smooth liquid.
  4. Heat some peanut oil in a wok before throwing in the tofu, turning it frequently until all pieces are a crisp golden brown.
  5. Remove the tofu and set it aside.
  6. Pour the sweet black garlic mixture into the wok until it is sizzling hot.
  7. Toss the tofu back into the wok along with the red peppers and stir fry until the tofu is coated in our mixture.
  8. Serve with some chopped fresh chives and enjoy!

All the ingredients mentioned above can be found at The Green Door Market. Like us on Facebook or follow me on Instagram as I continue my culinary adventures.

This powerhouse salmon salad is versatile and tasty while also wedged full of vitamins and minerals.

Salmon itself is one of the most nutritious fish, packed full of iron, zinc, niacin, vitamin B6 and 12 along with a whole host of other nutrients for good health. As well as the mixed grain salad this dish is superb for heart and brain health, bone health and improving thyroid function. Grains such as buckwheat, quinoa and cous cous are high in protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. We named this the Powerhouse Salad because it would be hard to find a vitamin or mineral that’s not in this dish!

It’s a very adaptable dish. If you don’t like salmon just simply change your meat or skip the meat altogether. It is super filling and my kids love it so it’s a family favourite. If you don’t fancy making it yourself just pop into The Lo-cal Kitchen and give it a try, you can get the salad without the salmon if you wish too.

lo cal kitchen, healthy food, nutrition,fitness,yoga,health,wellness,recipes,meditation,mindfulness,eat,move,live,breathe,love,revitalize,jenny connolly, food, nutrition, wellness,POWERHOUSE SALMON

You’ll need:

  • 150g fillet of salmon
  • 1 tbsp buckwheat
  • 1 tbsp red quinoa
  • 1 tbsp giant cous cous
  • ½ cup of kale
  • ½ cup mixed salad leaves
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate seeds
  • ¼ avocado
  • 1 tbsp pearl barley

for the dressing:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tbsp. lemon juice
  • ¼ tbsp. maple syrup

 

Ovens vary so this is just a guide: Preheat the oven to 180c Place the salmon on an oven proof dish skin side up and cook in oven for 10 minutes, then turn and cook for a further 8-10 minutes until cooked through but juicy and not dry.

 

With the grains I will often make a larger batch as is done in the Lo-cal Kitchen. Cook buckwheat, quinoa, cous cous and barley according to package instructions. This usually means simmer or soak in warm water but products vary. Once cooked allow the grains to cool and combine.

 

Whisk the dressing ingredients and toss with the grains and chopped kale, making sure to coat the kale well to help it soften slightly. Top with sliced avocado and salmon before sprinkling with pomegranate seeds.

One salad portion with salmon 492 calories 24g fat, 36g carbs, 37g protein

One salad dressing: 131 calories 13g fat, 2g carbs, 0g protein

 

The owners of The Green Door Market are delighted to announce that they will host a picnic in Nurney Farm from 2pm to 5pm on the 18th of June.

The Green Door Market in Dublin 8 are inviting you to bring your family to the Nurney farm in North Kildare. This event will feature guided farm walks, live music and a treasure hunt for children.

ABOUT NURNEY FARM

Nurney Farm has been growing a wide range of organic fruit and vegetables on some 40 acres since 1990. They are in the process of building a large glasshouse in a bid to secure an extended growing season for Irish fruit and vegetables. This will supplement their current harvest with new and exotic fare. Further to the fresh produce which is cultivated on the land is a supply of  honey and organic eggs. All of their produce is sold in The Green Door Market each week.

NURNEY FAR, ORGANIC FARMING, IRISH ORGANIC PRODUCE, event on june 18th, family summer event, events, farm visit, the green door marketOwned by Norman Kenny and Deirdre O’Sullivan, who are also co-owners of The Green Door Market, Nurney Farm has undergone several changes in its nearly 30 years of business. The old farmhouse has been completely refurbished. They have installed both a wind turbine and solar heating system. They have also added a reed-bed sewage treatment system amid the areas of forestry which provide heat to the main homestead.

Delighted to be able to open his farm to the Irish public, Mr. Kenny said: “This is the first picnic of its kind that we have hosted in County Kildare. We hope to have as many customers as possible in attendance as well as their families and friends. Having worked very hard over the years to have built such a beautiful environment which has provided so much bounty; I could now not be happier to share it with our supporters.”

Nurney Farm organic produceThose who wish to attend the event can find the farm at Nurney House, CARBURY, Co.Kildare W91 FK11.They are one hour west of Dublin just off the N4. Visitors are advised to bring a picnic and to dress appropriately for an Irish farm.