How would you define a Braw bar? Do you know what braw means?

My first thought when I picked up a Braw bar was, ‘What is it?’

Further inspection revealed it as a new fangled wholefood bar made with fruits and gluten free oats.

Braw Raw Food Bar

But why ‘Braw’?

Because the name Braw reflects the bar’s great originality, being an unusual word itself?

Or perhaps because it’s an all natural Raw snack bar Bursting with fruit and oats?

Or maybe, because the Braw bars are low GI, high in fibre and one of your five-a-day, they’re just the type of thing your need to keep you looking young and braw-ny?

Well, it turns out Braw bars are made in Scotland and braw is a Scots word for ‘very good’. It gets used to mean healthy, good looking and excellent, and the guys behind the Braw bars are a health conscious company with a mission to help people eat guilt free any time, anywhere.

So when you eat good, you look good and feel excellent. Hence ‘braw’.

Instead of eating sugar filled, processed treats, here’s something made with 100% natural ingredients, with slow-release energy and all the healthy enzymes of unheated food.

Enjoy them in strawberry flavour or blackcurrant, cocoa orange or apple and pear.


Finding the Vitamin C Sweet Spot

Interesting findings on vitamin C as reported by Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD

Some research points to possible health benefits of taking vitamin C in amounts well above the recommended dietary allowance (RDA), while other studies do not. Further complicating the matter is that the thousands of vitamin C studies vary greatly in quality. A group of experts has addressed many of these issues in a comprehensive review of decades of vitamin C research. They have concluded that there is a vitamin C sweet spot—a level of intake that maximises health benefits, while minimising risks of getting too much.

“C-ing” the big picture

Three noted vitamin C experts from the US, France, and Denmark combed through hundreds of research papers on vitamin C. They considered many factors, including how the body metabolises, or “processes,” vitamin C, the health dangers of not getting enough, and the downsides of getting too much.

The group looked at randomised controlled trials, long considered the gold standard of high quality research; ecological comparisons, in which nutrient and food intakes and disease rates are compared across different countries; and observational studies, often referred to as epidemiologic research.

Important points to emerge from this review include that:

  • The minimum: The RDA for vitamin C is set to prevent scurvy, a vitamin C–deficiency disease. The daily intake of vitamin C required to prevent scurvy appears to be significantly lower than the amount needed to maximise health and minimise chronic disease risk.
  • The maximum: Blood levels of vitamin C begin to level off for most people around an intake of 200 mg of vitamin C daily from all sources, and consuming more than 200 mg did not significantly increase blood levels. Excess vitamin C intake appears to not be used by the body and is excreted.
  • Safety considerations: At intakes of 200 mg of vitamin C daily, no safety issues have been noted. At intakes up to 3,000 mg daily, toxicity assessments show no evidence of harm for nearly all adults. For people at risk of harm from excess vitamin C, such as those with the blood disorders haemochromatosis and thalassemia, or kidney stones, 200 mg per day appears to be safe.
  • The sweet spot: Most health agencies set a safe upper limit for vitamin C of 1,000 to 2,000 mg per day—5- to 10-fold higher than the 200 mg per day suggested by the authors as optimum. Eating five to nine servings of vegetables and fruit daily can meet the 200 mg vitamin C goal.

Finding your C sweet spot

The RDA for vitamin C is set at 90 mg per day for men and 75 mg per day for women, however, the vitamin C experts lay out a compelling argument for raising this level to 200 mg per day for all adults. Also keep in mind that there are certain situations in which even higher doses of vitamin C may be appropriate. Your doctor or dietitian can help you determine if this applies to you, but our tips can help you get more C into your daily diet:

  • Aim high. Five to nine servings of fresh and lightly cooked vegetables and fruit daily will help you get more vitamin C.
  • Get steamy. Steam your vegetables to best preserve vitamin C. Frying, boiling, or saucepan-cooking destroy more of the nutrient.
  • See citrus. A small glass (6 ounces) of orange or grapefruit juice daily, or an orange with lunch, will up your C quotient. Squeeze lemon or lime into water and tea too. Leave in the pulp for some fibre.
  • Supplement with savvy. If you suspect you’re not getting enough vitamin C, consider a dietary supplement to bring your intake up to 200 mg per day.

(Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr; 52:815–29)

Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD, an author, speaker, and internationally recognised expert in chronic disease prevention, epidemiology, and nutrition, has taught medical, nursing, public health, and alternative medicine coursework. She has delivered over 150 invited lectures to health professionals and consumers and is the creator of a nutrition website acclaimed by the New York Times and Time magazine. Suzanne received her training in epidemiology and nutrition at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health at Ann Arbor.

Healthy pizza – is it possible?

Healthy pizza is finally here
Healthy pizza is finally here!

If you are living, breathing member of the human race…

You are also likely to love pizza.

But, if you are a conscientious type of person, you may also be concerned all that white flour dough, oil and cheese  which can’t be so good for you.

So Whole Creations have gone and made the whole thing healthy for you.

If you want a full, delicious tasting pizza here it is. It comes with a nutritious thin wholemeal base made from 100% wholegrain and lots of vegetables on top to count towards your five a day – at least 2 or 3 on every pizza.

It’s low GI (the best way of losing weight) and makes a good source of protein with just the right amount of cheese. Best of all, it’s vegetarian and the taste is unique.

Choose from Roasted Vegetable, Cherry Tomato and Mozzarella, Mixed Pepper and Goats Cheese or Spinach, Ricotta and Tomato.

Healthy treats kids will find it hard to say no to

There’s definitely a rising trend in healthy snacks at the moment.

The latest innovation from Fruit Bowl are ‘Peelers’ – similar to cheese strings but made with fruit and guaranteed to appeal to children.

Fun peel-able strips of fruit
Fun peel-able strips of fruit

What will appeal to the parents is that they are made 100% from fruit – with nothing artificial added – an enjoyable option for your five-a-day. They are simply a combination of fruit purees with fruit juices, and absolutely no dodgy ingredients used – it’s all just fruit, in orange, strawberry and blackcurrant flavours – that makes them gluten free too.

Another of Fruit Bowl’s ideas are Fruit Softies, which are chewable lozenges of fruit in tropical or berry mix flavours. Again there’s nothing artificial just a concentrated fruit bursts that can fit in a child’s hand.


How to eat more than 12 portions of fruit and veg a day

Forget five, now it’s eight portions of fruit and veg a day…

reports the tabloid.

Really? I’d heard it was more like 11 portions…. It actually depends on your age, sex and exercise (this US website gives an idea), but now that everyone has realised that ‘five-a-day’ was a marketing ploy, the truth is that people often need somewhere between eight to eleven portions of fruit and veg a day.

You can see why advertisers picked ‘five’ – it’s far less scary.

How can I include 11 or more portions of fruit or veg in a daily diet?

Fruit boxes delivered by GoodnessDirect
Fruit boxes delivered by GoodnessDirect

Before I pass on some tips I’m still working out myself, bear in mind that eight portions of fresh fruit or organic veg each day can decrease chances of disease by over 20%. That’s massive!

They say that even if everyone in the UK ate just five-a-day, it would mean 15,000 less deaths from heart disease each year.

So what do I do? Below is my ideal workday diet – try writing yours out and sharing it with someone. It helps you think through what you need to do to get more fruit or veg. I know it’s not perfect (cakes and chocolate have been edited out) but it’s a step in the right direction…

08:30 I grab an apple for a small breakfast… (a daily no-added-sugar fruit juice would help here.)
10:00 Then I have a banana for a mid morning snack.
12:30 By lunchtime I’m craving carbs so I begin on my sandwiches (I prefer them with salad in them), but I like to extend my lunch with tomatoes or another soft fruit.
15:00 Ideally in the afternoon, I like dried fruit, fruit snacks or apple crisps to calm my blood sugar but I don’t always have these available.
17:00 If I’m sensible I’ve saved a favourite fruit for the journey home, a kiwi or plum. By now, if I don’t have fruits I love nearby then I’m stealing left-overs from the fridge when I get home – prunes are a winner. (It’s normally an hour till dinner so it has to be something nice – maybe I should introduce smoothies or vegetable juices?)
18:30 For dinner I actually like lots of vegetables, as long as they’re tasty. I’m quite happy to go with a little or no meat at all. Ideally I’d have a couple of types of greens, another more colourful vegetable, and beans or pulses.
18:50 Confession time – we eat a lot of puddings in my house, I try to avoid them, but regularly fail with fruit crumble – thankfully it still counts here! Sometimes I will eat fruit for dessert but I prefer a yoghurt. (I was under the illusion that a fruit yoghurt counted – unfortunately it depends on the amount of fruit in it, but I can always top them up with a sliced apple.)
22:00 By supper I’m hungry again. And yet again, if there isn’t lots of good fruit around I start nosing in the fridge, but personally I like a nice sweet pear.

So on a good day, that would make twelve or more portions of fruit or veg! But I usually fail, either because someone else is cooking or because a flatmate has done the shopping that week (we share out a lot of the tasks) it means I’ve got to ensure I buy what works for me, and shows how important it is to think it through.

It really helps to have fruit you enjoy nearby. Getting a regular fruit and veg box helps a lot, and with GoodnessDirect boxes you can specify if there’s something you don’t like (such as oranges – yuck). Or, if you live near a grocers, like my friend does, then you can always get lots of end of day bargains.

The important thing to remember is that you have to pay attention to other things that you are eating as well. Too much junk food will undo the good work you achieve – so perhaps it’s got to be one pudding a week for me?