Wednesday, 17 September 2014

My new favourite foods Part 1: Hummus

Hummus is one of those foods I assumed I didn't like. No idea why, but I managed 28 years of my life without ever having had it. Man was I missing out! The chickpea based dip is a revelation of taste to me and I'm enjoying discovering all of the different varieties out there.

Having learned over time to make small but significant changes to my diet, I have become much more open to foods which I had automatically dismissed or passed over before. If something could be beneficial to me then I will try it and at least then I can make an informed decision.

Hummus is one of those foods. I'm still a novice - I am fairly uninventive with what I eat it with so far and I haven't braved trying to make a batch of my own but I can see my self getting there eventually.

I'm currently trying different flavours from Tesco and Dunnes (if anyone has some recommendations for me please send them my way!) and am really enjoying the smaller, multiple flavoured varieties which they sell in packs of three. (On a side note it takes me aaaages to find the hummus in different supermarkets, why can't they all be in the same sections!!). I've had traditional hummus, pepper varieties, extra lemon, so on, so on. The pea and mint one was amazing - especially as I hate peas.

For those of you who are still dubious, here are some very compelling reasons why hummus is so good for us.

The nutrients in hummus could help you with weight management.
Nutritionist Peggy Kotsopoulos told Fitness magazine that since hummus is so rich in protein, it can help fight hunger cravings and balance blood sugar levels. This could help curb excessive snacking. Kotsopoulos also says that the iron content in hummus helps boost your energy, which could make you more motivated to hit the gym.
Chickpeas can lower cholesterol.
In a study done by Jane Pittaway, an Australian lecturer in Health and Biomedical Science at the University of Tasmania's School of Human Life Sciences, a group of people aged between 30 and 70 and not in the best of health ate chickpeas every day for three years. She had a second group of people supply their daily fiber intake through wheat products like bread and cereal. The results showed that when both groups consumed the same amount of fiber, those on the chickpea diet consumed less fat and had a small reduction in cholesterol.
Hummus comes in so many awesome flavors.
You can never get bored with hummus because there are a myriad of ways to flavor it.There are 14 different Sabra flavors for your tasting pleasure, including roasted red pepper, chipotle, "supremely spicy," olive tapenade, spinach and artichoke, "luscious lemon" and basil pesto. 
Chickpeas may help reduce your cancer risk.
Foods that contain folate may reduce the risk of colorectal cancers (like colon cancer), possibly because of the nutrient's role healthy cell division. What's more, researchers believe dietary fiber helps promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon, which is also protective against cancer.
Eating hummus is part of the "Mediterranean diet," which is super good for you.
According to a study in The New England Journal of Medicine, about 30 percent of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease can be prevented in people who are at high risk if they switch to the Mediterranean diet. And since eating beans is a big part of this diet, what could be more Mediterranean than eating a bean spread rumored to have originally been made by people in Egypt?
It's a much better spread to use on bread (trust us).
If you are trying to find healthier ways to continue to eat your (not so healthy) foods, hummus can be your savior. Instead of the typical cream cheese on a bagel, be different and try hummus -- it's even delicious with loxFood Republic suggestsreplacing the mayonnaise in chicken salad and deviled eggs with hummus for a healthy twist. Or you could just use hummus as a replacement for sandwich spreads. Just take a hint from Two Peas & Their Pod and mix hummus and avocado with roasted red pepper for a healthy and seriously tasty lunch.
It's so easy to make your own.
According to this recipe from Food & Wine, all you need to make your own hummus is a food processor, a can of chickpeas, a garlic clove, extra virgin olive oil, tahini, lemon juice and salt. Then all you have to do is throw all the ingredients in the processor. Voila! Homemade hummus is all yours to gorge on.
Information thanks to an article from

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Here we go again... :)

A year on since I first got involved in the 'Macra's Feirme Bodies' initiative, I have signed up again this year to be a Leader once more. I, along with a handful more of willing and able participants, are the 'faces' of the project this year; we are all up for getting fitter and healthier and hopefully losing a few pounds in the process. I lost over a stone last year and through laziness and bad choices put a lot of it back on but am more than willing for the challenge again this time.

I have even more of an incentive this year - I got engaged at Easter and am getting married just before Christmas. I'm under no illusions that I am going to be a miniature version of myself by December, however a fitter, marginally more-toned version won't be unwelcome! I know I am going to be glowing and beautiful on the day, but there is just a teeny part of me which is worried that when I look back on our wedding photos that all I will see are my not unsubstantial bingo wings... Tyra Banks has taught me the benefits of being 'Flawsome' (taking what is perceived as a flaw and making it awesome) but I'm not sure even I, of the cheery and (most of the time) optimistic disposition, can make flabby arms anything resembling chic!

So that is my physical goal for 'Feirme Bodies' this year - tone those arms! (P.s. Michelle Obama is my inspiration for this one).

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Nutrition Support

Definitely one of the harder things for me in the grand scheme of getting fit, healthy and losing weight was changing my eating habits and attitude to food in general.

As part of the 'Feirme Bodies' programme we were paired up with mentors from the Nutrition Society in D.I.T as I previously mentioned.
I was paired with a lovely lady called Eileen who has had a good chat with me about my eating habits, my exercise regime (or lack of!) and my hopes for this programme and beyond.

She sent me some brilliant information which is tailored to what I had said to her but is still relevant to a lot of other people so I thought I would share it with you all. (I've tweaked it slightly to make it more general)


1. Aim for 7 days worth of exercise each week. If you're busy some days, add extra time onto another exercise session, or do 2 sessions in one day.

2. When exercising it's best to do so at an intensity that would be too difficult to sing at, but you could hold a conversation.

3. For weight loss, and to burn fat, it's best to exercise for greater that 30 mins. Aim for at least 45 mins for most sessions to get the most out of your exercise!

4. Try to fit a bit of extra exercise into your day...take the stairs or park away from work and walk in.

Download the couch to 5k app for some motivation and support while exercising!


1. Keep sticking with 3 meals and 2 healthy snacks during the day.

2. If you feel peckish try some fruit, a low fat yoghurt, some rice cakes, or raw veg sticks to tide you over

3. At dinner try to use the plate model of half veg, quarter potatoes /rice /pasta and quarter meat. The veg really fills you up, is packed with vitamins and minerals and is quite low in calories so eat as much as you want!

4. Make sure to keep hydrated, especially now that you're engaged in more exercise. Aim for 2 - 2.5 litres (5 pints) of water throughout the day. Refill your water bottle during the day and sip throughout the day.

5. Aim to include lean red meat (beef, lamb) twice per week to ensure you get enough iron in your diet. If this is not possible. consider talking to your pharmacist about iron supplements (eg. Galfer)

6. Attached is a copy of the food pyramid. Print this out (page 3 and 4) and stick it somewhere visible in your kitchen. Use it as a go-to guide when you're feeling peckish and don't know what to eat! There's lots of other useful information in this booklet too! 

I've made a whole other blog post about the booklet and food pyramid mentioned, the information is super useful, and I thought it would be great to share it with everyone. You can find it here.

Hope some of this helped and I'd love to hear comments from any of you with advice, ideas, etc.

"The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself"
Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Food Pyramid and information on healthy eating

I was recently given a very handy booklet on healthy eating and I thought it would be great to share it with you all, so here goes.


The results are in Part I.

I told you  a few weeks ago about our initial weigh-in. I still am too much of a wuss to reveal the starting weight here but I do hope to eventually! For the purposes of the Macra challenge, I'm starting at weight 'zero' and showing my losses/gains.

The whole 'Macra's Feirme bodies' crew weighed in on the 31st August and that was our start point in the journey to reach (and hopefully) exceed the target weight loss of one stone (14lbs) each at the end of the two month programme - the October Bank Holiday weekend.

We were all paired up with a mentor from the Nutritional Society in D.I.T (link to their facebook page here) and the mentor has been in touch with us each individually to chat about eating and exercise habits and ideas - more to follow on this later.

After a fortnight we were asked to attend our second weigh-in to record any losses/gains. Obviously we were hoping for the former and we had all been working towards it but there is still that butterflies-in-the-tummy feeling before it - fear of the unknown as well as the fear of being disappointed or worse, disappointing the other members of our three-person group.

I'd been keeping an eye on what I was eating as much as possible, cut out fizzy drinks totally and started getting more active. Zumba came back into my life.
Myself, Úna and James after our first Zumba class together
Lovely sweaty heads and all!
So, on the morning of the 14th September we met at a national Macra event in Dublin ( I was so dedicated I drove up and down on the day, a nice six-hour round trip!) and we took our turns to reveal our new weights...

No need for me to be worrying as I was down 3.5 lbs! 
Exactly on target to achieve the 14lb loss in two months.
As well as that, James Healy our Munster Vice President lost 6.75 lbs and Úna Ryan lost an astonishing 21.5 lbs!!! Go team!

This was a nice boost for all of us and definitely spurred us on to carry on and even improve.
Just hoped the next weigh in would yield similar results!
P.S. I'd love if all of you wonderful people reading this would comment, etc. - really like the idea of a more interactive blog!

"A dream becomes a goal when action is taken toward its achievement."
Bo Bennett

Sugar Infographic

Interesting infographic (a teacher's best friend!) on sugar quantities in common foods.
(Obviously an American creation with some foods we don't have here but a lot is relevant regardless).
Have fun viewing! (Click into it to see larger)

Thursday, 19 September 2013

It is the simple things

Something as simple as choosing water and fruit as snacks for journey instead of fizzy drinks (however much I miss you diet coke!) and chocolate/taytos is definitely making a difference