Making Sundays Special

roast pork on the Diabetes Diet
Roast pork – eat this to make your Sunday special… (recipe Ministry of Food, Jamie Oliver).

New Year’s resolutions? Pah! One, you can makes changes any time you want, and two, most of us see them as miserable—the lose weight, take up punitive exercise regimes kind. In this part of the world, January is a challenging month. The weather’s dreich, the nights are long and the pennies few and far between. Who wants to add starvation and exhaustion to the mix?

One resolution I do intend to stick to is my campaign to Make Sundays Special again. Years ago, my husband and I used to make a point of doing something on Sundays. He works most Saturdays, so the Sundays were the one day a week we could visit castles, go to Edinburgh, take the motorbike out for a spin, bike to Balloch, drink too much and cycle back via the main road while piddled*. Last year, we fell into the habit of doing nothing. He’d be downstairs catching up on Colombo (why, why, why?), and I’d hide away upstairs working or writing. We added doing the supermarket shopping to a Sunday. As I love food, I don’t mind the supermarket shop but does it belong on a precious day off? I think not.

Cut the screen time

In 2019, I’ve vowed to spend less time in front of a screen. I’m there for work and as a hobby, and I dread to think how many hours I spend hunched over my laptop. On the plus side, I use a standing desk so it’s not as sedentary as it could be. On the other hand, it’s still not healthy. Time to reinstate the Sunday activities, such as:

Ben Lomond

I have Ben Lomond in my sights. Hill climbing is one of the best activities you can do in Scotland. The Munro is right on my doorstep, and the shame is I’ve yet to climb it.

Three Lochs Walk

I’d also like to walk from Balloch to Helensburgh with Sandy. I’ve done it a couple of times with my friends, and it’s a fabulous walk because of the views you get of Loch Lomond.

Linlithgow Palace

We’re members of Historic Scotland and we’ve yet to visit Linlithgow Palace so a train trip there and a pub lunch is in order.

Uni tour

The University of Glasgow offers walking tours. As I work there, it will be fascinating to find out more about this iconic Glasgow building. Another tour that has always piqued my interest is the one you can do of Glasgow Central station. If I book now, we might get there in the summer. (It’s terrifically popular.)

Sunday roast

Roast pork, the before version.

Finally, it’s nice to include special meals in your Sunday plans. As a child, I didn’t like the Sunday roast—probably because it meant sitting at the table waiting for adults to finish so we children could be excused, and I have memories of thick slabs of meat and nasty bits of under-cooked fat. These days, I’m a fully paid up member of the Sunday roast forever club. While the meat is nice, the best bits are the accompaniments – home-made gravy with a decent amount of wine thrown in, roasted parsnips and carrots, crackling if you’re making pork (or just make it as a side dish anyway) and one roast potato as a treat.

Bring on the special Sundays!

What’s your idea of a treat on a Sunday? Is cutting back your time online part of your plans for 2019, and if so what do you intend to do instead?

*Don’t do this at home, folks!

Vegetable oil ingestion not so sunny after all

Adapted from BMJ 9 Feb 13 Use of dietary linoleic acid for secondary prevention  of coronary heart disease and death: evaluation of recovered data from the Sydney Diet Heart Study and updated meta-analysis. Christopher E Ramsden et al

Despite lack of evidence to the contrary I still see NHS dieticians telling patients to avoid naturally occurring saturated fat such as butter, cream and the fat in animal meats. This study didn’t get much publicity at the time so here it is again.

The question was, does increasing dietary omega 6 linoleic acid in the place of saturated fat reduce the risk of death from coronary heart disease?

What happened was that in the Sydney Diet Heart Study, a RCT done between 1966 and 1973, saturated fat (thought to produce heart attacks) was replaced by omega 6 fatty acids from Safflower oil ( vegetable oil and margarines, thought to be heart healthy). Although the blood cholesterol levels decreased in the intervention group, deaths from all causes, coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease, all increased.

The subjects were all men aged 30-59 who had had a recent heart attack.  As an example, all cause mortality was 17.2% in the intervention group compared to 11.8% in the control group. Results for cardiovascular disease were similar.

It is mystifying that dietary advice telling people to swap lard for vegetable oils and butter for margarine is still going on. Very telling is that date that this study was done. The results would have been out by 1975.

Low Carb Lamb Curry

lamb curry spices on the Diabetes DietWant to add another lamb curry to your low-carb repertoire? You’re in the right place. Lamb lends itself to all kinds of spices such as cinnamon, cumin and chillies, and it makes a rich, comforting dish perfect for ‘dreich’ days such as the one I’m writing this on—rain, gusty winds and dark before 4pm.

Serve it with cauliflower rice or just eat in a bowl with a spoon. I like spicy food, so I leave the seeds in chillies and add a generous amount of chilli flakes. If you prefer a softer flavour, remove the seeds and hold back on the chilli flakes.

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 500g lamb mince
  • 1tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 3 onions, chopped finely
  • 2 green chillies, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2tsp grated ginger
  • 100ml Greek yoghurt
  • 2tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp mild curry powder
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1tsp chilli flakes

Dry fry the cumin seeds in a small sauce pan for a few minutes and then pound to a powder in a pestle and mortar.

Heat the oil in large saucepan or frying pan, and add the onions. Fry for a five minutes until softened, and add the lamb, chillies, chilli flakes, garlic, turmeric, cinnamon sticks and ginger. Cook, stirring and breaking up the clumps with a wooden spoon for five minutes until the mince is browned. Add the yoghurt and tomato puree and bring to a simmer. Cook for ten minutes until the sauce has thickened. Add salt to taste.

15g carbs per portion

Vitamin B12 and Diabetes

vitamin B12 bottle on the Diabetes Diet
Vitamin B12 Gummies by icethim on flickr. Reproduced thanks to Creative Commons 2.0

In the news this week was an article about Vitamin B12 and its deficiency in those with type 2 diabetes*.

A new study by Nottingham researchers has shown that most people (64 percent of those assessed) people taking metformin (for type 2) were not being routinely tested for levels of vitamin B12 in their bodies. The assessment is needed to check for signs of nerve damage, a painful side effect of diabetes. Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin the body requires to work properly.

The study’s author, Dr Kaenat Mulla from Hucknall Road Medical Centre said: “Current British Society of Haematology guidelines recommend that vitamin B12 levels are checked only when there is clinical suspicion of deficiency. However, peripheral neuropathy is irreversible and it may be too late once symptoms have developed.”

In an article on diabetes.co.uk, she stressed her warning wasn’t intended to discourage people from taking metformin, but she wanted to encourage doctors to monitor vitamin B12 routinely so deficiencies are picked up quickly and can be treated.

Before you all rush to Holland & Barrett to stock up, there are plenty of food sources that are rich in Vitamin B12. And funnily enough, we have a few recipes that feature them… Here’s what you might want to consider.

Liver and kidneys

Animal organ meats are a good source of the vitamin. A lot of people find the taste too strong—and I for one am never going to eat kidneys as their function puts me off—but chicken liver is more delicate than lamb’s for example, and might be more palatable.

Sardines

Sardines are another source and they are one of the few fish where Omega 3 levels survive the canning process. They are also cheap as chips and packed full of calcium as again the canning process softens the bones enough for you to eat them (and not notice you’re doing so).

Tuna, trout and salmon

More fish products that are super high in vitamin B12. You can find recipes on our site for salmon here and here, and trout here. I prefer trout to salmon as I find the flavour more delicate and it’s a heck of a lot cheaper too.

Dairy products

Milk, plain yoghurt and cheese have decent levels of the vitamin. Make a delicious sweet treat using Greek yoghurt, two teaspoons of good cocoa powder and a tablespoon of granulated sweetener and you’ve got a calcium, protein and magnesium packed pudding. And as for cheese, is there anyone out there who doesn’t love, adore like it? Hard, soft, strong, mild blue or from the cow, goat or sheep, there’s one that suits all. Want to make the most of it? Try our cauliflower cheese, broccoli and Stilton soup or our aubergine and pepper parmigiana.

For more information on vitamin B12 levels in food, check out healthline.com

*Please note—this article doesn’t constitute medical advice.

Slow Cooker Low-Carb Beef Pot Roast

slow cooker pot roast beef recipe by Emma Baird of the Diabetes DietSeasonal eating is valuable, I know but here’s a confession… I don’t mind eating soup and stew all year round, even though the dishes are usually associated with autumn and winter.

Can you blame me? Imagine meat and vegetables soaked in lusciously thick and flavoursome sauces, or onions, carrots and celery melded together and used as the basis for the best soup in the world. [Cauliflower cheese soup, since you ask.]

That said, it’s now the tail end of autumn in the UK and I’m digging into beef stews a-plenty. The miracle of carrots and beef is a flavour combination you can’t beat. Cut those carrots in big chunks, nestle them in your stew and leave to bubble away for hours. I could almost fish them out and eat them as a soup with the juices from the stew.

Recently, I adapted a Mary Berry recipe for pot roast. Mary’s method used suede or turnip as we know it in Scotland. I’m not that fond of it (sorry Rabbie*) and I decided to substitute celeriac. It worked a treat.

One of the rules of stews and casseroles is that they improve the day after cooking. This depends on your self-discipline. If you’ve had a pot of stew simmering on your stove for a few hours or cooking away in your slow cooker, your whole home will smell heavenly and resistance will require added steeliness.

Slow cooker Beef Pot Roast with Winter Vegetables

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.2kgs (roughly) beef topside or brisket
  • 4 onions, cut into wedges
  • Half a celeriac, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3-4 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 150ml white wine
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper

Put the oil in a large frying pan or wok and add the beef. Cook over a high heat, turning occasionally until it is browned all over. Place in your slow cooker along with the vegetables tucked all around the meat, and pour the wine around. You might want to add up to 100ml water, but the vegetables will give off a lot of water anyway.

Cook on slow for eight hours. Add plenty of salt and pepper and dot with a little butter to serve. The dish goes well with steamed cauliflower or broccoli.

Allow about 10-15g carbs per serving.

*Scotland’s national dish is haggis, neeps (turnips) and tatties, and it’s traditionally eaten on January 25 to celebrate Robert Burns’ birthday.

Public Health Collaboration Conference 2018: Achieving your optimal blood sugar target

Videos of the lectures given at the Public Health Collaboration conference 2018 which was held in May over the royal wedding weekend have now been released on You Tube.

You can see my talk, Achieving your optimal blood sugar target, as well as others, on the link below. There are a wide variety of lifestyle topics discussed. Happy viewing.

 

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=public+health+collaboration+conference+2018

Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Diabetes

olive oil pic taken by Emma Baird, author of the Diabetes DietWe’re just back from Crete and enthused with the joys of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). Yes, readers, splash it everywhere with gay abandon just as the Cretans do.

The island’s average inhabitant consumes 36 litres of the stuff every year—more than any other nation in the world. Even the Italians, also fond of the EVOO, manage only ten litres of it and they are the third highest consumers.

Does it have implications for we sugar-challenged folks? The factory I visited while there had a sign claiming health benefits for sufferers of all kinds of things, including type 2 diabetes. The Cretans produce mainly EVOO (and they harvest the olives by hand rather than machine), and they don’t bother with the ‘rule’ that you only use it for salads or to dress vegetables. They stick it in marinades, cook with it and even use it to deep-fry chips.

Positive benefits

In the Mediterranean region where olive oil is the main dietary fat, there are lower levels of deaths from cardiovascular disease. A Medicine News Today article also claimed positive benefits for stroke risk, breast cancer, liver protection, Alzheimer’s, ulcerative colitis, acute pancreatitis, maintenance of healthy cholesterol levels and even depression. [The article quoted from different studies, all of which used the words ‘appear to’.]

Anyone with diabetes has an increased risk of all the above conditions. The so-called Mediterranean ‘diet’ isn’t that dissimilar from the low-carb diet we promote. Broadly, eat tonnes of vegetables, some fruits preferably berries, plenty of fish, full-fat dairy, some beans and pulses if you can tolerate them and dress your salad and veggies with plenty of olive oil*.

Apart from the health benefits, a decent splash of EVOO does miraculous things. Steam some broccoli and then finish it off in the pan frying it with olive oil, thin slices of garlic and sea salt and you get to eat something that is three hundred times nicer than the boiled stuff.

The best Greek salad

And naturally a Greek salad needs the stuff… the best ones are simple. Large chunks of cucumber (peeled for purists) and tomatoes, black olives, thin slices of red onion and topped with a slab of feta cheese, plenty of salt and pepper and a generous drizzle of EVOO.

Sadly, because we’d opted for the hand luggage only flight, we could only bring back a 100ml bottle. One of the big issues with olive oil, and especially the extra virgin variety, is fraud. Most olive oil distribution is done through Italy, including the Cretan stuff. Investigations in recent years have uncovered wide-scale issues where virgin olive oil is passed off as extra virgin. There have even been cases where the oil was blended with sunflower oil and others..

The Guardian has a useful article that contains advice about buying genuine EVOO. Basically, it’s best to buy it in small quantities and if you think that stuff in supermarkets is too cheap to be the real thing, you’re probably right.

Olive oil recipes

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for olive oil recipes here are some suggestions from our blog:

What’s your favourite olive oil recipe or use?

*If you are overweight, you might want to be a little more cautious with your use of it, as it is calorie dense.