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How To Add Years To Your Life

February 23, 2017

According to a recent Imperial College London study, eating 10 portions of fruit and veg a day, may activate a genetic link to prolong life and could prevent 7.8 million premature deaths a year.

Researchers have identified specific fruit and vegetables with healing properties that reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. The scientifically tested and nutritionally balanced proposed diet is the key to making simple changes to your lifestyle that will add years to your life.

BBC News reports Dr Dagfinn Aune, one of the researchers, explained: “Fruit and vegetables have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and to boost the health of our blood vessels and immune system. This may be due to the complex network of nutrients they hold. For instance, they contain many antioxidants, which may reduce DNA damage and lead to a reduction in cancer risk.”

However, The World Health Organization has found that many people struggle to eat the recommended five a day, and in the UK only about one in three people reach this target.

Conclusions from the Imperial College London study were made by pooling data on 95 separate studies, that involved two million people’s eating habits. However, Dr Aune stated not all of the 95 studies that were analyzed fully accounted for other aspects of lifestyle, such as exercise levels, that could also play a role in prolonging lives, although conclusions were “quite robust”.

In taking a closer look at the diet and considering other factors that play a key role in the longevity stakes, researchers find having a laugh, finding a hobby and falling in love can improve enjoyment in life and add years without involving strict diets and extreme exercise.

Here’s the breakdown on what you need to know on how-to achieve optimum health:

Winning Diet

The good news is it’s not just bitter or leafy greens making an appearance on the recommended dinner plate. Beans, nuts, pulses, potatoes, turmeric, tofu, olive oil, fruit and legumes feature, too. While wide dietary variation can be found for individuals, a mostly plant based diet is the common thread amongst healthy people.

A portion equals as little as 80g (3oz) – the equivalent of a small banana, a pear or three heaped tablespoons of spinach or peas.

What Counts As Five-A-Day?

Lower risks of cancer were linked to eating:
– Green vegetables (eg spinach)
– Yellow vegetables (eg peppers)
– Cruciferous vegetables (eg cauliflower)

Lower risks of heart disease and strokes were linked to eating:
– Apples
– Pears
– Citrus fruits
– Salads
– Green leafy vegetables (eg lettuce)
– Cruciferous veg

Cooking On Five-A-Day

Economical, cost-effective, nourishing and utterly convenient! Increasing your fruit and veggie intake is as easy as starting your morning by spending as little as 15-20mins prepping your favorite ingredients and bringing them to a boil over the stove. Once your dish is brought to boiling point, you simply transfer your pot (lid on) into the wonderbag and allow the cooking process to continue for up to 12hours while you go about your day. When you return, a pot of heart-warming goodness waits…

Try your hand at our hearty Vegetable Barley Soup (serves 4-6)

Work/Life Balance

It’s something that is talked about regularly but are you actually practicing a work/life balance? Fatigue driven from overwork is never celebrated as a sign of being highly dedicated to your job! A few small adjustments to your workday week can be found to make a significant impact to productivity and your energy levels.

–  Block out time in the calendar devoted just for you – read a book, take an exercise class, cook your favourite healthy dish
–  Leave your desk at lunchtime or move to another space to eat to return more focused
–  It’s OK to say “NO” – don’t feel obliged to attend every after work gathering or meeting
–  Establish a sleep routine that allows you to have 7+ hours each night
–  Take a deep breath

Be Kind To Yourself

Practice wellbeing towards yourself and don’t beat yourself up over not ticking off everything you planned to do before midday. Just like air hostesses and cabin crew remind you each time before take off into the air, you must put your life mask on first before you can be helpful to others. Researchers suggest practicing self-care and mind-fullness boots vitality.

Get Outdoors

Researchers at both the University of Exeter in the UK and Stanford University in the US have found that prolonged exposure to green spaces not only reduces stress and depression, but also boosts feelings of wellbeing.

By spending just 10 minutes outside or looking at nature if you can’t be outdoors restores concentration, according to the University of Oregon in the US.

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Wonderbag and Healthy Meals

There are so many things that I love about the Wonderbag – the versatility, how pretty they are, the practicality and saving, and the fact that you can cook really healthy nutritious meals, where all the goodness stays in the pot! As we approach the warmer months in some regions of the world, one tends to look for lighter meals. Meals that do not take so long to cook, as you want to make the most of the daylight and the warm evenings. With my blog and the recipes I develop and share, I am going to try and cater for all regions – those going into winter and those entering summer. By the end of the year you should have a great stash of wonderful recipes for winter and summer, and, they will keep on coming. With all meals cooked in the Wonderbag, I love that all the goodness of the meat and vegetables is retained in the pot, forming the sauce. Nothing is drained off or evaporated away, as all the magic happens in the sealed pot in the Wonderbag. The recipe that we are sharing with this blog, is a Sticky Asian style chicken. Light and fresh and quick and easy to prepare. You can use skinless, boneless thighs as the recipe says, OR any cut of chicken or Turkey. It is light and fresh with some colourful vegetables for flavour, colour and taste, and cooked in a sauce with flavours of soy, honey, garlic and ginger. The fresh coriander and spring onions at the end add a freshness and fragrance to your meal. Serve with basmati rice or even fresh bread!

Look out for the recipe today and enjoy!

Chat soon,

Chef Ursula

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Thai Style Sweet Potato and Vegetable Curry

SERVES: 4 – 6
PREP TIME: 15 MINUTES
STOVE TOP TIME: 25 MINUTES
WONDERBAG TIME: 2.5 HOURS
DIFFICULTY: EASY

INGREDIENTS

  • 30ml oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into cubes
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons red Thai curry paste
  • 1 tin coconut mil
  • ½ tin water
  • 750g sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 100g baby corn, cut in half lengthways
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 100g green beans
  • Fresh coriander for garnish

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat the oil in a pot and fry the onion and garlic until soft but not brown.
  2. Add the cubed peppers and fry for 3 minutes.
  3. Add the red Thai curry paste and fry for a minute, then add the coconut milk and water.
  4. Add all the remaining ingredients, except the beans and coriander.
  5. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on.
  6. Place in the Wonderbag, seal and leave for 2 ½ hours.
  7. Open the bag, check the potatoes are soft and stir in the green beans and chopped coriander.
  8. Serve with Basmati rice, cooked in the Wonderbag.

 

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Thai Vegetable Soup

SERVES: 4
PREP TIME: 15 MINUTES
STOVE TOP TIME: 20 MINUTES
WONDERBAG TIME: 4-5 HOURS
DIFFICULTY: EASY

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 stalks ginger, grated
  • 1 chili (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp ground salt
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp turmeric
  • 1 Tbsp garum masala
  • 500g/17.64oz butternut, chopped
  • 1 sweet potato, chopped
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 10 leeks
  • 1 big handful of green beans
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 small broccoli head, chopped
  • 6 baby corn, chopped
  • 1 bunch of coriander
  • 2 tins of coconut milk

 DIRECTIONS

  1. Add the olive oil, onions, leeks, garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric, garam masala and (chilies) to a large pot and allow them to heat up.
  2. Add the butternut, sweet potato, broccoli, corn, carrots and beans and mix them all together and allow to heat up.
  3. Once you have mixed all the above ingredients, add the 2 tins of coconut milk and the salt and bring to the boil.
  4. Allow to boil for 15 minutes and then place the pot into the Wonderbag.
  5. Cook for 4-5 hours and then slightly blend the soup using a hand blender.

To Serve: Serve with fresh coriander and homemade bread.

Tips: If you like the soup very thin, add some boiling water. You can decide once the soup is cooked, how smoothly you want to blend the mixture. I like to only blend half the mixture to give it more texture.

 

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Tomato Celery Soup

SERVES: 4
PREP TIME: 15 MINS
STOVE TOP TIME: 15 MINS
WONDERBAG TIME: 3 HRS
DIFFICULTY: EASY

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 long sticks of celery, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and grated
  • 4 whole big tomatoes, skins removed
  • 2 tins tomatoes, chopped
  • 10 cherry tomatoes (you can substitute this with another big tomato)
  • 250ml organic chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3 Tbsp sugar or 1 tbsp agave
  • Black pepper
  • Coarse salt
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • 250ml Fresh cream (optional)
  • Additional protein – bacon or butterbeans (optional)

 DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat up the oil/butter in a large pot.
  2. Add the onions, garlic and celery and simmer for about 3 minutes.
  3. Now add the fresh and tinned tomatoes and the stock – bring to the boil.
  4. Add the sugar/agave, mix and place in the Wonderbag.
  5. Leave in the Wonderbag for 3 hours.
  6. Remove and blend the soup with a handheld blender.
  7. If you want to, add 150ml-250ml fresh cream to the pot and mix. 

To Serve: Serve with fresh basil leaves, salt and pepper. Best served with homemade bread.

Tips: To make it easier to remove the tomatoes’ skins I leave them in some boiling water first. If you would like to add some protein to it – you could add a tin of butterbeans to the soup mix or you could cook some streaky bacon, and crumble it on top of the soup once the soup has been dished up – add the basil on top of the bacon!

 

 

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Tuscan Bean Soup

SERVES: 4
PREP TIME: 5 MINUTES
STOVE TOP TIME: 20 MINUTES
WONDERBAG TIME: 2 HOURS
DIFFICULTY: EASY

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 baby onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp roughly chopped parsley and sage
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
  • 50 g fresh bacon, roughly chopped
  • 1 pinch cracked black pepper
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 400g/14.11oz (1 can) cannellini beans
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 loaf ciabatta bread, sliced for croutons

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large pot, braise the bacon over a low heat- so as not to colour.
  2. Add onion, garlic, and herbs. Braise in olive oil for 5 min, add chopped tomato and cook for further 5 min.
  3. Add can of beans, keep 4tbsp of beans aside for garnish.
  4. Add chicken or vegetable stock. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Blend and push the soup through a sieve.
  6. Bring your soup back to the boil and add your 4 tbsp garnish beans to the pot.
  7. Once soup has been brought to a boil, place the pot into the Wonderbag and allow to stand for 2 hours.

To make croutons: drizzle ciabatta slices with olive oil and grill, preferably over an open fire or in a frying pan until brown. Serve soup hot with croutons.

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French Onion Soup

SERVES: 2
PREP TIME: 5 MINUTES
STOVE TOP TIME: 30 MINUTES
WONDERBAG TIME: 1 HOUR
DIFFICULTY: EASY

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 Tbl olive oil
  • 1 tbl butter
  • 6 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tbl sugar
  • 2 tbl plain flour
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups vegetable stock

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat the oil and butter in a pot and add the onions. Fry gently for 10 minutes. Do not allow the onions to brown.
  2. Add the garlic and sugar, and continue to cook on a low heat for a further 15 minutes.
  3. Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring all the time.
  4. Pour in the wine and stir.
  5. Gently add the stock and bring to the boil.
  6. Cover the pot and simmer for 2 minutes on a medium heat.
  7. Place the lidded pot in the Wonderbag for 1 hour to finish cooking.
  8. Serve with toasted French bread.
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Butternut Squash Soup

SERVES: 4
PREP TIME: 10 MINUTES
STOVE TOP TIME: 10 MINUTES
WONDERBAG TIME: MINIMUM 2 HOURS
DIFFICULTY: EASY

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 yellow onions, finely diced
  • 3 Tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 4 cups (1 liter) vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onions and sauté until translucent (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add the butternut squash, thyme and stock.
  4. Increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered for about 5 min.
  6. Place your lidded pot in the Wonderbag for a minimum of 2 hours to finish cooking.
  7. Purée using a staff-blender or food processer.
  8. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

 

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Cranberry, Nut and Cinnamon Poached Apples

SERVES: 4 – 6
PREP TIME: 25 MINUTES
STOVE TOP TIME: 25 MINUTES
WONDERBAG TIME: 3 HOURS
DIFFICULTY: MODERATE

INGREDIENTS

  • 200ml toasted and chopped walnuts OR pecan nuts
  • 125ml chopped dried cranberries
  • 80ml brown sugar
  • 80ml rolled oats
  • 45ml butter, softened
  • 15ml lemon juice
  • 15ml lemon rind
  • 5ml ground cinnamon
  • 6 medium to large firm baking apples
  • 1lt water
  • 15ml honey
  • Ice cream or cream for serving

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine the walnuts, cranberries, brown sugar, oats, softened butter, lemon juice, rind and cinnamon in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Using a melon baller, scoop out the centre and pips of the apple, leaving the bottom intact.
  3. Carefully slice a small amount off the bottom of each apple so that they stand level.
  4. Divide the nut mixture between all the apples, filling each cavity tightly.
  5. Pierce 3 holes on the sides of each apple.
  6. Place the apples in a medium sized pot and add the water and honey.
  7. Bring the liquid to the boil, place the lid on the pot and simmer for 25 minutes.
  8. Place the sealed pot on a mat or cloth in the Wonderbag and seal.
  9. Leave to cook for 3 hours.
  10. Remove the pot and remove the apples from the poaching liquid.
  11. Serve with ice cream or cream.
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Whole Roasted Chicken with Baby Seasonal Vegetables

SERVES: 4 – 6
PREP TIME: 25 MINUTES
STOVE TOP TIME: 40 MINUTES
WONDERBAG TIME: 4 HOURS
DIFFICULTY: MODERATE

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large chicken
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 whole carrot
  • 1,25lt water
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 30ml Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, whole
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 3 sprigs parsley
  • 12 baby potatoes
  • 12 baby carrots
  • 8 – 10 pearl onions, peeled
  • 250g mixed baby squash such as gems, courgettes and patty pans
  • 250g button mushrooms, rinsed

 DIRECTIONS

  1. Sprinkle the whole chicken with salt and pepper.
  2. Place the onion, carrot, garlic, rosemary, thyme and parsley in the bottom of the pot and place the chicken on top.
  3. Add the water, bouillon cube and Worcestershire sauce, baby potatoes and baby onions.
  4. Cover and bring to the boil.
  5. Simmer for 30 minutes and then place the sealed pot in the Wonderbag on a mat or cloth, seal and leave for 3 ½ hours.
  6. Remove the pot and place back on the stove.
  7. Remove the quartered onion, carrot and herbs.
  8. Add the remainder of the small vegetables and simmer for 10 minutes and place back in the Wonderbag for 30 minutes.
  9. Remove and place the chicken under the grill to brown.
  10. Carefully place the chicken and baby veg on a platter.
  11. Thicken the sauce to make a gravy and serve with the roast