Monday, 4 April 2016

A week in Salads - The Shopska

Summer is coming! Or so we here in the UK are hoping. We have holidays planned, beaches we want to go to and we are already stressing about our beach bodies! Training regimes and diets forgotten after January have been picked up again in the hope that we can look presentable in our swimwear.

So many of my friends - girl friends mostly - are going on crazy diets, which have them eating too little or has them eating the wrong things. As someone that has seriously struggled with weight and has yoyo dieted many times, I know how hard it is to feel in control. 

In light of this I thought I would do a series of salads for lunch that are both healthy, low in calories but also filling. They can be prepared beforehand and simply dressed once you are at work or you can make them at work if you have a kitchen that allows you to do that. The idea is that you have a healthy meal for lunch that makes you feel good about what you are eating, gives you the nutrition that you need and helps in your goal towards that beach ready body.  

The first salad I am starting with is my favourite and one eaten a lot through Eastern Europe. It is called a Shopska Salad, it is named after a region and its peoples in Bulgaria. It is simple, fresh and extremely delicious.

Ingredients for a single serving:

This does make a large salad but as this will be your main meal for the middle of the day that is ok. The quantities really are quite individual if you like more tomatoes and less pepper or onion then change it to suit your taste. The below is simply a guideline.

50gm Feta cheese
2 large tomatoes, or a hand full of cherry tomatoes
2 spring onions
⅓ of a large cucumber
1 fresh bell pepper of 2 roast peppers*  
1 tsp olive oil
Salt to taste - be careful don’t forget the feta is already very salty.

*You can buy Jars of roasted peppers at the foreign section of most supermarkets - Lidl and Aldi have big jars.  


This couldn’t be simpler, chop all the vegetables season with the oil and salt, crumble the feta and enjoy!  

Some tips and ideas: Along with the salads I thought I would give some tips and ideas on how to make the change of diet a pleasant and successful one. This is all based on my own personal experience. I have trial and errored a lot of things but once I got the hang of it I can happily say that this way of healthy eating becomes part of everyday life rather than a 4 week exercise that you attempt because you need to drop some kilos. You can enjoy everything that you love and maintain a healthy body and mind. I am a huge glutton so if I can do it anyone can, trust me! Todays tip is:

Give up Sugar. If you want to slim down and do it healthy you will have to give up the majority of sugar that you eat. It is that simple. This does not mean ALL sugar. Sugars occur in some form or other in most of our foods. What I mean is give up the added sugar. I still have a level teaspoon in my morning coffee and eat the occasional cake, I see nothing wrong with that. The first two weeks will be hard as your body adjusts to less sugar but after that you will find that too much sugar makes you really unhappy, so it is worth the discomfort!! 

An important thing to know it is that "sugar" is the overall term for several different chemical substances; fructose, glucose and sucrose - all types of "sugar" - are absorbed by the body in the same way. Therefore fruit sugars, honey, agave and all the rest of the natural sweeteners that we are told are healthy alternatives to sugar are also technically “sugar”, your body does not distinguish. The key to eating those foods is the strength of sweetness and the quantity you use. Let me explain. A spoonful of honey has 22 calories compared to 16 in a spoonful of sugar. So why is honey considered a healthier alternative? Honey is much much sweeter and denser than sugar so you need a lot less of it to achieve the same effect, therefore having less of the fructose and glucose, which are the two sugars that predominantly make up honey. Honey is also rich on minerals and nutrients and has some antibiotic properties, processed sugar has none of that. 

I hope that you find this helpful. Too many young people these days go through drastic measures to slim down because they either have no inspiration, or too little information, both things that are easily fixed. 

Bon Apettite!