Date delight

Date delight

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

IMG_3010All this week it is the first UK “Sugar Awareness Week” so with that in mind I decided to make a sweet treat that has no added sugar, in the form of these energy dense ‘date delights’

They are a great naturally sweet snack.  The oats add some slow releasing fibre, the nuts and chia seeds lend protein, all of which will keep you nice and full until your next meal.


Makes 12 small squares, 105 calories per square or

30 bite sized balls, 47 calories per ball



170g stoned dates

1 tsp vanilla paste/extract

IMG_465140g rolled oats

40g ground almonds*

40g flaked or whole almonds

40g brazil nuts

1 tsp raw cacao powder

½ tsp chia seeds

½ tsp toasted sesame seeds

large pinch ground ginger and mixed spice cinnamon or nutmeg

1 tbls water

* if you only have whole almonds then place them in the blender and blend until they are  fine powder


If you are using whole nuts, place them in the blender and pulse until they are chopped, or chop by hand. Miss out this task if the nuts are already chopped

IMG_4658 IMG_4661

Put the dates, vanilla and water into a blender and blend to a paste.

Add the ground almonds, oats, seeds, cacao and spices and blend again. Add more oats if it is too sticky.

IMG_4656Tip the mixture in to a bowl and add in the chopped nuts, and mix with a spatula or wooden spoon

Line a small baking tin with clingflim and press the mixture firmly down in to the tin. The mixture may only fill half the tin. Cover with more clingfilm and put in the fridge to firm up. One set, cut into 12 squares





Alternatively shape the mixture (with damp hands) into bite sized balls and place in the fridge

Veg Out restaurant review – Bills, Nottingham

Veg out restaurant review

Bills, Nottingham

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

Those who know me will appreciate how much I love a good breakfast or brunch. The reason being there are generally more veggie options, with plenty of savoury choices and good coffee.



So with high hopes I decided to visit Bills, on Queen Street in Nottingham one Sunday morning. I was pleased to see they opened quite early (from 9am), which left plenty of time to do some early Christmas shopping




My review can also be found in Toady’s Nottingham Post



Things got off to a great start when my inquiry about soya milk was greeted IMG_4453with ‘yes of course we can make you a soya cappuccino’. Marvellous!

Now on to the menu; plenty of veggie options from granola and yoghurt to eggs Florentine or a full veggie cooked breakfast. That had my name all over it, although I was rather disappointed with the price £7.95 (for that you get poached free range eggs, tomatoes, hummus, mushrooms, guacamole, sweet chilli sauce, basil and toast) but if I wanted crispy potatoes or baked beans I would have to pay an additional £1.25 and £1.00 respectively. Making it quite an expensive start to the day at £10.20 – That’s without coffee.

I asked for the extra potato dish, time would tell if I over ordered

The wait for the main event allowed me to take in the ambience of the IMG_4451restaurant; it was suitably modern and industrial with plenty of space and a nice open kitchen to watch the culinary goings on. The staff were very attentive and knew the menu inside out.

The food arrived piping hot and beautifully presented.

My veggie breakfast was particularly colourful. The ripe, soft avocado was delish as was the hummus. The colours contrasted IMG_4458beautifully with the roasted tomatoes which were well cooked The poached eggs were perfectly cooked little globes of protein, sitting on crispy sourdough.

The potato cake was as described, beautifully crispy. But was it necessary, probably not and certainly not worth the extra £1.25. What I really enjoyed was the savouriness of the dish and the quality ingredients that were used to make it. Nutritionally it was a very well balanced meal with a good amount of protein courtesy of the eggs and hummus

IMG_4456As for my soya cappuccino it was as pretty as a picture and perfectly delicious






My companions both ordered the standard Bills Breakfast of cumberland sausage, fried free range eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, smoked streaky bacon and toast. It also came in at £7.95, which makes me think the veggie option was a tad on the high side. There were no complaints from the meat eaters,

IMG_4457and as with mine the quality and taste was very high. The large pot of tea for one also provided generous servings of good old builders tea throughout the meal, although more delicate teas like Earl Grey and green tea were available


The total bill for three came to £31.50. I would definitely say Bills veggie breakfast is nudging the number one spot, because of quality, choice of ingredients, presentation and taste. Was it worth £9.20; on balance I’d say yes. Just not every Sunday

Veggie pasta bake

Veggie pasta bake – serves 6 small portions or 4 large portions (230 calories or 345 calories per portion)

IMG_0907This is a really easy and versatile one pot dish to make.  If you don’t like or don’t have any halloumi then consider grated low fat mature cheddar (200g has the same 600 calories as 225 g of halloumi).  Using wholemeal pasta not only adds a nutty taste but also increases the fibre content, making the dish more substantial so you will feel fuller for longer.  Ideal if you are on the 5:2 dieting regime.

You can add whatever vegetables you have to hand like sweetcorn, mushrooms, broccoli etc. Any left over portions can be frozen or kept in the fridge for up to 3 days

I hope you enjoy it, I’d love you to share your photos and comments

150g each of leeks and courgette, 1 Red pepper (200 g), ½ – 1 red IMG_0901chilli,  2 garlic cloves, 1 tsp olive oil, ½ can drained and rinsed chickpeas, 1 tin of chopped tomatoes and ½ a tin of water, Light choices  Halloumi (225 grams),  280g cooked wholemeal pasta shapes (85g uncooked), large pinch of black pepper, small handful of chopped parsley

Pre heat the oven gas 4, 150oC

IMG_0903Warm the oil in a frying pan and add the chopped leeks and courgettes.  Cook for a few minutes add the red pepper, chilli and garlic.  Cook for another 2 minutes.  Pour in the tinned tomatoes, water and drained chickpeas.  Turn up heat  to thicken the sauce.  After 5 minutes add the cooked pasta, ground black pepper and chopped parsley

Mix thoroughly and tip in to an IMG_0905oven proof dish.  Add the sliced halloumi and bake in the oven for15 minutes or until the cheese is slightly browned

Non-fast day additions

Salad per person, 30 calories – 50g little gem lettuce, 1 tomato, 50g cucumber, 1 tsp lemon juice

100g steamed broccoli – 28 calories

Cinema snacks – the hidden calories

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

Nottm liveNottingham Live, a local website asked me to write a blog for them.  So I chose cinema snacks, we all eat them but how many of us think about the calories we are consuming

On average you need 2000 calories a day if you’re a woman or 2500 calories for a man.  Let’s say you go and watch the latest blockbuster on a Sunday afternoon and have a large fizzy drink, a portion of 480_COMBOS_480X322nachos and maybe a sharing bag of chocolate.  That could be an extra 2100 calories; more than a woman’s daily calories, on top of what you’ve already eaten that day.  And don’t forget those combos are there to encourage you to eat and spend more


So what could you have instead?  A simple swap is water or a black nachoscoffee instead of the large fizzy drink.  Swap some plain popcorn for the nachos.  And if possible ditch the large bag of chocolate all together; that alone will save you 750 calories and 25 teaspoons of sugar.  Action on Sugar would like us to eat no more than 6 tsps a day in order to reduce our risk of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers


So next time you go to the cinema please spare a thought about what you are eating.  Not only will your health benefit but so will your bank balance!

Nutracheck – The perfect calorie counting App (and more)

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

nutracheck imageIntroducing Nutracheck

I recently came across a great App, that many of you may know already – Nutracheck.

I calorie count a lot of my recipes for clients and for my website and I was searching for something more reliable.  I wanted an App that used UK supermarket produce, that described them in ways I understood; courgette and not zucchini  and in measurements that were meaningful i.e. grams not cups.   So I met Rachel Hartley one of the founders of this great local company.  I was so impressed I asked if she’d write a piece for my blog

This is the result!

The background to Nutracheck

The Nutracheck App was the brainchild of Tim Vryenhoef. The story goes back to the late 1990’s. While working for a food retailer, Tim had the idea of linking a food product’s nutritional information with its barcode. He developed a programme on a Psion Organiser and showed it to a colleague Rachel Hartley, who was the Product Manager for a calorie counted sandwich range. For lifelong dieter Rachel, an electronic way to calorie count was genius!


The first Nutracheck App was launched on 21st February 2005 – two years before the App Store came along. The first Nutracheck App was a Java program. Back then, the camera functionality in mobile phones wasn’t good enough to read a barcode, but it still used the concept of linking a barcode to nutrition data and created unique ‘Barcode QuickSearch’. A user could type in the last 4 digits of a barcode to bring back a shortlist of products.


At the time of launch, the food database contained calorie data for 30,000 products. The information was physically collected from products. 10 years on, the Nutracheck database contains over 180,000 UK foods. – together with photos of products for ease of recognition.


What is Nutracheck?

iPhone6+ukflag3Nutracheck is a calorie counter and food diary service available via an App and website ( The App is available for iOS and Android phones and tablets.

It is possible to use the App on its own, but the website has been designed to complement it, offering more tools and features than the App. To get the full benefit from the service, we recommend using the website and App together.

When you register, you are asked to enter a few personal details and set your goal – to lose, maintain or gain weight. The system then calculates personal daily calorie targets for food and exercise to achieve this.

Have you tried this App, or similar calorie counting, food diary Apps?  Do you think they have helped you to make better food choices? 


How it works

The Nutracheck message is; eat, track, lose. The simple act of tracking what you eat can actually make you eat less. Being self aware of how many calories you are consuming helps focus your attention on the food choices you are making and portion sizes.


Nutracheck-Calorie-Counter-App-Pic4When you keep a food diary, it’s easy to see which foods use up your daily calorie allowance. Over time, it teaches you how to make healthier choices to get the most volume of food and nutritional benefit from your calories. The approach is not about eating less, it’s about eating smarter!


No foods are banned. A healthy diet should include foods from all food groups. Plus as soon as you completely cut something out, it suddenly becomes the only thing you can think about! The Nutracheck mantra is all about balance. If you eat healthily 80% of the time, you can enjoy a few treats 20% of the time.

A client of mine has started using the App and this is what she thought of it

I’ve never paid any attention to calories as I’ve always been quite slim but as I entered into my forties I found it easier to gain weight but harder to lose. What bothered me most was the weight I was gaining around my middle. It was altering my self perception and confidence and dictating my wardrobe choices. I did a water fast for 3 days and I wanted to be more aware of what I was feeding my body as I reintroduced foods. I researched online and came across Nutracheck. It’s opened my eyes!

Seeing the calories I was taking in encouraged me to make healthier choices. It also caused me to be more experimental and creative. I love how you can set yourself a weight loss or gain target and log your nutrition and exercise. You can see how many calories you have left available to consume in your day and that is such a help! Another handy tip is looking to see how much exercise you need to do in order to burn off calories. A tin of mackerel fillets would take an hour of star jumps! It makes you think about seconds! It’s absolutely encouraged me to make better choices and I’m over the moon with my steady fat and weight loss. I’ll certainly be joining up when my free trial runs out. (M.S Nov 15)


What does the service include?

  • Food diary – customise the view to suit you
  • UK’s largest calorie directory for over 180,000 UK food with photos
  • Recipe calculator – calorie count home cooked meals
  • Food Triggers – tips to help with emotional eating
  • Exercise diary – with database for over 1,000 different activities
  • Personal reports and stats – track your progress
  • Community forums – get help and encouragement
  • Personal support from qualified nutrition and fitness experts
  • Huge library of articles on nutrition, fitness and weight loss
  • Links with Fitbit activity trackers and Apple’s HealthKit.


What makes the Nutracheck App and website different?

Of course there are other calorie counter Apps out there – and many are free, so what makes Nutracheck different and worth paying for?

  • Nutracheck is for UK users – so it contains only UK products and serving sizes.
  • It has the UK’s largest food database with photos to make it really easy to use.
  • The barcode scanner in the App lets you scan and add a food in just 2 clicks.
  • The food database is managed by Nutracheck to ensure the quality. The data is checked and added to daily – it doesn’t rely on users to add information.
  • It is free of any advertising that interferes with the user experience. Instead we have chosen to charge a subscription fee – this enables us to keep investing in the development and improvement of the service, and also provide a UK support team.
  • Nutracheck is more than ‘just an App’ – it is a weight management service. There is a UK Customer Care Team and nutritionists to help members 7 days a week.


Membership options

5 day free trial – no obligation. Save 20% if you join during your free trial.


  • 30 Day App-Only £3.99 (only available to buy in-App)
  • 30 Days Website & App £9.99 (only available to buy in-App)
  • 2 months Website & App £16.99
  • 3 months Website & App £24.99
  • 6 months Website & App £41.99


To sign up, go to or search for ‘Nutracheck’ in the app store and download it.

Antibiotic resistance – our diets can help us stay healthy

Antibiotic resistance – our diets can help us stay healthy

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

imagesToday is European Antibiotic Awareness Day, and the message from health experts is that overuse of antibiotics now could mean more lives will be lost in the future .  A worry echoed recently by the government’s chief medical officer for England, Professor Dame Sally Davies; who described the antibiotic resistance problem as a “ticking time bomb”.

So what can we do to help ourselves and our families stay healthy and hopefully limit our need for antibiotics?

lots of lovely veggies courtesy of Morrisons, Gamston

lots of lovely veggies

We can begin by adopting a healthier diet and lifestyle based on eating more vegetables and fruits, limiting our intake of alcohol and high fat, high sugar, salty and processed foods.  Keeping to a healthy weight and regular physical activity are also important.

Once we have started on that journey we can start to eat foods that are full of health giving antioxidants and vitamins in particular cranberries that can help fight certain urinary Lidoff_225x225tract infections.  Pineapples have been used for centuries to reduce digestive upset and reduce inflammation because of its active enzyme bromelain.  The well known spice turmeric, commonly used in curries contains an active component called curcumin which has potent anti-inflammatory properties. Use garlic frequently because it’s a proven immune boost and has antiviral and antibacterial properties.  Tinned tomatoes are very helpful for men as they can encourage good prostate health thanks to the lycopene they contain

NB: If you are prescribed antibiotics by your GP it is always advisable to finish the whole course


IMG_4476Try this simple cauliflower and chickpea curry to utilise as many health boosting foods as possible

Ingredients (Serves four to six)

1 whole cauliflower1 tsp vegetable oil

3 medium onions

4 cloves of garlic

½ tsp chopped fresh ginger

2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground turmeric

2 – 3 tsp curry powder

½ tsp ground chilli2 tsp garam masala

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

1 tin of chickpeas, drained

2 tbsp of chopped fresh coriander

75 g of uncooked brown rice per portion

If you don’t have all the separate spices buy a jar of good quality curry paste 

that can be kept in the fridge.  Use 2 tbls instead

  • Remove the stalks from the cauliflower and cut into large florets. In a pan of boiling water, add the cauliflower florists and the chopped stalks (nothing is wasted) and cook for five minutes. When ready, drain from the water (keep the water for the sauce) and place back in the pan. Cover so it stays warm.
  • IMG_4473At the same time put the rice on to cook, as per instructions on the packet
  • While the cauliflower is cooking, cut the onions into small pieces. Squash the garlic with the back of a knife to make it easier to peel. Chop until nice and fine.
  • In a pan, add 1 tsp vegetable oil, plus the onion, garlic and ginger, and sauté until golden brown (this will take about 5-7 minutes)
  • In the same pan, add the dried spices and cook for a further five minutes. (or add the curry paste).
  • Add the tin of tomatoes and chickpeas and stir well. Then add the cooked cauliflower. Top up with 100ml of liquid from the cauliflower water (topped up with cold water if necessary) and bring to a simmer for five to 10 minutes until the cauliflower is cooked.
  • Finish by adding the chopped coriander. Serve on a warm plate with boiled brown rice.



Also serve with a pineapple salsa, using chopped fresh or tinned pineapple and dried chilli flakes and fresh mint.

Florentine egg on toast

Speedy supper for 2

Florentine egg on toast


Having watched Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall ’s latest programme ‘Hugh’s war on waste’. I decided to look in my fridge and cupboards and come up with a simple supper dish that uses regular ingredients that many of us have but may throw away, because they are close to or past their sell by date or they don’t look that fresh

Hugh FW food waste

So first of all I had a reduced priced and slightly squishy avocado – perfectly ripe IMG_4551and delicious


IMG_4550Then some eggs, past their sell-by but still perfectly edible


*If you’re unsure about using an egg close to or after its ’sell by date’, then check using my test for egg freshness at the end of this post


IMG_455368% of Fresh spinach or bagged salad found in our fridges is thrown in the bin. So that had to form part of my speedy supper

And finally, some bread; I recently visited Elizabeths Patisserie stall at the West Bridgford Farmers Market, where I bought a loaf of Sourdough with caraway seeds. IMG_4541So delicious and chewy – a perfect launch pad for my speedy supper

So what can be done with an avocado, eggs, spinach and some bread


Wilted spinach, with avocado and poached egg on toast of course!



IMG_4554Get a pan of hot water on the go, ready for your poached eggs. When the water starts to bubble add two large handfuls (100 -150g) of washed spinach or salad leaves to a colander and give then a rinse before placing the colander over the pan of boiling water. It will take about 1-2 minutes for the leaves to wilt. Then remove the colander and set aside, press as much liquid out of the spinach or leaves as possible, season with lots of black pepper


IMG_4552Cut 2 nice slices of bread and place in the toaster. Carefully remove the soft and ripe avocado from its skin, discard the large stone and slice or chop. Add a few flakes of sea salt, a few chilli flakes and a splash of lemon juice


For the perfect poached egg I like to place the whole egg (in its shell) in the pan of water (with a few splashes of vinegar) for 20 seconds and roll it around. This helps to set the white of the egg so when you take it out (with a spoon) and then crack it into the bubbling water the egg will stay together and look very neat and tight. Cook in the water for 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon.


IMG_4543Now‘s the time to assemble the dish. Place a slice of toast on a small plate, spread the wilted seasoned leaves and top with the poached egg. Have the creamy avocado o the side


In the UK we throw away 7 millions tonnes of food and drink away a year, What’s your favourite recipe for using up food that would otherwise go in the bin?


How to test the freshness of your eggs



Place your egg in a bowl of cold water. If it sinks to the bottom it is fresh and ok to eat. If it floats up to the surface then bin it.

World Diabetes Day 2015

World Diabetes Day 2015

IMG_3691How do you start your day – with a cup of coffee, a healthy breakfast, a bowl of cereal or nothing?

If you leave the house without breakfast you’re not alone, as more than a third of us skip it at some point during the week

But maybe the fact that tomorrow (the 14th November) is World Diabetes Day, and the focus is world-diabetes-dayto start each day with a healthy breakfast you might reconsider.

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website


I often write for Henpicked an online resource for 40+ women and they asked me to write about World Diabetes Day.  Obviously being a nutrition coach I took the food angle; in particular why having a healthy start to the day is so important

check out the article at breakfast article

There is growing evidence that having a healthy breakfast can help reduce your total calorie intake, aid concentration and help control blood sugar levels

But missing breakfast doesn’t just affect us adults; the latest stats claim that over half of 15 year old girls are missing this first meal of the day – maybe as a misguided way to stay slim.

Many children may be making a detour on their way to school and filling up on chocolate, crisps and fizzy drink. This might explain why they are “less attentive” when they don’t have a healthy breakfast


Dont forget to click on the link to my Henpicked article for some great breakfast ideas that will keep you going until lunchtime

Or why not share your favourite breakfast ideas: maybe you love a smoothie, tasty porridge or simply wholemeal toast with peanut butter

Quick Cauliflower and chickpea biryani

Quick Cauliflower and chickpea biryani


For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

IMG_4476This is a very quick and easy veggie biryani recipe. It uses some store cupboard standbys, like express rice and some chutneys

By adding chickpeas you are seriously upping the protein and fibre content. The cauliflower adds more fibre and plenty of immune supporting antioxidants

Adjust the level of spice to suit your taste buds


Serves 2, 480 calories per portion


500g Cauliflower, cut in to florets, include the stalks for extra fibre

1 large onion (150g) – chopped

2 tsp oil

IMG_44741 x 400g tin of chickpeas –

1 garlic clove – sliced

1 nub of ginger sliced

or 1 tsp garlic and ginger paste

2 -3 heaped tsp curry powder

1 tsp each of turmeric, cumin, coriander and chilli flakes

splash of lemon juice

handful parsley leaves – chopped

1 packet express wholegrain rice


nutracheck image

The calories have been calculated using the Nutracheck App


IMG_4472Start by heating the oil on a medium flame in a large frying pan and add the chopped onions and cauliflower. Cook until the onions start to colour. Add the garlic and ginger (or the paste) and stir. After about two minutes add all the spices and using a metal spoon (the turmeric will stain a wooden one) coat theIMG_4473 vegetables. Cook until the spices start to smell fragrant. Add the chickpeas and their juice. Turn the heat down and cook until the cauliflower is soft – about 10-15 minutes. You may need to add more water


When your veg is nearly cooked, prepare the rice by microwaving for 2 minutes. Add to the spicy veg and mix thoroughly. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Add more water if its sticking to the base of the pan. Finish with a splash of lemon juice and the fresh herbs


IMG_4475Divide between two warmed bowls. And add a spoonful of mango chutney and lime pickle, for even more heat!


You can of course make this even quicker by using cooked left over veggies. The cooking time will reduce by 10 minutes. You can also add any left over meat if you don’t want a veggie meal. Or add some lovely protein and omega 3 packed cashew nuts

The hidden sugar in children’s lunch boxes

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website



Is your child’s lunch box a healthy mix of carbs, proteins and fats, or are there hidden sugars lurking in the corners?!

This is very topical given the fact that the Coca-Cola Christmas Truck is rumbling in to West Bridgford next month, handing out free sugary samples



If you would like some advice and maybe inspiration about healthy additions to your children’s lunches then come down to Morrisons in Gamston on Monday 9th November between 3 and 6pm


I will be there delivering the healthy eating message. There
will be games, goodie bags, activities and free samples to try.



The Bridgford Dental Practice will also be joining me giving dental advice.

And Liz, Morrisons community champion will be on hand to talk about all the healthy products available in store

Come along with the kids and test the families healthy eating knowledge