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Marvellous mackerel!

Spicy Mackerel
The humble mackerel is a delicious, cheap and super healthy fish, packed full of essential fats to help beat those winter blues. There are many ways to cook it, but this is one of my favourites.

Serves 2
• A little extra virgin olive oil
• 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
• 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• ½ – 1 tsp harissa or chilli powder
• 1 small red pepper, seeded and chopped
• 125g courgettes, diced
• 1 x small or ½ large tin toms
• 1 good sized mackerel (300-350g), cut into 2 fillets.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4

Heat the oil in a small heavy-based saucepan and stir-fry the onion and garlic with the cumin and harissa or chilli powder for 1-2 mins. Add the red pepper and courgettes and cook for another 2 mintues, stirring all the time.

Pour on the tomatoes and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 mins, stirring from time to time.

Place the mackerel fillets on a non-stick baking tray and cover with foil. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.

Arrange the fish on a serving of quinoa or wholewheat couscous and top with the sauce.

Beating the Winter Blues!

ID-100274066Beating the Winter Blues

Many of us struggle with our mood at this time of the year and an increasing number are being diagnosed with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder. The clocks have just turned back and the longer nights and shorter days can leave us definitely leave us feeling low and lacking in get up and go. Nature slows down and goes to sleep, and while it would be nice if we could do the same, our lifestyles often don’t permit a time of rest until Spring!
Nutritionally, there are a number of things to consider to improve mood and energy at this time of year. Here are a few of them.

1. Ensure an adequate supply of B vitamins every day. B vits are needed to make the brain’s neurotransmitters, including serotonin, which we need to feel positive about life. We also need B vits to stay alert and focused, and for energy production. Wholegrains, animal products, nuts, seeds and dark green leafy vegetables are good sources.

2. Eat plenty of essential fats from oily fish, nuts and seeds. Our brain is 60% fat and if our diet is low in fat, the result can be low mood.

3. Drink green tea. Research has shown this can help lift mood.

4. Have enough protein from animal and/or plant sources. Protein is made up of amino acids and certain amino acids can improve mood. Good sources are lean meat, fish, eggs, pulses and lentils.

5. Switch from processed cereals, mueslis or toast at breakfast to porridge with ground seeds and warming cinammon to give yourself some top brain nutrients first things.

6. We often crave sugary carbohydrate foods at this time of the year as they can temporarily make us feel a bit better. If this becomes a pattern for you, it can exacerbate low mood due to blood sugar fluctuations

7. Keep alcohol to a minimum. Unfortunately, it’s a depressant and uses up lots and lots of B vitamins, leaving you without the raw materials you need to feel good.

8. Eat regularly. Too long periods without food (varies from person to person but estimate at roughly 4 hours) or the wrong choices, can cause havoc with blood sugar and mood can plummet.

9. Supplement with vitamin D3. In Scotland we should nearly all do this in the winter, not only to help our mood, but also to support our immune systems.

10. In terms of other supplements, there are many that could be considered and this would depend on your individual needs. Kate could advise on this, but general pointers include a good mutivitamin and mineral, essential fats, B vitamins, magnesium and targeted amino acids such as tyrosine or 5HTP.

Image courtesy of Feelart at