Sunday, July 24, 2016


a meat free alternative.....

The UK has welcomed 7 consecutive days (and counting) of soaring summer temperatures, and I think the majority of us are truly grateful as we have been waiting very patiently for days like this. With the weather performing at its best, our thoughts naturally turn to eating  - and cooking – al fresco, well mine do anyway. The traditional method for this would probably be a BBQ but there’s only so many charred sausages and burgers we can and should eat, and also where does that leave those who don’t like or eat meat.

I personally don’t like burgers; people have suggested home-cooking some of my own, but I’ve never really entertained this, however, I stumbled upon the idea of chickpea burgers the other day and thought this would be a nice alternative to try. So, after a few Google recipe searches, I got my hands on some ingredients and gave it a go -  let's just say I'm feeling smug!


For the Burgers (makes 6 burgers)
400g can drained chickpeas
Juice of half a lemon
Half of a small bunch of coriander
1 egg
1 teaspoon mixed herbs
2 crushed oatcakes
1/4 fienly chopped red onion
1 tbsp of oil
Wholemeal buns – try wholemeal rolls for a nutritious boost in preference to the traditional white rolls

For the caramelised onions (the chickpea burgers can be a little dry on their own because they have a low fat content, but the onions add moisture as well as a delicious subtle sweetness
¼ sliced red onion
2 tbsp balsalmic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons of Olive oil

*In a food processor. whizz the chickpeas, lemon, coriander, egg, and mixed herbs

*Scrape the mixture into a bowl and mix with the crushed oatcakes and onions and then put the mixture in the fridge to firm up for 20 minutes

*Whilst the mixture is firming up make your caramelised onions and toast your buns

*To caramelise the onions, heat the oil in a frying pan over a low heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook slowly for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent them from catching

*When the onions are softened, add the honey and balsalmic vinegar and cook and caramelise for a further 10-15 minutes on a low heat

*Take your mixture out of the fridge and on a flour-dusted surface, divide and shape into equally sized patties

*Add the patties to a medium heat frying pan and cook for 10 minutes, or until golden and cooked through, turning halfway

*Enjoy the burgers on your toasted buns with the caramelised onions  or on their own with a salad

Later x
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Sunday, July 17, 2016


that I've recently stumbled upon

Research by the British Communications agency, Ofcom, has reported that Britons spend more time watching TV, gaming and using their mobile phones and computers than sleeping. If I’m honest this comes as no surprise to me, especially since, through a quick analysis of my day, I have worked out that I am one of those statistics: spending roughly 6 hours using technology for work purposes and 3 hours for pleasure each day.

Like many, I have quite a few phone apps, bookmarked web pages, and recorded TV programmes to keep me entertained each day, perhaps too many, which is why when a new online application or TV series is brought to my attention, I am reluctant to indulge them in trepidation that it will be more like 15 hours I spend using technology rather than 9! Alas, every now and again I succumb to the effects of technological advancements;  I’ve recently engaged with Snapchat, which I said I’d never do, I’ve only just downloaded Pinterest, which has been going for years, and I’m yet, if ever, still to try the Uber app. One app I’m quite confident I won’t be indulging is the new Pokemon Go application, but never say never……..

There are 5 apps/websites that I’m loving right now and have been using for a few months; I can’t believe I didn’t know about them sooner so I thought I would share them here -  they’re not particularly health/fashion related and apologies if these are not available outside the UK.


1.  Deezer

At least 3 times a week I work out at home on the treadmill and/or in the garden. I’ve created a great music playlist using this music-on-demand app to work up a sweat to.

2. My Voucher Code

I’m literally kicking myself that I have not chosen to use this website before. It offers you a voucher code or discount, which you can redeem against online purchases and at restaurants. I got 25% of my meal at ASK Italian restaurant last weekend and a decent percentage off an online purchase this week to name a couple -  that’ll do nicely thank you!

3. Free Prints

Have you got photos on your camera and your Facebook and Instagram albums that you love and want as a print? This app will do just that. Once the app is downloaded, you simply select the camera/album photo you want to print, decide on the size and press order -  your free quality 6x4  prints are sent to you in the post. Note, you do pay for additional larger prints but only a small amount.

4. Top Cash Back 

I probably spend more time purchasing online than in store, which is why I am frustrated I didn’t entertain this website before now. When you shop with a selected merchant, Top Cash Back gives you back a percentage of your spend once your purchase is confirmed. As a self-proclaimed shopaholic, my Top Cash Back account is well on the way to funding my next designer bag purchase.

5. Shpock

I’m not a fan of the traditional boot sale, but the Shpock app is a boot sale with a difference. You simply take a photo of the item you want to sell, upload it, write a title and short description, set a fair price and wait for potential customers to get in touch. You then deliver the item by hand or post once you have received payment. The nice thing about this is that you can buy and sell things from people locally in your neighbourhood by filtering by distance.

What websites/apps are you loving right now?

Later x
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Sunday, July 10, 2016


without the need for a gym or lycra

I love working out: it wakes me up if I choose to exercise in the morning; it gives my skin a radiant glow; it benefits my health in more ways than one; and it makes my body feel toned and look better in my clothes. I wish I had more opportunities/time to don my activewear and get my sweat on, but alas, life sometimes just gets in the way and other things have to take priority. Nonetheless, I do try to fulfil the government’s recommendations for physical activity as outlined below:

*Adults should aim to be active daily. Over a week, activity should add up to at least 150 minutes (2½ hours) of moderate intensity activity in bouts of 10 minutes or more – one way to approach this is to do 30 minutes on at least 5 days a week

 *Alternatively, comparable benefits can be achieved through 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity spread across the week or a combination of moderate and vigorous intensity activity

*Adults should also undertake physical activity to improve muscle strength on at least two days a week

*All adults should minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary (sitting) for extended periods

Unfortunately, I’m not sure how many people take note of the fourth recommendation; often people think that because they have done a 30 minute workout in the morning, they can get away with being sedentary - perhaps sitting at their office desk from 9-5pm – for the rest of the day, but this is just not the case. Research has suggested that remaining seated for too long is bad for your health, regardless of how much exercise you do. Studies have linked excessive sitting with being overweight and obese, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and premature death, so we really need to look at ways to spend less time on our a$$!

Here are 10 ways to minimise your sedentary time throughout the day -  I refer to them as ‘Activities of Daily Living’:
1. Wherever possible, walk up the stairs or escalator instead of jumping in the lift or standing on the elevator

2. Try parking your car a little further from your destination and walk the rest of the way

3. Get off the bus, tube or train one stop earlier and walk the rest of the way

4. Use advert breaks on the TV as an excuse to get up and do something, whether it be going to the toilet or fetching something from upstairs or simply going to get a glass of water from the kitchen

5. Encourage staff in the workplace to plan a standing or walking meeting instead of sitting around a table for 1- 2 hours – it might only be for part of the meeting that you choose to do this

6. Take advantage of your breaks at work and instead of working through them, take a 5-10 minute walk

7. Swap some TV or computer time for more active tasks or hobbies such as gardening, walking, DIY

8. Stand or walk around while talking on the phone

9. If you are travelling short distances, consider standing on the train and bus

10. Take opportunities to find a slightly longer route to get to your destination, whether that be a shop, someone else’s office or a friend’s house

You don’t have to wear activewear for these activities, but I do love an excuse to wear my Forever 21 kit!
Wearing Forever 21 top and leggings

Later x
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Sunday, July 03, 2016


Or any nut butter for that matter

You’d be hard pushed to find a health & wellness enthusiast who doesn’t like nut butter; you only need to scroll through a #eatclean or #healthyeating feed to see the sheer number of social media influencers proclaiming their love for the stuff, and with good reason. Yes it tastes good, but with the main and only ingredient (with the exception of a pinch of sea salt) being nuts, it’s a great wholesome, nourishing food to add to your diet: it contains healthful monounsaturated fats which can benefit heart health, and protein and fibre which, among other benefits, can lead to greater satiation keeping you feeling fuller for longer.

Unfortunately, if you’re an avid fan of nut butters like many others, it’s health benefits are not a licence for you to gorge your way through a whole jar; in just two tablespoons you’ll consume nearly 200 calories so ‘moderation’ is key. On the other hand, for people who are trying to gain weight this can be a useful ingredient to help boost your calories.

My first experience of nut butters was not a great one. I had tried peanut butter for the first time and vetoed the idea of ever including it in my diet because I simply thought it tasted disgusting, but then they started introducing other varieties on to the market and I have to say I can’t get enough of almond butter - that’s definitely my favourite of all the nut butters! When making your choice, be sure to avoid any over-processed versions that may include other added ingredients such as sugar and butter, or even better you could try making it yourself; there are plenty of easy, homemade nut butter recipes on the web.

So how can you incorporate nut butter into your diet? Here are my top 5 personal favourite ways to add almond butter into my dietary regime. Apologies in advance to anyone who can't stand nut butters, however, if you have never tried them, I hope I have introduced you to something that can complement a healthy, balanced diet.


1. On fresh fruit - a slice of Granny Smith apple (of course it can be any variety of apple, in fact any kind of fruit) dipped in almond butter - thank me later if you have a sweet tooth

2. Blended into a smoothie/shake - take a spoonful of almond butter and blend it with milk, frozen banana and yoghurt

3. On your favourite starch - try spreading it on toast, oatcakes, cracker breads or your homemade banana bread

4. On your cereal - just add a dollop to your breakfast cereal or porridge

5.  As a dressing - make a delicious, thick and creamy nutty dressing to drizzle over your summer salads: try mixing a tablespoon of nut butter with  2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of water, salt and the juice of half a lemon

How do you like yours.............?

Later x
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Sunday, June 19, 2016


How about grow your own

Frustratingly, there is, to some extent, a lack of consensus when it comes to health claims - particularly relating to diet - among those working in the food and nutrition world (i.e. nutritionists, nutritional therapists, dietitians, food bloggers); it’s not surprising the public feel confused rather than empowered about what they should be eating (“should I be eating more coconut oil and butter or what?”, I hear people scream”); however, where there does appear to be some accord is with the notion that home-cooked meals are far superior to convenience ready-meals (although in my opinion it depends what and how you are cooking) in terms of consuming a healthy, wholesome, nutritious diet.

I encourage my clients to experiment in the kitchen with making their own meals and I personally enjoy looking for recipe ideas in books and on the web/blogs, but one of the things I’d also like to start getting into is growing my own -  growing some of my own food! Having lived in an apartment for many years, there was never really any inclination to start growing my own food, but with now having a garden, I feel there’s room to introduce another pastime to my list.

I went to BBC Gardeners World Live at the Birmingham NEC this weekend in search of some inspiration for what I could grow easily in my back garden. The VegTrug Grow Your Own Stage described how we could make even the smallest spaces productive and tasty.
Do you home grow any of your ingredients?

Later x
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Sunday, June 12, 2016


Umbrellas to the ready!

They call it a typical British Summer, and it arrived with a vengeance this week bringing relentless torrential rainfall, roaring thunder storms and uncomfortably muggy weather together with intermittent spells of very warm sunshine. It’s playing havoc with my decision-making when it comes to choosing an outfit, but I’m not going to be defeated by the British summertime; I refuse to resort back to my autumn/winter wardrobe and transitional pieces for the sake of a miserable weather forecast. It’s annoying enough that I can only wear my sandals and sleeveless tops for a few months of the year, without having to swap back to jumpers and closed-toe shoes during the month of June. So, when the meteorological conditions allow (i.e. it’s not overly cold or pouring with rain), I don my summer attire, hope for the best and ensure I’m carrying the essential transitional accessories: sunglasses and a large umbrella – such a juxtaposition!

Wearing: Sandals, Aldo;  Shirt, Warehouse;   Jeans, Zara;  Bag, Mulberry

Later x
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Sunday, June 05, 2016


I practise what I preach

Bicester’s Le Pain Quotidien produced the best avocado on sour-dough toast I've tried in a while, and I've put in a plea for Birmingham to find a spot on their high street for this delightful little restaurant.

I love dining out, but sometimes I get to a point during the week whereby I start looking for excuses to say no to restaurant invites (and don't you find the invites tend to come in thick and fast during the summer months?). I usually try to reserve eating out to one or twice a week, however, occasionally circumstances are such that I find myself sitting in yet another restaurant, perusing another menu for a celebratory meal with family or friends, or for a business meeting with colleagues, neither of which you can really say no to.

Eating out regularly can potentially play havoc with your weight loss and healthy eating efforts but it doesn't have to. Below I have noted down some of the strategies I personally use when I’m trying to control my calorie intake and maintain a healthy eating regime whilst eating out. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of the 80/20 balanced eating mantra (eating ‘healthy’, nutrient dense food 80% of the time and reserving the chocolate, dessert and alcohol to approximately 20% of the time)  but when the balance gets shifted in the wrong direction it’s important to pull in the reins to keep yourself on track, and you can do this even if your life dictates that you have to eat out regularly


TOP TIPS FOR EATING OUT......when you eat out regularly

*DON’T GO HUNGRY – You've heard the old adage, ‘don’t go shopping when you’re hungry’, but I think it’s wise not to go to a restaurant over-hungry either, especially if you are trying to control and be sensible with your food choices. I’m not suggesting you fill up on a meal before you go, but you could take the edge off your appetite by having a small mug of vegetable soup or some fruit and yoghurt before you leave the house; by doing this you may be less tempted by the bread basket and calorie dense stodgy menu options, and unlikely to over-consume and eat large portions

*SKIP THE EXTRAS – If you’re already having a starter and main course, it’s fairly unquestionable to suggest that you don’t need the extras. Consider saying no to the bread basket with its accompanying liberal butter/oil portion, and if it’s going to be your third or fourth pudding of the week, it might be an idea to say no to the dessert menu as well

*DOWNSIZE – many restaurant menus now feature the option to have a smaller serving size of some of their meals. This is a welcomed initiative in my opinion given our exposure to large food portions. Italian is one of my favourite cuisines and I do love a good penne carbonara, but now I tend to opt for the half portion of this creamy, calorie-dense dish and bulk out the rest of the meal with vegetables/salad. If half portions are not available, consider sharing a large meal with a friend/colleague or ask for a doggy bag and have the leftovers for another meal (although this will depend on the dish)

*BE IN CONTROL – Don’t be afraid to engage with the waiter/waitress serving you. Ask about how dishes are cooked and served: opt for grilled or baked food rather than fried where possible; request that vegetables are steamed without butter; ask for sauces and gravies and salad dressings (be mindful that seemingly 'safe' salads can contain calorie-laden dressings) to go on the side so that you can control the amount you put on your food

*SMART SWOPS – a lot of people love fries/chips as a side to their main meals, but if you have been eating out regularly, peruse the ‘sides’ menu to see whether there is a lower calorie alternative available. Ask for extra vegetables or salad instead, or opt for potato sides that haven’t been fried such as sweet potato mash (without butter) or baked sweet potato wedges, which are both quite popular on menus now

*BE DRINK AWARE – yes the obvious, it’s best to restrict on alcohol calories when you've perhaps been indulging already earlier in the week, but don’t forget the non-alcoholic calories such as the regular soda drinks and those exceptionally large glasses of fruit juice they serve. Consider soda water with a dash of lime or blackcurrant and if you can’t resist the wine, you could go for a wine spritzer instead.

Happy Dining!

Later x
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