Now summer is nearly over we need to continue the sun's good work by keeping up our vitamin D levels. Vitamin D helps to keep our serotonine levels topped up and this helps us to feel calm and also stops us over-eating. So, having enough vitamin D is essential for losing or maintaining your optimal weight. Vitamin D, sometimes known as the sunshine vitamin, is synthesized by our bodies under the skin in reaction to summer sunlight. The best source of vitamin D is sunlight but there are a small number of foods that contain vitamin D naturally. Good sources include oily fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines. I've put together some tasty recipes for you to enjoy, improve your health and bring sunshine to your plate!
Super Powered Mackerel Couscous (serves 3-4)
200g Couscous(preferably wholewheat)
2 1/2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 head Broccoli, cut into florets
5 Fillets Smoked Mackerel
80g Hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
75g Dried Apricots, roughly chopped
2 tbsp toasted seeds (sunflower, pumpin, sesame)
2 tbsp finely chopped dill
- Put the couscous in a large bowl and stir in the oil, cumin and the zest and juice of half a lemon.
- Stir in 300ml of boiling water, cover and leave for 10 minutes.
- Blanch the broccoli for 3 minutes in boiling water and then run under the cold tap until cool.
- Remove the skin from the mackerel fillets and flake it through the couscous.
- Mix in the hazelnuts, apricots, seeds, dill and rocket.
- Stir through the remaining lemon juice and season with black pepper, to your taste.
This meal is great for dinner parties!
Salmon with a sundried tomato and goats cheese crust (serves 2)
2 Salmon Fillets
125g Soft Goats Cheese
2 tbsp Sundried Tomato Paste
3 tbsp Breadcrumbs
1 tbsp Grated Parmesan
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.
- Place the salmon fillets skin side down on a baking sheet.
- Spread 1 tbsp of sundried tomato paste over each fillet.
- Mix together the breadcrumbs, goats cheese and grated parmesan and cover each fillet with the breadcrumb mix.
- Bake in the oven for around 20 minutes.
Grilled Tuna Steaks with Mango and Green Pepper Salsa (Serves 2)
2 Tuna Steaks Half a Fresh Mango, diced
1 Green Pepper, diced
Handful Fresh Coriander, finely chopped
Juice of 1 Lime
- Grill the Tuna under a medium heat to your taste. 2 minutes on each side will cook it rare.
- Mix the diced mango, diced green pepper, chopped coriander and lime juice together in a bowl.
NUTRITIONAL RESEARCH - What does vitamin D do?
Vitamin D is best know for its essential role in aiding calcium absorption and therefore maintenance of healthy bones. Calcium is vital in the formation of the bone matrix and thus the development of strong bones in children, and the maintenance of bone strength in adults. Over the last 10 years vitamin D has been the subject of extensive research and multiple roles for the sunshine vitamin are being uncovered in overall body health. Postulated roles include strengthening the immune system, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes and the maintenance of a healthy cardiovascular system. There is increasing evidence that vitamin D has a pivotal role in the immune system, both activating our white blood cells that fight infection, and reducing inflammation levels within the body. Vitamin D has also been shown to regulate insulin secretion within the body and support the uptake of glucose into body cells, thus reducing circulating blood sugar levels. Finally, evidence suggests that vitamin D has a role in preventing high blood pressure, through its actions on the kidney.
REFERENCES Zitterman A (2003) Vitamin D in preventative medicine: are we ignoring the evidence? British Journal of Nutrition, 89: 552-572.Cannell JJ & Hollis B (2008) Use of vitamin D in clinical practice. Alternative Medicine Review, 13: 6-20.