Good morning and Happy Tuesday! I hope you had a great weekend and are looking forward to a great week ahead.  The fact that it is nearly the end of January already is a good sign that we've breezed past the 'hump' of Winter and things are on the way up (hopefully!).

I've decided this week to have a word of the week – food related of course! This week I have chosen:

Oyster {oi-ster}
-       Noun
any edible marine bivalve mollusc of the genus Ostrea, having a rough irregularly shaped shell and occurring on the sea bed, mostly in coastal waters

something from which advantage, delight, profit, etc. may be derived eg. the world is my oyster
Be happy with who you are, be able to and have a desire to spend time with yourself from time to time, and realise the freedom to make choices in your life.  Be the driver, not a passenger.  The world is your oyster, too. 

I've been thinking of some healthy heart snacks to recommend, as it's those mid afternoon and post dinner times when a lot of people struggle with staying 'healthy'. Having a healthy snack on hand when you are out and about or ready to go in the cupboard for after dinner will help to stop you reaching for the 'naughty' options.

One fantastic snack is nuts - they are healthy, easy to transport and can last for ages in the bottom of your bag until you need them (unlike fruit which you regret if it's been in there more than 2 days!).

So this week's 'Food of the Week' is a nut – the almond. Let me know if you are allergic to almonds and I can let you know some other good sources of the same nutrients.
A lot of people love nuts, but worry that they're too high in fat to make them a regular snack. Think again.  A handful of almonds is the perfect superfood to keep you going through the morning - or afternoon, and are great for you in moderation.  

Avoid salted or roasted almonds and opt instead for the au naturel version which have no salt or added oil, otherwise you may defeat the purpose of having a healthy food!

Here are some other health benefits of almonds:

•  Almonds are high in monounsaturated fat which is classed as a 'healthy fat', does not lead to raised cholesterol and can in moderation actually aid weight loss.

•  Almonds are a good source of the antioxidant Vitamin E, which is good for your heart and skin by preventing free radical damage to the cells.  23 almonds provide 60% of your daily recommended Vitamin E

•  Compared with other nuts, almonds contain the highest levels of some key nutrients – magnesium, protein, potassium and copper 

•  Almonds contain more calcium and fibre than any other nut

•  It has been shown that diabetics should also reach for almonds as eating them can help lower blood sugar levels and insulin after meals.

A portion of 23 almonds (one ounce/28g) contains around 163 calories, so why not combine it with an apple for the perfectly balanced and filling snack that is low in calories?  Your body will use all of the vitamins and minerals in these calories, the fibre in the nuts will take energy to break down and the protein will keep you feeling full until your next meal.

Here are some other healthy heart snack ideas for you to try:

  • Low fat cottage cheese on 2 x ryvita
  • 1 piece of fruit
  • 3-4 oatcakes with peanut butter (no added sugar/salt)
  • 150g or small tub of natural yoghurt with fresh or frozen blueberries
  • Hummus with cucumber, peppers or carrot sticks
  • Tub of edamame beans
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes
  • Cooked chicken pieces (100g)
  • Small pack of sushi
  • ‘Bounce’ ball – from health food shops

Let me know if you have any other favourite healthy snacks that we can add to the list.

Until next time...