There’s Nothing ‘Super’ About These Foods…

Food, News

Our health is priceless, so why are the supposedly healthiest foods so outrageously expensive?

People are starting to speculate about the so-called ‘superfoods,’ if one food is better than all the others, it must do or contain something pretty spectacular. Yet there is very little, to no evidence, to suggest that they do. These particular foods, which have become something of an elite club, are no better for us than the diet staples we have been eating for centuries. The only thing suggesting that these foods are ‘super’ is the price tag.

I’ve taken a select few members of the ‘superfood’ club and offered an equally beneficial alternative that won’t have you breaking out in a cold sweat at the checkout – in fact they’re probably already in your fridge.

 

kale

Kale

Alternative: Cabbage/Broccoli

Let’s get this straight, there is nothing exotic about kale. It contains the same amount of nutrients as any other green veg and it can easily be grown in your own back garden. Green veg such as cabbage and broccoli are half the price and just as good for us, they just aren’t as Instagram friendly right now.

goji berry

Goji Berries 

Alternative: Strawberries/Raspberries

The goji berry, famously used in Chinese medicine for it’s healing powers and equally famous for being outrageously expensive in the supermarket. There is no evidence to show that the goji berry is more beneficial than any other fruits and a BBC documentary showed that fruits such as strawberries contain the same amounts of vitamin C. Fresh raspberries even contain less sugar and are therefore a better option for our diets and our purses.

 

coconut

Coconut Oil

Alternative: Rapeseed Oil

Coconut oil has just as good of a rep in the bathroom as it does in the kitchen, but this reputation comes with a hefty price tag and the many benefits it is applauded for are apparently unfounded. Much better to invest in an oil such as rapeseed which contains healthy fats, or just stick to good old vegetable oil. Though I’m not sure I’ll be applying these to my hair and skin just yet.

quinoa

Quinoa

Alternative: Lentils

Quinoa is famously a good source of amino acids, great news for vegans as isn’t animal-based. However, the store cupboard staples, lentils and rice are proven to contain just as much in amino acids and even more in fibre and protein and are much, much cheaper. baked beans and peanut butter on wholegrain toast are also effective ways for vegans to get those essential nutrients without having to take out a loan.

wheatgrass

Wheatgrass

Alternative: Spinach

For some reason, wheatgrass has had a bit of a moment, becoming a favourite at health spas and gaining a reputation as the ultimate detox drink. It claims to boost red blood cell production and salve inflammation of the colon, however there either no evidence of this or it is inconclusive. The nutrient content is equivalent to that of the more common vegetable such as broccoli or spinach and a single shot – the fashionable way to consume it – doesn’t even count as one of your five a day. Need I mention that it tastes awful?

chia

Chia Seeds

Alternative: Sesame Seeds

The chia seed phenomenon has been quite something. Filtered photographs of them filling our Instagram feeds, sprinkled on top of cereals or mixed into a suspicious looking slop known as chia pudding. What happened to the good old sesame seed? They are far cheaper, contain almost double the amount of iron, with higher levels of calcium, magnesium and vitamin B6.

blueberry

Blueberries

Alternative: Blackberries

Blueberries are certainly healthy and a welcome addition to the bowl at breakfast time. However, these two fruits are roughly the same price in the supermarket and blackberries contain twice as much vitamin C.

salmon

Salmon

Alternative: Sardines

While there is evidence to support the fact that oily fish is a beneficial addition to our diets, this doesn’t mean we have to spend a fortune on it. Sardines are almost half the price of salmon but have none of the positive hype surrounding them. While they contain similar amounts of Omega-3, sardines contain more vitamin B12.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that people should eat whatever they want and whatever makes them feel good. I just don’t believe that we should be spending a small fortune every time we do the weekly shop because a wellness blogger tells us one vegetable is better than all the others, or because everyone is sharing photos of their wheatgrass smoothies on Instagram. Especially when more often than not there is absolutely no scientific evidence to back up the claims. I wanted to show that there is no such thing as a ‘superfood’- all food is super because it keeps us alive.  As for a ‘superfood diet’, I’d prefer to call it a balanced one.

 

 

10 Superfood’s to Add to Your Shopping List

Uncategorized

In my previous post I wrote about why we shouldn’t be “detoxing” this January, but that is by no means to say that we shouldn’t be trying to live and eat healthily. The problem with detox diets is that they more often than not – well pretty much always, actually – rely on cutting certain foods, and sometimes entire food groups out of your diet. I prefer to focus what I can add to my diet to improve it, rather than what I have to take away, or deny myself.

I’m getting personal now, but for me, restricting certain foods can be triggering, and what starts out as a seemingly innocent quest for a healthier diet, soon turns into an obsessive, guilt-ridden nightmare, over which I have no control. I find that concentrating so hard on what I can’t eat – the forbidden fruit, so to speak – sparks negative thoughts and sets me up for a fail from the very beginning. You know that old saying “we only want what we can’t have” yeah, that pretty much sums me up.

So, I have eventually learnt from my track record and am now taking a different approach to improving my diet, by adding new foods. Nope, not taking anything away, just adding some new ones into the equation – and yes I am feeling okay! For once, I am actually trying to eat better for the health benefits rather than to lose weight and I have to say I think I could get used to it.

Of course, I’m not just talking about adding any old thing you fancy to your diet, I’m talking about the foods that have proven health benefits, the foods that can do great things, I’m talking about, drumroll please, the superfood’s.

Obviously this list could go on and on, but here’s just a few of my favourites to inspire your tastebuds!

Quinoa

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Spinach

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Beetroot

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Sweet Potato

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Blueberries

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Greek Yoghurt

Pomegranate

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Avocado

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Hanging Out In Krakow

Features, Food

Briefly put aside Krakow’s extensive, captivating history and the horrors which bring 1.4 million fascinated tourists to the area each year, and the city itself can best be described as, well, a lovely place.

While the Auschwitz museum and memorial is responsible for the majority of these visitors, I couldn’t think of a nicer place to return to after perhaps one of the most overwhelming and emotionally exhausting days of my life. Though it doesn’t take long to complete TripAdvisor’s Krakow ‘must-do’ list – we found we had ticked almost everything off in a couple of days – it is the diverse selection of “hang-outs” which will keep you enthralled day after day. Oh, and the vodka is pretty good too.
Eszeweria, Jewish Quarter

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I confess, I had a little help from The Guardian in finding this little gem, suitably hidden in the Jewish Quarter of Krakow, this bar is the archetype of the bohemian bar. One gloomy, bare-walled room, leads to the next, winding through the dusty antiques and clusters of locals chatting in the candle-light. Screaming character and authenticity, Eszeweria is no attempt at capturing the spirit of Kazimierz, it is the real deal.
Alchemia, Jewish Quarter

~Kazimierz-Alchemia_mkapczynski

If you have been to Kazimierz at night, you have probably been to Alchemia, as it is the place to go to enjoy a drink whilst experiencing the atmosphere of the former Jewish district. This it does exceptionally well, with its candle-lit rooms, forgotten photographs and intriguing furnishings, the only downside is, every tourist in Krakow is doing the same thing.
La Habana, Jewish Quarter

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Looking for something a little bit more Cuban? No, I wasn’t either, but La Habana was just across the street from our hotel and I couldn’t help but be intrigued by this shabby looking little den. A super-friendly barmaid offered us a selection of vodkas to try (but they also have a extensive menu of beer cocktails,) while subtle lighting and Latin American tunes offered a laid-back but cheerful atmosphere and the locals puffed away on hand-rolled Cuban cigars.

Staropolskie Trunki Regionalne, Old Town

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This place is somewhere between a bar and an alcohol shop, with a friendly sign outside inviting passers by to come and try traditional polish tipples, namely, vodka. Though pretty intimidating at first – the selection of flavours is quite spectacular – after a couple of free taster shots we were happily sitting, sipping and watching the world go by. I challenge anyone to leave this bar without falling in love with vodka all over again.
Cryano de Bergerac, Slawkowska 26

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We spent our last evening dining by candlelight in the brick-lined cellar of one of Krakow’s many old buildings. This cellar has been transformed into one of Krakow’s premier restaurants, serving gourmet French and Polish cuisine in spectacularly authentic surroundings and has seen guests such as Roman Polanski and Prince Charles dine at its tables. Although a bit on the more expensive side for Poland prices, the ambience and location, not to mention the mouthwatering food, were worth every zloty.

The Tracking Debate

Fitness

In an age of ever expanding technology, are fitness trackers and Apps a motivational tool for monitoring our progress or an express ticket to obsession?

 

 

This is a question which is difficult to answer and a great cause for debate. Like anyone, I have found myself filled with excitement when downloading calorie counting Apps to my iPhone and I can’t leave the house for my run without setting my Nike Running App first – it is a great motivator! However I feel that, as with everything, it may have been taken too far.

UP by Jawbone, is a new health monitoring bracelet which is with you literally 24 hours a day. Finally! A 24/7 personal trainer! You might think, but as well as motivating you with high fives and encouraging “Amazing”’s and providing you with great accuracy on how long you’ve slept, how long it took you to fall asleep, whether you’ve reached your step goals, to name just a few, UP also has the potential to torment you with guilt, obsession and quite possibly make you lose your mind.

It is quite simple, all you have to do is sync the bracelet with your iPhone a few times a day and you    can see your sleep patterns and step count compared with what you have ate and drank and if you like the thrill of the game, you can even monitor your UP friends progress on a Facebook-like feed.

The primary aim of trackers and Apps like this is simple, to improve health and fitness, which I believe is of the upmost importance. Is this healthy though? Where it might have an – at least short term – impact on physical health (anyone being tracked 24 hours a day will surely make a conscious effort to be the best they can be), I seriously doubt it can have any positive impact on mental health, in fact, I’m pretty sure any impact it has on the mind, will be quite the opposite. 

UP isn’t the only one of kind by a long way, with $800 million sales of wearable sensors in the US last year, and for the many who aren’t willing or simply can’t afford the prices that bracelets like these cost, there is an ever growing collection of mobile Apps to download which do more or less the same thing, just less accurate and intensified. 

 

Nike Running+ App

Nike Running+ App

Argus App

Argus App

 

Argus App, water reminder

Argus App, water reminder

Constantly checking what you have eaten, excessive exercise in order to meet goals, comparing your fitness progress with other people’s. These are all things which in the real world are considered unhealthy, obsessive and disordered eating behaviour. Like it or not, the trackers are here to stay and the boundaries or self-tracking are only ever expanding, but if you want my advice, I would tread carefully.