Posts tagged ‘vitamin’

October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween- Pumpkin Recipes

by lrmetcalfe

PumpkinPumpkin.  This delicious winter squash, is not only great for a spooky Halloween decoration, but is bursting with health benefits too.

Pumpkin’s bright orange colour is due to its beta-carotene content, a provitamin that is converted to vitamin A in the body. Known for its immune-boosting powers, beta-carotene is an antixoxidant essential for eye health and has also been linked to preventing heart disease. Pumpkin is also a rich source of fibre and protein.

It’s not only the sweet orange flesh that has health benefits, the seeds are packed with goodness too. Pumpkin seeds are renowned for their zinc content, an essential mineral for immune health, and men’s health. The seeds also contain the minerals, magnesium and potassium; as well as phytosterols, which can help to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

Why not try one of these delicious recipes, and make the most out of your Halloween pumpkin…

Pumpkin Pittas

Serves 4

• 1kg pumpkins or butternut squash, deseeded and cut into wedges
• 400g can chickpeas, drained, rinsed and dried
• 1 garlic clove, chopped
• ½ tsp chilli flakes
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• small bunch parsley, roughly chopped
• 2 slices white bread, whizzed to crumbs

For the salad
• 2 carrots, coarsely grated
• ½ small red onion, finely sliced
• 100g feta cheese, crumbled
• 4 wholemeal pitta breads to serve

1. Put the pumpkin in a microwave-safe bowl and cover with cling film. Cook on High for 10 mins or until soft. Tip the chickpeas, garlic, chilli flakes, cumin and half of the parsley into a food processor, then whizz until the chickpeas are finely chopped but not smooth.
2. Allow the pumpkin to cool slightly, then scoop the flesh from the skin and add to the chickpea mix with some seasoning and the breadcrumbs. Give everything a good stir, then shape into 12 little patties with your hands. Put the falafels on a plate and chill for 10 mins.
3. Meanwhile, mix the remaining parsley with the grated carrot, onion and feta cheese, then set aside. Heat the grill to Medium, then cook the falafels on a baking tray for 3-5 mins on each side until golden. Split the pitta breads lengthways and fill with the warm falafels and some of the feta salad.

Pumpkin Soup

Serves 6

• 4 tbsp olive oil
• 2 onions, finely chopped
• 1kg pumpkins or squash (try kabocha), peeled, deseeded and chopped into chunks
• 700ml vegetable stock or chicken stock
• 142ml pot double cream
• 4 slices wholemeal seeded bread
• handful pumpkin seed from a packet

1. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan, then gently cook 2 finely chopped onions for 5 mins, until soft but not coloured. Add 1kg peeled, deseeded and chopped pumpkin or squash to the pan, then carry on cooking for 8-10 mins, stirring occasionally until it starts to soften and turn golden.

2. Pour 700ml vegetable stock into the pan, then season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 mins until the squash is very soft. Pour the 142ml pot of double cream into the pan, bring back to the boil, then purée with a hand blender. For an extra-velvety consistency you can now push the soup through a fine sieve into another pan. The soup can now be frozen for up to 2 months.

3. While the soup is cooking, slice the crusts from 4 slices of wholemeal seed bread, then cut the bread into small croutons. Heat the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan, then fry the bread until it starts to become crisp. Add a handful of pumpkin seeds to the pan, then cook for a few mins more until they are toasted. These can be made a day ahead and stored in an airtight container. Reheat the soup if needed, taste for seasoning, then serve scattered with croutons and seeds and drizzled with more olive oil, if you want.

Pumpkin, Lemon & Poppy Seed Loaf Cake


• 225g peeled and deseeded pumpkin or butternut squash, cubed.
• 4 tbsp full cream milk.
• 1 large egg.
• 175g self-raising flour.
• 1/2 tsp baking powder.
• 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda.
• 150g caster sugar .
• 1 1/2 tsp mixed spice.
• 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg.
• 50g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces.
• 2 tbsp poppy seeds.
• Grated zest of 1 small lemon.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4. Grease a 900g loaf tin and line with baking paper or greaseproof paper, then grease well once more. Cook the pumpkin in boiling water for 10-15 minutes, until tender. Drain well and leave until the steam dies down, then blend to a smooth purée in a food processor. Scoop into a mixing bowl and mix in 3 tablespoons milk and the egg.

2. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, sugar, mixed spice, nutmeg and seasoning into the cleaned bowl of the food processor. Add the butter and process until the mix looks like fine breadcrumbs. Add to the purée and stir until just mixed, adding the remaining milk if the mixture seems dry. Stir in the poppy seeds and grated lemon zest. Spoon the mix into the loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes until well risen and golden.

3. Remove the cake from the tin and cool on a wire rack. Remove the paper and serve cut into slices.

September 12, 2013

Reflexology Case Study…Treatment 1

by lrmetcalfe

Treatment Plan

We started today’s treatment in the usual way, by discussing our last meeting. We reviewed the changes she has made to her diet; Client A has reduced her diet coke intake to 1 glass a day, however she is still not drinking enough water. She has been eating more vegetables and making sure her meals are well-balanced.

We then went through the client’s expectations for today’s treatment and how she was feeling. She wanted to try and relax; today she was particularly agitated due to issues with work. She felt angry and wanted to let off steam.

She also has the beginnings of a cold- a sore throat and is feeling ‘under-the-weather’. She also felt cold.

I made sure she had a blanket, was warm and asked her to put her work phone  on silent and out of her eye-line, so she could have no diversions to relaxation.

The Treatment

I cleansed her feet and used warm-up foot manipulations and breathing techniques to aid initial relaxation. Her feet were very cold, a sign of poor circulation; apart from this the client has very healthy looking feet- a good sign.

During a reflexology treatment, a reflexologist looks for signs which can tell us more about our client. These signs include, dry skin, corns, calluses, a feeling of ‘popping’ when certain reflexes are pressed- all of these can tell a reflexologist about health problems or ‘imbalances’ in certain areas of the body.

I pressed all reflexes and paid particular attention to the reflexes for the adrenal and hypothalamus glands, lymphatic areas, head, solar plexus, face, eyes and sinuses.

When I pressed Client A’s head, shoulder, thyroid and small intestine reflexes, I felt popping. This shows me that there are imbalances in these areas.

After I pressed the client’s reflexes, she said her feet were feeling a little warmer. I then massaged her feet using grapeseed foot butter.


At the end of the treatment the client said she felt much calmer and had forgotten her work troubles.

Changes/ Areas to focus on for the next treatment

At the next treatment I will use a blend of warming oils such as ginger and black pepper to massage the feet, to try and warm the client’s feet and improve circulation.


I have asked the client to try and increase how much water she drinks.

Her multivitamin and mineral supplement should help to support her immune system during her cold, so I’ve told her to ensure she takes this and to try taking a teaspoon of manuka honey to soothe her sore throat.

May 9, 2013

I can’t live without….

by lrmetcalfe

I can’t live without….

OK, I’m going to back a pretty big claim now; this article details the six health products that I cannot live without.  This is my ‘desert island discs’ of health products!

These are the products I always use and recommend more than any others.  Obviously more specific conditions will require a more specific remedy; but if you keep these items in your cupboard, you will have a remedy on hand for the everyday health problems that we can all expect to encounter a some point in our lives.

They are also some of the most underrated products available. Many people get quite addicted to the latest craze in the alternative health world, but the oldest most boring products are usually the most reliable!

Kyolic Garlic

Kyolic Garlic is a very special Garlic supplement. The organic garlic bulb is aged and cold pressed before it is used in the supplement. The aging process eliminates garlic odour and harsh side effects, it also increases its antioxidant properties.

Allicin has been deemed as the compound responsible for the benefits of garlic. It has shown an ability to kill bacteria and fungus in test tubes and topically crushed raw garlic has been used to fight infections. However, allicin is an unstable compound, thus cooking, crushing and processing garlic causes the allicin to be decomposed into other compounds, killing its health benefits. Therefore garlic supplements which focus on their allicin content will have very few if any health benefits.

Kyolic Garlic is a very flexible supplement and can be used:

  • To enhance the immune system- great for colds and flu
  • As a prebiotic to encourage healthy digestion
  • To encourage healthy circulation
  • For fungal conditions and thrush
  • For general health
  • The liquid form can also be used topically for fungal conditions 

Manuka Honey

This special honey is becoming more popular and is starting to be recognised by the medical community. It has anti-bacterial properties, and is now being used in specialised bandages to fight MRSA.

Manuka Honey is more expensive than regular honey, but it needs to be thought of as more of a medicine than something you smother on your toast.

Sourced from New Zealand’s forests, the bees feed off the Manuka plant, laboratory studies have shown that Manuka Honey has an especially remarkable anti-bacterial property, found only in the Leptospermum species. This has been called the Unique Manuka Factor or UMF®. Always look for Manuka Honey which states it’s UMF factor, this is a measure of it’s anti-bacterial strength. The honey is available in various strengths starting from 5+.

The various strengths can be used for different applications,

  • UMF 5+ Manuka Honey- Perfect as a special treat, to encourage health.
  • UMF 10+ Manuka Honey- Provides therapeutic benefits, can be used as a daily supplement, good for sore throats, mouth ulcers, colds and flu.
  • UMF15+ and above- contain the highest levels of anti-bacterial activity and can be used for more specific conditions and symptoms.

Manuka honey can also be used topically and skin products have been developed which contain the honey.

High Strength Multivitamin and Mineral

Never underestimate the importance of a good multivitamin and mineral supplement. Most everyday health conditions can be improved by increasing the levels of vitamins and minerals we are receiving.

Look for a more expensive product, the less appetising the better. Unfortunately most people gravitate to vitamin and mineral supplements which are in the form of a chewable orange flavoured sweet or a drink- remember if it tastes nice it probably has additives and flavours mixed in, leaving less room in your tablet for nutrients, resulting in you receiving a lower potency. As my grandma used to say- the worse the medicine tastes, the better it is for you. This is the same for small tablets and cheap products, they will contain less nutrients- remember you get what you pay for.

A good potency multivitamin and mineral will ensure your body has all the nutrients it needs to function correctly, it will increase your energy levels and support your immune system. This supplement should be taken every day. Also remember to look for a product which is ‘timed release’, this ensures less wastage of the water soluble nutrients, vitamin C and B vitamins.

Fish Oil Supplements

Omega 3, probably one of the most publicized supplements of recent years, but still one of the most underestimated. Fish oils contain Omega 3 fatty acids, which are healthy fats that us Britons do not receive enough of in our diets. Omega 3 is important for heart health, brain health, circulatory health, skin health and a healthy cholesterol level. They have an anti-inflammatory effect, so can be used in arthritis and eczema. Omega 3 is especially important for childhood development, so may be taken during pregnancy and by children to support growth and brain development.

If you do not like taking supplements, try and incorporate more Omega 3 into your diet by eating 3 portions of oily fish a week. Oily fish includes: salmon, tuna, mackerel, trout, sardines, herring, anchovies. Flaxseed/ linseed also contain omega 3, sprinkle a spoon of seeds onto porridge or yogurt or add to your breakfast cereal. Flaxseed oil, is also a great salad dressing when mixed with lemon juice.


Acidophilus or lactobacillus acidophilus, is a ‘friendly bacteria’, you may have heard this phrase as it is used in marketing campaigns for yoghurts and yoghurt drinks. Basically what it means, is that there are various types of bacteria that our bodies contain and can encounter.

Pathogenic bacteria, or ‘bad bacteria’ cause disease, or in high amounts can cause an unhealthy state in the digestive system. ‘Good’, ‘friendly’ or probiotic bacteria have the opposite effect, they create a healthy state in the digestive system.

Obviously we cannot stop ourselves from being exposed to disease causing pathogenic bacteria, however if our digestive system contains high levels of ‘friendly’ bacteria then the ‘bad’ bacteria have less chance of surviving. Acidophilus is one of the many strains of friendly or probiotic bacteria, and is good to take if:

  • you have poor digestive function
  • you suffer from a digestive condition- eg. IBS
  • you suffer from urinary tract infections or thrush
  • you are going on holiday (as you will be encountering bacteria your body is not used to, often the cause of ‘travellers tummy’)
  • you have recently taken antibiotics (antibiotics kill both good and bad bacteria in the body)

A good analogy of probiotic supplements, is to think of them like grass seed. If you have a patch of soil in which you want to grow a lawn, you need to add grass seed (probiotic bacteria), however once the seed has grown, throwing on more grass seed will not help the lawn to grow. This is when you need to add plant food (fruit and vegetables- or prebiotics). Fruit and vegetables have a prebiotic effect, meaning they feed and encourage the growth of probiotics.

Acidophilus does not, therefore need to be taken continually, once you have increased your levels of friendly bacteria, keep them topped up by eating a healthy, balanced diet.

Aloe Vera Gel

A great topical all-rounder, it soothes, moisturises and has an anti-bacterial effect.

Put it on:

  • Dry skin
  • Eczema
  • Spots
  • Heat rash
  • Bites
  • Stings
  • Burns
  • Wounds
  • Boils
  • Fungal infections- athletes foot, ringworm
  • Mix with tea tree oil to make your own anti-bacterial hand gel


So put these 6 products in your cupboard, and they will not let you down!

March 19, 2013

Life’s Big Stresses

by lrmetcalfe

In 1967, psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe created an experiment to determine whether stressful events might cause illnesses. They created a list of 43 stressful life and patients had to score which they would find most stressful, their medical records were studied and a positive correlation was found between their life events and their illnesses.

In the last few months I have experienced several of the events on the list and it got me thinking about the best remedies and lifestyle changes we can make to help us get through these difficult times, to ultimately keep our health in the best possible condition.

There is no escaping stress and in the modern world, many of us feel we are always under pressure and our stresses start to feel overwhelming.  However stress can also be a motivator and it is important to remember many stressful events will eventually have a positive effect on our lives; such as sitting exams, job interviews or your wedding day.

So here are some tips to help you deal with some of those scarier moments in life:

B Vitamins and Vitamin C

The adrenal glands are located above the kidneys, they are critical to the body’s regulation of homeostasis and particularly support energy and circulation during times of stress. The water soluble vitamins- Vitamin C and B Vitamins are essential for the production of adrenal hormones and in times of severe stress can become depleted.

Try taking a high strength B Complex and 1000mg of Vitamin C daily, look for a timed release formula to ensure the nutrients are properly absorbed.

Alternatively a bowl of porridge every morning will give you a good daily hit of B vitamins. To increase your Vitamin C intake, consume more fruit and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower).

Lavender Oil

I never underestimate the power of lavender oil. The most flexible of all the essential oils, it is essential in times of stress! Look for lavender oil in a rollerball bottle, and rub a little on the temples, nape of the neck and wrists, to relieve headaches and restore calm. Add a drop or two to your evening bath and onto your pillow to aid relaxation and sleep.


Eight hours of sleep is essential for your body to function properly, when you are stressed, sleep is even more important. However sleep can become much more elusive when you feel stressed. Many of us lie awake staring at the ceiling and thinking of all the things we need to do. So here are my top tips for those sleepless nights:

  • Don’t eat after 6pm, and don’t drink any caffeinated beverages. No midnight snacks if you can’t sleep!
  • Avoid watching TV, going on a computer or looking at your mobile phone for 2 hours before bedtime. These will all stimulate the brain.
  • Keep a notebook my your bedside table- if you wake up and can’t sleep, terrified you will forget something you need to do tomorrow, just note it down and take it off your mind.
  • If you really can’t sleep, get out of bed, stop tossing and turning. Do something relaxing and non-stimulating in a different room, for instance go downstairs and read a book. Return to bed when you start to feel sleepy.
  • If you feel you need to take a sleeping remedy, avoid tablets. After 6pm the digestive system starts to close down, this means any pills taken late at night will not be digested until the next morning when you have breakfast. Try a liquid formula such as ‘A.Vogel Dormeasan’ which contains the calming herbs- Valerian and Hops.

The importance of a healthy diet

In times of stress a healthy diet is your best weapon. Ensuring you get all the nutrients you need will ensure your immune, digestive and adrenal systems are all in good condition, helping you to cope with the demands you are placing on your body. This is probably the hardest thing to do and many of us just turn to stimulants such as chocolate and coffee to give us energy throughout the day and take-aways at night, as we are too tired to cook.

Make sure you stock up on healthy things to snack on like fruit, yoghurts, nuts and dried fruit and look into quick, easy and healthy meals you can knock up for dinner.


When we exercise we release feel-good hormones called endorphins. Many people who suffer from stress find exercise to be an effective remedy. However it can be difficult to fit exercise in to a hectic schedule; try and do a little bit every day, go for a walk on your lunch break, or do some gentle yoga stretches in the morning, you will soon see and feel the benefits.


Breathing exercises are a fantastic remedy for stress; they can be both energising and relaxing. There are many different breathing techniques you can try. Buy a Yoga dvd or book and it will detail various effect breathing exercises, or you could try this basic one:

Make sure you breathe in and out through your nose. Inhale deeply and slowly, as you do this, try and stick out your tummy, ribcage and chest, breathe out gently and slowly. Try counting whilst you inhale and exhale, you could start off by inhaling for a count of four and exhaling for a count of 8. As you become more practised, try and increase the number you count to.

Breathing exercises are a great relaxation technique however if you suffer from panic attacks or you find your breathing changes when you feel stressed, do not try and breathe deeply. Contrary to popular belief, this can make you feel worse; instead sit down and take steady, short, shallow breaths.

Depression and stress are not to be confused, it is important to speak to your doctor if you are unsure as to exactly what you are suffering from or you are experiencing physical symptoms.