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What Is Intermittent fasting?

INTERMITTENT FASTING

What is Intermittent Fasting?

There has been a lot of interest in the health world around intermittent fasting.

This is the practice of not eating for a certain number of hours a day, or not eating for two or three days out of the week.

The obvious result of this is limiting your calorie intake over the fasting period. If you look across a whole week intermittent fasting generally causes people to consume less calories than they otherwise would. The inherent result of this is going to be weight loss, which means without dramatically changing what you eat you can lose weight. This has made the idea of intermittent fasting very popular.

In the office both Niamh and Bobby have tried it. Niamh doesn’t eat anything before 2pm and claims her energy levels have never been higher.

Bobby tried fasting for 24hours and said he felt a little bit lightheaded and dizzy on the day but after doing it, he felt lighter, refreshed and less bloated.

This is not a particularly new concept. In fact there were several studies in the 30s and 40s that came to the conclusion that restricting calorie intake of certain animals led to those animals leading a comparatively longer life span.

How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

To understand how fasting works we need to understand how the body behaves when you eat food and when you don’t.

When you eat food your body spends typicaly 3 to 5 hours digesting and absorbing food. During this period it is typically hard for your body to burn fat because of the increased insulin levels.

After about around 8- 12 hours your body is no longer absorbing or digesting food which means your insulin levels are low and this makes it easier for you to  burn fat.

Because we don’t stop absorbing energy and food into our system 12 hours after eating, it is rare that our bodies are in this fat burning state.

By intermittent fasting you choose to force your body into this state which allows you to burn more fat than you otherwise would, without dramatically changing what you eat and how much you exercise.

The Effects of Intermittent fasting

1. Losing Belly Fat

The main argument for intermittent fasting is there is evidence that skipping the first meal of the day and not eating late at night, not only helps you lose weight, but helps you retain muscle mass and increases your energy levels.

2. Increased Energy

This is the main thing Niamh has noticed from her own intermittent fasting. She has more energy in the mornings, and to quote her, ‘no longer falls asleep at work.’

3.  Increased metabolism

Other purported physical benefits of fasting include:

1. Improved mental clarity and concentration.

2. Lowered blood insulin and sugar levels which may help with type 2 diabetes.

3. Increased growth hormone.

4. Lowered blood cholesterol.

5. You might even live longer

The Not so Good

As with any form of dramatic change for your body, there can be side-effects, especially if you don’t plan and structure your fasting properly.

1. Running low on nutrients

By altering your eating habits like this, you may find your body begins to get less of the good stuff that it needs because you aren’t eating properly.

2. Junk food becomes more tempting

Especially when you start, your food cravings may lead you to over indulge in junk food.

3. Not being able to exercise

Exercising without eating properly can lead to alarming fatigue, light-headedness and nausea.

Exercise requires you to massively increase your energy output. Burning body fat is an inefficient way to create energy; the potential energy in fatty tissue is stored as long molecules that are harder to break down than sugars.

However, Niamh, after daily intermittent fasting for nearly a month argues that she now has more energy than ever before!

3. Constipation

Less going in means less going out. You don’t need medications unless you experience discomfort.

4. Headaches

These tend to disappear after the first few times on fasts. Make sure you are drinking lots of water to help with this.

Other possible side effects include dizziness, heartburn and muscle cramps.

Eight tips for successful Intermittent Fasting:

1. Drink lots of water.

2. Stay busy and exercise.

3. Drink coffee or tea.

4. Hunger comes in waves, if you can ride them out you’ll find they quickly dissipate.

5. Don’t tell anybody who is not supportive that you are fasting. It can be mentally challenging to fast.

6. Give yourself one month. It won’t feel great to begin with. But stick with it and let the results speak to you.

7. Follow a low-carb diet between fasting periods. This reduces hunger and makes fasting much easier. It may also increase the effect on weight loss and type 2 diabetes reversal, etc.

8. Don’t binge after fasting!

Getting Started

The first thing you need to do is decide what kind of fasting you are going to do choose something that will fit into your lifestyle.

Second, you then need to decide on the length of time you are going to fast.

Thirdly, plan! The key to a successful fast lies in the planning. What are you going to eat, and when? When are you going to exercise and for how long? Which days are going to be feast days? When are you likely going to be in social situations that require you to eat or drink? For example, is your friend having a bottomless brunch party for their birthday? You need to incorporate that into your plan so that you can still go about enjoying life as normal but still stick to your fasting schedule.

When you’re ready, start fasting. If for any reason this makes you feel unwell or if you have any concerns, stop and seek help.

Continue all your usual activities outside of eating. Stay busy and live normally. Imagine you’re “eating” a full meal of your own fat.

Finally, when you break your fast, do it slowly and gently.

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Haunting Halloween Recipes

Our Haunting Halloween Recipes

Halloween is an opportunity to have a little fun, from ridiculous costumes to outrageous parties.

Of course if you’re having a party, you need some suitably spooky food. We have collected and tested a few of our favourites for you.

Starting with a couple of simple appetisers. Tasty finger foods that are sure to impress.

Pumpkin puffs

  • Plain flour, for dusting the baking parchment
  • 1 standard pack of puff pastry
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 80g unsalted butter cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 190 grams finely grated Gruyere cheese
  • 130 grams of finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees C. Generously flour two pieces of parchment paper; on each, roll out an unfolded pastry sheet to form a 15-by-13-inch rectangle, about 1/16 inch thick. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, stir the paprika into the melted butter.

2. Remove pastry from the refrigerator, and brush off excess flour. Spread a rectangle of pastry with mustard; sprinkle with both cheeses. Season with pepper. Lay a second pastry rectangle on top.

3. Place a sheet of parchment on top of the stacked pastry; using a rolling pin, roll until smooth and pastry layers are sealed together. Remove parchment, and brush top of pastry with butter mixture. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

4. With a pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter, cut into 18 to 24 shapes. Immediately place the shapes on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Using a sharp paring knife, score each shape four or five times to make pumpkin ridges. Bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer puffs to a wire rack; let cool slightly before serving.

Fingers and Toes

  • Red or green food colouring, (optional, for finger nails)
  • 24 blanched almonds, halved lengthwise
  • 2 cups warm water, plus 3 litres, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • Vegetable oil
  • 640g – 750g plain flour, plus some for the work surface
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 large egg
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Fried rosemary (optional, for toes)

Directions

1. Place a small amount of food colouring, if using, in a shallow bowl, and, using a paintbrush, colour the rounded side of each split almond; set aside to dry.

2. Pour 2 cups water into a bowl. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Sprinkle in the yeast, and let stand until yeast begins to bubble (about 5 minutes). Stir in 120 grams of flour. Add in the salt and then another 400g of flour. Continue beating until dough pulls away from bowl, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the rest of the flour. Beat 1 minute more. If dough is sticky, add a little more flour until the texture is right. Transfer to a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth, 1 minute.

3. Coat a large bowl with cooking spray. Transfer dough to bowl, turning dough to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap; let rest in a warm spot to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

4. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Bring 3 litres of water water to a boil in a large saucepan; reduce to a simmer. Add baking soda. Lightly coat two baking sheets with cooking spray. Divide dough into quarters. Work with one quarter at a time, and cover remaining dough with plastic wrap. Divide first quarter into 12 pieces. On a lightly floured work surface, roll each piece back and forth with your palm forming a long finger shape, about 3 to 4 inches. Pinch dough in two places to form knuckles. Or, to make toes, roll each piece so that it is slightly shorter and fatter, about 2 inches. Pinch in 1 place to form the knuckle. When 12 fingers or toes are formed, transfer to simmering water. Poach for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer fingers to the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough, blanching each set of 12 fingers or toes before making more.

5. Beat egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush pretzel fingers and toes with the egg wash. Using a sharp knife, lightly score each knuckle about three times. Sprinkle with sea salt and rosemary, if using. Position almond nails, pushing them into dough to attach. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

For spooky coloured food you don’t have to get too creative. This gratin is delicious and there is always something a little ghoulish about black beans and sausages…

Kale and Butternut Squash Gratin

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled
  • 1/2 bunch kale (200g to 250g) stems and tough ribs removed, leaves torn into large pieces.
  • Unsalted butter, for baking dish
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 60g finely grated Parmesan
  • Fresh sage leaves
  • 90ml double cream
  • 2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice squash just above bulb. Slice squash neck crosswise into 1/4-inch rounds. Cut squash bulb in half lengthwise. Remove seeds with a spoon; discard. Slice each half crosswise into 1/4-inch half-moons.

2. Set a steamer basket in a large pot filled with 1 inch water; bring to a boil. Add kale, cover, and steam until bright green and wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool slightly. Squeeze dry.

3. Butter a shallow baking dish (approx 13 by 9 in). Arrange half of sliced squash in dish, shingling pieces to overlap. Season with salt and pepper. Top with kale, season with more salt and pepper, and sprinkle with two thirds of the Parmesan and 2 tablespoons sage. Place remaining squash on top, overlapping pieces slightly; season with more salt and pepper. Pour cream over squash and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons sage.

4. Cover tightly with parchment-lined foil and bake until squash is tender, about 40 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with panko breadcrumbs and remaining Parmesan. Bake, uncovered, until golden, 10 to 15 minutes more. Let cool slightly before serving.

Black Bean and Sausage

  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 450g of smoked sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 medium carrots, diced small
  • 2 shallots, diced small
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 470ml chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, plus more for serving
  • 50g plain yogurt, for serving

Directions

1. In a large frying pan, heat oil over medium-high. Add sausage and cook until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add carrots and shallots to skillet and cook until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add black beans and stock and bring mixture to a boil. Add sausage, reduce heat to a rapid simmer, and cook until carrots are tender, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parsley. Serve with more parsley and a dollop of yogurt.

Of course you will need something to drink. This one’s for the kids. But if you want a ghastly cocktail try one of these Spooky Halloween Cocktails

Blood Moon Punch

  • 1 litre of orange juice
  • 1 litre water
  • 2 litres grape juice
  • 1 ¼ litres ginger beer
  • 750ml sparkling water
  • 250ml fresh lime juice
  • Candy bats (optional)

Directions

1. For the ice moon, freeze a mixture of orange juice and water in a small bowl, around 8 in diameter. In a large punch bowl, gently stir together grape juice, ginger beer, sparkling water, and fresh lime juice. To release the moon, dip the bottom of the frozen bowl in hot water until the ice starts to melt at the edges. Remove the bowl from the water and turn it onto a plate. Place the moon in the punch, flat-side up, and if desired, arrange candy bats on top.