Milk Allergy at School: High Risk Dairy Foods & Suggested Solutions

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There is no doubt that an allergy to any food can be stressful, but milk presents greater issues than most. It’s one of the most revered foods in the American diet, and thanks in part to School Milk Programs, it’s rampant in our schools. For students with milk allergies, high risk dairy foods can seem impossible to avoid. From […]

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Protein Supplements for Muscle Growth

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If you want to grow, it’s imperative that your nutrition is on the mark. You might have heard before that ‘muscles are made in the kitchen’

  – and this is something that pretty much all fitness experts will agree on. You can give 110% to your training, but if your diet is rubbish – or inconsistent – your results will reflect this. Equally, muscles don’t come bottled; I’m sorry to break this to you, but Pop Eye’s little spinach trick was a massive exaggeration (WHAT?).

Recovery + Protein: The ‘Magic Bullet’ to Muscle Growth!

It’s not surprising that protein is at the forefront of any muscle building plan, and why protein supplements are considered a staple within the sports nutrition industry. The other macros – carbs and fat – are predominantly burned as energy, whereas protein is essential to the growth, repair and maintenance of structural tissues (including muscle).

This is why recovery is so important; it’s actually the periods between training that allow growth to occur. During intense exercise, muscles are subjected to trauma, which causes their fibres to become damaged as a result. This is a completely normal phase that with repetition, actually leads to an increase in mass. Thus, you need to make sure that your intake of protein is adequate, to kick-start the healing process.

Getting the Balance Right

What you’re aiming to achieve is a positive nitrogen balance; this basically the point at which protein intake exceeds loss, creating a ‘reservoir’ of sorts in the body. It’s a marker that you’re getting enough protein, which means the right conditions are in place for some nice gains (big smiley face) – or muscle hypertrophy, to be more technical.

So how much protein do you need? Unfortunately, there is no ‘one size fits all’ formula, here; it might be a case of trial and error to find what works for you. However, as a rule of thumb, an intake of between 1.4-2g of protein per kg of body weight is said to promote muscle growth and repair in active (and otherwise healthy) individuals. Factors such as height/build, gender, and activity levels are the reason for the variance.

For example, you’re a 28 year old male, 5ft 10” tall, and weigh around 12 stone. You’re training hard, and your goal is to put on muscle, but you have an office-based job, whereby you sit at a desk all day. You’ll need around 1.7g of protein per kg of body weight, which equates to a daily intake of 210g (approximately). The best whey to achieve this (little pun – sorry, I couldn’t resist) is by including protein with all of your main meals (get accurate with your measurements where possible), and factor in supplements around this.

Timing – is it Really so Important?

Ah! The elusive, anabolic window. There is evidence to suggest that consuming whey protein immediately after you train (within a twenty minute time frame, thereabouts) is conductive to muscle recovery. This, I would agree with… on the whole. If though – for whatever reason – you don’t manage to do this, rest assured, your muscles aren’t going to suddenly deflate like a kiddie’s paddling pool. The trick is to ensure you’re getting a good supply of protein throughout the day, which is supportive of your recovery.

Whey has a high biological value (BV); it’s rapidly absorbed, which is thought to ‘shuttle’ amino acids to muscle cells where they’re needed – this is why it’s considered the ‘holy grail’ of post-workout nutrition. I’ll also stress the importance of BCAAs and intra-workout products, which can greatly impact muscle development, and should be considered separate to any protein supplements you’re using.

For those of you who want to maximise muscle recovery (and enjoy a little bedtime snack), I’d recommend a casein supplement. This type of protein is digested slowly, providing a slow ‘drip’ of amino acids to muscles, and helping to maintain an anabolic (muscle building) state. If you find traditional shakes too thick for your liking, try a dessert! These are just like eating a mousse; just add water/milk, allow to set in the fridge for a bit, and hey presto – a top notch treat and recipe for recovery in one!


Mexican Mango Guacamole

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By tradition, guacamole is a Mexican dish. But this recipe infuses even more of the culture with two types of popular Mexican produce, mango and jicama. The result is a mango guacamole that is not only an amazing dip, but also a versatile condiment. In Mexico, it’s common for people to eat mangoes every day. In fact, for many […]

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Cooking up gluten free meals with The Mindful Chef

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I’m always keen to find new recipes, and really liked the concept behind the Mindful Chef. Dubbed ‘the health recipe box’, it focuses on fresh, organic produce – and everything is sent to you in exactly the right portions to avoid food waste.


Mindful Chef very kindly offered to send me a box of goodies, and within my box were two recipes – Singapore style sweet potato noodles with shredded chicken, and an aubergine, courgette and beef lasagne. Both gluten free and containing no refined carbs.

gluten free mindful chef

Sadly, I was very ill when Mindful Chef sent me the recipe box, so I only got to try one of the recipes – but I gave the second to my friend Lauren (see her blog here) and she happily tested it out for me! Lauren tried the sweet potato noodles recipe and reported back that it was so good, she can’t wait to make it again!

gluten free mindful chef 2

Meanwhile, I taste-tested the beef and aubergine lasagne on my non-gluten free guinea pig/boyfriend/personal trainer Steve. He was very obliging and devoured the meal pretty quickly. I only tried a little but it was very tasty – the recipe was clear and easy to follow. I loved the fact it put balsamic vinegar in the sauce – a handy tip I’ve used quite a few times since!


I also REALLY loved the fact Mindful Chef uses ‘imperfect’ veg. All the ingredients are organic and the veg may not be the perfect size or shape, but it all tasted absolutely delicious and when it came through it was all fresh and ready to go.


The Mindful Chef recipe boxes are available for one, two or four people. They work out about £4.50 a meal which, to me seems a little pricey, but I don’t often buy organic foods so this might be why it’s more than I would usually spend.


That being said, it’s a lot cheaper than eating out or getting a take-away and it’s perfect for those nights when you really can’t be bothered. Everything is just there, ready and waiting, and the instructions are really clear. One thing I will say is if you don’t have the most kitted out kitchen you may need to invest in a few tools. For example, the sweet potato recipe assumes you have a Julien peeler (I don’t) or spiraliser (luckily I have one of those!) but you could easily improvise.


Overall I was impressed. If I knew I had a particularly busy week I would probably invest in this, as it makes life a lot simpler and also the recipe cards look really stylish and you can save them up so you can make them again – a lasting investment. I can’t wait to give the sweet potato noodles a go now I am feeling better!

I was sent the two-person recipe box to try from Mindful Chef. Find out more about their recipes boxes and the different menus available here.

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