Milk Kefir

Kefir (pronounced “ke-fear”) is my current favourite fermented food and as I look forward to drinking it most mornings I just had to share my enthusiasm with you! 

The origin of the word sums it up really -“keif” in Turkish means “good feeling” 👍🏻

Why is that? Well it tastes yummy and it benefits the body in a number of ways;

✔️ Boosts immunity

✔️ Heals inflammatory bowel disease

✔️ Builds bone density

✔️ Fights allergies

✔️ Improves lactose digestion

✔️ Kills candida

✔️ Supports detoxification.


🥛Kefir can be either fermented milk (cow, goat, sheep or coconut milk!) or a sugar based kefir (sugary water or coconut water) -both rich in the same nutrients.

Kefir contains high levels of B12, Calcium, Magnesium, K2, Biotin, Folate, Enzymes and Probiotics.

For homemade Kefir starter grains can be found online, or if you have a friend whose kefir grains are multiplying then see if you can have some starter grains from them.

Instructions for milk kefir;

Makes 1 cup


Ingredients
1 cup milk, preferably whole fat 

1 teaspoon active kefir grains 

Equipment

1 pint-sized glass jar

Cheesecloth, paper towel, or clean napkin

Rubberband

Small strainer (preferably plastic, but metal is ok)

Storage container with lid

Instructions

Combine the milk and the grains in a jar: Pour the milk into a clean glass jar (not metal) and stir in the kefir grains. The milk can be cold or room temperature, either is fine.

Cover the jar: Cover the jar with cheesecloth, a paper towel, or a clean napkin and secure it with a rubber band. Do not screw a lid onto the jar as the build up of carbon dioxide from the fermenting grains can cause pressure to build in the jar, and in extreme cases, cause the jar to burst.

Ferment for 12 to 48 hours: Store the jar at room temperature (ideally around 70°F) away from direct sunlight. Check the jar every few hours. When the milk has thickened and tastes tangy, it’s ready. This will usually take about 24 hours at average room temperatures; the milk will ferment faster at warmer temperatures and slower at cool temperatures. If your milk hasn’t fermented after 48 hours, strain out the grains and try again in a fresh batch (this sometimes happens when using new kefir grains, when refreshing dried kefir grains, or when using grains that have been refrigerated).

Strain out the kefir grains: Place a small strainer over the container you’ll use to store the kefir. Strain the kefir into the container, catching the grains in the strainer.

Transfer the grains to fresh milk: Stir the grains into a fresh batch of milk and allow to ferment again. This way, you can make a fresh batch of kefir roughly every 24 hours. To take a break from making kefir, place the grains in fresh milk, cover tightly, and refrigerate.

Drink or refrigerate the milk kefir: The prepared milk kefir can be used or drunk immediately, or covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.

• Avoid aluminium utensils when making milk kefir. Stainless steel is acceptable. 

• Fermented foods often have a sour but clean aroma and flavour. Never consume anything that smells or tastes unpleasant.

Instructions taken from The Kitchn website, which is a great source for further information about kefir.

Here’s some pictures of my mother-in-law refreshing her grains and splitting them into a new jar for me.

You can also find pre-made kefir in health shops, like this Biona one.

Follow my Instagram account Penny’s Plate for a weekly post from my alphabet of wellbeing, the HEALTHABET….

Sauerkraut 

Sauerkraut is an affordable, easy and tasty way of introducing probiotics (good bacteria) into your diet.

The fermentation process encourages essential bacteria such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria to flourish, aiding digestion as well as improving gut, brain and body health. 

There are many different ways you can make sauerkraut and lots variations of ingredients, but this is the one that works for me and tastes subtlety scrummy with the caraway and juniper. 

 

Ingredients

1 whole cabbage 

2 tbsp Himalayan pink salt (or sea salt) 

1/2 tsp caraway seeds 

5 dried juniper berries



Directions

1. Trim, core and finely shred the cabbage and then mix it with the salt in a large bowl. Start to squeeze the cabbage with your hands. This breaks up the cellular structure of the cabbage and helps it to start fermenting quicker

2. Transfer the cabbage to your pot, jar or bowl and add the spices between the layers of shredded cabbage

3. Add spices between the layers of shredded cabbage

4. Lay a whole cabbage leaf on top of the shredded cabbage and pack it down as tight as you can

5. Cover the crock with a sheet of muslin and sit a weight on top. Cover with a lid if you have one – but NOT an airtight lid

5. Sit a weight on top of the cabbage

6. Allow it to ferment for 3 to 4 weeks, checking it periodically; if the cabbage is not submerged under liquid, add a little salt water to the pot – the cabbage must be submerged under liquid for the recipe to work

7. If any scum appears on top of your sauerkraut, just skim it off

8. When the sauerkraut has collapsed and has become soft, decant it into clean jars and keep in a cool place for up to a year

*Keep in a cool place for up to a year.

By the way, sauerkraut makes the perfect addition to jacket potato and salad! 

Penny x

Fermented Foods
Follow the hashtag #healthabet on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook for the Alphabet of Wellbeing. 

Vitamin D -The Sunshine Vitamin 🌞


I love the sun in October, it’s low and is a sharp light that makes everything beautifully vivid.

Vitamin D comes in two forms -D2 & D3. It is a fat-soluble (the liver mainly stores it in fat) pro-hormone which helps balance hormones in the body and supports our immune system. 

Top up your vitamin D3 levels from exposure to the sun to also aid:

Cardiovascular health 

Bone strength

Insulin regulation 

A positive effect on mood.

Some of the biggest vitamin D deficiency symptoms include:

Weakened immune system
(Colds & flu)

Seasonal depression (SAD)

Autoimmune disease

Cancer

Weak bones (osteopenia)

Skin issues eczema and psoriasis

Dementia

Vitamin D can also be sourced from food (both D3 & D2), especially from:

Cod liver oil 

Sardines 

Mackerel

Salmon 

Tuna

Caviar

Eggs

Raw milk

Mushrooms 

However, relying on vitamin D from food can be limited due to the narrow range of sources, so soak up the sunshine’s UVB rays to prompt synthesis in the skin and consider taking a vitamin supplement. 

Supplementation of vitamin D is recommended as a boost, especially for those that may fall into any of the categories mentioned below.

Risk factors of deficiency include;

People taking medication that deplete vitamin D eg. anti-convulsants and steroids.

People who are obese (vitamin D won’t be as bioavailable from fat stores).

People with less exposure to sunlight eg. Night workers, those living sedentary lifestyles. 

People with digestive impairments such as IBD.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Babies (especially exclusively breastfed) and young children under the age of 5.

The elderly due to reduced capacity to synthesise vitamin D.

Also covering of the skin from clothes or sunscreen can effect the absorption, and the regular user of sunglasses.

🌞 Please get in touch if you’d like to order a supplement, I can help you choose which is best for you and you’ll also receive 10% off the RRP (postage may be included). Quote SUNSHINE SUPPLEMENT.


♫ Good, good, good, good bacteria ♫

A fantastic insight into bacteria; the good, the bad and the tasty!

Real Food Lover

A Kilner jar of sauerkraut made by Real Food LoverI wrote this long piece about good bacteria for the Sustainable Food Trust, which has given me permission to republish it here (slightly edited).

Thank you, Sustainable Food Trust.

♫ Good, good, good, good bacteria ♫

Recent research on the role of bacteria suggests we need a radical rethink about what makes us healthy.

Thanks to advances in genetic sequencing, scientists are starting to discover, categorise and understand the importance of the vast universe of microbial organisms that lives invisibly on, in and around us.

In May 2015, results from studies conducted by Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, showed that a ten-day diet of junk food caused the loss of 1,300 species of beneficial bacteria in the intestines.

Professor Spector said: “Microbes get a bad press, but only a few of the millions of species are harmful, and many are crucial to our…

View original post 1,770 more words

Eating with the Seasons



Why I love Seasonal Produce

I don’t know about you, but when I think of seasonal produce my memory casts back to picking berries and sweet peas in a friend’s back garden when I was little and the P.Y.O strawberry sign on the road side tempting us to come in and fill up a punnet (and our bellies). Also I remember the harvest assembly’s at school where we would sit and look at a bountiful table of produce. I lost this excitement for seasonal crops when I grew up and took myself off to university where I bought what I could afford, that was easy to prepare and that sated my hunger (and hangover). 

I was also living separate to the rhythms of the land, but soon after I moved to Bristol and began to enjoy the diverse array of food establishments. I soon became re-attuned with the availability of foods and their origin. Bristol is a wonderful city for sourcing locally grown produce, though as ever in cities the eye and the hand can easily be lured to buying apples in the Spring from New Zealand.lost this excitement for seasonal crops when I grew up and took myself off to university where I bought what I could afford, that was easy to prepare and that sated my hunger (and hangover). I was also living separate to the rhythms of the land, but soon after I moved to Bristol and began to enjoy the diverse array of food establishments. 

I soon became re-attuned with the availability of foods and their origin. Bristol is a wonderful city for sourcing locally grown produce, though as ever in cities the eye and the hand can easily be lured to buying apples in the Spring from New Zealand.

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So what is Seasonal Produce?

Well, produce is always going to be in season somewhere, and the harnessing of the sun can extend that season by the use of polytunnels and glasshouses. Taking the subject back to our Palaeolithic roots though, seasonal food originally would be what is grown within gathering’s reach – wild fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and what meat could be hunted. So if we relate that to today’s equivalent, seasonal produce is what food is available to us in the climate and terrain where we live.

 

 

What are the benefits of eating to our season?

When eating in accordance to the food that is in season to you, you will be reaping the cyclical benefits needed for cleansing and healing for that particular season; for example, berries in late summer and autumn prepare our immunity for the winter months and spring foods such as onions, garlic and leafy greens help to detoxify the liver and blood after the stagnancy of the winter months. This is something that the ancient Chinese sages lived by and incorporated into the Five Elements philosophy; autumn for example is represented by the element metal; apples are recommended in the autumn to balance the dryness of the season (1).

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Apples are a fruit that Britain should pride itself on. The apple has a number of nutritional benefits including helping to fight bacteria and viruses (including colds), and they contain valuable bulk fibre, both pectin and cellulose, which is needed for regular bowel movement (2) – all things we need during the more lethargic autumn and winter months.

Choosing seasonal produce is not only benefitting your health, but benefitting the planet. The inevitable localism of this choice cuts down freight miles that contribute towards a meal. We live in such a global world, and have such a (some say necessary) demand on international food supply, that our staples tea, rice, salt et al. are contributing hugely to our carbon footprint. International eating trends are also changing our food chain and contributing to a change in agriculture -shifting food production towards highly specialised and industrial modes of production.

Furthermore, liberalised markets have resulted in incentives for food manufacturers to use exotic ingredients as they seek to add value to their products (3). Such variety is exciting to see on our plate or in our superfood smoothie, but it is easy to forget the richness of the food that is grown locally to us; rich in taste and nutrients.

To me, there’s nothing like tasting freshly plucked vegetables from the ground full of minerals or juicy strawberries which have been harbouring the summer sunlight, waiting ready for me to once again fill my punnet and then my belly!

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This blog can also be found at; www.betterfood.co.uk/eating-seasonally

Seasonal food calendar; www.eatseasonably.co.uk

 

 

References

1 Pitchford, Paul. Pg347, Healing with Wholefoods, North Atlantic Books 2002

2 Kirschmann, John D. and Nutrition Search, Inc. Pg 95, Nutrition Almanac, McGraw Hill 2007

3 Hawkes, C., Friel, S.Lobstein, T., Lang, T., Linking agriculture policies with obesityand noncommunicable diseases: a new perspective for a globalising world. Food Policy 31.3, 343-353, 2012. Supplied by Slow Food in the UK.

Bone Broth

It’s that time of year when we crave warm and comforting foods and drinks, so it’s good to have some healthy options ready to go in your kitchen. Broth is one that can be in a jug in your fridge and warmed up as a  nourishing brew.

Boiling bones could be thought of as a bit gross, but if you choose to eat meat, then you might as well get the most nutritional benefits from it.  I’m using chicken for this recipe as it’s the most common meat that I eat, but you can boil the bones of any animal; duck, turkey, lamb, fish…


Nutritional Value

Like our bones, chicken bones are rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulfur chondroitin, glucosamine and a variety of trace minerals. The gelatin found in bone broth attracts and holds onto liquids including digestive juices -aiding proper digestion.

Bone broth also;

✔️Inhibits infection caused by cold and flu viruses, as well as fights inflammation.

✔️Speeds up healing and recuperation from illness.

✔️Heals the lining of the gut from lifestyle and dietary damage.

✔️Reduces joint pain and inflammation.

✔️Strengthens bones, hair and nails.

 I always promote buying organic meat where possible, you’ll reap more nutritional benefits plus you won’t be ingesting potentially harmful antibiotics and steroids found in in un-organic meat. You can read more about this on the Soil Association website.


Recipe 

After you’ve enjoyed your delicious organic chicken meal pop the bones into a big pan, and anything else that’s left like gelatin, skin, stuffing ingredients especially onion and herbs.

What to add;

5cm Leek (cut into chunks) or/and 1/2 onion

1 big carrot (cut into chunks)

2 cloves of garlic

2 bay leaves

1 tsp of pepper corns

2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar (I use Biona, whichever brand you use it must contain ‘the mother’). The addition of apple cider vinegar is really good to help leech all those valuable minerals from the bones.

Herbs and spices to taste (If your meat was seasoned when you originally cooked it you might not want to add any extra, also don’t overpower the natural flavours of the veg and bone juices)


Method

Pop all ingredients (except apple cider vinegar) into the pot with your bones.

Fill with water making sure all the ingredients are covered.

Bring to boil and remove the surface scum.

Turn down heat to the lowest setting, add the apple cider vinegar and let simmer for 8-14 hours. Remove scum when it surfaces.

Remove from heat and leave to cool down.

Pour into a non-plastic container (jug, glass jar, bottle), using a fine metal strainer to remove all bits of bone and vegetable.

When fully cooled store in fridge (good for 5 days) or freeze.

 

 

Bone Broth can be used as stock for a risotto (my favourite), in a stew, or simply as a nourishing and nutritious drink  ☕️

   

Almond Milk

Here’s a simple step-by-step guide to making your own delicious almond milk.

 It makes roughly 500ml.

 

All you’ll need is…

110g of almonds

2 medjool dates

water

blender

jug or container for milk

Step one of homemade almond milk; Soak 110g of almonds for 6 hours

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Step two; Take out the stones of two totally delicious unctuous (love that word!) medjool dates to add as a healthy natural sweetener. 😋

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Step three; pop both almonds and dates into blender (I use a JTComniblend as it’s so powerful!) with 500ml of water 💦💦

 

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Step four; WHIZZZZ for 60 seconds (90 for a finer consistency)….. Nearly there!!

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Step five; Pour contents through a sieve into your container, unless you want to keep it thick for smoothies or a breakfast bowl. 

The fibrous matter could be used along with veg to make a patty, or with dried fruit for an energy bar.

There you have it! So simple, so tasty and so NUTritious …mainly for its good fats, protein and water. It is also a great vegan alternative to dairy, too much dairy can have a negative impact on ones health. The dairy proteins can be too large for our body to break down resulting in improper digestion which may cause consequential problems like excess mucous, poor skin health and constipation.

Even if you’re not aware that you have a problem with dairy it can still be great to give an alternative milk a try. There’s lots available now like oat (my favourite), rice, coconut and soya.

Almond milk isn’t expensive either, if you’re on a budget you can find almonds for a good price in supermarkets or small independent shops. The blender is the pricey part, but again you can find good deals and you will never regret buying one, you can whizz up all sorts.

Penny x

What other recipes or articles would you like to see? Let me know…

 

Energy Balls 

Hello!

Energy balls are becoming pretty popular, that’s probably because they are sooo simple to make and a great snack -I’m not a big advocate of snacks because they can inhibit the proper digestion of your previous meal (see blog on this), but if you’re needing a pick-me-up these are a great healthy option, packed with protein, good fats and antioxidants.

I’ve tried quite a few different types, and so has my baby, and there are definitely some that I have preferred over others, so now it is time to make my own so I can choose exactly what’s in them. Hopefully you’ll enjoy this recipe too, but you can also alter it too for  your preferred taste.

The recipe I have finalised on is gluten, dairy and refined sugar free, but as the name explains  they are full of energy enhancing ingredients, so not great for a convenient dessert before bedtime, or for those who are highly stressed or anxious …also the ingredients might be quite rich for children (especially babies), so you could leave out the cacao and chilli.

Ingredients

(Makes 8 balls)

1 tbsp goji berries

1 tbsp chia seeds (pre-soaked)

1 cup of nuts (almonds, cashews, hazelnut, brazil or a mix)

2 tsp of cacao powder

1/6 tsp of chilli (more or less to taste)

1/2 cup of pitted dates

3 tbsp coconut oil

Zest & juice of 1/2 lime

Desiccated coconut for the outer.

*Optional extra

Maple syrup for added sweetness

 

 



Method
Pop all ingredients into a blender, except the desiccated coconut, lime and maple syrup (if adding), until you have a sticky paste. I like to leave mine slightly crunchy like this ↓

I use my JTC Omniblend, the contents does stick to the side of the jug, but you can stir it back in and blend again.
Pop the contents into a bowl and add the lime juice and zest and the maple syrup and hand blend it in with a fork.

Separate the contents into 8 parts.

Prepare a surface for rolling (I like to use a marble cheese board as it’s particularly smooth).

Evenly sprinkle the desiccated coconut and ROLL!

Once you’ve got your balls ready, pop them in the fridge to harden, they should be good to go after about 2 hours.

Here’s an energy ball being hugely appreciated up on the Yorkshire Moors
Eat Well, Be Well,
Penny x

Immune Support and You

 

lemon
I Love Lemons. Add the juice and zest to everything if you need a boost.

 

 

 

Feeling a little sniffy? Me too.

I’ve accepted that I have a cold, I didn’t want it (when do you ever?),  but I’ve tried to see it through as quick as I can, helped it to the door if you like, with a guiding hand, here’s how I did it…

 

First off, REST! It’s so important to allow your body to do what it’s got to do to fight the cold, surrender to relaxing the body and the mind. Take time off from life and maybe get some naps in, if you meditate then fit an extra sitting in to tap into source. Also try and stay positive, feeling poorly can definitely have an effect on your happiness, but just remember it’ll pass and make the most of this down time.

Cut out dairy, sugar, alcohol & caffeine. Dairy increases mucous (which is what the body is trying to get rid of), sugar feeds the bad bacteria, and caffeine stimulates the body when it’s trying to recover. Alcohol lowers your immune system further, adds to congestion in the body, plus it’s also dehydrating, which leads me to…

 

Drink more water! That’s a standard message for everyone anyway as most don’t drink enough of this natural elixir, but during disease it’s even more important. Water helps cleanse the system of toxic waste, as well as giving us life! Squeeze some lemon juice into it too and you’ll be helping your immune system even more. Water is best to be drunk at room temperature or warm, and filtered is best and re-mineralised is even better!!

Here’s the filter/re-mineraliser I use;

It’s the Eva Filter System, I can’t rate it highly enough. You just need to taste it to see, we use the water from this for pretty much everything in the kitchen (except washing up!).

So keep sipping the good stuff and while you’re at it make yourself a Cold kicking brew (even better, get someone else to make it, after all you should be resting!).

Here’s what’s in it;

Chunk of ginger root, without the skin, cut into thin slices.

1/4 tsp of chilli powder

1/4 tsp of cinnamon

1/2 tsp of turmeric

1/2 lemon, squeezed

A little ground black pepper

1 tsp honey

Pop all of the above into a mug except the honey.

Put the kettle on (with your filtered/re-mineralised water 😉) and turn it off just as it starts to boil, leave it to cool for a minute then pour into mug. We don’t want it boiling as it’ll damage the benefits of the ingredients.

Add the honey -and maybe a little bit more, then there you go…


Delicious! You might want to stir every so often so you don’t get such a shock of spices at the bottom!

Lots of fresh organic vegetables, including raw onion and garlic, both of which are prebiotics … these feed the good bacteria (probiotics) that are helping to fight the cold germs.

Probiotics include; Kombucha, kefir, kimchi, tempeh, micro algae, miso soup and organic live yogurt (but we’re trying to leave out dairy remember?), you can also buy a probiotic supplement (see below).

A daily Berry Bonanza Smoothie  is great way to start the day, see my previous blog for the recipe.

Other recommendations include;

doTerra Breathe essential oil blend -diffuse it, put it in the bath, put it on your pillow, steam inhalation… The lot! It’s great.

A good multi vitamin and mineral are good all year round, but especially during the colder months, here’s a couple I’d recommend;

Cytoplan’s CoQ10 Multi


Biocare One A Day

Essential fatty acids are also particularly important for total body health, so get munching on;

-Fish

-Nuts and seeds

-Avocados

-Coconut products especially the oil

-Olives and olive oil (not cooked)

A boost of a oil supplement can also give the system support with energy, immunity, mental clarity and relaxation.

 

Additional immune aiding supplements are;

Vitamin D (read my blog about this here)

Pukka’s Elderberry Syrup 

Optibac Immunity Probiotic 

If you’re interested in ordering any of the above then let me know, we can discuss what is best for you and I’ll order it with a 10% discount.

I could go on and on about other ways to say goodbye to a cold, but I’d be here a long time. So that’s a good start and do ask me if you have any questions ⇓

Wishing you well,

Penny x

A General Guide to Eating Habits


As a Nutritional Therapist I am commonly approached with many different ailments and questions about very specific health issues. My first step is to point to the basic principles of good eating.

Food has an immediate effect on the body, the body’s biochemistry changes within minutes of eating a meal. This can be affected by not only our food, but the environment when eating.
During a meal the body can react in either a positive way leading to optimum absorption of nutrients, more energy and a sense of relaxation & satisfaction. However, if you eat something that is difficult for the body to process (like non-organic, manufactured food) or you’re stressed when eating (or both!) your body can react by showing distress signals; heartburn, tiredness or indigestion. Consistent inadequate digestion can lead to fermentation in the gut which can cause inflammation and disease.

 

Overall what we need from our food is to gain energy to help us function and carry out the everyday activities we want to do. However modern lifestyles have been more demanding on the body and expecting it to perform miracles without the magic. Think about how you might feel after eating a ham sandwich on-the-go, while downing a cup of tea, compared to sitting down to eat a healthy balanced meal in a calm environment –good habits make a positive difference, on our energy levels, our mood and therefore our overall health.

Here are some common guidelines about healthy eating based on Ayurvedic principles. It can most definitely be hard to put them all into practice (especially when you have a small baby like myself!), but take note and do what you can.

  • Chew your food thoroughly -the digestive process starts in the mouth.

 

  • Eat in a settled environment and quiet atmosphere, with a settled mind. Your company and environment should be pleasant. Do not work, listen to music, read or watch TV during meals.
  • Always sit down to eat. Eat at roughly the same time each day.
  • Eat neither too quickly or too slowly (about 20 minutes) and without interruption.
  • Eat to about 3/4 of your stomach capacity at your biggest meal; this equals the amount of your two cupped hands full.Image result for glass of water
  • Do not eat or drink an excessive amount of cold drinks or food.
  • If you desire to drink anything with your meals, it is best to sip a little warm water. Also avoid drinking large quantities of liquids right before and within the first 2 hours after meals.
  • To meet the minimum requirements for water, drink 6-8 glasses of water (at room temperature or warm) each day. You may need to increase the amount during hot, dry weather, when exercising or during stressful times in your life. If the colour of your urine is dark yellow, drink more water, if colourless drink less. Do not drink excessive amounts (3-4 litres a day)
  • It is best not to heat or cook with honey; heat destroys it and makes it toxic.
  • It is best not to eat when the mind is dominated by strong emotions such as anger, worry or sorrow. Wait until it has become more settled, since the digestive system does not work under stress.
  • Sleeping after meals causes sluggishness and increases bodyweight. However, it is good to rest for about 10 minutes after meals and, if possible, to go for a 10 – 15 minute walk.
  • Never eat just before going to bed. To avoid developing sleeping disorders, there should be at least three hours between eating and sleeping. If your bedtime is 10pm, eat no later than 6pm.

And most importantly go into the kitchen with positive intentions and you’ll be more likely to get positive results.

 

 

Blog inspired by Andreas Moritz