Low-carb diet Try these 5 simple Keto recipes you'll make again and again FEATURED

Low-carb diet? Try these 5 simple Keto recipes you’ll make again and again

Keto recipes don’t have to be complicated. Whether you’re trying the Keto diet or are trying to stick to low-carb, here are 5 simple Keto recipes we’re sure you’ll make again and again

You might think that cooking keto is complicated, but it doesn’t have to be.

Healthista sought to find recipes that prove keto can be both delicious and easy.

Bestselling Keto cookbook author Monya Kilian Palmer shares a stunning collection of recipes that are low in carbs, full of flavour but also quick and easy to make from her new book Quick Keto Kitchen

As well as fresh, light delights there’s a whole chapter of glorious Keto comfort food, while those with a sweet tooth will be thrilled with a versatile range of yummy treats.

With clear instructions and fantastic flavour combinations, Monya has devised every single recipe to make it as fuss-free and delicious as possible.

Keto Recipe #1 Creamy Leek & Camembert Baked Eggs

This very rich bake can easily be stretched to serve four (with a salad on the side), but I have based the macros on two hungry folks. The oozy Camembert can be swapped for Brie, and either chives or parsley will be a great garnish, so use whichever you have at hand.

Pure, cheesy goodness in every mouthful!

READ MORE: 5 Low-Carb Recipes the whole family will love

keto recipes low carb Quick keto kitchen

CALORIES 616 | CARBOHYDRATES 6.7G | PROTEIN 26G | FAT 53G

Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 250g (9oz) leeks, trimmed and finely sliced (don’t use the very dark green ends – see Tip)
  • 60ml (4 tablespoons) double cream
  • 60g (2¼oz) soured cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • 80g (2¾oz) Camembert cheese, broken into pieces
  • small handful of fresh chives, snipped
  • salt flakes, salt, ground white pepper and freshly ground black pepper
Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/gas mark 6

2. Melt the butter in a large non-stick frying pan or wok over a medium–high heat. Add the leeks and cook for 3–4 minutes, stirring regularly, until they soften.

3. Reduce the heat to medium and add the double cream and soured cream. Season the mixture with salt and white pepper.

4. Cook for a few minutes longer to warm the cream through and reduce a little.

5. Transfer to a suitably sized baking dish and create 4 little holes in the mixture, then crack an egg into each one.

6. Scatter the Camembert evenly over the top.

7. Bake for 20–23 minutes, or until the egg whites are opaque and cooked through. The yolks will set too; this is normal.

8. Serve scattered with salt flakes, black pepper and a scattering of chives.

9. Take to the table as is and get stuck in!

Keto Recipe #2 Easy, Cheesy Pork Chops, with Garlic Beans & Zingy Butter

The title alone should have you smiling! The juices from frying the pork are needed for the zingy butter drizzle here, so if you were considering cooking the chops in the air-fryer, I don’t recommend it in this case.

You can double up the ingredients to serve more, but you’ll need a second tray.

READ MORE: 5 ways to feel awake and alert EVERY morning

Pork chops garlic beans keto recipes low carb

CALORIES 838 | CARBOHYDRATES 4.5G | PROTEIN 46G | FAT 70G

Ingredients:
  • 2 large pork chops (approx. 240g/8½oz each)
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • pinch of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon lard, ghee or coconut oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 80g (2¾oz) mini fresh mozzarella balls (approx. 10)
  • 25g (1oz) unsalted butter
  • handful of fresh chives, snipped
  • salt flakes, salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the garlic beans:
  • 200g (7oz) green beans, trimmed
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed with a garlic press
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/425°F/gas mark 7 and line a large baking tray with baking paper.

2. Place the green beans in a bowl and add the crushed garlic and olive oil.

3. Season with salt and pepper and toss well to evenly coat. Spread out on the tray and set aside.

4. Season the pork chops on all sides with the cayenne pepper, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

5. Melt your chosen fat in a large, non-stick frying pan over a high heat.

6. Once very hot, add the pork chops and fry for 1–2 minutes on each side until golden and caramelised (the precise timing may depend on the thickness of your chops).

7. Remove the pan from the heat and squeeze the lemon juice over the chops (catch the pips!). Use tongs to transfer the chops to the baking tray, nestling them in among the green beans.

8. Set the pan aside, but don’t clean it; we will use the remaining fat and juices later.

9. Place the mini mozzarella balls on top of the chops, placing around 5 balls on each chop. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 8–10 minutes.

10 About 1 minute before serving, return the pan used to fry the chops to a medium heat. Add the butter, allowing it to melt in and mix with the pan juices.

11. Drizzle this zingy butter over the cooked chops and green beans.

12. Season the whole lot with salt flakes and black pepper, and serve with a generous scattering of chives.

Keto Recipe #3 Spicy Coconut Chicken & Broccoli Bake

This fragrant and creamy chicken and broccoli bake is a must for readers who love a beautiful, coconutty flavour. It also boasts just the right amount of ‘kick’ from the chilli.

I love using diced chicken thighs, as they are far more succulent than chicken breasts. This is refreshing comfort food!

READ MORE: A journey to wellness: exploring Portugal’s Longevity Health and Wellness Hotel

Chicken broccoli Bake keto recipes low carb

CALORIES 703 | CARBOHYDRATES 7.4G | PROTEIN 45G | FAT 54G

Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
  • 1 red chilli, halved lengthways (½ used to infuse, remaining ½ finely chopped to garnish)
  • 350g (12oz) broccoli florets, cut into evensized pieces
  • 30g (1oz) coconut oil
  • 600g (1lb 5oz) skinless, boneless chicken thighs, chopped into 3cm (1¼in) chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 400ml (14fl oz) can full-fat coconut milk
  • 100ml (3½fl oz) double cream
  • salt flakes, salt, ground white pepper and freshly ground black pepper
Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/gas mark 6.

2. Toast the desiccated coconut in a large non-stick frying pan or wok over a medium–high heat. Once golden, set aside.

3. Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the broccoli and boil for 3 minutes, then drain in a colander and leave to steam off.

4. Meanwhile, melt the coconut oil in the same pan you used for the toasted coconut over a high heat. Add half the chicken and fry for 2–3 minutes until golden and caramelised on all sides – don’t worry about cooking them through for now.

5. Transfer the chicken to a bowl, leaving the fat in the pan. Repeat with the remaining chicken, leaving all the fat in the pan once more.

6. Once all the chicken is in the bowl, season with salt. There should still be plenty of fat in the pan.

7. With the pan off the heat, add the garlic, which will soften in a few seconds in the residual heat – do not allow it to burn.

8. Stir in the coconut milk, the cream and the red chilli half, then return to a high heat and bring to the boil. Boil for about 10 minutes to allow the mixture to thicken and reduce, stirring and scraping down the sides of the pan from time to time.

9. Pick out and discard the half chilli, then add the drained broccoli and chicken pieces to the pan (including any juices from the chicken bowl).

10. Season with salt and white pepper and mix well to evenly coat.

11. Tip the whole lot into a deep baking dish (like a lasagne dish) and bake in the oven for 20–22 minutes.

12. Serve scattered with the finely chopped red chilli and the toasted coconut. Season with salt flakes and black pepper, if needed.

Keto Recipe #4 Creamy Smoked Paprika Meatballs

Here, I’ve taken the humble meatball up a notch by flavouring both the mince and the creamy sauce with punchy smoked paprika.

In the past, I would fry the meatballs first, but now I just bang a tray of them in the oven, because I am all for simplifying things where I can, and the results are just the same: lovely!

READ MORE: 8 lifestyle changes that can help prevent cancer

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CALORIES 675 | CARBOHYDRATES 3.9G | PROTEIN 31G | FAT 59G

Ingredients:
  • 500g (1lb 2oz) minced beef, 20 per cent fat 
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika 
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder 
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil 
  • salt flakes, salt, ground white pepper and freshly ground black pepper 
For the sauce: 
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter 
  • ½ onion, finely chopped 
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped 
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika 
  • juice of ½ lemon 
  • 200ml (7fl oz) double cream 
  • 50g (1¾oz) full-fat crème fraîche 
To finish: 
  • pinch of cayenne pepper 
  • generous handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped  

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/425°F/gas mark 7 and line a large baking tray with baking paper. 

2. Combine the beef mince, smoked paprika and garlic powder in a bowl. Season generously with salt and black pepper and mix well to combine.

3. Use a dessertspoon to form the mixture into 20 meatballs (approximately 25g/1oz each).

4. Place the meatballs on the prepared tray and drizzle with the olive oil. Bake in the oven for 16–17 minutes. 

5. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 9–10 minutes until the onion has completely softened.

6. Add the smoked paprika and squeeze in the lemon juice (catch the pips!) to deglaze the pan. 

7. Reduce the heat to low and add the cream and crème fraîche, stirring well to combine. Allow the sauce to reduce and thicken a little; this will  take 4–6 minutes.

8. Season with salt and ground white pepper. 

9. Serve the meatballs with the sauce (in whichever way you fancy), and scatter over a generous pinch of cayenne pepper (for a little kick!). I like to pour the meatball tray juices over the whole lot for extra flavour.

10. Season with salt flakes and black pepper, then garnish with parsley to add a fresh element. 

Keto Recipe #5 Gut-friendly Blondies, with Pistachios & Cranberries

I love adding inulin to baked goods. Not only is it a great prebiotic, but it adds a chewier texture. Dried cranberries often contain extra sugar, so I chop them smaller to ensure a little goes a long way.

These freeze well, so forgive me that they aren’t ‘speedy’!

READ MORE: Learning to love yourself: 7 ways to overcome self-doubt 

Blondies agut friendly keto recipes low carb

Macros are shown per blondie: CALORIES 223 | CARBOHYDRATES 4.5G | PROTEIN 5.9G | FAT 19G

Ingredients:
  • 70g (2½oz) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2–3 drops of liquid stevia (optional, see page 7)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 150g (5½oz) almond flour
  • 90g (3¼oz) powdered erythritol, sifted
  • 50g (1¾oz) inulin prebiotic powder
  • 30g (1oz) shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 20g (¾oz) dried cranberries, chopped very small
Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/375°F/gas mark 5.

2. Grease the base and sides of a square baking tin (I use my 15cm/6in brownie tin) and line with baking paper.

3. In a bowl, whisk together the cooled melted butter and the eggs.

4. Add the liquid stevia (if using) and the vanilla extract, whisking well to combine.

5. In a second, larger bowl, combine the almond flour, erythritol, inulin and most of the chopped pistachios and cranberries. Pour the wet egg mixture into the almond flour mixture and mix well to combine.

6. Tip into the prepared tin and scatter the remaining pistachios and cranberries on top.

7. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 15 minutes, then remove and reduce the oven temperature to 170°C/150°C fan/340°F/gas mark 3½. Cover the dish with foil (to prevent the top darkening too much) and bake for an additional 10–12 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean.

8. Allow to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then use the edges of the baking paper to lift the blondie out of the tin and transfer to a cooling rack. Leave to cool completely before slicing into 9 squares (slicing too soon may cause the blondie to crumble).

9. These are best enjoyed warm or at room temperature, but can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.

quick keto kitchen keto recipes

Quick Keto Kitchen by Monya Kilian Palmer is published by Kyle Books, priced £16.99 

Also available to purchase on Amazon.

Photography by Maja Smend

6 strength training benefits everyone should know about FEATURED

6 strength training benefits everyone should know about

Improved fitness and weight loss aren’t the only benefits strength training has to offer. David Wiener, Training Specialist at Freeletics reveals 6 other benefits everyone should know about

By now, most people are aware that incorporating strength training into your workout routine is probably a good idea.

We know that weight training is a great way to manage your weight and gain lean muscle, which increases your metabolic rate or simply put the number of calories your body burns at rest.

strength training offers a myriad of benefits in addition to this

But, strength training offers a myriad of benefits in addition to this. From making you stronger to improving your posture and even boosting your mood.

Healthista spoke to, Training Specialist at AI-based fitness and lifestyle coaching app Freeletics David Wiener, who reveals 6 benefits of strength training everyone should know about…

#1 Strength training can help to improve your mood

There is evidence to show that exercising makes the brain feel happy.

Movement triggers the release of feel-good hormones such as dopamine and serotonin which can lift your mood, intensify your drive, and make you feel more positive in general.

This, in turn, may mean you’re more likely to try new things, lift heavier weights, or push yourself a little bit harder.

In addition, research has shown that smiling during your workout can, whether you’re happy or not, push you to do better and lift heavier.

READ MORE: Take your sports performance to the next level with these 6 foods

6 strength training benefits everyone should know about woman wotking out with barbell

#2 Strength training can correct poor posture

The right resistance training programme has the capacity to help you improve your posture and correct muscular imbalances.

Bad posture is often the result of some muscles being too tight while the opposite muscle is too weak, which can lead to slouching and aches and pains.

By strengthening the right (weak) muscle and stretching the too tight muscle, you can reduce the risk of injury and stand taller.

Good posture also helps your internal organs to align well

Research also shows that poor posture negatively affects your ability to breathe deeply and fill your lungs. Slouching shortens the muscles at the front of your body and reduces your ability to breathe in fully.

Standing up tall may improve your ability to bring in oxygen by as much as 30 per cent. Good posture also helps your internal organs to align well, which results in less compression on your stomach, intestines, and liver, facilitating the free flow of food and digestive juices.

A slouched posture inhibits the normal activity of your gastrointestinal system, which makes you vulnerable to digestive complaints such as conspiration and acid reflux (heartburn).

#3 Strength training can increase mobility and flexibility

Strength training, flexibility, and mobility are inextricably linked, with both flexibility and mobility helping you to maintain proper exercise techniques which can help you to reach your full range of motion and properly target muscle groups to build strength.

With stronger muscles, you can then perform more complex movements and build even more strength and explosiveness.

For maximum gains when it comes to flexibility and mobility, strength training should be paired with a dynamic warm up to prepare muscles pre-workout and a static stretching cool down to lengthen muscles post-workout.

Warming up and cooling down properly can also help to prevent injury.

READ MORE: 10 menopause symptoms myths debunked

6 strength training benefits everyone should know about woman lifting weights at gym

#4 Strength training can push you out of your comfort zone

While strength training can be done through bodyweight-only exercises, if you are interested in going the extra mile and pushing yourself further, lifting weights can also be a great option.

Beginners should pick up weights that can be maintained for the whole duration of their workout and work up to heavier weights as they get stronger and fitter.

know your physical limits and listen to your body

If you’re keen to push yourself out of your comfort zone and progress, it’s important to know your physical limits and listen to your body to reduce the risk of injury which can hamper your long-term progress.

#5 Strength training will help you to focus on form

Form is incredibly important, especially if you are lifting weights. Proper form will ensure that you avoid injury and get the most from each exercise, so definitely pay attention to your technique when training.

If you’re unsure or trying a new move, watch video tutorials of the exercises before you attempt them. You could also try filming yourself or trialing the exercise in front of a mirror to make sure your form is correct throughout.

Finally, if something doesn’t feel right, or you feel pain in muscle groups you’re not working, stop.

READ MORE: Tired all the time? 5 energy-boosting tips to help you get more from your day

6 strength training benefits everyone should know about woman lifting weights at gym dumbbells

#6 Strength training means you have to prioritise rest and recovery

When lifting weights, be sure to give yourself plenty of time for rest and recovery. The process for muscle building includes progressive overload, muscle damage, repair, and new growth.

In order to ensure that this cycle occurs, it is advisable to take rest days in between intense training sessions. This provides a ‘window’ in which the body can replenish itself and build even stronger muscles.

advisable to take rest days in between intense training sessions

We all know the uncomfortable feeling of those oh-so-annoying DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).

When we work out, we make tiny tears in our muscles, these muscles then reset, develop, grow and strengthen but we have to allow recovery time for that process to happen.

To lessen the likeliness of DOMS, its important to stretch out the muscles that have been used and be sure to prioritise rest and recovery in order to avoid injury.

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For a strength training programme which really gets results, try Freeletics, Europe’s number 1 fitness app, which creates hyper-personalised fitness plans to help you reach your goals.

From weightlifting, running, and bodyweight-only training plans, Freeletics takes the stress out of planning and maintaining a training regime and scheduling rest days.

Not only this, but the app also has tutorial videos of each exercise to make sure your technique is on point.

Which 'stress suit' do you wear FEATURED

Which ‘stress suit’ do you wear?

Tired? Bloated? Sore? Nutritionist Charlotte Watts claims that chronic stress manifests as different symptoms in different people. Find out which ‘Stress Suit’ you’re wearing and what to do to take your’s off

When we’re under stress, we get a heightening of all our body’s physiological responses.

Adrenalin is pumped into our muscles to prepare us for ‘fight or flight’, and blood is taken away from less vital organs such as our reproductive and digestive systems and skin, to allow our bodies to get ready to literally fight the enemy.

This is normal, healthy stress. But when stress is prolonged or we don’t have enough rest after challenging, stressful times, our bodies can start to show symptoms of chronic stress and these can manifest differently in different people.

I have coined the different sets of chronic stress symptoms I have observed in people as the ‘Stress Suits’

For example, you might get bloated because your digestive system suffers most during long, stressful times while someone else may get terrible PMS because for her, it’s the reproductive and endocrine (hormone) systems that feel and show symptoms of stress the most.  

In my book The De-Stress Effect, £12.99 I have coined the different sets of chronic stress symptoms I have observed in people as the ‘Stress Suits’.

If you look through the signs, symptoms and habits listed beneath each one, and regularly see 3 to 4 of these occurring, read on to see how you can help yourself with simple lifestyle and food measures.

Most of us see more than one Stress Suit pop up for us, but there is often a predominant pattern, so start there and add in other suggestions that feel right to you.

Stress Suit #1 Stressed & Wired

Symptoms and signs:
  • Being on ‘constant alert’
  • Quick reactions to stressful situations
  • Little relaxation time or an inability to relax
  • Feeling the need to constantly ‘do’
  • Long-term life demands and/or emotional stressors
  • Feeling less ‘able to cope’
  • Mood swings, irritability, thin on patience
  • Light, sound or crowd-sensitive.

READ MORE: 10 reasons why stress makes it harder to lose weight

7 stress suits
The wired stress suit makes you irritable and prone to mood swings

Subjecting our nervous systems to constant stimulation from sounds, sights, lights, information from our 24/7 hyper-connectivity, we can be stressed and wired without realizing it – with a heightened, jangly state feeling like our ‘normal’.

Ultimately this is exhausting and if it’s not addressed with lifestyle measures, a ‘Wired Suit’ can quickly turn to a ‘Tired Suit’ (see below) and symptoms can take longer to recover from.

How to fix it:

1. Let go a bit: if you are used to ignoring your body’s signals of tiredness and stress, it’s time to start listening to your body’s need for continual rest and recovery. Take breaks, sleep more, slow down, start the day mindfully and step away from the need to ‘do’ as much as possible.

2. Walk outside: this naturally moves stresses through your body without adding to its load. Moving as we were designed to do helps us relax shoulders and reset breath patterns that stress can make shallow and tense; especially if we walk in greenery.

3. Take magnesium (or eat foods rich in it): our ability to calm and regulate mood relies on the mineral magnesium and stress uses it up fast. Deficiencies can show as anxiety, insomnia, headaches, muscle cramps, depression, fatigue, panic attacks, IBS and blood-sugar issues. The best food sources are green, leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish, carrots, sweet potato, avocado, cauliflower, tahini, parsley, traditionally prepared soy, lentils. You can also supplement 300mg of magnesium citrate with dinner.

Stress Suit #2 Stressed & Tired

Symptoms and signs:
  • Feeling tired or unrefreshed on waking
  • Increasing reliance on sugar and/or stimulants for energy
  • Energy dips
  • Feeling fuzzy-headed or having ‘daytime fog’
  • Exhaustion in evening
  • Feeling cold and sluggish
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Fluid retention.

READ MORE: Tiredness, cracked lips, brittle nails, feeling low? You could be lacking this VITAL vitamin

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Start the day with a protein breakfast to support your adrenals and blood sugar balance for natural energy production

Many of us rotate between the ‘Wired’ and ‘Tired Suits’, even in the course of a day. Years of being Wired without rest and recovery can tip over into Tired where energy drops, metabolism slows, weight gain becomes more likely and weight loss harder.

Years of high stress hormones can result in crashes that leave you unable to create energy without sugar or stimulants.

How to fix it:

1. Cut down on stimulants: it can seem difficult energy fixes like stress itself, sugar and/or stimulants like coffee, alcohol or cigarettes when they seem to be the only things keeping you going, but these ‘uppers’ are wearing you down and depleting nutrients your body and brain rely on to create energy and deal with stress.

2. Have a protein breakfast: start the day with a protein breakfast to support your adrenals and blood sugar balance for natural energy production. Eggs, smoked salmon, nuts, Greek yoghurt and feta cheese are all great examples, especially with rye bread and alkalizing salad part like watercress, avocado, cucumber or spinach.

3. Keep moving: not just bouts of exercise but Spontaneous Daily Movement (SPA). Studies show that muscle quickly atrophies without movement and metabolism slows down when it seems that energy production isn’t needed. Getting up from your desk every hour prevents stagnation and sluggishness.

Stress Suit #3 Stressed & Cold

Symptoms and signs:
  • Waking feeling unrefreshed
  • Less and less energy
  • Reduction or loss of hearing
  • Feeling colder than others most of the time
  • Fluid retention and poor circulation
  • Hair thinning or loss, especially outer edge of eyebrows
  • Feeling demotivated and unable to concentrate
  • Hoarse voice
  • Hypothyroidism (low thyroid function)

READ MORE: Fatigue? Feeling cold? Dry flaky skin? 5 signs you have thyroid problems

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Exercise stimulates thyroid hormone secretion and enables your body to pick it up for use

Chronic stress signals the survival mechanism to conserve energy for potential action and the thyroid glands slow down metabolism, so weight loss becomes harder.

Many women with these symptoms may have had a ‘normal’ result from a doctor’s thyroid test, as it’s possible to have a thyroid functioning slightly short of hypothyroidism, or because your body isn’t utilizing the hormones it does make, due to stress.

How to fix it:

1. Avoid sugar: low thyroid function can go hand in hand with blood sugar issues and weight piling on, so avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates and eat quality protein and good fats at each meal.

2. Exercise outside: exercise stimulates thyroid hormone secretion and enables your body to pick it up for use. Doing this outdoors and allowing yourself to get a little cold increases thermogenesis (heat-creation) that increases metabolism.

3. Do yoga (especially backbends): Yoga poses like backbends or inversions (where your head is below your heart), encourage blood flow and delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the thyroid, while encouraging the calming that supports it.

Stress Suit #4 Stressed & Bloated

Symptoms and signs:
  • Bloating and/or gas after eating
  • Digestive or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)-type symptoms worse when stressed
  • Food sensitivities
  • Constipation and/or diarrhoea – lack of daily ‘full and satisfying evacuation’
  • Headaches
  • Poor digestion of fats and/or greasy or pale-coloured stools
  • Frequent or long-term use of steroid medications, anti-inflammatories and/or antibiotics
  • Diet high in sugar, refined carbohydrates and/or grains.

READ MORE: 5 healthy chocolate alternatives for your never-ending sweet tooth  

7 stress suits
A diet high in refined carbs and sugar can lead to you wearing the stressed and bloated suit

Stress lowers beneficial probiotic gut bacteria, which can prompt inflammation and is linked to conditions such as asthma, eczema and arthritis.

The stress response immediately diverts energy, oxygen and nutrients away from the gut towards brain and muscle. Ongoing and chronic stress can cause spasm or constriction of gut muscles or uncomfortable cycles of diarrhoea and constipation as the gut struggles for balance.

How to fix it:

1. Take probiotics: take a good quality probiotic (good brands are Quest, Lamberts and Biocare) to help you cope with stress and prevent the immune, detoxification and skin issues that disordered gut balance can create.

2. …and prebiotics: increase prebiotic foods in your diet – these feed the essential probiotic bacteria and keep it healthy and growing. Most importantly increase your vegetable intake, especially of those with the highest levels of prebiotics such as kiwi fruit, Jerusalem artichokes, chicory, bananas, garlic, onions and leeks.

3. Eat mindfully: thoroughly chewed food has the best chance of complete digestion and less chance of causing food intolerances. It also helps the brain register ‘full’ signals before you’ve overeaten.

Stress Suit #5 Stressed & Sore

Symptoms and signs:
  • Inflammatory conditions such as hay fever, asthma, eczema, arthritis or psoriasis
  • Frequent infections, including ear, nose and throat
  • Irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive conditions
  • Bloating, fluid retention and sudden weight fluctuations
  • Frequent or long-term use of steroid medications, anti-inflammatories and/or antibiotics
  • Diet high in sugar, refined carbohydrates and/or grains
  • Degenerative conditions such as osteoporosis, heart disease, joint problems
  • Autoimmune conditions such as MS, diabetes, lupus.

READ MORE: Feeling down? Sore joints? Tired? Here’s what can help

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Stress and poor dietary habits can set off an inflammatory cascade in tissues and blood vessels

Low-level inflammation is at the root of many aspects of poor health, weight gain and chronic disease.

Even if you don’t see obvious external inflammation, stress and poor dietary habits can set off an inflammatory cascade in tissues and blood vessels that contributes to symptoms and is exhausting.

This starts in the gut where stress can also deplete levels of the anti-inflammatory antibody secretory-IgA.

How to fix it:

1. Reduce sugar: inflammatory AGEs (advanced glycation end-products) are created in response to sugar and stress. These can contribute to the ageing of every cell in the body (including the skin) by ‘cross-linking’ or lost movement within cells.

2. Get your antioxidants: eat high levels of antioxidants to counteract the harmful ‘oxidizing’ effects of stress, pollution, exercise, sunlight and eating fried foods. Eat plenty of vegetables, nuts, seeds and fruit as well as specific bioflavonoids in spices, black tea, green tea and garlic alongside antioxidant-rich treats like red wine and dark chocolate.

3. Cut back on starches: we only started eating starches in any great amount since farming began – are linked to inflammatory conditions like acne and IBS. At least eat more vegetables in your diet than foods like bread, pasta, rice and pulses, or go Paleo and replace them with vegetables and nuts to see how your body responds.

Stress Suit #6: Stressed & Demotivated

Symptoms and signs:
  • Poor motivation and ‘get-up-and-go’
  • Tendency to depression
  • Feeling less positive than before
  • Using sugar and refined carbs for comfort
  • Late-night binges or overeating sessions
  • Sleeping issues
  • Wanting to withdraw from the world
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder

READ MORE: How a paleo diet saved me from 20 years of dieting hell

stress suits
Late night binges and mood drops are all symptoms are tell tale signs of the stressed and demotivated suit

Stress creates an immediate rise in the feel-good brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin, but cause crashes later, leading to mood drops and cravings for sugar as a quick-fix pick-up and an increasing reliance on sweet foods to ‘feel normal’.

These craving cycles also cause weight gain, which can lower self-esteem and feed into habits of bingeing and/or overeating.

How to fix it:

1. Get your fish oils: DHA, an omega 3 fatty acid found in oily fish such as salmon and mackerel, is known to be essential for serotonin and dopamine levels. Low dopamine and serotonin are linked to depression and other mental health issues. Eat oily fish twice a week or take an algae DHA like Opti-3 if you are vegetarian or vegan.

2. Increase beta-endorphins: natural opioids or ‘beta-endorphins’ are produced in response to laughing, music, socializing, hugs and sex, a fabulous reward system for keeping the species going. Sugar raises these too, so can be even more difficult to give up when we aren’t creating our own.

3. Explore Stressed and Bloated advice above: even if you don’t have those symptoms, there’s a strong gut-brain connection. Evidence shows replenishing probiotic gut bacteria also helps alleviate mild depression, as inflammation starts in the gut, is triggered by stress and has depressive effects on the brain.

Stress Suit #7 Stressed & Hormonal

Symptoms and signs:
  • PMS or a history of menstrual problems
  • Periods becoming heavier, more painful, less regular
  • Female hormone issues, for example, fibroids, endometriosis, PCOS
  • Premenstrual or ovulation sugar cravings
  • Menopausal symptoms
  • Fertility issues
  • Long-term use of oral, IUD or injected hormonal contraception
  • Hormonal phases of irritability, crying and/or negative thoughts.

READ MORE: A gynaecologist’s guide to PMS

hormonal-and-stressed-heavy-periods-pms-symptoms.jpg
Stress can also lead to weight gain in ‘female areas’ like the bottom, hips and thighs

Your adrenal glands (located above your kidneys) directly affect the balance of oestrogen and progesterone in your body, and when they become unbalanced through stress, heavy, painful periods and other hormonal symptoms may result.

Stress can also lead to weight gain in ‘female areas’ like the bottom, hips and thighs as well as tend us to lay down fat around the middles. See what other Suits you need to address above and add in and also do the following

How to fix it:

1. Watch the alcohol: it can raise circulating oestrogen and may worsen PMS and heighten breast cancer risk, especially if you take it in drip-feed amounts and find that nightly glass often turns into half a bottle.

2. Go organic: it’s more expensive but worth it, and if you can only make one organic choice make it this. Non-organic meat, eggs and dairy are higher in the growth hormones which disrupt hormone balance.

3. Avoid processed soy products: traditionally processed forms of soy, such as soy sauce, tamari (gluten-free soy sauce), miso, tempeh and natto, have long been associated with female health when eaten several times a week. Other processed forms like soy milk, soy protein isolate and textured vegetable protein (TVP) tend to upset hormone-balancing abilities though.

charlotte_watts_1801.gifCHARLOTTE WATTS is a nutritionist and yoga teacher whose work has focussed on how nutrition and yoga can meet to help people cope with the type of demands we face in the 21st century.

Her practice and teaching of mindfulness weaves these together and has culminated in her new book The De-Stress Effect: Rebalance Your Body’s Systems for Vibrant Health and Happiness.

She has also authored The De-Stress Diet (with Healthsita Founder Anna Magee).

5 ways to feel awake and alert EVERY morning FEATURED

5 ways to feel awake and alert EVERY morning

Running on autopilot? Not feeling refreshed upon waking? Experts reveal 5 simple ways you can feel more awake and alert every morning 

Few of us tend to spring out of bed with Tigger-like energy – especially during the winter.

Worryingly, a survey commissioned by Healthspan reveals a quarter of adults have entire days where they NEVER feel completely awake or alert and a third are functioning on autopilot.

Here’s a few things that could help…

#1 Raise the alarm

Nearly two thirds of those polled believe their body has a natural inclination to sleep at certain times.

‘Many people find they have a natural sleep pattern and get the best sleep if they follow this. This, in turn, will make waking up in the morning easier,’ says sleep therapist and body clock expert, Dr Kat Lederle.

Problem is, we are not generally left to our own devices when it comes to waking, and are instead reliant on using an alarm to rudely awaken us and get us off to work or school in the morning.

we are not generally left to our own devices when it comes to waking, and are instead reliant on using an alarm

Rob Hobson, Nutritionist and author of The Art of Sleeping says that however tempting it might be to hit the snooze button (and in the survey most people don’t get out of bed for another 18 minutes after their alarm goes off…), try your best to avoid hitting snooze as ‘it’s likely to leave you feeling groggy, especially if you fall back into a deep sleep and are then woken from that’.

Try also to avoid using your smartphone as your alarm and make your alarm experience less, well, alarming by investing in a Lumie BodyClock Rise 100, a gradually brightening light that naturally rouses you from your sleep so you wake up gently and feel more refreshed.

READ MORE: 5 symptoms of vitamin D deficiency that are ruining your wellbeing

woman waking uo to Lumie lamp

#2 Indulge in steamy stuff

When we have managed to rouse ourselves from our beds, most of us feel we can’t fully function without a good strong coffee (or tea) inside us.

That familiar caffeine jolt, courtesy of your first hot coffee of the day, is what the majority (36%) of those polled reach for first thing.

Caffeine is a well-known stimulant and has been shown to enhance a range of cognitive functions including feeling more energised and alert. Therefore, it’s s a good choice, particularly for the one in five who say they arrive at work still sleepy and spend the first 35 minutes there trying to fully wake up.

Which is helpful considering that of those surveyed, 36 per cent said they have made a mistake because they don’t feel fully awake at work and 30 per cent have snapped at someone for the same reason.

36 per cent said they have made a mistake because they don’t feel fully awake at work

‘Savour that first coffee as it is always going to be the best one of the day. If you’re sensitive to coffee then having any others during the day risks upsetting your sleep,’ cautions Rob Hobson.

But what else serves as a rousing a.m. pick-me-up?

Nearly a quarter of respondents say a shower makes them feel a little bit more in the land of the living and a clever way to get your brain more fired up and feel more alert is to add a few drops of rosemary essential oil (like Tisserand’s Rosemary Organic Essential Oil, £7.50) to your shower or bath.

Research shows compounds in rosemary essential oil are responsible for better focus, concentration and improved memory.

READ MORE: A psychologist’s guide to coping with stress

Woman drinking her morning coffee

#3 Eat your way out of autopilot

Eating is, of course, another way to get some get up and go.

‘Make the first meal of the day one that includes protein, fibre and healthy fats to help you stay energised through until lunch,’ suggests Rob Hobson.

Good choices include avocado, baked beans or egg on wholemeal toast; porridge or soaked oats with fruit and natural yogurt; an omelette, a banana sandwich on wholemeal bread or a smoothie made with banana, natural yogurt and oats.

Make the first meal of the day one that includes protein, fibre and healthy fats

If, like many, you can’t stomach eating first thing try A. Vogel’s Balance Mineral Drink, with vitamin D3, magnesium, zinc, potassium and calcium which should help to release energy and stop you feeling sleepy.

Another nutrient to include is ubiquinol, a type of Coenzyme Q10 crucial for energy production dubbed ‘Nature’s Spark Plug’ and the ‘Get up and Go’ nutrient.

It is found in oily fish, olive oil, spinach, avocado, lentils and pulses but if you don’t think you are getting enough from your diet or you are over 50 (when it becomes harder to absorb from food), supplement it with Healthspan Ubiquinol Max, containing energy-enhancing B vitamins to help restore flagging energy levels.

READ MORE: Ultra Processed Foods – what are they and how can we avoid them?

avacado and egg on toast

#4 Swallow up the sunshine

The darker winter months are known to trigger low mood in many and for some can cause Seasonal Affective Disorder, known also as SAD.

‘One potential reason for this is that the lack of daylight affects the production of hormones which regulate our natural sleep-wake cycle,’ explains Dr Meg Arroll, a Chartered Psychologist working with Healthspan.

‘Levels of melatonin and serotonin, which are important for mood regulation can become imbalanced  and this can have a negative effect on how we feel, leading to depressed mood, lack of energy and a general desire to hibernate’.

Vitamin D is created on the skin when exposed to UV light

An early morning walk, run or outdoor work out are perfect options – the exercise will help wake you up, sleep better later and the daylight will help regulate your sleep/wake cycle.

Vitamin D is created on the skin when exposed to UV light, hence being dubbed the ‘sunshine vitamin’.

‘We do know that vitamin D deficiency is associated with low mood. So as any sunshine at this time of the year might be not strong enough to replenish our natural vitamin D level, it may be helpful to invest in a good quality 10mcg vitamin D product, as per government guidelines, such as Healthspan Vitamin D3,’ suggests Dr Arroll.

READ MORE: Hay fever season: 5 proven ways to reduce symptoms

woman getting vitamin D walking outside

#5 Be better in the bedroom

‘Many of us struggle in the morning mostly because we don’t get enough quality sleep during the night’, says Dr Lederle.

‘Sleep time could be too short or it could have been disrupted. Often this is due to stress during the day which still affects us (through subconscious worrying) at night while we sleep’.

Rob Hobson also points out whilst us Brits spend an inordinate amount of time complaining about sleeping badly we don’t actually do a great deal to remedy this.

Creating a sleep routine can help however, as you begin to associate the ritual with sleep – aiming for roughly the same bedtime and getting up time.

You are also less likely to have an interrupted night’s sleep if you lay off the booze

Use a ‘sedating’ scent like This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray, or a soporific oil blend in a diffuser (like Puressentiel Relax Blend, containing chamomile, lavender and sandalwood which will help to create more calming conditions for sleep.

Reading (but not online), listening to soothing music or an audiobook can help reduce stress and anxiety and prime you for sleep too.

You are also less likely to have an interrupted night’s sleep if you lay off the booze, as it can wake you in the night and will interfere with the necessary REM sleep you need to make you feel refreshed.

Plus we are all aware now that coming off digital devices a few hours before turning in is ideal for a good nights sleep as the blue light emitted from them can interfere with levels of melatonin, the sleep hormone.

READ MORE: 7 osteopath recommended morning stretches to set you up for the day

woman reading before bed

5 Low-Carb Recipes the family will love FEATURED

5 Low-Carb Recipes the whole family will love

Whether you’re looking to lose weight, eat a healthier diet or are looking to combat metabolic diseases, these 5 low-carb recipes are simple, delicious and family friendly

Good intentions and a shelf full of cookbooks aren’t enough to maintain a healthy eating lifestyle. What you need is a plan.

A plan underpinned by simple, low carb principles that will help anyone lose weight, combat metabolic diseases and sustain a new way of eating.

With its simple approach, The Diabetes Weight-Loss Meal Plan by Katie Caldesi, £22 (also available to purchase on Amazon, £11.50) will get you started on a healthier lifestyle that’s easy to maintain. It has weekly meal plans – including completely vegetarian variants – and over 100 delicious low carb recipes.

There are quick and easy breakfasts, lunches and dinners

Katie’s simple CarbScale, showing how many carbs you can eat daily depending on your weight-loss target, means the diet is accessible to all, whether you’re looking for dramatic weight loss or just a sustainable eating plan. Backed by expert medical, psychological and nutritional advice, this is a method that really works.

There are quick and easy breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Special occasions and sweet tooths are catered for too, with recipes for a low-carb Christmas as well as brownies, muffins and sponge puddings.

With all these delicious recipes plus ready-to-go weekly plans, it couldn’t be easier to start enjoying the benefits of a low-carb life.

To give you a taster of these recipes, Healthista has picked out 5 of their favourites to get you started…

Low-Carb Recipe #1 Anywhere Chia Porridge

This is a delicious hot or cold breakfast and replaces a bowl of traditional starchy porridge that would be likely to spike your blood glucose.

You can prepare a larger quantity of the dry mixture in advance and store it in a jar or a bag. I take some, along with an apple, for overnight stays in hotels where I’m not sure if I’ll get a healthy breakfast.

I even prepare enough for a seven-day holiday abroad. I can make it up in my room and eat it from a mug! I sometimes do this the night before and leave it in the mini-refrigerator to cool overnight, which allows the seeds to swell further. Or I can take it down to breakfast and add water, yoghurt and an apple or berries.

Travelling often upsets digestion and chia seeds can help your body find its natural rhythm.

Make up the porridge with hot water and a herbal tea bag for extra flavour. Leave out the oats if you are keto.

Per Serving: NET CARBS 4g | FIBRE 7g | PROTEIN 8g | FAT 30g | 326kcal

Optional: 50G (1¾OZ) Greek Yoghurt: NET CARBS 2.5g | FIBRE 0g | PROTEIN 2g | FAT 5g | 62kcal

½ Apple: NET CARBS 12g | FIBRE 3g | PROTEIN 0.5g | FAT 0g | 52kcal 20G (¾OZ)

Oats: NET CARBS 13g | FIBRE 1g | PROTEIN 2g | FAT 1g | 74kcal

Chia seeds porridge

Serves 1

Ingredients:

For the dry mixture…

  • 1 tablespoon whole chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons mixed seeds (such as flax, sunflower, pumpkin)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of vanilla powder
  • 25g (1oz) pecans, almonds or walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 20g (¾oz) oats (optional)

To serve…

  • 1 ginger tea bag, optional
  • ½ apple
  • 50g (1¾oz) 10% fat kefir or Greek yoghurt (optional)
Method:

1. Make up the porridge with hot water and a herbal tea bag for extra flavour. Leave out the oats if you are keto.

2. Pour the dry mixture into a mug or bowl, add the tea bag, if using, and top up with enough just-boiled water to cover the mixture by a thumb’s width.

3. Leave to steep for 5 minutes to allow the seeds to swell. Discard the tea bag.

4. Eat while warm as porridge or leave to cool. Add more hot or cold water as necessary until you have the consistency of porridge.

5. Cut the apple into slices; there is no need to peel it but do discard the core. (Keep the other half in the refrigerator for another day.)

6. Add to the mug or bowl with the yoghurt, if using. Eat straight away.

Low-Carb Recipe #2 Green Shakshuka

This wonderful, wholesome breakfast is as nutritious as it is pretty. I love to use up whatever greens I have in the refrigerator, such as spinach, rocket, watercress or cabbage, for this.

If I’m out of leaves, I defrost around 8 cubes of frozen spinach, which, once squeezed, makes around 200g (7oz) of spinach. Put the empty half of the avocado shell over the leftover one, or simply wipe it with a cut lemon, to keep it bright.

I like to use Aleppo chilli flakes for their gentle flavour and bright colour.

Per Serving: NET CARBS 6g | FIBRE 8g | PROTEIN 23g | FAT 43g | 525kcal

READ MORE: 3 low carb dinner recipes that will actually fill you up

green shakshuka recipes for diabetes

Serves 2

Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 spring onions, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • pinch of Aleppo chilli flakes or finely chopped fresh chilli, plus extra to serve
  • 200g (7oz) mixed green leaves (see recipe introduction),
  • roughly chopped, or coarsely grated courgette
  • 5 tablespoons water
  • 4 eggs
  • 100g (3½oz) feta cheese
  • salt and pepper

To serve…

  • handful of coriander, leaves roughly torn, stems chopped
  • ½ avocado, sliced
Method:

1. Heat the oil in a medium frying pan (with a lid) over a medium heat, add the spring onions and fry for 5–7 minutes until soft.

2. Add salt and pepper, cumin and chilli. Add the greens or courgette and the water to the pan.

3. Stir through the onions and put the lid on.

4. Cook over a gentle heat for around 5 minutes or until the greens are soft.

5. Remove the lid and add another 3 tablespoons of water if the first few spoons have evaporated and the mixture looks dry.

6. Crack the eggs into the pan, and crumble over the feta.

7. Put the lid back on and cook for 5–8 minutes or until the eggs are done to your liking.

8. Scatter over the coriander and add the avocado slices with a dusting of chilli flakes or finely chopped fresh chilli.

Low-Carb Recipe #3 Layered Mushroom, Goats’ Cheese, Pepper and Celeriac Pie

This stunning vegetarian pie has so much flavour from the gorgeous layers of vegetables.

This is one cheat where I allow myself to use ready-made sheets of filo if we are craving crispy, golden pastry. However, if you are really against ultra-processed foods (which we are 95 per cent of the time), then just leave the pastry off.

If you are using the ready-made filo, do use refrigerated rather than frozen, as it is less fragile. Unwrap it and use the sheets asap, keeping any leftovers tightly wrapped – they dry out quickly and break.

I’ve kept this vegetarian, but there is nothing to say you couldn’t add a layer of the Simple Beef Stew or the Lamb Ragu.

Per Serving: NET CARBS 28g | FIBRE 3g | PROTEIN 16g | FAT 21g | 368kcal

READ MORE: 5 quick and easy low-carb recipes you will LOVE

LAYERED MUSHROOM, GOATS’ CHEESE, PEPPER AND CELERIAC PIE diabetes recipe

Serves 8

Ingredients:
  • 700g (1lb 9oz) celeriac or swede, peeled and cut into walnutsized pieces
  • 1½–3 tablespoons ghee or butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1kg (2lb 4oz) wild or chestnut mushrooms, trimmed and roughly sliced
  • handful of soft sprigs of thyme or 2 teaspoons dried thyme or 3 sprigs of rosemary
  • 200ml (7fl oz) full-fat milk (any kind) or water
  • 250g (9oz) ricotta cheese
  • 350g (12oz) roasted peppers from a jar
  • 200g (7oz) firm goats’ cheese or smoked Cheddar cheese
  • 4 sheets of filo pastry
  • 20g (¾oz) melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black onion (nigella) seeds
  • salt and pepper
Method:

1. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add the celeriac or swede and boil for 20–30 minutes, or until soft.

2. Heat 1½ tablespoons of the ghee or butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat.

3. Add the onion, season, and fry for 8–10 minutes until soft.

4. Add the garlic and fry for a couple of minutes before adding half the mushrooms, half the herbs and some seasoning.

5. Turn the heat up and fry the mushrooms over a sizzling heat to drive away the water.

6. Tip into a bowl and fry the other half of the mushrooms and herbs, adding a little more of the ghee or butter if necessary.

7. When the celeriac is done, drain it and put into a food processor, or use a stick blender or masher, with the milk, ricotta and seasoning, to taste, then blitz or mash.

8. Once smooth, transfer this mixture to a large ovenproof dish. Tip the mushrooms over the top.

9. Heat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan (425°F), Gas Mark 7.

10. Pat the peppers dry on kitchen paper and then add to the blender, or use the stick blender, to blitz them into a purée, adding salt to taste.

11. Pour this layer over the mushrooms. Now crumble or grate the cheese over this layer; it doesn’t have to be neat, little mouthfuls of molten cheese are wonderful!

12. Unwrap the filo and gently crumple 2 sheets, then place over the pie.

13. Gently brush these with half the melted butter, then add a further 2 sheets, aiming to get height in the centre. Brush these with the remaining butter and scatter over the seeds.

14. Bake the pie for 15–17 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and crisp. Serve straight away.

Low-Carb Recipe #4 Pepper Quiches

Pepper halves are brilliant, colourful vessels for a variety of fillings and cook perfectly in half an hour.

I have used the typical flavours of French quiche Lorraine, but you could use up whatever is in your refrigerator, such as leftover roast vegetables and various cheeses, or a handful of chickpeas or cannellini beans instead of the bacon.

Per Serving of 2 HALVES: NET CARBS 11g | FIBRE 4g | PROTEIN 32g | FAT 38g | 536kcal

READ MORE: Low-carb dinner: lamb feta burgers and Greek salad

p86 Pepper Quiches diabetes recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients:
  • 2 red peppers, halved, cored and deseeded
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion or fat spring onion, finely chopped
  • 100g (3½oz) smoked bacon or ham, diced, or 1 sausage, peeled and crumbled
  • 4 eggs
  • 25g (1oz) mature Cheddar or other hard cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper
Method:

1. Heat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan (425°F), Gas Mark 7.

2. Put the peppers in a small, oven dish or roasting tray. They should fit snugly so that they support one another and can be easily filled.

3. Roast them in the oven for 10 minutes, then remove and set aside.

4. Meanwhile, make the filling by heating the oil in a medium frying pan and gently frying the onions and bacon, ham or sausage together over a medium heat for 5–7 minutes until the onions are translucent and the meat is lightly browned.

5. When done, tip the contents of the frying pan on a plate to cool.

6. Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl with a good pinch of salt and plenty of pepper. Stir in the cheese and then add the onion and bacon mixture.

7. Pour this mixture into the peppers, making sure they can’t tip over. If any halves worry you, support them with a little scrunched-up foil.

8. Cook for 20 minutes, or until the peppers are tender and the filling is set and lightly browned.

9. Serve with a salad or some green vegetables.

Low-Carb Recipe #5 Peach and Hazelnut Tart

This stunning dessert is a great choice, even when living a low-carb lifestyle. Use berries or canned apricots, or a mixture of them both if fresh stone fruits aren’t in season.

This toasted hazelnut pastry is naturally sweetened with orange zest, so it positively bursts with flavour.

Per Serving with Amaretto and Honey: NET CARBS 8g | FIBRE 3g | PROTEIN 3g | FAT 19g | 226kcal

Per Serving with Amaretto and Erythritol: NET CARBS 7g | FIBRE 7g | PROTEIN 3g | FAT 19g | 221kcal

peach and hazelnut tart diabetes recipe

Serves 10

Ingredients:
  • 400g (14oz) peaches, nectarines, apricots or berries, stoned and finely sliced
  • 200ml (7fl oz) whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons Amaretto, brandy or rum (optional)

For the pastry…

  • 150g (5½oz) blanched or skin-on hazelnuts or other nuts
  • 1 tablespoon honey or 1 heaped tablespoon erythritol
  • 100g (3½oz) butter, softened and cut into small cubes
  • 40g (1½oz) coconut flour
  • finely grated zest of ½ orange or 1 small lemon (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
Method:

1. Heat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan (425°F) Gas Mark 7.

2. Roast the nuts on a baking tray for 8–10 minutes or until golden brown, giving the tray a shake halfway. If the nuts have skins, when done, tip them onto a tea towel and fold it over the nuts. Rub the tea towel over the nuts to loosen the skins. Pick out the nuts and put them into a shallow bowl to cool. Turn the oven off and close the door to retain the heat.

3. Cut a circle of baking paper about 4cm (1½ inches) larger than a 22cm (8½-inch) tart tin. Tear off another piece bigger than this so that you can roll the pastry between them.

4. If making the pastry by hand, roughly chop the nuts to a texture of sand and gravel, then mix with the remaining pastry ingredients in a bowl with a spoon. Alternatively, blitz the nuts and remaining ingredients briefly in a food processor until just combined. You may need to push the mixture down with a spatula a couple of times.

5. Reheat the oven, this time to 190°C/170°C fan (375°F), Gas Mark 5.

6. Place the pastry between the 2 pieces of baking paper and roll out, using the circle as a guide and bearing in mind that you need the pastry to come up the sides of the tin by 1.5cm (5/8 inch).

7. Peel off the larger piece then turn the tart tin over the circle. Put your hand underneath the paper and invert it into the tin. Push the pastry down into the edges and up the sides a little. Be fussy now and make sure the pastry is evenly up the sides and thick enough to hold its shape once cooking.

8. Prick a few holes in the pastry base with a fork to stop it rising. Bake for 12–15 minutes or until firm to the touch and golden brown all over.

9. Remove the pastry from the oven and let it sit in the tin for 10 minutes to firm up. Then, use the paper to lift it carefully on to a cooling rack. I like to serve it in the paper.

10. While the tart cools, slice the peaches. Whip the cream with the vanilla and Amaretto, brandy or rum, if using, until it forms soft peaks, then chill in the fridge.

11. As soon as the pastry has cooled to room temperature, transfer it to a flat serving plate. Spoon the whipped cream into the pastry case and even out with the back of the spoon.

12. Top with the sliced fruits and berries. Serve straight away or chill for up to a day in the refrigerator.

The Diabetes Weight Loss Plan Diabetes recipes

The Diabetes Weight-Loss Plan by Katie Caldesi is published by Kyle Books, £22

Also available to purchase on Amazon, £11.50

Photography by Maja Smend.

10 menopause symptoms myths debunked

We all know about the dreaded menopause symptoms. But how bad are they really? Healthista spoke to the experts to try and debunk common menopause myths 

As if us women don’t already have enough to deal with, the menopause sadly cannot be avoided and is a natural part of ageing, supposedly occurring between the ages of 45 and 55.

In the UK, the average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 51 according to the NHS.

All women are born with a specific number of eggs, which over time reduce as we ovulate, usually every month.

It is when we have lost most of our eggs and are left with around 1,000 that women will start to feel menopausal. So basically, the menopause can be described as when our ovaries start to fail in releasing eggs.

Most women will experience symptoms of menopause for up to five years before they have their last period

This failure causes our oestrogen levels to fall, which tells our brain to send more signals to our ovaries to try and get them to release an egg. This is what leads to the dreaded and infamous symptoms of the menopause.

Most women will experience menopause symptoms for up to five years before they have their last period. However, around one in every ten women experience symptoms for up to ten years.

For reasons that are still unknown, some women sail problem free through the menopause whilst others suffer from symptoms that can significantly interfere with their quality of their life and their ability to function on a day-to-day basis.

However, there are still many myths out there that make the thought of menopause far scarier than it needs to be.

Healthista caught up with the experts to try and debunk some of the common myths surrounding the dreaded menopause symptoms…

Myth #1 You’ll gain weight

‘The menopause isn’t fattening,’ stresses Dr Sarah Brewer, GP.

‘However, over the age of 40, your metabolism slows down and your body needs 250 fewer calories per day than when you were in your twenties’.

Eating less and doing more will reduce the risk of gaining weight in your forties and beyond but you should also ensure your diet features an abundance of fruit and vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds.

‘These contain antioxidants that can stimulate metabolism, boosting fat burning, encouraging weight loss and increasing energy levels,’ adds Dr Brewer.

READ MORE: My post-menopause glow up made me look 10 years younger and gave me my confidence back

10 menopause symptoms myths debunked weight gain

Myth #2 You’ll leak

‘Around one in three women experiences continence issues,’ says Valentina Roffi, Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist (pelvic health) and Director at Sprint Physiotherapy.

‘In the lead up to the menopause, oestrogen production reduces and then stops. As a result, the vaginal tissues lose elasticity and the lining of the urethra becomes thinner which, along with weaker pelvic floor muscles, contributes to leaking’.

Valentina stresses that it’s important to consult a specialist doctor in urogynaecology about menopausal continence issues.

Anyone can work on strengthening their pelvic floor

‘They can suggest ways to manage symptoms, perhaps with medications or creams,’ continues Valentina, who also recommends consulting a pelvic health physiotherapist.

‘Pelvic health physiotherapists specialise in the management of urinary problems with effective and sometimes very simple solutions such as bladder training, reviewing fluid intake and strengthening pelvic floor muscles.

‘Anyone can work on strengthening their pelvic floor. Simply focus on tightening the muscles around the front and back passage – if anything else is twitching, you may not be squeezing the right muscle group!’

Myth #3 Everything dries up

As oestrogen levels fall, many parts of the body become drier – hair, skin, nails, eyes and vagina.

Many women find that Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) brings relief from menopause symptoms, including dryness.

However, if you’re unable or unwilling to take prescribed oestrogens, soy isoflavones such as Healthspan’s Menoserene, can help.

In addition, oestrogen-containing vaginal treatments which reduce dryness are available on prescription – ask your GP, menopause nurse or a BMS-accredited menopause specialist for more information

also a range of new non-surgical medical procedures that can help with dryness

Many women find that intimate lubricants help relieve vaginal dryness, making sex pleasurable again.

You could also try sea buckthorn oil, a herbal remedy which has been used for centuries to relieve intimate dryness (Healthspan Omega 7 Sea Buckthorn Oil).

‘There are so many new advances available to women, as well as hormonal treatments and specially formulated supplement ranges,’ adds Miss Tania Adib, consultant gynaecologist at The Medical Chambers Kensington.

‘There’s also a range of new non-surgical medical procedures that can help with dryness that have had very positive results.

‘The MonaLisa Touch, plus other new las treatments to deal with vaginal atrophy, incontinence and painful conditions, such as vulvodynia that many women may experience during menopause but it is vital to understand there are new medical treatments that can help’.

READ MORE: ‘Menopause symptoms ruined my sex life but this device helped me get it back’ 

10 menopause symptoms myths debunked incontinence

Myth #4 Everyone gets hot flushes

Recent research found that hot flushes and their bedtime companion, night sweats, affect 84 per cent of peri-menopausal and menopausal women.

However, a clinical trial published in the scientific journal Heliyon earlier this year confirmed the age-old belief that sage can help relieve hot flushes and night sweats.

‘Women who received a daily dose of A. Vogel Menoforce® Sage, which contains freshly harvested sage, found that their hot flushes decreased in quantity as well as intensity,’ explains Alison Cullen, A. Vogel nutritional practitioner and education manager.

sage can help relieve hot flushes and night sweats

‘After four weeks, 60 per cent of participants had at least a 50 per cent reduction in hot flushes, while after eight weeks, they had decreased by 64 per cent and were still on the decrease.

‘In addition, overall, the women in this trial who were treated with Menoforce® were in a more relaxed and focused state of mind’.

READ MORE: From hot flushes to vaginal dryness – 6 top tips to ease menopause symptoms

10 menopause symptoms myths debunked hot flush

Myth #5 You can’t get pregnant when taking HRT

‘Although, overall, the chance of conception in your late forties and early fifties when on HRT is very slim, HRT isn’t a form of contraception,’ stresses consultant gynaecologist Dr Anne Henderson, author of The Natural Menopause.

‘To prevent pregnancy, it’s always advisable to also use a non-hormonal, barrier contraception such as condoms or alternatively the Mirena Coil. This is a flexible method of contraception that can also provide a form of HRT and I frequently recommend to women who are peri-menopausal.

HRT isn’t a form of contraception

‘Equally, if someone is experiencing menopause symptoms, they should not take HRT if they’re trying to get pregnant. HRT is for women who have completed their family’.

Myth #6 Your sex life is over

‘There’s no reason why intimacy should stop,’ says Dr Brewer.

‘In fact, some menopausal women feel more passionate as lower oestrogen levels means the small amount of testosterone in their bodies has a stronger effect. There’s also less worry about pregnancy, which can have a liberating effect’.

However, common menopause symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety, mood swings and vaginal dryness can all take their toll on your sex drive.

‘If low libido is causing problems within your relationship, talk to your doctor,’ suggests Dr Brewer.

READ MORE: Menopause symptoms making you miserable? These natural fixes will help

10 menopause symptoms myths debunked libido

Myth #7 You can’t take HRT if you’ve had cancer

‘This isn’t true,’ stresses Dr Anne Henderson, Consultant Gynaecologist, BMS-accredited Menopause Specialist and Director of The Amara Clinic.

‘There are different forms of HRT and different considerations to take into account, depending on age and type of cancer.

risks from HRT are higher if you’re overweight and drink

‘For example, risks from HRT are higher if you’re overweight and drink and data is showing this is linked to even moderate drinking (so two units a day, 14 units a week) increases the risk significantly of breast cancer – more than the actual risk of HRT.

‘If you have any concerns over a possible cancer risk, ideally ask your GP to refer you to talk to a Menopause Specialist who is accredited by the British Menopause Society‘.

Myth #8 ‘Meno-middle’ will replace your waist

Although weight gain isn’t inevitable in the lead up to the menopause, or afterwards, any extra pounds tend to make a beeline for the midriff!

‘Researchers from Ohio University have identified an enzyme which increases levels of fat production and ‘thickening’ around the middle,’ reveals Dr Sarah Brewer.

‘Oestrogen supresses this enzyme but as the levels of this hormone fall due to the menopause, the effects of this enzyme increase’.

To combat this, DR Brewer advises eating a healthy, balanced diet, reducing portion sizes and cutting out unhealthy snacks and drinks.

Exercise will also help to keep meno-middle at bay – combine regular cardio workouts with Pilates or yoga, which are both excellent for toning abdominal muscles.

READ MORE: Are you a pear, apple or hourglass? These are the best diet and exercise choices for your body type

10 menopause symptoms myths debunked meno middle weight gain

#9 Your anxiety levels will soar

Dr Meg Arroll a Chartered Psychologist and co author of new book by Mariella Frostrup Cracking the Menopause: While Keeping Yourself Together says, ‘Anxiety is often cited as a symptom of the menopause, with about a quarter of women saying they feel anxious during this time.

HRT and anti-depressants can help to alleviate menopause-related anxiety

‘However, anxiety is also common in the general population – a recent study found that 65 per cent of us believe life is becoming increasingly more anxiety-provoking.

‘HRT and anti-depressants can help to alleviate menopause-related anxiety during the peri-menopause but you may want to try evidence-based therapies for anxiety such as yoga, reflexology, massage and, very importantly, taking time out for self-care and pampering’.

#10 The menopause is a nightmare

Not necessarily so!

‘By looking after yourself before and after the menopause, taking a good quality multivitamin that has all you need and is formulated for women in fifties is a good option so you can help ensure this time of life is rich and enjoyable,’ says Dr Sarah Brewer.

In addition, Priestess of the Goddess, Charlotte Haigh, encourages women to reclaim as a time to step into our power.

‘A new attitude to this stage of life can help us embrace it and feel positive about it,’ says Charlotte.

‘We need to see ourselves as experienced, wise women with much to offer our communities.

‘And with modern life spans, we could have decades left to do whatever we want. How do you want the rest of your life to be? Dream big!’