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Sam Josephs

Easy Overcoming MS and family-friendly foods

Join Sam Josephs for a webinar session focusing on how to incorporate easy, family-friendly OMS recipe ideas into your every day life, social gatherings or even the Overcoming MS Big Picnic.

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Webinar summary:

Join Sam Josephs for a webinar session focusing on how to incorporate easy, family-friendly Overcoming MS recipe ideas into your every day life, social gatherings or even the OMS Big Picnic.

Key highlights:

04:49 Family-friendly tips and tricks for the Overcoming MS diet.

08:59 Eating together is better for your children’s health.

13:17 Planning a meal plate with the main food groups.

18:28 How to make a fish parcel.

28:24 Leftovers and wholegrains.

33:29 Planning for an Overcoming MS picnic.

38:49 Bringing everyone around is into this healthy way of living. 

46:58 Are burnt BBQ bits bad for you?

52:22 Is chicken breast that bad for people living with MS?

56:30 Tips for minimising food wastage.


Speaker bios:

Sam Josephs

Sam believes passionately in diet and lifestyle intervention as a powerful preventative approach to all chronic health conditions. Her husband was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2002 which has shaped the direction of her career gives her the compassion and unique hands-on knowledge to support so many others with the condition.

Since graduating from BCNH (UK College of Nutrition and Health) in 2008, Sam has been working in her North London clinic seeing clients on a 1-2-1 basis. She has also worked as a pastoral and clinical tutor for BCNH, and appears annually as a guest lecturer at both BCNH and the Institute of Optimum Nutrition training upcoming nutritional therapy students in a variety of conditions, including MS. She has presented to many MS support groups, was an expert panelist at the MSLife Expo in 2016 and has worked as a retreat facilitator for Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis.

She is a fully qualified Nutritional Therapist, a full member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and is also registered with the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) – the only register for Nutritional Therapy recognized by the Department of Health.

Above all else, Sam enjoys nothing more than a trip to the Farmer’s Market, or a good greengrocer and is a keen and experimental cook for her family and friends.

Read the episode transcript here.

Sam Josephs  02:26

Thank you to everybody for joining me this evening. And for those of you watching on record, if you don’t know me, my name is Sam. And I am a registered nutritional therapist. I qualified back in 2008. My husband, Danny was diagnosed with MS 20 years ago now. And we have two kids who are a bit more grown up now. But they’re still living at home. And, they’ve pretty much been following the OMS program fully at home for a good number of years now. And so I want to share with you some of my family friendly tips and tricks for living with the OMS program. So just to recap, the sort of basic food guidelines for the OMS program is to be dairy free 100% of the time, to be predominantly plant focus. So a diet that’s very rich in plant foods, but maybe not exclusively, because we can include fish and seafood as well. But also to have a lot of whole foods in the diet, so avoiding some of the highly processed foods. And if you’re eating seafood and fish, then trying to get a portion of oily fish three times a week. So that’s the sardines, mackerel, herring, anchovies, and salmon as well. And if you follow a diet like this at home, then chances are most of the meals that you your kids will be eating will be super healthy because they OMS food guidelines are very similar to the general healthy eating guidelines, which is to eat less meat to eat more fish, more plants to stay away from the highly processed foods. And this benefit of healthy eating like the OMS program is good for all of us, not just those of us who have chronic diseases, but for the entire population, which is slowly getting more and more unhealthy. So eating well and healthy and encouraging your kids and your family to eat well can reduce heart health, it can reduce cancer risk, improve your mood, and your mental health, as well as improving your gut health things like bloating and constipation. It’s also been demonstrated to improve memory and cognition, contribute to weight loss if you’re overweight, as well as reducing risk of diabetes, and improving your bone health as you age improving your teeth health as well cutting down on sugars, as well as helping you to sleep better. And if you are of a fertile age and you’re planning a family, male or female, a healthy diet will improve the health of the next generation of your offspring as well. And this study that I’ve highlighted was a Swiss study done a few years ago, looking at the effects that it has on children, where they eat and who they were. And then what they found was examining and modifying for various different variable factors. A group of children consuming about 10,000 meals between them over the course of a week. Those children that had more family meals, were eating more vegetables, eating more fruits, and drinking less soft drinks, so consuming less sugar. So eating together healthily. All of you the same meal is not just easier for managing MS and the barriers that you may have to cooking with our masks, but it’s also much better for your children’s health as well. And it’s important to remember that prevention in family members, be it siblings, or children, nieces nephews will be reduced by eating healthily and is a really key part of the OMS program as well.  Dr. Keith Williams from the Children’s Hospital Feeding Program, who said “while it should be the case that children eat what their parents saw of our clinical experience tells us that parents serve what their children eat.” And I know back in the ’70s, my mom only made one meal, it was take it or leave it, we all ate the same meal. And when you’ve got MS, it’s very difficult to cook different meals for different people in the family. And quite often we are tricked into thinking that our kids want this highly processed kind of cartoon looking food, because that’s what the television tells us. That’s what the advertising and the big food stores tell us. It’s not actually true. And it doesn’t need to be that way. Children should eat what we put on the table, which should be healthful and nourishing. And it’s not that I’m blaming, shaming any of us absolutely not. Really, it’s the food industry, that’s highly to blame. But there are barriers, when you have MS. It could be fatigue, it could be your mobility, or even dexterity carrying heavy pans of boiling water to the sink, it could be budget, it could be fussy, kids or other people living in the household, whether your partner who might be very fussy, or it could just be your confidence in terms of how to cook a meal from scratch. More than half of you struggling with fatigue. And that’s where batch cooking. And designated cooking days can really come in to help as well. So when you’re planning a meal plate, it’s really important to get the main food groups represented. So these are what we call the macro nutrients, the large nutrients that we consume for energy. This is carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. It also includes fiber, and water as well. And your dinner plate should really be composed of these three things. And even when you’re planning a snack, it’s a good idea to try and contain some of all of these macro nutrients. The micro nutrients are what we need in much smaller quantities, but it’s still really, really important when planning a meal. And when you get all three macronutrients together on the plate, chances are you’re scoring really high on your micronutrients, the vitamins, minerals, and the antioxidants. So we talk about OMS as being a low fat diet. It’s not a fat free diet because the vitamins A, D, E, and K are all fat soluble and are found in those foods that contain good fats, like nuts and seeds and their oils and avocado. But also it’s important to remember if you’re taking a vitamin D supplement to take it along with a meal that contain some fat because that will help you to absorb the vitamin D orally.


Sam Josephs  14:49

And one of the things on here one of the things on the list the antioxidants is particularly important for people with MS because this helps protect the body cells. As from degeneration, and some of the vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, or zinc can act as an antioxidant. But the other antioxidants that we get from our diet are those that we get from colorful plants, fruits and vegetables. So the more the variety, and especially the greater the variety of color in the diet, the greater the quantity of different antioxidants that all do slightly different jobs and have a much more potent effect throughout the body. So your kids will have heard the phrase “eat a rainbow.” So this is something you can really encourage them to do at home as well to try a bit of purple cabbage to try the purple grapes over the green grapes to have a go with some of the orange peppers, or the orange squashes or fruits, and especially enjoy the dark green leafy vegetables as well. So if this is the dinner plate that we should be feeding all of our families, just look how easy it is to achieve it. When we’re following the OMS program. We’ve got the fruits and vegetables, we’ve got none of the rubbishy fats like the trans fats from processed cooking, processed foods and high high temperature cooking. We’ve got lots of plant based foods, the root vegetables, grains, beans, pulses, we’ve got nuts and seeds or the healthy fats. And it also encourages this as well to exercise and to sleep well in order to manage stress.  So onto some recipe ideas and tips, and I’m not a chef, but I do enjoy cooking. I cook a lot. We cook all our meals from scratch. But my son downstairs right now he’s hard at work make dinner, which he’s just show me as a gorgeous salad, which he’s put lots of seeds into as well as some strawberries. I’m quite impressed. But one of the things that I do at least once a week is to do a fish parcel because it’s so easy. It’s kind of one meal that you can do on repeat. But with just slightly changing it up. You can make one dish really different from one week to the next, which not only keeps the family entertained and their taste buds excited. But it also means that you’re bringing variety into their diet as well. So you just need to make a pass. So whether it’s aluminium foil or baking parchment, and you can do something like a whole sea bass for the family or you could just do a fillip of cod, or something like a salmon steak or Hake steak, something like that. And then just put in some flavor any old herbs will do, or a combination of herbs can work really well. You can even add some spices to that or if you haven’t got fresh herbs, dried herbs, dried spices, and then throw in a few toppings as well that will help provide a bit of juice for the fish. So we don’t need to necessarily add any oils to that it could be a squeeze of lemon juice. It could be something like grapefruit slices that work particularly well. With macro. It could be orange slices it could be it could be just a spoonful of chopped tomatoes. It could be chopped up cherry tomatoes, it could be some pitted olives with some capers work well even just a dollop of sweet chili sauce and coriander can be a great kind of Asian sort of infused flavor, even some chili flakes on there. So that’s a really quick and easy idea. And I love doing that once a week and I will just do that. I can do that with some steamed new potatoes which I’ll drizzle on some olive oil with a little crack of salt, maybe some dill or some other fresh herbs, or a bit of garlic or something like rice and then some lots of steamed vegetables and a salad as well. I’m a big fan of doing the double veg, so a little bit of raw, and then maybe some steamed greens on the side as well. And then this one is even easier because it’s slightly more impressive if you’re having people over. It was just a side of salmon. With some chopped up leeks. I’d like cherry tomatoes in there, terragen some lemon slices and a rinsed jar of pitted olives. And then I just drizzled some Martini over it, which is my kind of secret go to cooks really well don’t need to add oil, it just provides the right moisture. The alcohol burns off as it’s cooking so it’s totally child friendly, but it leaves a delicious sweetness behind. But you could also do it with stock. You could do it with a mixture of soy sauce and stock and use some more kind of Asian herbs like chopped lemongrass, or some coriander or something. Again, you could do it with a tin of tomatoes and you could do some chopped onions and courgettes and make like a ratatouille kind of style base with a piece of white fish on topic could be pieces of cod or haddock or some king fish or something could go on the top of there as well. And another easy kind of way to think about it. If you want to keep the cost down, just put some smaller pieces of fish in and add a tin of chickpeas beans, chickpeas, or a tin of borllati beans or cannelini beans and then everyone gets like roasted vegetables with some beans and a small piece of fish. And again, I love it because it’s just one tray. Really easy for washing up. I put on a pan of rice. I put my steamer above the rice. I’ve got all the delicious vegetables from the tray bake. And then I’ll put some shredded greens, maybe some pack choi, maybe some shredded savoy cabbage or green cabbage or even red cabbage in there. Something like broccoli or some spinach. spring greens, collard greens work really well just in a steamer on top of the rice and dinner’s done two pans and a baking tray. When it comes to cooking beans and lentils, this is something that I’ve found a lot of my clients have struggled with is moving over to having beans and lentils as frequently as the OMS diet and it’s a good idea to try and include a portion every day. An easy way to think about it is something like a stew or a curry with a bean base which could either be kind of stock based or it could be tinned tomato based, or it could be something like soy yogurt sort of mixed with a bit of tomato paste or something to be something a bit creamier. And then depending on the way you spice it and flavor it and tweak some of the vegetables, it becomes a completely different dish. It could be a Middle Eastern style dish when you use squashes and raisins and a few flaked almonds with chickpeas and serve with couscous. It could be something more Indian flavors when you add the Indian cumin and curry, ground coriander and turmeric. All these spices are super potent antioxidant we all know that turmeric is a great anti inflammatory but all these spices have really valuable anti inflammatory antioxidant properties.


Sam Josephs  24:19

The Mexican flavor is really easy to do with something like Chipotle paste which you can stir into the chopped tomatoes and the beans once they are simmering away nicely. These dishes work really well served again just with rice or couscous, or even quinoa. And you could have the same dish and serve it with rice one day batch freeze, bring it out next week but serve it with quinoa with some shredded parsley in it or some lemon zest in it the next week. And so these foods work well for batch cooking as well. And one of the things I’ve done before going back to the fish parcels as you can wrap them up, flavored and raw and bung them back in the freezer, and then just defrost and bake. So that’s another good time saving way for those of you struggling with fatigue. But again, quite low washing up with this, bring the kids in, get them to help you to chop things, or sprinkling spices and things like that. That can also be another help with don’t be shy to delegate chores to some of the younger kids and bring them into the process. Because the smells and the excitement in the adventure of cooking the dish will help as well with your fatigue, but it will also help the kids be more likely to try things rather than picking out certain bits. When I do a more traditional kind of bean hotpot, I will serve it with something like mashed potato. But sometimes I won’t use white potatoes are used sweet potatoes, or I’ll use a mix of white potato and sweed or some parsnip carrot and sweet potato mix together. So just getting the kids to help peel and chop and getting them in the pan and the plant based substitutes. So there are some good ones out there that you can buy straight off the shelves, but a lot of them contain a long list of ingredients and they’re fine to use as long as the saturated fat levels are down and they don’t have any of the sort of the cheap oils in them the palm oil and stuff. So do check the labels. But they are pretty easy to make yourself you’ve just got to find a good recipe and then kind of tweak it a bit and there will be recipes that are coming out with this. So essentially all you’re doing is rinsing a can of beans, adding some dried oats or some leftover cooked rice from the day before or a chunk of bread which you can toast or if it’s maybe a bit stale and blitz it up into breadcrumbs and add that maybe an egg white, and then just put loads of herbs and seasonings and flavors in it. And if you just mix it all up together in a blender, then it will make some really nice patties, which again, once they’re made, you can turn them into patties, and then you can freeze them or they go straight, I put them on a baking sheet. I spray them with a small amount of olive oil, and I put them in the oven and just bake them and it works really really well. Tofu works really well just crumbled up firm tofu together with something like ketchup, or Siracha or even a sweet chili sauce or soy sauce mushed all together kind of holds its own. And they’re really really delicious. They’re very low in saturated fat and they’re super easy and quick and again, great for some season they go in a ban and you could just have them with a nice big salad and lots of steamed veggies on the side. You can change the flavors so for example, I think this was the tofu burger, but you could make it with something like sun dried tomatoes chopped up and some fresh basil chopped up with dried basil and they would have a more kind of Mediterranean kind of flavor if you prefer that sort of thing. So it’s just about tweaking the flavorings with a similar basic start. And when I cook the whole grains, I always double cook I will double cook rice, pasta, quinoa, couscous, whatever it is I’m making and I will have some with the evening meal with the fish traybake perhaps but then they’ll have a big bowl left in the fridge overnight and I will put and I will put mix it with different herbs and different kind of chopped up vegetables to turn it into a salad which can make a nice side on the plate the following night but a bit different what you had the previous night or you can flake in some tinned tuna or some tinned salmon or you can add some chickpeas or lentils and to add it into a whole meal something that works really well for packed lunches, or even something for picnics, leftover roast veg, for example a tray of roast, fed a sprinkle on water spray on a bit of olive oil, make a big tray, we have half for dinner. And then the next half gets mixed together with some couscous and some herbs. And then you can just add some chickpeas and that’s dinner the following day. So really kind of trying, so it does pay to kind of plan the plate and meals so that leftovers can be judged up into something a bit more the next day. This picture I think I’ve got recipe for this that I’ll share with you. I often do this at barbecues. It’s a really delicious brown rice salad. It’s the Mediterranean one with fresh basil, olives, capers, sun dried tomatoes. And then sometimes we have that as a side dish. But I’ll make enough that we have leftover. And then I flake in a tin of tuna the following day, and that’s lunch. So some hopefully easy ideas. And similarly dips. So dips are a great thing to have in the fridge for things like sandwich breads, things like picnics, but also when the kids get home from school, you know, rather than KitKats and crisps and things, maybe they could just grab a carrot and stick it into a nice dip bits in the fridge and it’s essentially just using a dollop of soy yogurt, either blended up with a tin of fish or some smoked mackerel works really well which is the one I do a lot here or a tin of beans and blitz it all up together with a handheld mixer, and presto, it’s a dip. You could do beans, you could do fish or you could do a combination of fish and beans. So talking about when they come home from school. There’s a lovely recipe for baked chickpeas or they’re deliciously coated in these yummy spices. And they have a nice crisp crunchy texture. But easy to grab things you know a bowl of fresh fruit. Picking the kids up from school maybe with you know trail mix something like dried mango and a few cashews. Olives make a great snack particularly paired with a few nuts talking about vegetable crudities and some of these tips are maybe just picking the kids up with a smoothie just fruit and yogurt blended together. The soy yogurt you know even soy milk if they’re fussy about it, they won’t know when it’s blended up with delicious berries and sweetened in that way.


Sam Josephs  32:59

Something like the naughty biscuit so I’m thinking specifically of warming a little bit of honey and a pan sprinkling in a combination of seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and then pouring it out into a baking sheet to kind of make a peanut brittle, that’s one of our favorite snacks and works really well as an after school snack for kids or something sweet when you’re kind of searching the pantry. Sandwiches, wraps, even burritos, you know making something like a soy. So just yogurt, grated cucumbers, squeeze out the juice, a bit of fresh mint, little dash of garlic into a wrap and load it up with vegetables really great and take on a picnic or using some of those macro pate ideas. Savory muffins work well something that’s made with cause yet or butternut squash and the OMS website is a great place for those sorts of recipes particularly. There’s a lovely recipe in the OMS cookbook I think with chickpea, using chickpea flour to make a delicious pie crust. So taking pies and savory tarts on the picnic or even something like a leftover from dinner the night before, or one of these whole grain salads that I was talking about. Leftover grilled salmon or the ready bought kind of prawn skewers, calamari rings, not the ones that are battered and deep fried but the kind of the raw calamari rings, something like a gumbo or a paella that you may have cooked earlier in the week. Essential usually just to see food spice, spicy rice mix works really well eaten cold as well as a great meal on a picnic along with some fruit and some other crudities and snacks. So taking dips with you as well. A friend of mine shared with me this failsafe barbecue sauce, it’s just five ingredients. It doesn’t matter if it’s a tablespoon or a cup, but balsamic vinegar, ketchup, honey and soy sauce or gluten free soy sauce. Those five ingredients in equal proportions mixed all together makes killer barbecue sauce that you can brush on to salmon, you could brush it onto portabella mushrooms and grill them for burgers. Delicious on vegetable kebab sticks as well. Or even a salsa verde works really well with both fish and vegetables. And remember a barbecue is a lot about the trimmings and what goes on. Not just on the grill when we’re not putting big slabs of steak and burgers and things but maybe grilling the vegetables and then using them to make a nice salad with a delicious dressing rather than marinating them beforehand on they get a bit wet and soggy and fall in the coals, grill them marinate them in the dressing afterwards. Fish and seafood worked really well on the barbecue. Sometimes you might need to use a grill mat which can stop them falling through the actual grill onto the coals. But don’t forget that the salads in the background you know the potato salads, the cold floors, the green leafy salads, these delicious whole grain salad worked really really well around the barbecue. And so once it’s fired up, you could maybe put some fish on it if you’re eating fish or seafood. What I did last week we had our first barbecue and I put whole old machines on the grill and let all the skin blister and the publishing collapse and then I scraped it all out mashed it with a dollop of tahini and a bit of garlic paste and some parsley and we had that as a dip with some pita bread while we were waiting for the rest of the food to cook on the barbie. So it’s a really nice be inventive with the with the veggies that you can put on not just you know for the main event but also for making things like dips and side salad skewers of vegetables roasted on the barbecue being the side dish as well. In a delicious dressing, maybe a honey mustard dressing works well. Those plant based alternatives that we talked about, just be careful to use maybe a grill mesh and sometimes you can get those kinds of extra grill. Kind of what are they called? Like a sort of a casing that you put the fish in so that you can flip it without losing the fish through the slats of the grill. And don’t forget as the coil as their coals are dying down. Fruit works really well on a barbecue and it blows people’s mind I did a chili and lime Watermelon chunks on skewers on the barbecue which we had with the OBG naturally as starters. It was a bit Marmite, half of us loved it, half of us less so. I loved it. But something like pineapple brushed with a rum syrup. Just sugar water a few spices like all soil, all spice or ginger or something brushed on to the pineapple is delicious. People used to put Mars bars in bananas in foil and put them on the barbecue. Well you can recreate that by mixing a little bit of cocoa powder into some almond butter slicing open a banana and shoving a few dollops in there wrapping it in foil and putting it on the barbecue. So lots of delicious ways to enjoy the barbecue without oil. And so before I finish, I just want to kind of re emphasize the point of of of bringing everybody around us into this more healthy way of living and cooking, particularly those people that are going to be eating with us on a daily basis because There is something called the 8020 rule for the general population. If 80% of the time you’re eating really well, then you can have that 20% kind of falling off the wagon go for your crisps and Mars bars, I’m talking about the kids rather than us. But if we make those changes, and we set them in stone at home, in the family, as they grow up, they take them on to be the normal and they will come back to it. When kids grow up and live alone, and go off to college or getting first job, so switching things like white bread to brown trying to switch white rice to brown or whole grain cereals, switching out from something like Frosties every day, maybe having porridge once a week, or a nice muesli once a week, just changing the routine, maybe not every day for the kids, you know, whatever makes them happy. But slowly, slowly, switching out the juices and the soft drinks, making sure that we get lots of good oils into them as well. So my son, he’s 22. And he thinks that he’s never eaten flaxseed oil in his life because he hates it. It’s not true every time I make pasta, I’m pouring flaxseed oil on the pasture before I put my sources on top and he hasn’t got a clue. So he’s been consuming flaxseed oil, but he’s not watching so that’s fine. Adding the extra stuff. So where you might be inclined to make something like a piece of fish, some rice and some steamed broccoli, can you add an extra portion of broccoli Can you put something else in the steamer as well maybe some cauliflower may be something that takes just as long to cook as the broccoli something like some shredded kale, or some shredded cabbage could be red, white cabbage, green cabbage, or some a simple salad something like watercress, celery and cherry tomatoes, or something like rocket and sunflower seeds with some cucumber. So we’re getting a different variety onto our children’s plates and onto our plates every day. The one of the things the Turkish tradition is as they cook, when they cook the rice, they quite often add chickpeas. And this is something that can make rice more interesting, just putting a half a can of chickpeas in at the end of cooking. They’re easy enough for the kids to pick out. But the more they get used to seeing it on the play, the more inclined they’ll be to try it judging up the cereal by increasing the nutritional benefit by adding things like


Sam Josephs  57:04

nuts and seeds, even if it’s something like Frosties or crunchy nut cornflakes and meat free Monday is something that the kids will be talking about at school and be aware of. So maybe carrying that on at home, if they are reluctant. And when it comes to fatigue, it’s about kind of batch making as well and being able to freeze things. And maybe setting aside a small window on a Sunday when everybody’s together to maybe talk about Who’s In Who’s Out some of the meals we can do and how you can change it up to have a chickpea curry that’s got a few chunks of chicken in it for the family. And you’ll take those out for yourself and you’ll enjoy the chickpea curry as it is with the vegetables.

This webinar was recorded 28 June 2022 as part of our Finding Hope with Overcoming MS – 10th anniversary edition webinar series.