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5 Vegetable Side Dishes That Taste Great

Vegetables don’t have to be boring or bland! Here are five easy, delicious, healthy veggie side dishes that will have your family asking for more!

 

Chunky Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 1kg orange-flesh sweet potatoes, skin on
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • Salt 
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 

Method:

  1.  Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2.  Slice the sweet potatoes into 2-3cm thick slices and place them in a roasting tray with the stock. Smash the garlic cloves and add them to the tray. Season and cook for 40 to 50 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through.
  3. Pour off the liquid. Drizzle olive oil over the potatoes and place back into the oven for a further 10 minutes; then serve.

Baby Spinach & Sprout Salad

Ingredients:

  • 100g baby spinach
  • 50g watercress
  • 125g mangetout (edible peas in the pod)
  • 2 handfuls bean sprouts
  • Handful pea shoots
  • Handful onion sprouts
  • Red-wine vinegar, for dressing
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for dressing 

Method:

  1.  Place the baby spinach and watercress in a large bowl.
  2. Slice the mangetout into three strips lengthways and toss into the salad.
  3. Scatter shoots and sprouts over salad and serve dressed with vinegar and olive oil. 

Beetroot Salad

Ingredients:

  • 500g beetroot, scrubbed and halved or quartered
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 handfuls wild rocket
  • 100g feta cheese
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds, roughly chopped 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Place the beetroot into two separate oven-proof dishes to make sure the colours don’t run or keep them separate in a large dish. Drizzle olive oil over, season and bake for 40 minutes or until cooked through.
  3. Serve with rocket, feta and pumpkin seeds. 

Orange & Honey Carrots

Ingredients:

  • 600g rainbow carrots
  • 1 orange, zested, juiced
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper 

Method:

  1. Place carrots in a griddle pan set over medium-high heat.
  2. Juice the orange and pour it over the carrots, adding a little zest. Drizzle the honey and olive oil over the carrots and season to taste. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally (the carrots must still retain a crunch). Serve with the orange sauce. 

Green Beans With Pine Nuts

Ingredients:

  • 400g green beans, trimmed
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 50g pine nuts, toasted (or use chopped, toasted almonds) 

Method:

  1. Steam the green beans for three to five minutes (either in a steamer or in the microwave) while you sauté the garlic in olive oil in a large frying pan.
  2. Transfer the beans to the pan, toss with the garlic, season and serve with pine nuts.

 

For more inspiration on how to get more veggies into your diet, read Easy Ways to Eat More Vegetables Plus Tasty Veggie Recipes  Be sure to visit the Medshield Instagram page to stay up to date with all our latest articles, recipes and pro-health content.

 

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The Health Benefits of Herbs – And How Best To Eat Them!

Spring means all your favourite herbs are in season! While dried herbs have their place, adding fresh herbs to salads, sides, sauces and dishes can liven up flavour without adding many extra calories.

Herbs have unique health benefits and nutrients, but are also excellent additions to many dishes, adding flavour, texture and colour. Here’s a look at the most commonly found herbs in SA, what they’re good for and how to best use them!

 

  1. Basil – Think Italian food and the problem is already solved. Basil and tomatoes are excellent friends and basil goes well with most tomato-based dishes and Italian dishes, like pasta and pizza. It’s also excellent in salads, pesto and sauces.
    Health benefits: Basil is a good source of Vitamin A, C and K, calcium, zinc and manganese. Consuming fresh basil may help to lower blood pressure levels and has been proven to ease stress levels.
    Try this: quick vegan basil pesto recipe
  2. Parsley – There are two types commonly found in SA: curly parsley (that garnishes food) and flat-leaf parsley, also called Italian parsley. Flat-leaf parsley has a great texture and flavour and can be used to lighten dishes, like stews and add flavour to sauces or to liven up boiled potatoes.
    Health benefits: It is a particularly rich source of vitamin K. A single tablespoon of fresh chopped parsley provides more than 70% of the recommended daily intake. Parsley also contains a good amount of vitamin A and antioxidants, which may help to prevent cancer and improve eyesight.
    Try this: delicious herb sauce for chicken, steak and fish.

  3. Coriander – The mother of herbs: either loved or despised! Coriander leaves have a distinctive taste associated with Asian, Indian and Mexican dishes. Think of those delicious Thai curries and Asian slaw salads and don’t forget guacamole! The herb is great as a garnish, chopped and added to curries and stir-fries and blended with sauces and pesto.
    Health benefits: Coriander may lower blood sugar by activating certain enzymes. Its antioxidants have been shown to fight inflammation in your body. Coriander extract appears to act as a diuretic, helping your body flush excess sodium and water. This may lower your blood pressure.
    Try this: add some to your favourite buddha bowl!

  4. Mint – Mint is such a refreshing herb. It is excellent in salads and delicious when added to a glass of water or made into a tea. Mint and lemon pair well and are great for making homemade ice lollies or adding to homemade iced teas.


Health benefits: Several health benefits from mint come from applying it to the skin or inhaling its aroma. Although treatment for IBS often includes dietary changes and taking medications, research shows that taking peppermint oil as a herbal remedy might also be helpful. Mint may also be effective at relieving other digestive problems such as upset stomach and indigestion.
Try this: mint is an excellent accompaniment to berries and desserts. Try this yummy dessert recipe.

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A Homemade Mexican Feast That’s Healthy & Delicious

There’s just something about Mexican food that is comforting and moreish! This is the perfect meal to make on the weekends – it’s great for sharing and goes a long way! Plus it’s still healthy and super tasty!

This Mexican feast is fresher and lighter than your classic Tex-Mex, but it’s still delicious – your family will come back for seconds. It’s also gluten-free (we recommend using corn tacos or nachos) and vegan! 

This meal is also packed with vitamins and nutrients to boost your mood, fuel your body and keep you healthy! There’s a mix of vegan proteins from the beans, healthy fats from the avocado and vitamin C and antioxidants from the chilli, peppers, citrus and tomatoes.

This Mexican feast is fresher and lighter than your classic Tex-Mex, but it’s still delicious – your family will come back for seconds. It’s also gluten-free (we recommend using corn tacos or nachos) and vegan! 

This meal is also packed with vitamins and nutrients to boost your mood, fuel your body and keep you healthy! There’s a mix of vegan proteins from the beans, healthy fats from the avocado and vitamin C and antioxidants from the chilli, peppers, citrus and tomatoes.

 

Vegan Chilli with Beans:

Ingredients:

  • 1 brown onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 red chillies, finely chopped 
  • 2 to 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste 
  • 400g tin butter beans
  • 400g tin kidney beans
  • 400g tin black beans
  • 400g tin corn
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh coriander 
  • Lime wedges

 

For the Spicy Salsa: 

  • 2 big ripe tomatoes 
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1⁄2 small red onion

 

For the guacamole:

  • 2-3 large ripe avocados 
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Pinch of lime zest
  • 1 small chilli, very finely chopped
  • 1⁄4 red onion, very finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large handful coriander, chopped, plus extra
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Pinch of smoky paprika, for garnishing

 

Method:

  1. For the Vegan Chilli with Beans, place a large pot over medium heat, sauté the onion, garlic and chillies in the olive oil. Add the spices and sauté for a minute. Add the tomatoes and paste and stir together.
  2. Drain and rinse the beans and corn, then add to the tomato mixture. Add a little water to loosen, then cover. Cook for a further 20-25 minutes. Once cooked, dish the beans into a serving bowl, with fresh coriander and lime wedges on the side.
  3.  For the salsa, chop all the ingredients and mix them together. 
  4. For the guacamole, combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and taste to check the balance of acidity and spice. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and paprika.
  5.  Serve the Vegan Chilli with Beans with salsa, guacamole, corn nacho chips or corn tacos.

Read more: ​​Easy Ways to Eat More Vegetables Plus Tasty Veggie Recipes

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How To Gauge Pain When Running To Avoid Injury

Regular runners have all been there. You’re jogging along the trail and suddenly feel a sharp pain. “Ag, no, I’m fine – it’s just a niggle!” But is it? A runner’s worst nightmare is getting injured, setting them back in their training and fitness journey. Medshield spoke to Cape Town-based physiotherapist, Genine Manchip about the difference between a manageable niggle and when it’s time to seek help.

Understanding the difference between a running niggle that will sort itself out and one that could become a proper injury can help to ease muscle soreness and stiffness, helping you have an improved, healthier running experience.  

“It’s important to determine if the pain you are experiencing is due to an injury or from stiff muscles that have not been used in a while,” says Genine. 

 

Understanding Your Pain

“The pain and stiffness you feel the day after training or later in the evening after a run/strength session in the morning is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS),” explains Genine. “This is due to the inflammation caused by the exercise you did. This generally peaks two days post-exercise/onset. You might have heard someone talk about the ‘second-day stiffness’. This is not an injury. This is your body adapting to the training,” explains Genine.  

 

How to ease the DOMS? 

“It’s important to do low-intensity exercises, such as yoga, easy cycling and walking, and keep moving because being static will just make you feel stiffer when you start moving again. Movement is good for circulation and improves recovery.” If you feel like treating yourself after an intense race or session, sports massage is also a great idea, recommends Genine. 

However, Genine says, “If you feel pain while running in a joint or muscle, more than 2/10 intensity and it progressively increases in intensity to about 4/10, this is a niggle that calls for stopping.” 

 

Her best advice? 

“Walk back. Get home and ice the painful area. If you wake up the next day and it’s not painful when climbing stairs you can try again,” she explains. “However, if the pain persists the next morning, it’s best to take a break from running and rest for 48 hours.”

Once the pain has subsided during walking, she recommends trying again. If however, you still experience pain after resting after 48 hours or if you’ve decided to try running again and the pain returns it may be time to see a physiotherapist. 

 

But what if the pain is worse than 2/10

“In the unfortunate event that you feel a sharp pain of 6/10 or more while running, commonly in the back of your thigh or calf muscle, or a sprained or twisted ankle, then you must stop immediately and return home to ice that region. Rest and then make an appointment to see the physio as soon as possible,” she advises. 

If you are new to running, read this advice from Genine on how to avoid running injuries.

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What To Look Out For When You’re New To Running

More and more people have started running since the COVID-19 lockdown started and it’s easy to see why: fresh air, outdoors, community and the weight-loss and health benefits that come with it. But often injuries can sneak up that put beginners off running. Here’s what to look out for and how to make sure you’re starting on the right foot. 

“That moment when you commit to levelling up is such an exciting time!” says Medshield ambassador and avid runner, Amy Hoppy. “It shows that you’re motivated, eager and already have a strong base and want to build more! Excellent! Just remember that doubling up a distance requires time and proper preparation. Any additional time that you put in now will push you to become stronger. But, the most important thing is to not do too much too quickly. That is how injuries creep in.” 

Cape Town-based physiotherapist Genine Manchip shares her best running advice for beginners, offering insight into some of the most common running injuries she sees, what to do about them and how to know when it’s time to consult see an expert. 

Most Typical Running Injuries

“Some common examples I see are ITB (pain on the outside of your knee), runner’s knee or patellofemoral pain (pain over the front of your knee), shin splints and Achilles tendinopathy.” 

Causes of the most typical injuries Genine sees:

  1. “Overuse – The most common running  aches and pains are overuse injuries, which generally occur because the runner has increased their training load – mileage or intensity – too quickly.” Medshield members can download our ClickFit Couch to 5km Challenge for a guided programme on how to ease into running for the first time. It’s also ideal for those who have been on a hiatus and want to pick up this sport again.

  2. “Wearing incorrect shoes.” Running might seem very accessible, but it can also be hard on the body. One of the easiest ways to prevent injuries is to run in the right shoes for your feet. Purchasing your first pair of running shoes can seem daunting – there’s so much info out there – but there will be a pair of shoes just right for you! Most good running stores offer a free running assessment (to check if you pronate, have high arches, how your foot strikes the ground when you land etc.) and some shoe brands even offer running shoes for testing.

  3. “Injuries caused by poor running technique, such as crossing the midline when landing, overstriding or they circumduct (swing their legs round at the hip) their hips instead of driving forwards at the hip and pushing off their toes.” If you join an athletics club, a coach might be able to help you with the correct form. There are also countless YouTube videos to watch. It is always a good idea to run and ask a friend to film you in order to see what you look like and where you can try to improve your form. 

For proper strength training in between running training, try this 30-minute workout from Medshield Ambassador and personal trainer, Maphule Ndhlovu. 

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Runner’s Stomach – What It Is And How To Prevent It

Running can be quite hard on the body and as it uses the whole body, you’ve got to make sure your tummy is ready for a run. Medshield offers advice on foods that fuel your body, help your recover and are easy on that tummy, so that you can have a successful run!

Runner’s stomach – sometimes called “runner’s trots” can be a big issue for runners and most people who run have experienced it at least once. When you’re running for an extended period, the blood flow that is normally directed to your digestive system is diverted to your cardiovascular system. This can disrupt and irritate your digestive process. You may feel a strong urge to expel whatever’s in your digestive system and you may end up with symptoms of diarrhoea. While this is happening, your body is also moving up and down as you continue to run. This movement contributes to feeling like you need to use the bathroom as waste material is jostled around your intestines and your stomach acid is sloshing.

There is no cure for “runner’s stomach”, but there are several preventive steps you can take to try to minimise symptoms and ensure you have a good run! 

Before Your Run 

It’s important to find something that works for you. This won’t be the same for everyone. Some might prefer running on a small bowl of oats, while others want a slice of toast with peanut butter or even just a banana and an espresso. 

  1. The key is to give your body some time to process the food before you run. This means waking up earlier if you plan to run in the morning or planning your afternoon nutrition appropriately if you like running after work. Eating too close to before your run could lead to cramping, side stitches, feeling nauseated as well as “runner’s stomach”. Experts recommend having a meal at least two to three hours before you run or a small snack 30 min – 1 hr before you run.
  2. Avoid eating spicy food, high-fibre food, dairy-packed dishes or sugar-laden drinks before running (or the night before, if you run in the morning). These could all upset your stomach or make you feel ill during your run.

  3. What you eat the night before – and even two days before – can impact your exercise. For example, eating very high-fibre foods that day before can lead you to potentially dealing with a bloated, gassy tummy on your run.

  4. Don’t skip water (a volume of about 5-7ml per kg per body weight is offered as a general starting point.)!But don’t drink too much before you run. Drinking too much water could cause cramps and make digestive irritation worse. The safest bet is to develop a habit of drinking enough water regularly and using electrolyte-infused beverages right before and after your runs.

If you’re new to running, check out our ClickFit Couch to 5km running programme. Even elite athletes experience “runner’s stomach” from time to time. Figuring out a routine that works for your system and sticking to it on your training and race days can make it less of an obstacle for you. It might take some experimenting to get it just right, but once you find what’s working, stick to it. Also know that if this kind of upset stomach persists, there may be something else at play. If you are unsure, always consult your medical doctor for advice. 

For more inspiring and motivational health, fitness and food content, follow us on Instagram

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Medshield Champion Bong’musa Mthembu Laces Up for Pirates 21K Challenge

The race to finding out just who will be crowned “fastest feet” at this year’s Pirates 21K Powered by Medshield is still on, and it’s about to get a lot more interesting.

With just one weekend left to take on the challenge, three-time Comrades Marathon champion and proud Medshield Ambassador, Bong’musa Mthembu will be lacing up his trainers to show Joburg’s toughest half marathon just who’s boss.

Over the past three weekends, kicking off on Saturday, 6 February, participants in the Special Edition Virtual Race of the Pirates 21K have shown impressive form and even more impressive finish times, taking on the route with gusto, enthusiasm and positive attitudes despite not having large crowd support like in previous years. Several medals for going #OverTheMountain have already been handed out at the Pirates Club in Greenside after each runner’s successful race completion. But with cash prizes for best-of-the-best across 21 prizegiving categories up for grabs, it’s still anyone’s race.

When Bong’musa sets off from the starting point on Saturday, 27 February at 06:30 am, the safe “support from a distance” from the Medshield team will surely help to inspire his spirit as he pushes towards the finish line. The circular route includes three challenging hills, with the first test being a 2km uphill run, just 1km into the race. Between the 9km and 10km marks comes a second steep ascent, which is followed shortly by one final stiff climb between 13km and 14km. The downhill after that is fast and fun with one last hurdle before arriving back at Pirates Club.

Bong’musa’s result, along with all others will be made available on the Pirates 21K leaderboard at www.pirates21.co.za. Medshield congratulates all this year’s participants and medalists, and wishes all new runners the best of luck. We’re behind you all the way.

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