Sunday, May 01, 2016


The home-made way

I’m not sure whether I’d call this a recipe as such, more of a meal idea, maybe? The word ‘recipe’ often conjures up thoughts in my mind of having to annoyingly buy ingredients that you wouldn't typically use on a day to day basis (or ever use again), and study complex and time-consuming instructions on how to create something that will be demolished within minutes.  Perhaps it’s a little senseless for me to think like this since without stumbling on these weird and wonderful recipes I've found on the super-foodie bloggers’ websites over recent years, I’d have probably never experimented with Medjool dates, turmeric, courgetti, almond butter, soaking oats overnight in milk and yoghurt, and heaven forbid, I’d have never thought to smash avocado and feta and spread it on sour-dough toast!

There’s nothing complicated or particularly exceptional with this home-made pizza, but it’s quick, easy, and nutritious, and it can use your favourite everyday ingredients - just how I like home-cooked meals to be; it's also a nice alternative to your traditional sandwich. Once you have a wholemeal pita bread and some tomato puree, let your creative juices run with your choice of toppings: I had pineapple, red onion, feta cheese and spinach, which are kitchen staples in my house!

What I Used
1 wholemeal pita bread
Tomato puree
Feta cheese
Red onion
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

What I Did
*I smeared a good dollop of tomato puree on to one side of the pita bread followed by a drizzle of olive oil

*I added the rest of my choice of toppings (cheese, pineapple, spinach, red onion) on to the pita bread and baked in the oven on gas mark 5 for 20 minutes. Bellissimo!

Later x
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Sunday, April 24, 2016


Sana Vita Health Club

I've spoken before about the potential role social media can play in influencing and inspiring our lives. Those days that I passively scroll through my feed, I’ll always come across at least one picture, a quote, a person and/or a story that has a positive impact on me in some way. Imagine when this happens offline, away from the virtual reality of a glass screen: when you actually physically meet a like-minded individual who inspires you and shares a common interest………you just want to find out more about them, right?

Whilst looking for additional consulting space for my nutrition business recently, I came across Aine Gallagher, the lovely founder and trainer of Birmingham-based health club, Sana Vita. As a personal trainer, Aine had skills and interest in health and fitness, and a passion for helping people transform their lives; she used these qualities to admirably set up her own health club business, which, may I add, she won a customer service award for at the Natwest Venus Awards Birmingham. She was kind enough to let me take up some of her time to interview her as part of my Birmingham Wellness Series.

1. When was Sana Vita established, and what fuelled your desire to set up a personal training/health club business in Birmingham?

Sana Vita opened its doors on 30th April 2014, so we are very excited to be celebrating our 2nd birthday in a few weeks!

When I first qualified as a personal trainer I became very aware how much the weighing scales can have a negative impact on people’s lives, on their mental and emotional wellbeing and progress towards their personal health goals. I found that my clients motivation would be at the mercy of the scales and if the number wasn’t quite what they wanted it to be, it  would result in negative self – talk, a drop in motivation or on the other side a very short term lift in mood, a cycle that would continue week after week. This totally fuelled my desire to set up Sana Vita as I wanted to help people understand that they are much more than a number on the weighing scales and that with the right support they can be happy and healthy and allow their body to find its natural weight, which it is striving for everyday.

2. What services does your business offer to its customers, and is there one that is most popular or works best for you and your clients?

At Sana Vita we focus on providing an all-round service to give our clients as much support as possible to help them achieve their personal health and wellness goals.We offer one to one personal training and yoga sessions (which include regular health checks), home/gym programmes, nutrition and life coaching and educational workshops. As a way for members to make friends and build our Sana Vita community we also organise social events such as meals, active days such as tennis/outdoor sessions and team charity events.

The nutritional coaching combined with one to one personal training sessions are the most popular services that we offer. They see our clients achieving their health goals, and more importantly maintaining these results. An additional service that members find very beneficial is our educational workshops delivered to all Sana Vita members. In our latest workshop ‘Rethink Your Body’ we shared how you can allow your body to find its natural weight through having 3 key areas working for you in the right ways… Mindset, Nutrition and Exercise.

3. What is your business’ ethos/values in terms of the services/products you offer?

Caring for our member’s health, happiness and wellbeing is at the forefront of our services and in everything that we do, whether they are with us exercising in the studio or at home planning their evening meal. Our number one value that we follow every day is ensuring that we go the extra mile for our clients and that our services are much more than personal training sessions. 

4. Health is at the top of many peoples’ agenda these days, which is great news; how do you feel Sana Vita fits into the evolving health and wellness scene, particularly in Birmingham?

With the obesity rate in Birmingham being over 25% - the third highest rate in the UK, it is so great to see that health is now becoming a top priority for many people. Although health is capturing our population’s attention, mixed messages being portrayed through the media, advertising, meal deals and latest fad diets make it very confusing and difficult for people to know what to do for the best.

At Sana Vita educating our clients and setting the record straight about what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and also showing them what approach is truly best for them is so important to us. This is why we feel our services are so valuable in helping people lead happy and healthy lifestyles and why we fit in to the ever evolving health and wellness scene. 

5. You’re running your own business - this is most people’s dream. What do you love most about your work and what do you find most challenging?

I absolutely love the variety that running your own business brings, from working with our clients in the studio to tucking myself away in a coffee shop organising home programmes or planning our next networking event. Health and wellness have always been a passion of mine so I feel extremely lucky to have the opportunity to help others along their journey to achieving their health goals and meeting such incredible people along way.

Running your own business certainly doesn’t come without its challenges, I have had to become more comfortable with feelings of uncertainty – that’s for sure! For me, decision making would be one of the most challenging aspects of running a business and the uncertainty as to whether they will be the right decision for the business. Examples of this would be choosing the right trainer to join our team and managing finances to ensure our focus is on the right areas throughout the year.  Having said that overcoming challenges are what help the business to grow, so we can continue to learn and move forward.

6. You’ve recently taken on a new personal trainer. Do you have any exciting business plans/projects in the pipeline that we can be privy to?

Yes! We are super exited to welcome Dave to the Sana Vita team, Dave is a newly qualified Personal Trainer who will be adding lots of new exercise styles to our services including kettlebells and circuit training. Dave has also practiced yoga for 10 years, is a qualified Ashtanga yoga instructor and runs yoga retreats throughout the year. With this in mind we are planning to introduce more yoga classes and yoga and health retreats for our members – so very exciting times ahead!

7. You’re very passionate about your work in this industry. Can you give us a little insight into your personal health and wellness regime?

Sure! So exercise wise I aim to get 4 exercise sessions in per week, although I have learned to be very flexible with this as I may need to adapt depending on how busy my week is - what times sessions are booked in/networking events etc. My sessions would be a complete mixture of running, yoga, gym sessions and dancing.

I am a total foodie too and I absolutely love cooking up healthy dishes, and making sure I have my meals prepared in a tupperware box for the next day – I don’t know what I’d do without my tupperware collection!

Rest is also very important to me too, I make sure I take time out to spend with family and friends - taking a nice walk in the countryside followed by tea and cake – it’s all about balance after all J  

8. What is your outlook on living healthy and do you have any healthy lifestyle tips you can offer my blog readers?

I know this is a popular term used but I genuinely believe that it is all about balance. Your body is always trying to restore balance so if you are doing all of the right things for your body - exercising regularly, eating real food and resting to reduce stress levels then you are giving your body the chance to find its natural weight, where it always wants to be.

Goals can be a great tool to get started and remain motivated, but I always suggest not to get too hung up on goals as this can take you out of enjoying the present moment and enjoying what you have right how. So one of my top tips around setting goals is set your goal but make sure you enjoy the journey J

Thank you Aine
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Sunday, April 17, 2016


What's it all about?

I was first introduced to the concept of ‘gratitude’ by a friend who proclaimed that it had done wonders for her outlook on life. When you delve deeper into what it’s about, you can see why it may have had this effect; gratitude, allegedly, is partly about focusing on the things that make you happy in life instead of concentrating your thoughts on the negative things that make you unhappy. In Wikipedia terms it’s defined as, ‘the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness’, and in the publication Psychology Today, it is described as ‘an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has—as opposed to, for example, a consumer-driven emphasis on what one wants’.  In recent months, my social media feed has been somewhat inundated with statements about how important gratitude is to your success in life and business.

Why have I taken a bit of interest in this? Well, I will admit, despite my job being predominantly about enlightening and empowering people to make healthy lifestyle changes, I do not feel I focus enough on my own personal development. I know I probably expend too much energy thinking about some of the negative things going on in my life, and a week doesn't go by that I don’t adversely think about what I want and what I don’t have; sometimes this can make me a little dejected and sometimes it’s just a very quick passing thought whilst waiting for the train or a client. Either way, I can see how this type of thinking could potentially be destructive if I allowed it to be, and therefore I’m on a mission to explore and embrace this concept of gratitude a little more not only for me, but also possibly for the benefit of my clients. I've been encouraged to start with a Gratitude Journal. I’d love to hear about any of your journeys or thoughts on the concept of gratitude

Can I be flippant in all of this for a moment and say that I’m very grateful for being the lucky winner of one of my favourite fashion blogger’s (5 Inch and Up) give-away. I received this delightful pair of these bang-on-trend Aldo Rise mules; now I just need to get my toe nails painted and wait for the sunnier climes.

Later x
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Sunday, April 10, 2016


They're a steal

Eeek! I may have transitioned into one of those people; you know, the ones who buy the copy-cat version of a designer piece in hope that no one will notice it’s a cheaper imitation. I've always said, if you can’t afford the real thing, save up for it, don’t substitute it for a fake look-a-like if you can help it. You may recall this used to be a big thing with Burberry and Louis Vuitton who unintentionally inspired a whole host of counterfeit goods to grace market stalls across the world.

Thanks to a 2016 goal to curb my spending so I can prioritise both the development of my business and house purchase, I succumbed to purchasing a pair of look-a-like Stuart Weitzman Highland boots, which were three times cheaper than the real thing. In fact, I had tried on the Weitzman boot in Selfridges a few minutes before, but literally couldn't fit them over my calves! In one respect I was relieved, because had they fit, I can pretty much guarantee my bank balance would have been £665 down last month. It was as I walked towards the Selfridges escalator to go home that I spotted these Carvela boots, ironically a stones throw away from the Weitzman display. They glided on so much easier than the ‘real’ ones and I’m afraid I loved them, copy-cat or not, they were coming home!

Wearing: Bag, Aspinal of London   Boots, Carvela

Later x
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Sunday, April 03, 2016


Time for reflection?

Sometimes you wake up on a weekend morning, with the sun spilling through the gaps in the curtains, the cosy duvet still snugly wrapped around your well-rested body and your phone positioned just how you left it on the bedside table the night before, and instead of the usual ritual of checking the barrage of emails on waking, you just lie there for 15 minutes……..contemplating, considering, reflecting - yep that’s what I did on Saturday morning after it hit me that it was the 2nd April! Can you believe we are entering the second quarter of 2016? Okay, that sounds like I’m about to discuss the financials of a business, but April is already upon us and it really doesn't seem so long ago that I was writing a January post about 2016 goals! If you’re somewhat of a goal-setter like me, it’s possible that you have used this past weekend to reflect on the previous 3 months and are focusing on what the remaining months of the year have in store. I consulted my vision board and then took some time after my park run to embrace the view, the sunshine and the warmer temperatures whilst engaging in ruminant thought about life, and allowing my mind to wander, uninterrupted.

Happy April!

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Sunday, March 27, 2016


Makes Chocolate Bark

I hope you all had a good Easter break full of rest and food. I’ll admit, I’ve gnawed my way through a fair few pieces of Guylian chocolate this Easter; pralines are among my favourite type of chocolate treat, and despite reports suggesting we throw away 30,000 tonnes of chocolate and sweets in the UK each year, praline would never go to waste in my household! On the other hand, whilst I should probably indulge more in 70% + dark chocolate, with its lower sugar content and higher antioxidant properties, my palate just cannot appreciate its bitter taste, therefore I'd be more likely to waste dark chocolate, although I’d always try to this avoid this by either giving it away, or using my limited culinary skills to create something a little more appetising. The latter is what I did this weekend with a bar of 70% dark chocolate that I received from a client, and I guess it’s something you and/or the kids could do with any leftover chocolate that you’d rather use than throw away.

I made some Chocolate Bark with the dark chocolate as it was the easiest, quickest recipe I could think of, not to mention you can get somewhat creative by adding some of your favourite toppings to the lashings of thick melted chocolate.
-70% dark chocolate
-2 medium-sized fresh strawberries chopped into small pieces (yum....... strawberries and chocolate -  best combo ever!)
-6-8 Hazelnuts roughly chopped
-2 teaspoons Raisins
-2 teapsoons raw cacao nibs
-A couple of small pinches of rock salt ( brings out the flavour of all the other ingredients)

*Sit a heat proof bowl in a pan of boiling water over a medium heat. Break the chocolate into small pieces, add to the bowl and watch the chocolate melt, stirring occasionally
*Once the chocolate has melted, add half of your toppings and mix into the chocolate
*Line a dish with cling film and pour the chocolate mix into the dish. Top with the remaining toppings
*Place in the fridge for one hour or until the chocolate has set, then break apart and devour!

Later x
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Sunday, March 20, 2016


A haven for interior inspiration

I don’t know whether it’s because I’m a nutritionist and foodie, but my favourite part of the house is the kitchen: it’s the room that I spend most money on in terms of design and kitchen gadgets; it’s the place I like to snoop around when I visit other people’s home; it’s often the hub for socialising when friends/family come round for a chat; and of course it’s where delicious (and hopefully nutritious) meals are created to fuel your body and mind – in my opinion it’s the heart of any home, and in fact some say that although life is typically created in the bedroom, it is lived in the kitchen, although I know many disagree with this notion. What’s the heart of your home?

Talking of homes, have you noticed how many fashion designers are now taking their catwalk looks and aesthetics and turning them into home-ware interiors so that your humble abode can look as stylish as your outfit. Preen has launched a collection of cushions, Topshop Unique has produced a limited edition teacup and saucer using prints featured in their catwalk shows, and Henry Holland has collaborated with Habitat to create a collection of soft furnishings and upholstery, to name a few.

I've always loved flicking through the sites and pages of interior design publications, and more so now that I’m due to move into my new home in the next few months…….excited! So, I took the opportunity this year to attend the Ideal Home Show in London to get some further inspiration. Whilst the Show covered all rooms from bedrooms to gardens, I chose to feature the kitchen/dining snaps I took for the purpose of today’s post. The Ideal Home Show runs from 18 March to 03 April and is a haven for anyone who has an interest in home interiors or who’s buying a new home. I picked up a couple of bargains, and I have my eye on a Vitamix and some Smeg appliances for my new kitchen – house-warming present maybe?! *wink*


Fingers crossed I'll win the competition!

Later x
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