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Posts in 'Inspiration'

6 Health Benefits of Chocolate
Great news for those with a sweet tooth, eating chocolate can be healthy. You can finally indulge in your favourite snack guilt-free. However, there’s a catch!

Well of course, there has to be a catch, for me it’s a good one – ‘that it has to be dark chocolate’ and the higher the cacao percentage the better. And also, it’s healthier if you stick to eating just two to three pieces a day. But apart from that, fill your boots.

It can help you lose weight

Chocolate doesn’t have to be a reason for weight gain believes neuroscientist Will Clower. In his book Eat Chocolate, Lose Weight, he explains how eating a piece of dark chocolate 20 minutes before and five minutes after a meal can cut your appetite by an impressive 50 percent. According to Clower, this is because chocolate triggers the hormones that tell your brain “I’m full.” However, remember that this applies to cacao-rich dark chocolate only. Milk chocolate would raise your blood sugar levels and leave you craving the stuff even more.

It gives you brain power

Chocoholics are the smartest people around. Or at least they should be, thanks to the flavanol content of the snack. Teamed with reports that it also helps to improve blood flow to the brain, it appears that dark chocolate makes excellent brain food. So much so, that researchers have even put its properties to the test with Alzheimer's patients. In a trial published by Nature Neuroscience, it was discovered that “high-flavanol intervention was found to enhance dentate gyrus (DG) function” - DG being the region of the brain in which “function declines in association with human aging.” Although the study explains, while the flavanols have the potential to perhaps aid those with Alzheimer's, it can’t prevent the disease entirely.

It promotes gorgeous skin


Flavonoids are pretty powerful. Without you realising, they get to work on your skin, acting as a filter to harmful UV rays and protecting you against sun damage. That’s not to say you should skimp on the sunscreen - always apply when out in sunlight. What’s more, as we know all too well, dark chocolate is a great stress reliever, which also helps keep the skin young, fresh and fine-line free.

It’s nature’s tastiest medicine


Dark chocolate is an illness-battling all-rounder, with evidence to suggest that its high antioxidant content has the potential to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and improve blood flow. It’s believed that the flavanols found in dark chocolate can stimulate the endothelium (the lining of the arteries) to produce nitric oxide, which in turn relaxes the arteries and as a result, lower blood pressure. This relaxing effect may be minimal, but every little helps.

It gives you an energy boost


If you’re trying to drink less coffee but struggle to get through the day without your caffeine hit, dark chocolate could be the answer - there is 43mg of caffeine per every 100g. A recent study from London’s Kingston University also suggests that dark chocolate could be useful for athletes. Thanks to dark chocolate’s ability to improve blood flow (and in turn, carry oxygen to the muscles at a faster rate), those involved within the project were able to cycle further and faster. Skip energy bars and try a little dark chocolate.

It makes you happy – the best reason of all


Science agrees that chocolate makes you happy, and not just because it tastes amazing. There are chemical components within chocolate that make it irresistible, such as phenylethylamine - an organic compound that when released in the body stimulates a similar feeling to that of falling in love. It also acts as an antidepressant when combined with the dopamine that exists naturally in the brain. Along with its theobromine and tryptophan content (other properties of chocolate that promote happiness and stimulate a natural, albeit weak, high in the body); it’s easy to see why chocolate is considered a certified mood booster.

 
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The Well-being Revolution

The well-being revolution is truly underway and continued research and analysis backs up what we already know; building a happier, healthier, more connected workforce delivers excellent results for everyone.


Workshops


In our corporate wellness programmes we offer a range of workshops and seminars about the science of food, manage eating habits, and diet management designed to positively impact physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Our fun and engaging sessions cover topics ranging from sleep, nutrition to energy levels and can be tailored to your requirements.

Coaching


We will coach your employees to improve their planning skills for better diet management to improve overall health. We recommend starting with your executive teams to identify their most pressing nutritional and well-being needs and assist them to set and reach their health and wellbeing goals. This philosophy can then be championed right across the organisation to create change across the board with demonstrable benefits

CSR


CSR is critical to core business values and sharing those goals to enable employees to participate will develop a strong sense of community within the organisation. With our extensive experience of CSR objectives and implementation we will help to fulfil and deliver your CSR commitments.

If you would like to more about our wellness corporate solutions please contact:

Francesca Yates on 01923 778880, alternatively email her on Francesca@thecookingacademy.co.uk    http://www.thecookingacademy.co.uk/corporate/the-corporate-athlete/
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How good is your sleep hygiene
ONE third of our lives are spent in bed. We all know a good night’s sleep is a great way to recover and rest after a full day. Getting a full night’s sleep is not a luxury, it is a health necessity and for those of us in the world or work or studying it is essential to productivity and wellbeing.  It is recommended that adults have between 7-9 hours of sleep per night, and more for teenagers and children. Yet it is estimated that a staggering 40% of adults are not getting enough sleep, Public Health England state that the annual cost to the UK employers is a resounding £30 billion pounds and 200,000 working days are lost to sickness and mental health every year.

Sleep is crucial in the maintenance of our cognitive skills.  Being adequately rested enables us to communicate well, remember key information, be creative and flexible with our thoughts, and improves our decision making ability. Furthermore, sleep is essential to building a healthy immune system, making you less likely to catch a cold and thus less likely to need time off work.

In addition although this may seem obvious, sleep is free, there are no side effects of having a great sleep, unlike taking caffeine tablets or drinking caffeinated drinks to try and stay awake.  Good sleep also makes you less likely to over-eat - so it’s good for your waistline.

There are many reasons we can struggle to fall asleep, work related stress, long hours at work, illness or injury and money worries are just a few issues that keep us awake at night. This is where sleep hygiene comes in effect, (nothing to do with your bed sheets!) but all to do with how you create the ideal settings for a good night’s sleep.

Here are a few points to think about:

  • Try sticking to regular bed times, set an alarm on your phone.

  • Making an effort to relax before your bed time approaches.

  • Avoid caffeinated drinks and heavy meals late at night; they’ll prevent you from falling asleep.

  • If you’re finding it hard to slow down, breathe in for a count of four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds and breathe out for four seconds. Repeat as many times as needed.

  • Also think about how your technology usage too - Checking emails late in the evening or before bed is often a cause of unhealthy anxiety and distraction.

  • Computer screens, tablets and phones all emit a blue light which keep us awake by suppressing melatonin, the hormone which sends us to sleep.


Public Health England and Business in the Community have partnered to put together a free downloadable sleep toolkit for employers.   Click here for more information:

(https://wellbeing.bitc.org.uk/all-resources/toolkits/sleep-and-recovery-toolkit?utm_source=Blog&utm_medium=Sleepblog2&utm_campaign=PHE)

Consider how effective your workplace well-being strategy is working.  If lack of sleep is a growing problem within your organization then it’s time to re-evaluate the strategy and its effectiveness.  You could be contributing more towards the £30 billion then you think. 

 

If you would like to know more about our corporate wellness strategies then please follow this link:   http://www.thecookingacademy.co.uk/corporate-events-team-building/cooking-nutritional-classes/
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Duck Filo Parcels
A delicious canape to impress dinner party guests!

Ingredients

  • 1 duck breast, skinned

  • 1 tsp oil

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper for seasoning

  • 4 sheets of filo pastry

  • 25g butter, melted

  • about 8 tablespoons hoisin sauce

  • ¼ small cucumber, seeds removed and finely diced

  • 1 bunch of spring onions, finely chopped, plus extra to garnish.


Cooking Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/Fan 180ºC/Gas 6 and grease two 12-hole mini muffin tins.

  2. Heat a small frying pan until hot. Brush the duck breast with a little oil and season well. Seal into the pan until golden on both sides. Then place on a baking sheet and roast in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Leave to rest and then chop into small pieces.

  3. Meanwhile, brush two sheets of the filo pastry with melted butter and place one on top of the other. Slice 6 strips down and 4 strips across to make 24 squares. Place one square over another at an angle to make a star shape and then press this into the mini muffin tin (by now you should have four layers of pastry).

  4. Continue until all the squares have been used (this will make 12 tartlet cases)

  5. Bake the cases in the oven for about 12 minutes until lightly golden brown and crisp. Leave to cool.

  6. Mix the duck with the hoisin sauce, spring onion cucumber. Spoon the mixture into the filo parcels. Garnish with an small slice of spring onion.

  7. Serve warm and enjoy!

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Bacon, Tomato & Olive Orecchiette
We’ve partnered up with Villa Plus to celebrate their new destination in Puglia, Italy by sharing one of our favourite Italian recipes. This recipe for Bacon, olive and tomato orecchiette is simple to make, yet full of flavour and uses a selection of fresh ingredients from Italy.

Orecchiette – meaning ‘small ears’ is a type of pasta that originates from the south of Italy.

Ingredients:


4 slices of bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 tbs olive oil

1 red onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

½  tbs chilli flakes

1 can chopped tomatoes

Handful of black olives

400g orecchiette pasta

Grated parmesan for serving

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Method

  1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over a medium heat. Add the chopped bacon and cook for around four minutes, or until it begins to brown.

  2. Add the chopped onion, cooking until soft for 3-5 minutes. Throw in the crushed garlic and chilli flakes, cooking for a further minute.

  3. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.

  4. Bring the sauce to the boil, reducing to a simmer and cooking for a further 15 minutes or until the liquid is slightly reduced.

  5. Meanwhile, boil a large pan of water and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and return back to the empty pan.

  6. Add the sauce to the pasta, cooking over a medium heat and coating the pasta in sauce. Add olives and heat them up for a few minutes with the sauce.

  7. Serve with grated parmesan


 

Have a look at Villa plus here
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