Is Saffron the New Wonder Spice?

Raw Organic Red Saffron Spice

I am currently reading Rosanna Ley's The Saffron Trail (and racing through it!) I have read a number of Rosanna's books and not only are they all brilliantly clever and highly entertaining, but also, she clearly does a great deal of research before putting finger to keyboard and right now I am learning a lot about the incredible, amazing, expensive but oh-so-worth-the-spend-spice, saffron!

Then... what should appear in my inbox but an article from Nutri Advanced about the impressive health benefits of saffron as an effective natural remedy for a range of health concerns - particularly mental health issues - with a range of referenced studies to back up just why this may be the new wonder spice! I urge you to have a look and share the article with others...

it's all about the plant chemical compounds...

"Saffron stigmas contain four major bioactive compounds (crocins, picrocrocin, crocetin and safranal) and many powerful carotenoids, including zeaxanthin, lycopene, beta-carotene and polysaccharides.  Collectively, these compounds are responsible for the health-enhancing properties of saffron." Nutri Advanced

Most studies involve saffron extract at a dose of around 30mg per day which equates to around 10-15 strands of dried saffron or around 1 teaspoon of ground saffron which, unless you fancy a pinch of saffron added to your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks on a daily basis, could be a bit much so you may wish to consider a supplement on saffron-free days!

But, as you might expect, I have a couple of soup recipes (Carrot and Saffron Soup and Cream of Mussel Soup with Saffron) plus there's my Aromatic Lamb Casserole which makes a great make-ahead dinner and my rather special Fennel, Orange and Quinoa Salad for a great packed lunch - all of which use this wonderfully-aromatic and health-enhancing spice. NB: get your saffron threads and powder from Halal and middle eastern shops - it's a great deal less expensive than in major supermarkets!  

The Power of Peas for Fat Loss!

Background of fresh peas

the humble pea has a lot going for it!

One of the most important aspects of successful fat loss is good blood sugar management. Healthy blood sugar levels are sustained through a combination of eating a balanced, unprocessed diet, getting regular exercise and managing the body’s most important hormones in other ways (eg: getting enough sleep and reducing stress).

Blood sugar is raised by glucose, which is the sugar we get from eating foods that contain carbohydrates. The glucose is then ferried off to body cells by insulin which is secreted by the pancreas, to generate energy and blood sugar levels return to normal.  When we haven’t eaten for a while, levels drop and messages are sent to the brain to tell us to eat something and the process begins again. Insulin levels rise and fall in accordance with when and what we eat so it is vitally important we get it right. A diet overloaded with sugar and starchy carbohydrates and light on fibre, protein and fats prompts all-too-regular blood sugar highs and lows and increasing demands on the pancreas to produce insulin and over time the system breaks down and we can become insulin resistant which greatly increases our risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease and weight gain is almost certain.

read more and see a selection of recipes

A Cheering Glass of Red with Mr Buettner!

There is always someone out there trying to spoil all the fun isn't there? Particularly when it comes to the occasional tipple after a stressful day!

The 'can alcohol be part of a health-enhancing diet?' debate rages on and on and on and on... but my good friend Dan Buettner (no I have never met the man and I am well-aware that he probably doesn't know I exist but I like to call him my friend anyway coz I like what he has to say!) has obsessively studied the diets of those who live to a healthy and ripe old age in those countries known as 'The Blue Zones' and he tells me (through his research) that "yes, a glass or two of red wine - especially when consumed with a Blue Zones, plant-based meal­­ - is a good idea for most people" so I can't imagine for a second why I might decide to argue?

Macro of a glass of wine with shallow focus on the glass lip

Of course, summer is upon us and many of us prefer a cool drink when the temperature has gone up a few notches but there are quite a few 'reds' offering a whole bunch of protective plant chemicals that lend themselves rather nicely to being chilled so try the following grape varieties: Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Gamay, Cinsault, Shiava, Grenache or ask your local wine merchant for advice.

NB: can I urge you to remember the bit about 'with a blue zones, plant-based meal'... ie: with a nutritiously-fabulous-every-colour-under-the-sun salad rather than a takeaway pizza! 

Going Bananas!

It’s certainly not news that high blood pressure and a deficiency of the mineral, potassium are linked (or perhaps more often recorded is too much sodium and not enough potassium) so it’s vital that our diet includes plenty of potassium-rich foods to get the balance right.  Many people immediately think bananas when they think potassium, but you would have to eat a lot of bananas in a day (around 9!) to get close to the recommended daily dose. 30g of leafy green vegetables (particularly swiss chard, spinach and bok choy) provide around twice the amount of potassium so in addition to the occasional banana which makes a filling and splendidly-portable snack (the greener the better to get plenty of gut-friendly resistant starch as long as you chew them really well), go leafy daily!