Brown Bread Recipe

Recipe from Croí Friend and Mayo Man, Michael!

A fresh loaf of homemade brown bread coming out of the oven is hard to beat! It gives a sense of accomplishment far out of proportion to the ease with which it is made.

Makes: 1 loaf / approx. 16 slices
Prep time: 30 – 50 mins
Cook time: 50 mins

Approx. nutritional information per slice: 106 calories; 18g carbs; 3.4g protein; 2.1g fat; 3g fibre

Dietitian’s tip: You may use one type of seed or a combination, just ensure the total weight required remains the same. A very coarse stone-ground flour is essential and it not too difficult to find.



  • Sunflower oil, for greasing the tin
  • 2 tbsp treacle
  • 30g fresh yeast or 7g dried yeast
  • 350 – 425ml warm water
  • 420g extra coarse stone-ground wholemeal flour
  • 40g sunflower seeds
  • 10g flaxseeds or linseeds
  • ¾ tsp reduced sodium salt



  • Grease a 900g loaf tin very lightly with the sunflower oil
  • Pre-heat fan oven to 180°C
  • Mix the treacle with about 300ml warm water, then crumble in the fresh yeast (if using) or sprinkle in the dried yeast. Stir and leave to sit for 5mins for the yeast to activate.
  • Place the flour, seeds and salt into a large mixing bowl and mix together.
  • Stir the treacle, water and yeast together and pour it all at once into the flour.
  • Using your hand, mix through the liquid, adding extra water as you go until you have a wet, almost sloppy dough. If the dough is too dry it won’t rise well.
  • Next, scoop the dough into the loaf tin and spread evenly. It should come just half way up the tin. Leave in a warm place to rise for 20 – 40mins until it has risen right to the top of the tin.
  • Place in the pre-heated oven for about 45mins. The run a knife around the outside edges of the loaf, tap the tin upside-down on the counter to pop it out. Return the bread to the oven, upside-down for a further 5 mins.
  • Cool on a wire rack before slicing and serving. It is best eaten day of but will hold for a couple of days!


Sit Right While Sitting Tight!

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Countless issues have arisen in the last month which has dramatically impacted upon our working lives; from the closure of crèches and schools to the mass opening of temporary home offices across the country. While this undoubtedly will contribute to the containment of COVID-19, we need to set ourselves up appropriately in our make-shift office environments to minimise the effect of these potentially un-ergonomic spaces on our posture and spinal health. Likewise if you are self-isolating and find yourself sitting for prolonged periods of time, you are also putting excess strain on your back.

This article will include some helpful tips to optimise your home working space and also some short instructional videos on how to include regular activity stretches throughout the day to address the muscles imbalances that can arise due to prolonged sitting.

How to sit better

This video provides instructions on how to assume the correct posture while seated at a desk. In summary

  • Both feet flat on the floor
  • Uncross ankles and knees
  • Thighs parallel to floor
  • Sit on both sit bones equally
  • Tuck chin in to lengthen back of neck
  • Shoulders back and in line with ears
  • Shoulders in line with hips

If you do not have a desk and are perching on kitchen stools or slumping on couches over coffee tables, try to adapt your position so that you are achieving as many of the above alignments as possible. For example, if you are using a kitchen stool, place a number of big books under your feet until both feet can be flat on the books and thighs parallel to the floor. If you are sitting on the couch, move towards the front end of the couch, shift your weight as to sit evenly on both sit bones and allow the spine to extend up. To avoid straining the neck muscles, position the top of your monitor to just below eye level. If working with a laptop alternate between propping the laptop up on books when performing reading activities to having it flat on a table for typing tasks so that elbows can be at 90 degrees.

Regular Activity Breaks

We know now that prolonged time spent sitting is as bad for your cardiovascular health as smoking. Furthermore, it is a significant contributor to chronic musculoskeletal problems including disc degeneration, nerve impingement and low back pain. For these reasons, it is now recommended that we take a 2-3 minute break from sitting every 30 minutes. We can use these 3 minutes to address some of the muscle imbalances that can occur due to too much sitting such as weak leg muscles and rounded shoulders. This next instructional video includes 4 stretches that can be scattered throughout your working day/week and will help improve your overall posture.

Undoing the Sitting

Finally, even if you sit with good posture and take regular activity breaks, excessive sitting leads to a build up of pressure in the lower back. Also, constantly rounding your shoulders over stretches the back muscles and impedes the ability of your rib-cage to expand, an important component of effective breathing. This last video will address these two issues and take you through a series of movements to release both the upper and lower back and restore your spine to optimal functioning and ready to sit another day!

Croí’s Top Tips for Stress Management

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It is important to recognise that stress is part and parcel of our daily lives, especially with COVID-19, and while it cannot be avoided we can learn to deal with it. While the link between stress and cardiovascular disease is not well understood, we know that stress impacts on the blood clotting mechanism, it increases your blood pressure and when you are stressed you are more likely to lead an unhealthy lifestyle. For example as a coping mechanism people are more likely to increase their caffeine intake, smoke more cigarettes and drink more alcohol and be less active when they are stressed.

  • Be aware of what causes your stress. Being aware of this this gives you the opportunity to try to prevent stress or to manage the situation more effectively. You may not be able to avoid stress, but knowing what triggers you to become stressed can help you manage it differently.
  • Manage your time. Develop a system that works for you, not against you. Learn to prioritise, make lists and praise yourself for getting through the various tasks.
  • Try to create a good work-life balance. All work and no play is a recipe for burnout. Try to find a balance between work and family life, social activities and downtime.
  • Learn to accept what you cannot change. For example we cannot control other people behaviours or reactions.
  • Have a laugh every day. Rigid thinking and behaviour is a prime source of stress, whereas laughter can uncork the pressure and release built up tension. Laughing also helps us get a better perspective on the problem and tends to make us feel more lighthearted.
  • Keep a worry diary. Using a worry diary can help calm the mind by getting worries out of your head, allowing you to see them from a distance. Write out each worry, your feelings and fears, how likely it is to happen and your evidence for and against your worry coming true.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise can help tackle stress and allow your body and mind to unwind, as well as releasing endorphins into the body (feel good hormones).
  • Try relaxation exercises and mindfulness. With regular practice, exercises such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation can help to reduce stress.
  • Eat and sleep well. Eating and sleeping well will help manage stress more effectively.
  • Build a range of supports. Building up a range of supports is important in managing stress. It can be beneficial to accept help from others, share your worries with someone you trust as the saying goes ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’.

Finally, remember be patient with yourself, gaining control over stress can take time.

Turkey Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries

Recipe from Croí Lead Dietitian, Suzanne Seery

Eating out can be a social and fun experience with family or friends and is one of the things that many people are missing at this time. Our Dietitians have a series of heart healthy ‘fakeaway’ takeaway recipes that the whole family can get involved in preparing, with the added benefits of being low in saturated fats, full or fibre and a good source of lean protein. Enjoy!

Serves: 4
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes


Turkey Burger with Sweet Potato Fries Recipe


Ingredients for turkey burgers:

  • 400g turkey mince
  • 1/2 red pepper finely chopped
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 1-2 cups frozen peas/petit pois
  • 1 cup brown bread breadcrumbs
  • 2–3 dessert spoons of olive oil
  • Chili powder & black pepper
  • 1 chili (optional)

Ingredients for Sweet Potato fries:

  • 2 large or 4 small sweet potatoes
  • Salt, black pepper and paprika to season
  • Olive oil
  • Low fat Crème Fraîche (optional for serving)

Side Salad:

  • 8 handfuls of spinach
  • 1/2 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 pack of cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced (red or white)
  • Dressing: 1 part olive oil to 2 parts lemon juice and pinch of cracked black pepper.
  • Drizzle dressing over salad and serve


Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6.

Sweet Potato Fries:

  • Chop the sweet potatoes in half and slice length ways.
  • Place on an unlined baking tray and drizzle with the olive oil.
  • Season with salt and pepper and paprika, tossing well so that all the wedges are coated with the oil and seasoning.
  • Cook in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the edges are brown and crisp.

Turkey Burgers:

  • In a large bowl, combine the minced turkey, onion, red pepper, egg,  garlic, lemon zest, frozen peas, breadcrumbs and olive oil.
  • Mix really well – you may need to get your hands in! Once combined, make into four equal-sized patties.
  • Place the burgers on the lined baking tray and cook in the oven alongside the sweet potatoes for 20 to 30 minutes, until cooked through.
  • Serve the burgers with sweet potato fries and side salad and a dollop of low fat crème fraîche if you like.

Kids Pizza Quesadillas

Recipe from Croí's Dietitian

Looking for are a healthy meal for all the family that’s ready in under 15 minutes? These fuss-free pizza quesadillas or “pizzadillas” are a fun way to get the kids involved hands-on in the kitchen. When children are included in preparing or choosing meals, they are more interested in eating what they’ve created. With just 3 basic ingredients, let them use their creative flare to customize their own with various toppings. Remember children need supervision at all times in the kitchen and an adult should take charge frying the quesadillas.

Dietitians tip: This is a wonderful way to encourage tasting new vegetables. The more colourful the better!

Serves: 2

Prep time: 15 mins

Approximate nutritional value (per pizzadilla, not including additional toppings): 330 kcalories, 41g carbohyrdrates, 12g protein, 13g fat.


Kids Pizza Quesadillas Recipe


  • 4 kids sized wholegrain wraps
  • ~ 4 tbsp. marinara or tomato-based pasta sauce
  • 50g grated cheddar cheese

Filling suggestions:

  • Leftover chicken + sweetcorn + chopped peppers
  • Sliced ham + cooked mushrooms
  • Red/yellow peppers + torn spinach
  • Switch to mozzarella cheese + baby tomatoes
  • Leftover cooked broccoli + chicken


  • Use the wholegrain wrap as your base.
  • Using the back of a spoon in a circular motion, spread 1-2 tbsp of the tomato-based sauce onto your wrap. You can use less sauce if you prefer but be careful not to add too much or it will spill out while cooking.
  • Sprinkle on half of the grated cheese.
  • Add the filling of your choice – get as creative as you like!
  • Place the second wrap on top and press gently to keep the pizzadilla together
  • Add a teaspoon of olive oil to a frying pan and fry the quesadilla for 2-3 minutes each side until it begins to turn golden brown.
  • Slice into pizza-like wedges and enjoy!

We would love to see your pizzadilla creations so send us a picture and we will share your designs! Why not use different veggies to making a face? Just make sure to take a picture before the top wrap goes on!!


Other Home Workouts!

Workout with our Croí Instructors

Vicky Harkin Yoga for Croí

#2 Chen Tai Chi Ireland Niall O Floinn Online Classes - Beginners Level 1 Revision Week 9-10

#4 Tai Chi Ireland /Brasil Niall O Floinn and Abel Cezar Bento - Beginners level 2 rev. week 9-10

Knee Exercises for Arthritis

#1 Chen Tai Chi Ireland Niall O Floinn Online Classes - Beginners Level Week 1-8

#3 Chen Tai Chi Ireland Niall O Floinn Online Classes - Beginners Level 2 week 1-8

Disclaimer for online videos: Performing these exercises is at your own risk. Croí cannot be held responsible or liable for any injury or harm incurred while exercising using the online resources provided on our website. Those unaccustomed to exercise or with special health considerations should consult their medical practitioner before performing any exercise.

Baked Hake with Mediterranean Vegetables


This is a wonderfully light yet satisfying, healthy fish dinner. It is so quick and simple to make and there are plenty of substitutions you could use depending on what you have to hand. Hake has a delicate taste that’s not overpowering so can be a great fish for all the family.

Dietitian’s tip: It’s always a good tip to roast more vegetables than needed and use them in other dishes throughout the week.

Serves: 2 people

Prep time: 25mins

Nutrition value per portion: 400 calories; 37g carbs; 28g protein; 13g fat; 7g fibre

Baked Hake with Mediterranean Vegetables Recipe


  • 2 x 125g fillets of hake (fresh or frozen)
  • 300g new baby potatoes
  • 1 medium or 2 small red onions
  • 1 large red/orange bell pepper
  • 1/3 of an aubergine
  • 1 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
  • Plenty of chopped parsley (fresh or dried)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 tsp of reduced fat spread
  • Black pepper


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180* C.
  2. Using a sharp knife, slice the red onion into wedges and the pepper into chunks.
  3. Slice discs of the aubergine about 3 inches in thickness and score them with a crisscross design. Chop the clove of garlic and press the pieces into the crosses.
  4. Place all of the chopped vegetables onto a baking tray and drizzle with the olive oil and a pinch of salt and place in the pre-heated oven for 25 mins.
  5. Meanwhile place the baby potatoes into a saucepan, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 mins or until cooked through.
  6. Wrap each fish fillet in some tinfoil, with a drizzle of olive oil, some parsley, black pepper and lemon juice if you wish. You could also add some crushed garlic if you like.
  7. Place the fish parcels into the oven 5-10 mins after the vegetables. You will know the fish is fully cooked through when it is white through and flakes easily. It will take about 15 mins.
  8. Drain the potatoes and add the butter and parsley.
  9. Serve and enjoy!

A message from Neil Johnson, Croí Chief Executive

To all our Croí community,

I hope you and your family are keeping safe and well in these very challenging times, and that you are also managing to cope with all the distressing and frightening news and stories we seem to be bombarded with on a daily basis. Remember, by following the advice and guidance from reputable sources such as we will all come through this as a stronger and better community.

It has been over 3 weeks since we had to cease all our face-to-face programmes, classes and literally all our fundraising activities. The Croí Heart & Stroke Centre in Galway is now closed to visitors. Following the government directive, all the Croí Team are now working from home and on a daily basis are doing everything we can to support those who need us most at this time.

Our helpline (091-544310) is open Monday to Friday 09:00 -17:30 where you can call for advice or guidance from our health team and get to speak to a Nurse Specialist, Dietitian, Physiotherapist or Exercise Specialist. If you have a more general query or need general advice or assistance, any member of our team will gladly speak to you and if necessary collectively ‘Team Croí’ will do whatever we can to support or assist you. Even if it’s only for a chat because you or a loved one is feeling lonely or isolated, be sure to call us. Equally, you can email us anytime at

On a daily basis, our team is updating reliable COVID-19 information and advice on our website, and on our social media channels, @croiheartstroke. We are also generating very useful lifestyle resources and tips on such things as exercise, cooking, eating, stress management, etc.

With our changed way of working, the Croí building effectively became empty. As we are located so close to the hospital, we offered it to the HSE as a gesture of support in the fight against coronavirus. So from Monday, March 30th, the building is now being used as a regional contact tracing centre. Similarly, the Croí Apartments – our support accommodation centre which is normally made available to relatives of those in hospital receiving emergency cardiac or stroke care – can no longer be used for their purpose as visitors are no longer allowed in the hospital. Accordingly, we are making the apartments available to the ICU staff at Galway University Hospital who are on the frontline and who cannot stay at home with their families due to infection risks.

This national emergency is putting a strain on everyone and Croí is no different. COVID-19 is presenting serious challenges for us operationally and financially. Because we rely on our own revenue generating activity, all our income streams have effectively been decimated. To those who are still managing to make donations and pledges, we are hugely grateful. Our biggest challenge is trying to keep our team employed so that we can respond to the many needs of those we are here to support and also to be able to continue our work after the crisis . I must commend each and every one of the Croí Team who have risen to the challenge, instantly adapting to our changed environment and remaining 100% committed to our vision and purpose. I am proud to work with such a dedicated group of professionals.

They say that a crisis brings out the best in people and we are experiencing that right now. To our volunteers, donors, sponsors, partners and collaborators – each of you also facing your own challenges and uncertainties at this time – we offer our heartfelt thanks for your continued support and encouragement. We fully understand and appreciate that many of you are now unable to support us financially and this is likely to be so for a number of months to come. If, however, your circumstances allow and you are in a position to make a donation, please visit with the assurance that your contribution will immediately help those who are most vulnerable to the coronavirus.

With sincere and grateful thanks.

Stay safe and well,

Neil Johnson
Croí’s Chief Executive

Aerobic Chair Workout At Home

Check out our NEW, seated exercise routine below!

Aerobic exercise, as described in our Aerobic Workout at Home page, is any exercise that uses your arms and legs for a continuous period of time such as walking, cycling and swimming. Aerobic exercise can also be performed from a chair. You can achieve the same heart rate rising mechanisms in this manner but for those who have functional limitations and/or chronic conditions such as HF or COPD it may be a better starting point for your exercise programme.

Diet and Immune System

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Can diet help ‘boost’ our immune system to fight COVID-19?

While it is true that poor nutrition can hamper your ability to fight off illness and infection, it is misleading to think that a special food, nutrient or supplement can “boost” your immune system. There are many products being heavily promoted as “immune boosters”, however immunology is complex and there are no supplements or natural health products approved to treat or protect against the COVID-19 virus.

Alongside a healthy sleep pattern, regular physical activity and stress management strategies, now more than ever is a good time to develop a healthy eating routine.

A Balanced Diet

Following the key points below for a healthy balanced and varied diet with adequate energy and protein intake is important to best support your immune system and overall heart health.

  • Aim for 5 – 7 portions of fruit and vegetables per day (aim to include at every meal)
  • Choose brown and wholegrain versions of carbohydrates
  • Include 2 servings of lean protein per day e.g. fish, lean red meat and poultry, peas, beans, lentils and eggs)
  • Stay hydrated with water as your main fluid source
  • Limit high sugar/fat/salt foods to a few times per week

Below, we will take you through some of the key nutrients found in a balanced diet one and highlight the role they pay in supporting your immune system to work properly.

Click the image to download the Healthy Ireland Food Pyramid.
Click the image to download the Healthy Ireland Food Pyramid.

7 key nutrients for a healthy immune system

Protein is important for many bodily functions such as healing and repair and maintaining healthy muscle mass. It also has a role in the formation of antibodies that fight infection and disease.  Protein foods can be animal based such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy or plant based such as peas, beans, lentils, tofu and nuts. Vary your protein sources, choose lean meats and poultry and limit processed red meats to keep your diet low in saturated fat. Include fish twice a week one of which is oily such as salmon, mackerel, trout or sardines (tinned or fresh).


This vitamin is ace at supporting your immune system! It helps maintain the structure of the cells in the skin, respiratory tract and gut. It acts as an anti-oxidant which is kind of like anti-rust protection for our bodies cells, keeping them strong and ready to fight infection. Beta-carotene which is converted to vitamin A in the body is found in leafy greens, yellow and orange vegetables like pumpkin and carrots.


Vitamin E is also a powerful anti-oxidant and is found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli. It is also found in avocados and vegetable oils such as sunflower and rapeseed oil and nuts and seeds including: almonds, hazelnuts and pumpkin. Why not try adding a handful of nuts or seeds to your cereal or using rapeseed oil in cooking and salad dressings.


Habitual vitamin C supplementation may help with the common cold by reducing severity and duration (>200mg/day) however we don’t know if this transfers to viruses. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin C for most adults is 80mg which is easily achieved through a balanced diet. Foods rich in vitamin C include bell peppers, citrus fruits, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and berries. Fresh and frozen are equally as nutritious. While vitamin C supplementation up to 1000mg/day won’t do you any harm, excess consumption can result in stomach pain and diarrhoea.


Vitamin D works with calcium and phosphorus for healthy bones, muscles and teeth. Vitamin D also helps to regulate our immune responses and a recent review of the research found that vitamin D supplements can help protect against acute respiratory infections, particularly among people who are deficient.

This is one vitamin where supplementation is recommended, although we can make vitamin D in the skin through direct sunlight, in Ireland the sunlight isn’t strong enough between March and October. We can get some vitamin D from diet as it is found in foods such as eggs, salmon and fortified milk but typically we don’t consume enough of these foods to meet our needs. Taking a 10 micrograms per day supplement is recommended for adults and children over the age of one year. With the social isolation precautions our time outdoors may be restricted a bit more and so supplementation is more important than ever.


Zinc helps the immune system to work properly and plays a role in wound healing. The immune system works well when we consume the recommended daily allowance of zinc which is 10mg / day. It is rare to be deficient in zinc as it is present in a wide range of foods including; lean meat, poultry, seafood, milk, whole grain products, fortified breakfast cereals, beans, seeds and nuts.


Selenium is involved in the normal function of the immune system. Good sources include Brazil nuts (5-6 Brazil nuts provide an adults daily needs) fish and seafood, brown rice, baked beans, sunflower seeds and oats are also good sources.


Most importantly, please remember that correct and frequent hand washing is your first line of defense and to continue to physically distance yourself as much as possible to break the chain of transmission. For more information check out the HSE website.