10 Reasons Not To Skip Breakfast

Integrated Wellbeing - Food Matters - breakfast

Are you ever tempted to skip breakfast?  Here are 10 good reasons why that’s not a good idea …

1. Stress

Ever wake up feeling stressed about the day ahead? It could be that your “feel good” hormone (serotonin) levels have dropped and need a boost. Breakfast that includes oats and/or whole grain will lift serotonin levels, as well as provide you with a great source of the B vitamins that are essential for energy.

2. Mood

Sometimes when we wake up and our sugar levels are low (after all, it can be as long as 12 hours since the last meal), we can feel out of sorts. Eating a nutrient-rich breakfast will also help lift your mood.

3. Hunger

Choose breakfast that has a low Glycaemic Index (low GI indicates the rate at which the carbohydrates you eat are turned into sugar and released into the bloodstream as energy). Having persistently high blood sugar increases risk of type 2 diabetes and heart attack, as the number of destructive free radicals are raised in the body.

Eating lower GI carbohydrates such as oats and whole grain food help keep blood sugar levels in check which should help you feel fuller and more satisfied for longer. This approach to the most important meal of the day will also help you avoid the craving for high calorie, high sugar snacks mid-morning. Ghrelin, the hormone in the body responsible for increases in appetite, will remain lower during the day if you eat a satisfying breakfast and as a result you’re more likely to experience a steady feeling of fullness throughout the day.

A nourishing breakfast will also have an impact on levels of insulin, glucose, and fat in your blood, which can help lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

4. Hydration

Breakfast is a great opportunity to boost your hydration levels with a drink of nutrient-packed juice, smoothie (add a higher percentage of veggies than fruit to avoid spikes in blood sugar levels) or herbal tea. Check out my Get up and Go Green Smoothie recipe (link). Avoid too much caffeine which can cause irritability and also acts as a diuretic.

We all know how important it is to drink plenty of water throughout the day, but we often forget if our routine is interrupted. 

Best practice is not to let yourself get thirsty, but take plenty of sips through the day, so have an easy to carry eco-friendly glass drinking bottle with you. I never go anywhere without mine and I do try to drink at least the recommended 2 litres per day (that does include juices and herbal teas). As a rule, the more active we are in our daily lives, the more fluids we need to take on board.

5. Immunity

Breakfast is also a great opportunity to nourish ourselves with the nutrients that help maintain a healthy immune system and help us protect against and recover from illness, such as the A, B and C vitamins, as well as minerals such as zinc. Consuming freshly made vegetable juices and smoothies is a perfect nutrient-dense way to start the day (add a small handful of cashews or almonds to your favourite smoothies for protein and vital nutrients such a magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron and calcium which will also help you feel fuller longer).

6. Concentration

Skipping breakfast can contribute to feeling foggy-headed and an inability to concentrate properly – not great when we know we have a busy day ahead of us.

After an overnight fast, the brain craves some carbs to alleviate tiredness, help concentration and stay focused at work.

Add oats and flaxseeds to your smoothie – honestly, the oats work really well!

7. Memory

The old grey matter needs a helping hand in the mornings too as a low GI breakfast refuels the brain cells that depend on glucose, by elevating blood sugar levels. This approach will help when we need to process and manage complex and challenging information as well as with the formation and retrieval of memories.

8. Weight

A nutritious, low GI breakfast helps to manage hunger and energy levels through the morning and at the same time encourages us to consume an overall lower number of daily calories as well as manage body fat levels.

9. Metabolism

Surprisingly to some, having breakfast actually gives the metabolism the encouragement to get going in the morning and helps us burn calories more efficiently.

Studies also show that eating the same amount of calories during the day, but switching the main meal from dinner to breakfast, actually aids weight loss.

The biological process that the body follows over a 24-hour cycle is called our circadian rhythm. Metabolism is impacted by this rhythm so the time of day we eat can have a big impact on the way our bodies process food.

10. Energy

Choosing a low GI breakfast will release energy slowly through the morning and help maintain energy levels. This in turn will affect our choice of food at lunchtime. If our energy levels don’t slump too much, we are far less likely to choose a high calorie, often high sugar meal.

 

The recipe for my current favourite breakfast option – the Integrated Wellbeing Bircher Muesli – is here: Bircher Muesli Recipe

And you can watch the accompanying video from the Integrated Wellbeing kitchen here: Chrissie TV – From the IW Kitchen

 

With love and wellbeing wishes,

Chrissie Tarbitt - Integrated Wellbeing

Easy Hummus With A Twist

Red pepper & watercress hummus, recipe, integrated wellbeing

Hummus is not just yummy and incredibly versatile; it’s high in fibre and a great way for vegetarians and vegans to get protein.

There are loads of different versions available in deli’s and supermarkets but there’s nothing quite like making your own.  And it really isn’t tricky!

My most recent hummus recipe experiment was a real hit at home, so I thought I’d share it on what is apparently International Hummus Day!!!

Ingredients

  • 1 tin of chickpeas
  • 1/4 of a red pepper
  • 1 handful of watercress (including stalks)
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • 1 small handful of coriander
  • 1 glug of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 generous squeeze of lemon
  • Sea salt & black pepper for seasoning (to taste)

Process

Nothing tricky here. Put it all in a food processor and whizz it up until smooth.

Tip

For a more textured end product, hold back a handful of chickpeas. Once the food processor has done its magic, add the final chickpeas and give the machine a quick ‘pulse’. That last handful will be chopped in but leave you with a slightly coarser hummus.

There’s no end of different versions you can make. Get creative.  Have some fun!

Please share your own favourites in the comments box below.

With love and wellbeing wishes,

Chrissie Tarbitt - Integrated Wellbeing

Warm Sweet Potato & Quinoa Salad

Integrated Wellbeing, Food Matters, Sweet Potato, Quinoa, Salad

Now that summer’s here, it’s time to mix up your salads and try something different.

This easy recipe for my warm sweet potato and quinoa salad is not only yummy but a nutritious veggie meal with carbs, protein and healthy fats thrown in!  And for those who like to support local growers and minimise food air miles, check out The British Quinoa Company in Shropshire.

The quantities below are for a salad that serves 2 people.

Salad Ingredients

  • quinoa (1 cup)
  • sweet potato (1 large)
  • courgette (1 large)
  • mixed salad leaves (4 handfuls)
  • cashew nuts (1 cup)
  • avocado (1 large)
  • cherry tomatoes (12)
  • fresh mint / coriander (1 small handful)
  • balsamic dressing

You can use a pre-made or shop-bought dressing but I prefer to make my own before each meal using the ingredients below. It really is easy and you can adjust it each time to your own taste.

Dressing Ingredients

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • Maldon sea salt
  • Dijon mustard
  • ground black pepper
  • tiny pinch of Stevia (or your own favourite plant-based sweetener)

Process

Start with the quinoa and the sweet spud. Once they’re prep’d and cooking, you can get on with the other stuff.

  • Rinse and cook the quinoa as normal then set to one side
  • Peel, dice and steam the sweet potato
  • Grate or spiralize the courgette
  • Dry toast the cashews on a gentle heat in a pan or skillet for no more than 5 minutes (either using them whole or roughly chopped, whichever you prefer)
  • Dice the avocado
  • Quarter the cherry tomatoes

Place all the ingredients (except the cashews) in a large salad bowl, then add the dressing and toss thoroughly.

Toss it well so that everything has a coating of that gorgeous dressing and quinoa.

Finally, sprinkle your toasted cashews on the top, and serve!

I’d love to hear your favourite summer salad recipes so we can try them at Integrated Wellbeing here in sunny Devon, so please post links or recipes below.

With love and wellbeing wishes,

Chrissie Tarbitt - Integrated Wellbeing

Cashew Nut Yoghurt

cashew nuts, cashew yoghurt, integrated wellbeing

This incredibly delicious, dairy alternative has become a firm favourite in our household – I can’t keep up with the orders!

This protein (and healthy fats) rich yoghurt is equally at home on your morning home-made Bircher’s Muesli (click here for my easy Bircher’s recipe video) as it is “au natural” with a few blueberries and a dusting of cinnamon or a sprinkling of chopped pecans and a drizzle of maple syrup – yummy!  And it’s an easy recipe too …

Ingredients

I use an American cup measure as so many recipes these days are U.S. ones and it’s easier than trying to convert!

  • 2 cups of unroasted cashews
  • 1 cup of filtered water (add a little more if you prefer your yoghurt a slightly thinner consistency than Greek yoghurt)
  • 3 Tablesoons of maple syrup (vary according to desired sweetness)
  • 1 Tablesoon of pure vanilla essence (or bean pod if you have it) – again adjust to your preferred taste
  • ¼ Teaspoon of probiotic powder (this is necessary to thicken the yoghurt and provides the wonderfully gut-friendly bacteria in the end product)

Method

Soak the cashews in filtered water for about two hours, then drain and rinse.

Add all the ingredients into a high-speed blender, such as a Vitamix or Nutribullet. It needs to be a pretty powerful machine in order to create the totally smooth consistency you need.

Blend for a couple of minutes until your yoghurt has a completely smooth and creamy texture.

It may well warm up during this process which is a good thing as it will speed up the fermenting process.

Add to a pre-warmed dish or storage tub with a firm lid (I use a click and lock type of tub) making sure there is an inch or so room left at the top to allow for some expansion.

Put the yoghurt into a warm place (airing cupboard is ideal if you have one or near a warm radiator). The probiotics will do their thing in 8-12 hours. I usually leave mine overnight (if we can wait that long!), then give it a stir and place in the fridge to cool.

Hey presto! An amazing, home-made fermented yoghurt that will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days (that’s if I don’t tell everyone that I’ve made a new batch!).

Incidentally, this yoghurt doesn’t taste of cashews which is the beauty of these fabulously versatile nuts. More on these little beauties in later posts.

Enjoy!

With love and wellbeing wishes,

Chrissie Tarbitt - Integrated Wellbeing

(Almost) 50 Shades Of Green

Super Green Spring Broth, Integrated Wellbeing, Food Matters, Chrissie Tarbitt

Winter needn’t be the only time we enjoy great veggie soups and stews. Here’s my recipe for a peppery Super Green Spring Broth that works well all year round.

This recipe was inspired by the contents of a recent organic veg box delivery from our friends at Able & Cole, so don’t be afraid to experiment with what’s in your larder or fridge on any given day.  Apart from the ingredients, all you’ll need is one large pan, a pint jug and a stirring spoon!

The quantities below should serve 2 – 3 people.

Ingredients

  • leeks (2 large or 3 small, chopped)
  • celery (3 sticks, chopped)
  • cabbage (½, finely shredded)
  • broccoli (1 head, cut into bite-size pieces)
  • peas (1 cup)
  • watercress (1 handful, roughly chopped)
  • spinach (1 large handful)
  • butter beans (1 tin)
  • garlic (1 clove, diced)

Stock & Seasoning Ingredients

  • organic vegetable stock (1 pint)
  • Tamari soy (1 – 2 teaspoons)
  • Dijon mustard (½ teaspoon)
  • thyme (½ teaspoon, fresh or dried)
  • cayenne pepper (a pinch)
  • turmeric (¼ teaspoon)
  • coconut oil (1 teaspoon) (∗optional)
  • olive oil (1 tablespoon)
  • apple cider vinegar (1 teaspoon)
  • sea salt and ground black pepper
  • fresh coriander or flat leaf parsley (to garnish)

Process

  • Heat the olive oil in a large pan
  • Sautee the leeks, garlic & thyme
  • Add the celery and turmeric and stir until the celery softens
  • In a jug, mix the pint of stock, the Dijon mustard, a few twists of black pepper, the apple cider vinegar, a pinch of cayenne pepper & a few dashes of Tamari soy
  • Add the shredded cabbage and the contents of the stock jug to the main pan, and simmer for about 3 to 4 minutes
  • Then add the chopped broccoli
  • Simmer for a further 5 minutes or so, until the cabbage & broccoli are almost cooked through
  • Now add the watercress, the spinach & a cup of cooked peas
  • Add a teaspoon of coconut oil (∗optional) and simmer for a few minutes
  • Season (to taste) with sea salt & black pepper
  • Serve & garnish with a handful of freshly-chopped coriander or flat leaf parsley

I hope you like the Integrated Wellbeing Super Green Spring Broth as much as I do!

With love and wellbeing wishes,

Chrissie Tarbitt - Integrated Wellbeing

Chrissie’s Bircher Muesli Recipe

Bircher Muesli by Chrissie Tarbitt

I’m a firm believer that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so here’s my favourite Bircher Muesli recipe straight from the Integrated Wellbeing kitchen.

As you’ll see on the accompanying video, this really is a tasty, quick and healthy breakfast option.  And be sure to check out my recent blog post “10 Reasons Not To Skip Breakfast” which highlights why skipping the first meal of the day is really not a good idea!

Ingredients

 

Integrated Wellbeing - Food Matters - breakfast

 

 

 

Bircher Muesli by Chrissie Tarbitt

 

 

 

The ingredients listed are for one portion (though if you double up, you have breakfast ready for the following day – in that instance I would recommend replacing apple with blueberries or raspberries as the apple can become too wet and loses its colour too).

  • 40g per portion quick porridge oats – gluten free oats (such as the Alara organic version) work really well too
  • 200ml unsweetened, organic almond milk (Rude Health is my current favourite)
  • ½ banana (mashed)
  • ½ apple (grated) (blueberries are another favourite. I try not to add more than one fruit in addition to the banana to avoid unwanted sugar spikes)
  • 1 dessert spoon mix of flaxseed, pumpkin and sunflower (you can buy this mix already ground and mixed – Linwoods is a favourite)
  • 1 tea spoon of milled chia seeds
  • unsweetened dessicated coconut
  • 1 oz (approximately 18) pecan nuts (or a mix of any of your favourite nuts – ground hazelnuts or almonds are also a really yummy addition)
  • cinnamon to your liking

 

You can watch (and share) my Bircher Muesli (quick & healthy breakfast) video here: Chrissie TV – From the IW Kitchen

I’d love hear from you with your favourite muesli recipes or alternative healthy breakfast – after all this is the most important meal of the day!  Please leave a comment below.

With love and wellbeing wishes,

chrissie-signature

Get Creative With Coleslaw

Food Matters

Every Wednesday morning, I’m like a kid in a sweetie shop. 

Wednesday is delivery day for our weekly supply of organic veg; organic veg which is seasonal and sourced from UK organic farms (oranges and lemons are an exception of course!). A quick caveat here, I’m a huge supporter of local independent shops so I choose to spread the love. I do use our greengrocer to top us up with our veggies in the week, but they don’t have as large a selection of organic produce as Abel & Cole (www.abelandcole.co.uk).

Not knowing what’s going to be in my veg box is part of the fun and in a small but significant way, it’s a great practice of letting go of that feeling that everything has to be planned within an inch of its life, “just to be certain”.

It’s also a great way of bringing mindfulness into our relationship with food in a natural, relaxed way. It’s just me and the box of veg! Just seeing the fantastic colours and the weird shapes of some veggies that I’ve never seen or cooked with before (particularly the fabulous array of winter squashes we’ve been enjoying) gets my creative juices flowing.

Here’s my latest recipe inspired by a recent veggie box that included all of the ingredients below. Honestly, it was so much fun putting it together, gorgeous to look at and the best slaw I have ever eaten (sorry if that’s sounds like bragging, but it really was that good!).

Celeriac, Cabbage & Carrot Coleslaw

  • ½ large celeriac (grated)
  • ¼ red cabbage – shredded
  • ¼ white cabbage – shredded
  • 1 large carrot – grated
  • 1 apple – grated
  • 1 raw beetroot – grated
  • 1 chicory – roughly chopped
  • 1 large celery stick – peeled and diced
  • 1 blood orange, pith removed, segments chopped into small pieces

Food Matters

 

Dressing: Olive oil, lemon juice (and zest of ½ lemon), ground black pepper & crushed chef’s sea salt.

Garnish: toasted sesame seeds (optional).

 

I’d love to hear about your creative seasonal veg recipes, or your favourite homemade slaw. Please share in the comments below.

With love and wellbeing wishes,

chrissie-signature

Sweet Beet Smoothie

Sweet Beet Smoothie

Not all of us love beetroot but it really is good for us …

Beetroot is bursting full of vitamins and minerals, soluble fibre and powerful antioxidants.

Here’s my current favourite beetroot smoothie which even the biggest doubters should like.

This one is so simple too!

You’ll need:

  • 1 large, raw beetroot (peeled & chopped)
  • 2 celery sticks
  • one quarter of a cucumber (peeled if not organic)
  • 1 apple (peeled if not organic)
  • 1 handful of kale
  • 1 small handful of blueberries
  • 300 mil of filtered water
  • 1 handful of ice-cubes

Into your blender of choice (for me, the trusty Vitamix – www.vitamix.com ) and give it a whizz for a minute or two.  And there you go.

Even those in our household with a sweet tooth love this one.

I’d love to hear your favourite beetroot recipes so please drop me an email or leave a comment below.

With love and wellbeing wishes,

chrissie-signature

Superfood Smoothies: What’s All The Fuss About?

DSC00752

On a recent flight back from holiday, I sat next to a really interesting guy and, as we talked about mind, body and food matters, we laughed as we shared our passion and enthusiasm for all things juice and smoothie related – yet with a fundamental difference. As he was describing the daily concoction of stuff he added to his early morning smoothie, from apple cider vinegar to maca powder (both of which I’m sure have great beneficial properties!) along with a suitably diverse bunch of vegetables, he admitted that no-one else in the family would go near it! When Hippocrates stated over two thousand years ago, “Let medicine be thy food … ”, I don’t think he meant that our food should taste like medicine!

My love affair with juices and smoothies began several years ago when I was constantly on the go, often with very early morning starts which meant that I was eating on the run and, as a result, I was really missing my “5 a day”.

That’s a whole new article on my “road warriors survival kit”, but for another day ☺. Enough was enough, I was constantly tired, often irritable, my digestive system was complaining at the lack attention and I was catching colds and bugs. I had to find a solution. So I did my research, bought a pretty pricey (but soooo worth it) Vitamix blender (www.vitamix.com) and began to experiment.

Juices and smoothies are both loaded with nutrients, give you an energy boost, and taste fabulous. But they’re not the same thing. The difference lies in the machines used to make each drink. Now, I don’t want to get too bogged down here with the differences between juices and smoothies, but it’s probably worth a quick explanation of the key ones.

Juices

To make fresh homemade fruit or vegetable juice, you need a juice extractor. The juice is the water and most of the nutrients that have been separated from the fibrous pulp in those fruits and vegetables.

Smoothies

Smoothies require a blender or Vitamix machine. This is what I use as it’s multi-functional and its high speed motor ensures that the pulp that’s left in the smoothie is palatable and digestible. Unlike a juicer, we add liquid such as fresh juice, milks (both dairy and non-dairy versions), along with fresh fruits and/or vegetables that are processed into a purée in the blender, so the resulting drink is thick and smooth. We can also add extra nutritional items such as wheat grass, maca powder, spirulina and nuts, among many others.

Greenie_1

In my experience, having been through a few machines of both types over the years, you do get what you pay for so I encourage you to do your research, read reviews and go for the best you can afford – oh, and measure the height of these gadgets – especially if they need to fit underneath overhead cupboards in the kitchen!

 

So what are the benefits of Juices and Smoothies?

A sure way to get our 5 a day (the new recommendations are to exceed this daily amount):

In order to get the most benefit from eating vegetables, it’s best to eat them raw. Of course, it can be difficult to eat large quantities of raw vegetables, so drinking your fruits and vegetables daily is relatively easy. I take a flask with me if I’m travelling so I can drink it before I get to my destination if on a long journey. Tip – add a few ice cubes or frozen fruit (fantastic for fruit smoothies and a cheaper way of buying some fruits) to the smoothie mix before blending so it stays cool for your second helping when you arrive at the office.

Supports your immune system:

Vegetable juices, green smoothies and fruit smoothies provide your body with a very concentrated source of nutrients and enzymes, particularly when organic vegetables are used, that support our immune function and help detoxification. Also phytochemicals, antioxidants and other immune enhancing vitamins and minerals are concentrated in juices and smoothies in an easy to absorb form. All these help to detoxify the body and boost your immune system.

Aids recovery after illness:

Veggies are generally lower in sugar and higher in nutrients and enzymes than fruits, so vegetable juicing/blending is an especially good way to nourish the body and accelerate your recovery after an illness.

Improves digestion:

The body can quickly and more easily absorb larger amounts of nutrients from liquid foods than from solid foods because the process of digestion that is necessary when you eat whole foods is simplified. Fresh juices and smoothies are an easy way to get the beneficial enzymes that aid digestion into the body. Proper digestion is just as important as nutrient concentration – undigested nutrients cannot be utilized by the body.

Supports any weight loss plan:

Juices and smoothies for weight loss, particularly when vegetables are emphasized, is one way to ensure that you choose a healthy weight loss plan that does not sacrifice good nutrition. Remember, fruit contains a lot of sugar so it’s important to go easy on the all-fruit smoothies (maybe just one a day to begin with to ensure you have room for the veggie ones!) especially when trying to lose weight. Monitoring our sugar intake will also avoid the energy spikes many of us experience throughout the day which lead to cycles of short bursts of energy followed by tiredness, followed by sugar cravings. With that in mind, I always start my day with predominantly vegetable blends. (More on this in later posts.)

Be warned, once you start, you’ll be hooked and so will your partner and any children in the family!

Sure, not all my favourite recipes are liked by everyone in the household, but that’s fine by me as I get to choose what goes into mine, safe in the knowledge that they won’t disappear from the fridge ☺.

Check out my current favourite smoothie recipes here in our Food Matters section, and get ready to experiment! I’d love to hear how you get on so leave a comment below or drop me an email. I’ll be sharing further recipes over the coming weeks, but feel free to send me your favourites too.

With love and wellbeing wishes,

chrissie-signiture

Get Up And Go Gorgeous Greens

Greenie_1

We all know that we need to eat more greens (especially raw ones) and for many of us, even if we love them, it’s hard to consume at least 5 portions a day.

It seems that the most important and healthiest vegetables (the green ones) are missing from a lot of our diets.

Juicing or blending really helps fill the gap and allows for far more efficient absorption of the vital nutrients in our greens such as essential alkaline minerals, calcium and magnesium. Greens are also rich in antioxidants, and cruciferous veggies, such as broccoli, kale, collards, watercress and rocket to name a few, speed up the liver’s ability to rid the body of ingested toxins. In addition, iron, vitamin C, beta-carotene are found in most of these greens (I could go on, but you get the picture), so you can see why I’m so enthusiastic about this daily ritual!

My Morning Favourite Combo

Makes approximately 1 ½ pints or 750ml to divide into glasses, cover and sip throughout the day or pour into a takeaway flask for your instant “on the go pick me up.”

  • One large celery stalk or 2 smaller ones (washed – no need to peel)
  • 1/4 a cucumber – peel if not organic
  • 1/2 an apple – peel if not organic. Add a whole apple if you prefer a slightly sweeter start to your day ☺
  • A handful of spinach leaves
  • 2 or 3 lettuce leaves
  • A small handful of kale
  • 500ml filtered water
  • A piece of peeled ginger
  • A generous squeeze of lime juice
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • 6 ice cubes

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Wash the leaves and add all the ingredients into your blender. If using a juicer you may want to add some filtered water afterwards to make it go further or simply add a few ice cubes instead.

Tips / Time-savers
Kale: I regularly buy a large bag of kale, wash it, chop it and place it in the freezer in an airtight bag. Once frozen it’s really easy to break some off for your morning juice. This cuts down morning prep-time and instantly cools your drink for an extra fresh taste. Do the same with collards, Swiss chard, etc.

Ginger: Ginger has antiviral and antifungal properties. It’s also an anti-inflammatory and stimulates circulation. As root ginger tends to come in quite large pieces, I peel and chop it into ready-made thumb nail size pieces and again put it in the freezer in an airtight bag. Fab – no messing about in the morning and a large root can last a few weeks. (If you too are a fan of ginger, grate a frozen piece into a glass of hot lemon at any time of the day ☺.)

This recipe is my favourite morning combo and one I keep coming back to. Have a look at my recent piece “Superfood Smoothies:  What’s All The Fuss About?” to read more about the many health benefits of regularly juicing or blending. Greens in particular are top of the list, so go ahead, get your creative juices flowing and experiment with your favourite greens: replace apple with pear, lemon juice instead of lime; or try adding broccoli florets, chard or collard leaves in place of kale. The combos really are endless!

And please share your favourites in the ‘comments’ below.

With love and wellbeing wishes,

chrissie-signiture