Sensitive to certain foods? You are not alone

(but you can win a recipe book…)

Sensitivity to certain foods has risen in the UK at a shocking rate. It is now estimated that 45% of people are believed to suffer from some sort of food intolerance. For such a massive percentage there is also still quite alot of ignorance around about intolerances. The latest edition of the BBC Good Food magazine mistakenly reported that spelt was gluten free! A serious error as spelt is a strain of wheat and does contain gluten. Interestingly the government are conducting a public consultation which could result in many foods being labelled as ‘gluten-free’ (must not exceed 20mg/kg of gluten) and ‘very low gluten’ (must not exceed 100mg/kg of gluten). You may be interested in offering your thoughts. One of the benefits however is that more companies are producing food which folk with intolerances can eat such as G-Free pies and pastries.

Win a recipe book

I’m always interested in the new foodie experiments that coeliacs come up with. One blog I was following was investigating how much rice flour can replace wheat flour in everyday food (unfortunately I’ve lost the link – if anyone knows which blog I mean please let me know!) So, it’s with some reluctance that I have to part with a book entitled ‘The Best Gluten-Free, Wheat-Free & Dairy-Free Recipes’ by Grace Cheetham, but I know one lucky winner will treasure it. Just for you to sample here’s one of the recipes…

Salmon Fishcakes

Serves 4

500g/1lb 2oz salmon fillets
2 tbsp olive oil
500g/1lb 2oz potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 large eggs, beaten
gram flour, for dusting
polenta or maize flour, for dusting
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Place the salmon in an oven proof dish and drizzle over half of the oil. Cover and bake in the hot oven for 20-25 minutes until cooked through.
2 Meanwhile, put the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Place over a high heat, bring to the boil, then turn the heat down, cover with a lid and leave to simmer for 15-20 minutes until tender. Drain, return to the saucepan and heat gently for 1-2 minutes to dry out. Mash coarsely.
3 Take the salmon out of the oven, remove and discard the skin and any brown meat, and flake with a fork, reserving any juices. Mix together the flaked salmon, mashed potatoes, half the beaten eggs, the reserved cooking juices and some slat and pepper, taking care not to break up the fish too much. With wet hands, shape the salmon mixture into eight balls, then flatten them slightly to form fishcakes.
4 Spread the gram flour out on a plate and the polenta or maize flour out on a second plate. Dip each fishcake into the gram flour to coat it, then into the remaining beaten egg, then finally into the polenta or maize flour until well coated. Place on a clean plate, cover with cling film and leave in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes.
5 Heat the remaining oil in a large, heavy based frying pan over a medium heat. Add half the fishcakes and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side until golden brown. Keep warm while you cook the remaining fishcakes. Serve with vegetables or mixed salad leaves.

The book is full of recipes for breakfasts, lunchtime snacks, teatime treats, family meals, side dishes and decadent deserts. Mmmm, need I say more? If you want to get your hands on this coveted compendium send me an email and I’ll pick the lucky winner out of a hat.

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Goat’s milk. A healthier pint?

When I was young myself, my mum suggested I change my milk to goats milk to help with asthma and eczema. This wasn’t a scientific experiment, so I can’t say categorically, but I think it helped.

Delamere Dairy produce a goat’s milk range; award winning goat’s milk cheeses; yoghurt and butter which are stocked by GoodnessDirect. Goat’s milk is reputedly very good in cosmetics and cooking but, of course, many people use it if they are wanting to avoid casein or cannot digest lactose. Although goat’s milk does contain lactose it has been seen to be easier to digest than that present in cows milk and so is acceptable to some who would otherwise avoid it. Goat’s milk is also high in calcium, low in cholesterol, and in general much easier to digest than cow’s milk, so perhaps it’s not surprising that goat’s milk is more widely used around the world than cow’s milk. Cow’s milk is renowned for creating mucus, but not so goat’s milk. So if you are a catarrh sufferer try it out.

Check out the Delamere links for more info on all things goatish.

Avoid HRT, try out a natural menopause aid

Don’t do it! Not unless you absolutely feel cornered and desperate.

HRT, hormone replacement therapy has been seen to increase your risk of developing various serious health conditions by huge percentages. The US Women’s Health Initiative did a study which published the following results for increased risk through taking a hormone replacement therapy during the menopause:

Coronary heart disease-related events 29%
Stroke, 41%
Deep vein thromobosis, 200%
Blood clot in lungs, over 200%
Invasive breast cancer 24%
All cancers among previous HRT users 86%
Ovarian cancer 38%
Lung cancer 60%.

These are results not to be sniffed at. Having just crawled my way through the menopause I would emphatically like to say to you all, try the natural products first. They are milder, but HRT, as these statistics show,  is simply not worth the risk except as a last resort.

What is the Menopause?

Menopause means – the last menstrual period and can take place from the age of 45 onwards. The average for the menopause is around 51, but thankfully we are all different. Different in the way the menopause affects us and different in how we choose to manage our menopause symptoms. Typical symptoms include hot flushes, mood swings, vaginal dryness, night sweats plus loss of concentration. In addition to this, the menopause increases our risk of heart disease and osteoporosis.

Natural and complimentary helps

All of us need a little extra support and understanding during these years, and many of us need a little extra help in the form of medication. Let’s take a look at the natural remedies and complementary therapies available.  Some help in a preventative way, some help to relax, some are renowned for calming hot flushes or vaginal dryness and others just great for all round health in the menopause years. As a basic foundation a good quality multivitamin and mineral supplement would be a good idea at this time especially Vitamin E and C and Vitamin B complex.

Let’s take a look at the more specific natural alternatives:
Black Cohosh – a herbal preperation from the herb Actaea racemosa of the buttercup family, good at driving away insects and the preparation is thought to help keep at bay hot flushes, help reduce insomnia, depression and night sweats. Being a herbal remedy, black cohosh is mild and while it does help some with some of these symptoms, it does not help everyone.  My conclusion is that it is well worth a try before heading down the HRT path.  The trials that have been done on Black Cohosh tried it for 2 months taking 20mg twice a day.

Sea Buckthorn Oil – An oil from the sea buckthorn plant ( a Himalayan shrub) which is rich in essential fatty acids including omega 7 which is extremely effective in maintaining the health of the mucous membranes of our bodies including the vaginal tract. This little capsule should  help with vaginal dryness – that very embarrassing and little mentioned symptom of the menopause.

Soya Isoflavones –  Isoflavones are antioxidants that also act as phytoestrogens and are know to help fight against certain types of breast cancer.  Soya beans are rich in these isoflavones. However is not with breast cancer that we are primarily concerned in this article.  On the run up to the menopause(the perimenopause)  the ovaries lose the ability to produce estrogen and progesterone. The diminishing production of estrogen can be central to mood fluctuation, irritability as well as diminishing bone density. By supplementing with isoflavones, the natural hormone replacement,  these symptoms may be eased. Again, not strong enough for all women but well worth a try as there are many positive trial results that give isoflvones from soy or red clover its name of the natural HRT hormone.

I scraped through the menopause the natural way, and now reading the HRT statistics, I am very grateful that they are there to try.  Even if they are not everyones cup of tea, they are cerainly mine.