Oven roasted vegetarian sausage ratatouilli-ish

  • Prep Time : 10 mins
  • Cooking Time : 45 mins
  • Serving : 4 – 5

Really easy flavourful comfort food dish requiring very little  effort.

When served bubbling and aromatic from the oven with crusty bread or durum wheat pasta , there will be smiling faces all round.

Ingredients

  • 2 Sweet Peppers ( Red & Yellow)
  • 1 Large Courgette
  • 1 Large Parsnip
  • 1 Large Red Onion
  • 4 – 5 Cloves of garlic
  • A couple  of sprigs Rosemary
  • 250g –  350g Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp Sundried Tomato  paste
  • 150 – 250 ml hot chicken or veg stock
  • 10 Vegetarian Sausages of choice

Preparation

  • Half and thickly slice courgette.
  • Thickly Slice Red Onion
  • Cut the parsnip up in 3cm chunks
  • Peel & Halve garlic cloves
  • Chop rosemary

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 200C or gas mark 6.
  • Place the peppers, parsnip,courgette , red onion and garlic in a large roasting tin.
  • Drizzle over some olive oil with the rosemary and mix and toss together.
  • Roast for 20 minutes.
  • Stir in the cherry tomatoes then place the sausages on top.
  • Return to oven for 15 Minutes
  • Stir together the sun dried tomato paste and stock.
  • Pour in the mixture into the roasting tin.
  • Increase the oven temperature to 220C ( gas mark 7).
  • Return the roasting tin for a further 10 minutes until the vegetables are nice and tender and sausages are nicely brown and cooked through.

Blueberries : The geek super food

We all know that we should be consuming between 5 to 7 portions of fruit and vegetables a day.  

Ensuring we eat fruits and vegetables of all kinds can help to reduce the risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions.

If you looking for a fruit to supercharge your route to fitter and healthier body, you should look no further than the humble Blueberry.

Blueberries are not only high in nutrients, but they are also super low in calories and they taste great.

Blueberries are a great source of:

  • Vitamin K
  • iron
  • phosphorous
  • calcium
  • magnesium
  • manganese
  • zinc

One of key benefits of blueberries is their free-radical-fighting antioxidants.

Free radicals, which increase in number as you get older, travel around your body damaging cells, promoting disease, and triggering signs of premature ageing. Blueberries carry the firepower to knock them out of service.

Blueberries  have been linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer, thanks to their high levels of proanthocyanidins.  

Studies  also suggest that blueberries may be effective in reducing risk of heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes and age-related memory loss; a condition prevalent in men.

Nutrients found in blueberries help relax the blood vessels and improve circulation within the body. In addition, blueberries are loaded with fiber, which helps to push excess cholesterol out of the system before it can be absorbed and deposited into the arteries.

High in nutrients low in calories

Calorie for calorie blueberries are a great source of nutrients.

Consisting of 85% water, and an entire cup contains only 84 calories, with 15 grams of carbohydrates.

1 cup serving (48 grams) contains:

  • Fiber: 4 grams.
  • Vitamin C: 24% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin K: 36% of the RDA.
  • Manganese: 25% of the RDA.
  • smaller amounts of various other nutrients.

Great antioxidant

Blueberries have the highest antioxidant capacity of all commonly consumed fruits and vegetables. Flavonoids appear to be the major antioxidant compounds.

Help Reduce Muscle Damage After Strenuous Exercise

Indulging in a regular portions of blueberries may reduce the damage that occurs at the molecular level, reducing soreness and enhancing muscle performance.

Brain Health

There have been a few studies that have concluded there may be evidence that Blueberries are natural brain food and can help in reversing short-term memory loss and other symptoms associated with ageing.

The antioxidants naturally occurring in blueberries my help with motor skills. Research on animals proved this when improvements in learning capacity and motor skills were observed in ageing animals who were fed a blueberry and, thus antioxidant-rich diet.

Some latest research has also discovered that blueberries could be used in the fight against Alzheimers 

Final take away

Ensuring you include blueberries within your weekly nutrition programme will undoubtedly have great benefits. There are a number of ways to enjoy blueberries and they make a great addition to your breakfast or even a refreshing smoothie

Will 10,000 steps a day help to lose weight?

The rise in wearable devices has really popularised the notion that all you need to do to get and stay fit is to ensure that you walk for at least 10,000 steps a day.

 

The human body is probably the most amazing and most complex machine any of us will ever own. Despite it being the only one we’ll ever own, it is also probably the most abused, misused and neglected. Reading the river out of Eden – Dawkins explains why DNA must be thought of as the most sophisticated information system imaginable. He also discusses the mechanisms by which evolution has taken place, gradually but inexorably, over a period of three thousand million years.

The biggest take away we learn from this is that our body’s have evolved to enable us to be mobile. The very fact our bodies and brains provide us with the ability to either fight or flight is the primary reason why any of us are here.

We all have to thank the bodies of our ancestors because it enabled them to stay one step ahead of predators and avoid other dangers along the way, just long enough for them to procreate and pass the genes down the line to where we are today.

Your bodies ability to be mobile and use energy to avoid or deflect danger, comes from the food we eat.

The concept of burning off the body’s energy stores while doing absolutely nothing is kind of exciting, until you realize how little you would have to eat in order to avoid putting on extra weight.

Our modern lifestyles are completely at odds with evolution, resulting in the tendency to do everything in our power to move less and expend the minimum amount of energy. All our technological advancements seem to be primarily aimed at us moving less or in some cases even at all.

Most of us, prefer to jump into our fossil driven combustible engines to make a 5 minute trip to the shop, than simply walk 15 minutes to get there.

It’s highly likely we wouldn’t even get off the couch, preferring to order our shopping via mobile phones and get it delivered to our front door by a drone.

After, spending time reflecting on these amazing facts, and realizing my jeans, I purchased only two months prior two sizes larger than my previous pair, were starting to get a little tight around the waste.



easy quick fix

With the new found realization that I needed to move more, I drew the logical conclusion and using the internet I hurriedly purchased a pedometer and got it delivered to my front door!

Despite, the obvious false start, I was determined to start getting out and walking more. The focus being to start shedding the middle aged spread, and get back that body I nearly had in my 20’s!

I resolved to try and do 10,000 steps a day. A figure derived from a Japanese study, dated back to the 1960’s, which indicated there were health benefits for men who burned at least 2000 calories per week through exercise – which is approximately equivalent to 10,000 steps a day or 5 miles a day.

This seemed to be the quick easy fix I was looking for, reasoning that I may not have time to exercise, but surely I could fit in walking in my daily routine. If I had a device to help monitor and gauge the number of steps on a daily basis would ensure I at least achieved the minimum required.

I would be the first to admit, I was skeptical and genuinely believed it was marketing hype to persuade people to buy a digital nag device. However, it was worth a shot!

The long walk

My pedometer of choice turned out to be the Fitbit Charge 2. My buying decisions were based on that I wanted to buy a FitBit and Fitbit Charge 2. was the cheapest they offered.

To be honest, I Initially didn’t start with 10 000 steps straight away.  I really struggled to get my step count much past 5 000.  It made me realise just how sedentary I had become during my average work day.

I think this was further compounded by a lifestyle choice I made several years ago, to engineer my life so that I could work from home 100% of the time.

Over the years this has had very many advantages but it does have its disadvantages.  Probably the biggest one, is that I don’t really have clear start and end points of my day.   I do have a tendency to get so absorbed in what I’m doing, that I just don’t notice time. Often I found myself only venturing out the house on the weekends with the family. The rest of the time I’m pretty much glued to the chair in my office.

I found myself walking the kids to school then on the way taking a longer route back home. I wasn’t long thereafter that I found I was hitting the default setting of 10 000 steps fairly regularly.  Initially this was on average may 2-4 times a 7 day week.

The more walking I did, the more I wanted to. I started to use walking as a little disconnect time from the laptop. Taken time to listen to some Podcasts or an Audio book or even just time for reflection and deep thinking. I made a point of never engaging in telephone calls during my walk time. Walk time became much needed personal time.

I can’t really say if I actually lost weight during this period of time, but I can honestly say I did started to feel mentally energized and healthier.

When I first started using the Fitbit Charge 2, I never used the accompanying web portal, I just wore the device and checked my step count using the device. Only after a few months, I logged into the web portal and downloaded the app to explore the functionality a little further.

I discovered I could also track my food and fluid intake and measure this against my daily calorie burn.

I started making more time in my day, for not only walking but I started taking up running and cycling. I also started venturing into the gym again. It had also suddenly become mentally essential to feel the buzz on my wrist as I hit the 10,000 step count. I found my step count had increased to 15K+ per day.

Friends started asking if I had lost weight and my jeans were starting to feel looser around the waste. I was also starting to make healthier eating choices. Not really a diet as such, but just starting to think a little more about my food options.

It’s now been 8 months since my Fitbit charge purchase and I have found my lifestyle has changed considerably. I now make a conscience effort to exercise every day. If I was enjoying my life and lifestyle choice before then I am loving it now. I now know that I have lost over nearly 10 Kilograms in body weight. Starting out at 120Kg and coming down to 110kg. All down to just walking a little extra everyday.

Summary

In many ways, buying a Fitbit Charge 2 was probably one of the greatest investments I’ve ever made. Providing me with the motivation to start moving more. I found myself  starting look for ways to introduce some walking into my daily routine. I would go for a walk first thing in the morning before starting work, initially this was just a quick saunter around the block or walking the kids to school. These walks over the next few weeks gradually became longer and longer as I started to realise the benefits, not really from a physical fitness perspective, but rather more mental therapy.

5 Greatest Health mysteries

Starting out or even maintaining healthy lifestyle you’ll need to be aware some vital facts in order to base your nutrition and workout routines on. However this can be a daunting task, as you’ll soon learn to appreciate that the more you learn and read up on the more confused you’ll become. I have attempted to lay down some of the basic facts you’ll need and provide answers to the modern conundrums like is sitting the new smoking or do I need to walk a marathon every day?

Must I take 10, 000 steps daily ?

TL/DR : Yes, but ideally include some cardio

The rise in wearable devices has really popularized the notion that all you need to do to get and stay fit is to ensure that you walk for at least 10,000 steps a day. Is this really the case or is this just some hype to sell pedometers ?

There has been lot of research in this area and many experts conclude, that while 10,000 steps a day is a good number to target, any amount of activity beyond what you’re currently doing will likely have a positive impact on your health. Walking 10,000 steps a day may not be an official recommendation but in most cases this recommendation may boil down to 150 minutes of moderate activity per wee, such as brisk walking.

If you are new to exercise or are looking for a gentle intro to get you more motivated then there is nothing better that starting slowly in gently increasing your step count on a daily basis

For more detail on this subject check out  my  10, 000 steps a day journey , in which I explain how I incorporated 10,000 steps a day into my daily work-out routine

Do I really need 8 hours a day sleep ?

TL/DR : Research in this area is still inconclusive

I remember from my school day while studying Biology, that it was suggested the human beings required at least 8-10 hours sleep a night to perform at our optimum. However, a study from the University of California (UCLA) suggests that our ancestors didn’t get 8 hours a night sleep and if you believe everything the Daily mail we actually only need 6 hours sleep.

There is still alot of conflicting advice in this area, I can only suggest what works for me and I generally try get between 7-9 hours sleep a night. This depends on a whole host of factors, which includes how hard I trained during the day and if I am just mentally fatigued! I do beleive it is the quality of the sleep that you get. If you’re a new parent just getting any sleep at all is a bonus.

Are standing desks good for your health ?

There is definitely a lot hype around about this particular issue, going so far as many organisations trying to entice new staff by advertising that they have standing desk friendly environments. Some vendors of some fantastic standing desk gadgetary tend suggest that sitting down for extended periods has a worse impact on your health than smoking. So surely if you’re sitting down and smoking you’re doubling your chances of cancer!

TL/DR : Yes, but its not just the standing

I have read a few conflicting studies in this regard, but the general consensus is that standing desks do have some form of positive impact. However, it’s not necessarily the standing that has the postive impact. From my own experiments in this area, I have found that by having a standing desk, I am more likely to move around a lot more while working. Personally I have foundfor me personally I can only do certain types of work while standing. So in my home office I have configured 2 desks , one for seated work, i.e. Software Development, Writing and prolonged research. I then use my standing desk for Email, Goto Webinar presentations, Video calls, phone calls etc.
I have found that because I am standing I am more likely to engage in other exercise related like Stretching, Lunges, Squats and just generally a little more movement. The research I have read into this subject is that this is generally what the scientists believe provides the real benefits of standing desks.

Do I really need 5 portions of Fruit and Veg a day ?

I think we can all remember the rhyme “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” , which probably leads us to thinking that if all we need is an apple why do I need the 4 portions prescribed ?

TL/DR : Ideally it should be more!

The truth is that a whopping 85% of adults do not meet the target of 5 portions of fruit and veg a day. Despite the evidence showing that for every portion of fuit and veg eaten there is a reduced risk of stroke and some cancers. Ideally most adults should be aiming for a lot higher intake of fruit and veg, however 5 portions is generally good target to aim for.

Do I need to drink 2 litres of water a day?

There is a lot of general advice out there stating that we should be consuming between 6-8 glasses of H2O or more commonly known as water on daily basis. Is this really true.

TL/DR : No

I have studied a number of different conflicting reports on this matter and what I have gleaned from them is that there is a lot of confusion as to what scientist regard as water or fluids. The general guidelines point to that woman should aim for 2 litres of fluids and men should target 2.5 litres of fluids. When refering to fluids scientists are not necessarily refering to just water, they are including other beverages like Tea, Coffee , Soda’s etc and the also the fluids we consume from foods. Scientists estimate that we should derive 70% of fluids from drinks and 30 per cent from foods. However, water is still the optimum choice for hydration as it contains no calories or sugars.

Conclusion

In my quest to learn as much as I can about leading a healthier and physically fit lifestyle I have read a lot of misguided and conflicting information about what is good or bad for you. Often times a lot of this information is intended to just fill up space in newspapers or magazines, or hurriedly compiled just to reach deadlines. If you hang around gyms long enough and speak to any of the people working out you’ll also hear conflicting information, primarily because they have based their knowledge on one of these newspaper columns or articles. My general advice it to try and sift through this white noise and make your own informed decision and not base your decisions on any one research paper or media article. The truth is that a number of university research programs, media articles etc will all be funded by organizations and companies which will have a vested interest in ensuring that the outcome of the research places their product in a good light.