March Seasonal Foods

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Now March is here we are starting to notice the mornings becoming lighter and the evenings a little shorter. The worst of winter has passed and Spring time has arrived.

March Foods

The season for such produce like oranges, lemons, passion fruit and leeks is coming to an end. As it is for mussels and oysters. However, produce such as salmon, turkey and rabbit are plentiful. In terms of fruit and veg keep an eye out for kiwis, Rhubarb and peppers -which are just coming into season now. Cauliflower, purple sprouting broccoli, spinach and spring onions are also delicious right now.


Focus on Rhubarb…

Rhubarb is very interesting.

It provides good sources of fibre and phytonutrients and antioxidants, that are still quite resilient after cooking. It contains good sources of vitamins A, C and K.  It also contains Oxalic Acid which folks with gout, inflammation or kidney issues must take care to limit.


This hardy plant is well known for not needing too much care, however it’s health benefits are only recently coming to the fore. It is useful in extract form for women who get hot flashes during menopause. It was found to reduce them without being an oestrogen source.

Another lesser known use was published in the Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine, which was its benefits as a weight loss aid when drinking its juice.

Most exciting of all is its recent discovery by scientists to have an inhibitory effect on cancer cells. A compound called Parietin, found in rhubarb fights an enzyme called 6PGD that drives cancer. Although early days yet, scientists are excited about the prospects here.

Big Thank You to Chef Kerry for sharing one of her Health Camp recipes.



Feeling it in my Bones…

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How Nutrition can impact on Bone health and what you can do about it.

IMG_1680Bones are fibres that are composed of minerals such as Calcium and Phosphorus. They can support large weights without breaking or bending or crushing. Although you are born with soft bones, through ossification they continually harden until they age of 25. After this age though, you begin to lose bone mass by approx 1% a year. Approx 10% of your bone is replaced each year. So a good foundation in terms of bone is vital for future bone health. When Menopause occurs there is a phase where women lose bone at a faster rate than what it is reabsorbed resulting in thinning. So having this strong foundation lowers the risk of Osteoporosis. As we age more bone cells die than are replaced leading to thinning – this is natural but some people are at a higher risk of Osteoporosis than others. Women for example have a higher risk due to menopause causing a lessening in bone protective Oestrogen.

Bones and Diet.
Caffeine can affect bone mass by increasing Calcium loss from the kidneys, but also fizzy drinks can have a double whammy due to Phosphoric Acid in Cola being linked to lowering of bone density.
Too much Alcohol can deplete minerals and also affects how Calcium is absorbed.
Too much salt also increases the Calcium lost in the urine. Finally, being overweight adds extra pressure to your bones too and increases risk of Arthritis.
As mentioned Calcium – found readily in dairy and dark green leafy veg as well as dried fruit and rhubarb, oranges and melons- is a main player in terms of bone health but Phosphorus is also an important nutrient that has an impact (see Phosphoric Acid) . Vitamin D works synergistically in terms of aiding bone health and is found in meat, eggs, oily fish, milk and fortified cereals. Potassium and Magnesium influence bone health and can be found in Bananas and Apricots and whole grains, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes respectively.
A well balanced diet full of whole foods and less refined products will help you on your way to maintaining good bone health as you age. Adding in some regular weight bearing exercise and healthy lifestyle choices such as swapping water for fuzzy drinks will ensure you protect those bones from thinning too much.


Fads, food, fasting and expensive urine…

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One thing that annoys me as a Nutritionist is the prevalence of faddy diets- in particular the liquid meal replacement or fasting/cleansing ones. You know the ones, where you drop your calorie intake to a ridiculously low level which is barely enough to keep your metabolic functions going. Ones where you drink shakes instead of meals and because they are so fantastic and filling you end up having to supplement with sugar pills to keep you from lapsing into a hypoglycaemic- induced rage and chewing your own arm off…

Others profess to being healthful and even more nutritious than eating a balanced diet and are so good that they even do away with the need to get your nutrients solely from food and have these drinks instead. I personally thought that was what multivitamins were for and they seem quite a bit less expensive. You can now drink your fruit and veg in the form of powder- freeze dried fruit and veg so you don’t have to juice, squeeze or blend to drink them. You can have added protein (usually from Soy –don’t get me started!) to make it a complete meal. On one of the sites you are still encouraged to eat plenty fruit and veg and snacks each day, so why not just eat more fruit and veg in your daily eating habits then and address the problem at its root? If you struggle to get your 5, 7 or 10 a day buy a multivitamin –it’s a lot cheaper than these drinks but nothing beats the nutrients from foods in their natural form.

We need to encourage people to eat more fruit and veg- that is a given, but how about we show and encourage people with how to cook them, how to prepare them and how to enjoy the health benefits they give us as part of a balanced diet.

We have teeth to chew with, we don’t need to be on liquid diets like we are on some sort of drip feeding. We have sophisticated digestive systems where the digestive process begins from the moment your mouth starts to water. Although I haven’t ever salivated at the thought of a meal replacement shake! When your mouth waters digestive enzymes are secreted and the process of digesting carbohydrates begins. Fruit and veg are complex carbs by the way at least in their natural whole form. When you drink them to be able to do so, you have to remove the fibre and pulp and turn them into simple carbohydrates.- the type of carbohydrates we are told to moderate due to the effects on blood sugar levels (which is why people are encouraged to eat oranges rather than drink orange juice etc.).

But these meal replacement shakes have Protein making them a complete meal” and “it makes weight loss so easy” I hear you say! – Then cook a bloody meal instead. Eat more fruit and veg and take a multivitamin if you need, get plenty of exercise and clean up your eating but don’t do this temporary, disingenuous fix for weight loss. This is a temporary fix because no-one can do this indefinitely. Very low calorie diets like this damage your body and your metabolism in the long term. Your body adapts to the lower calorie regime anyways but because it is so hard to eat like this for very long, most people have gone back to eating normally and assume they would have kept losing weight at that rate had they continued. If you don’t believe me then there are a wealth of other qualified professionals out there in agreement.

Let’s go back to the liquid weight loss diets for second, go onto any of their web sites and you will see that these plans also offer supplements to go along with the “meals” (the cost is starting to rack up now isn’t it?) These supplements you end up buying because you have already purchased your months’ supply of liquid meals and you so desperately want to lose weight and you want to lose it quickly. You have spent your hard earned cash on a months’ worth of liquid meals and you need results. These supplements have wonderful ingredients to help your efforts along. Ingredients such as Glucomannan. Glucomannan I have previously written about . Basically it is a fibre from the Konjac root that expands in the stomach with liquid to make you feel full and help you go to the toilet too. Fibre- the thing you remove when you drink your calories instead of eating them. These meals are so filling and wonderful you need a Fibre supplement to quell your angry, growling stomach and to not spend all your day straining on the toilet.

Another ingredient Green Tea Extract. Now green tea is undoubtedly full of antioxidants and is a delicious, refreshing caffeinated drink. Yup it’s a caffeine source and green tea extract is used in many supplements to boost metabolism. Remember how I had previously said low calorie diets can ruin your metabolism? Well that’s why you’re going to need the green tea supplement. You could boost your metabolism the old fashioned and longer lasting way. You could get active and build some muscle tone. But I suspect after a week of living off shakes instead of meals I doubt you could lift your head off a pillow, far less lift a dumbbell.

Don’t get me wrong I’m all for healthy lifestyle choices, being active and eating well. I’m also aware in this country we need to dramatically increase our intake of fruit and veg and make it affordable and easy to source for all. But I don’t think encouraging people to drink them addresses the fundamental issue of lifestyle change. It’s a change that needs to begin in the home and in schools. These shakes are a sticking plaster approach. Let’s keep it simple Eat more Fruit and Veg! Your urine will be less expensive too. Learning to eat properly in a balanced, consistent way will benefit your body and mind far longer than any quick fixes will.

Losing weight through a liquid meal plan will generate weight loss if you stick it but so will excluding anything in your diet that amounts to say 1000 calories a day – and you could still take a multi vitamin. But does this way teach you how to eat in a balanced way, does it address why you put on the weight in the first place? No it doesn’t because if it did they would only ever have 1 time customers. It doesn’t profit them if you learn for yourself how to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Yes you may get titbits of info on their sites but they want you to keep coming back to them-especially as they have taught you how to ruin your metabolism.

I want my children to be able to and to want to get the nutrients they need from a wide variety of whole foods- not mass produced, artificially sweetened, pre-packaged, processed drinks. We need to remember food can be enjoyable delicious and nutritious and not to see it as something we should have to drink because we can’t be trusted to learn how to eat properly for ourselves.

Karen Ross Nutritionist BSYA (Dip), Dip (Nutri), AHCP REg, Hyno Dip (HPD).

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Review: Miracle Noodles

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healthy noodles

Konnyaku NoodlesYou may be forgiven for thinking that this is a bowl of squid to look at. But it is in fact the latest Japanese food import, which could change the goal posts for your weight loss goals…

These strange looking noodles are Konnyaku noodles produced from the root of the Konjac plant. They are a source of Glucomannan – which is available as a supplement, Konnyaku or Shirataki noodles. Glucomannan works by absorbing water in the stomach and intestines and turning into bulky fibre. The fibre swells massively and stretches the nerves in the stomach signalling that you are full and no longer hungry. This can help curb an excessive appetite and is a useful weight loss aid.

Konnyaku is popular in Japan traditionally and it is renowned for its cleansing effect on the intestine as well as being a useful Cholesterol lowering agent. Its high fibre content also makes it a tool for controlling blood sugar levels and indeed may benefit some people who have Diabetes (check with a GP before introducing any new supplement or supplemental food).

The noodles are Gluten Free, Very low Carbohydrate as well as Zero calories, Norwegian studies conducted at the University of Tromso found that people who supplemented with Glucomannan* lost nearly twice as much weight as well as a sizeable decrease in hunger hormones than those who did not. Please note that due to the fibre density, plenty of fluids must be consumed.

Kannyuko NoodlesThe noodles themselves are flavourless and must be rinsed prior to usage due to an unusual smell in the water packaging (this does disappear upon rinsing and cooking). The noodles take strong flavours well, I added mine to a chicken, and chilli and pesto stir fry. The packet contains two servings, however I found just a couple of tablespoons more than enough to satiate me – even after a work out! They were tasteless with a texture like cold pasta but not offensive at all and a little goes a long way.

Miracle NoodlesThey are still relatively new to the UK and not common on the super market shelves, however they are massive in Asian cuisine and hold the flavours well. This could well be a new secret weapon in curbing a large appetite and when used sensibly, a great agent to support your weight loss goals (as part of a healthy diet and with regular exercise) – Get your Miracle Noodles here before anyone else…

Contact Denise @ My Wiked Little Eco Shop on Facebook or visit her Page:

Review by Karen Ross from Ross Holistic Nutrition.

*Experiences with tree different fiber supplements in weight reduction.

Birketvedt GS, et al. Med Sci Monit 2005

Med Sci Monit. 2005 Jan;11(1):P15-8.


Food for Thought-Chia seeds….

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chia seeds

Some of you may or may not have heard of Chia Seeds. They have really stepped into the spotlight in recent years as a superfood, but do these seeds really live up to the hype? Let’s take a closer look…

Nutritional Profile…

Chia is a source of Protein and Fibre. They contain roughly 1/3 of your recommended daily fibre intake. Along with being a protein source that is low in saturated fats, they are a source of an important Essential Fatty Acids– Omega 3 which in modern diets is often out of balance with Omega 6. Omega 3 helps reduce inflammation, improves nervous system function and aids in joint and bone and muscle function.

They are also a Calcium source which like protein, trying to source this mineral can lead to an increase in saturated fat consumption, so Chia is a handy way to boost intake whilst still keeping saturated fat levels in check.

They are also sources of Manganese and Phosphorus and including nutrient dense foods such as this, can help keep food cravings under control as nutrient deficiencies can manifest as food cravings.

Why include this in my diet…

Well, Chia absorbs a lot of water, when exposed to water the seed forms a gel-like barrier which tricks the body into feeling more satiated. This means you can use it to control hunger pangs and in turn a useful tool for weight control.

They are also an insoluble fibre source which is great for digestion and as they are digested slowly can help stabilise blood sugar levels. This has led to some promising research into using Chia to benefit those with Diabetes. Other studies have shown they may help lower LDL and Triglyceride Cholesterol levels. This is quite a punch for a humble little seed. Sprinkle on salads, porridge or add to smoothies or even make a pudding with them. They can easily be incorporated into your diet. So why not give them a try?

Head on over to My Wiked Little Eco Shop here to source some quality Chia :


Eco Friendly Products by Wikaniko

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Wikaniko Environmentally Friendly ProductsRoss Holistic Nutrition is proud to promote Wikaniko – suppliers of environmentally products.  We are planning on posting reviews of their products on the website regularly so if you have any favourites or would like to try some of their products please contact me.  For more information on Wikaniko visit their online shop.


Temple Fight Gear

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Ross Holistic Nutrition would like to extend its Thanks to Andy and Ben @ Temple Fight Gear for all the goodies sent up.
Pleased to be in association with them and recommend that people check them out on their Web page or on Facebook.  If you have any trouble finding them I will happily direct you their way…
Special Thank you also to Jo Scott for allowing some of these pics to be used.

April Seasonal Foods

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april1Bananas, Kiwi fruit.

Asparagus, broccoli, jersey royals, kale, lettuce, radishes, rocket, rosemary, spinach, spring onions, watercress, wild garlic.

Cockles, crab, cod, John Dory, salmon, sea bass, sea trout, spring lamb.

Focus on Watercress….

watercressWatercress is an especially nutritious salad leaf that is packed with beneficial vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.   It is a fast growing, semi aquatic plant which is now more widely available in the UK due to an increase in its cultivation. Many say it has a peppery taste and indeed it belongs to the same family as radish, cress, wasabi and mustard.

It is high in Iron, Calcium, Iodine, Manganese and Folic Acid. In terms of vitamins it is a source of Vitamin A, B6, K and notably Vitamin C- it was once a suggested scurvy remedy.

Perhaps less well known is it is also a great Omega 3 EFA source too!

It is claimed to be a great antioxidant source, diuretic, digestive aid and expectorant.

There are also early indications that it may be useful in particular, against Lung cancer.   The source of these claims are due to Watercress containing PEITC- Phenethyl Isothiocyante which can inhibit Angiogenesis.

It certainly packs a punch and is worth incorporating in your salad…

Here’s a quick and easy Green Smoothie which is high in Vitamin C. Kiwis contain more Vitamin C than Oranges and are also in season at the moment.

Easy Vit C Green Smoothie…

25 ml Fresh orange juice- (not from Concentrate and especially not a juice drink!!)

greensmoothie2 Kiwis  – Peeled, chopped

50g Watercress

Squeeze of Lime

Handful of Fresh Mint   – Optional

Throw it all together in the blender and blast for a few minutes until smooth. If you want to make it more filling and low G.I the addition of Oats, Chia seeds or Linseed may be added.

Enjoy x



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Thought I would share this picture taken at the Food bank in Elgin. We dropped off a donation to them as here at Ross Holistic we believe people should be entitled to access to healthy food. Not only is it necessary for health but also to make sure people are productive members of society which benefits everyone as a whole.

food bank moray

It can be hard for everyone to make sure they are able to eat well. From the single person struggling on a low income, to the disabled or elderly, to those on benefits and also working families too. How can we expect our children to learn effectively at school when they don’t have the right fuel to keep them going?

Of course with rising living costs this is not always achievable and this is where the important work done by the good people at Community Food Moray comes in. We had the pleasure of meeting with Andy Walker who showed us around and explained exactly what they do there. I would encourage anyone who has any spare cans of food or a few pence to spend on one to donate. The Food bank is on the High St in Elgin, Morayshire.

In the meantime, Ross Holistic Nutrition is happy to help and come up with ideas for eating healthily on a budget and I also know Chef Kerry from Sfear Kickboxing Health and Fitness Centre has plenty of low cost recipe ideas to contribute too.

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