The benefits of eating healthily

The benefits of eating healthily

1000x1000As you may know I am now running fortnightly workshops at Maggies, cancer caring centre, based in the grounds of the City Hospital,  Nottingham.  And as it is breast cancer awareness month I thought it would be appropriate to write something about how food can help boost a suppressed immune system, lift your mood and help make you feel less stressed, at what can often be a very stressful time of your life


6389379-largeI advocate a healthy balanced diet to all my clients, including those going through a stressful time.  A healthy balanced diet can, depending on your circumstances can help you to maintain, gain or lose weight. Of course there are instances when you need extra nutritional support, but I believe for the most part food in its natural state is the best nourishment.  And if like me you like cooking that can be a stress buster in itself.


imagesMy previous blog goes into more detail about what can constitute a healthy balanced diet, so lets spend some time looking at stress and the impact it can have on your diet and in turn how food can impact on your stress


If you are under a lot of stress you are more susceptible to feeling unwell both emotionally and physically, one part of the solution is to eat plenty of stress busting foods and drink to boost your immune system.  Try some of these simple steps

  • overnight oatsDon’t skip breakfast; it can help with mood, memory and attention.  Try eating porridge or my overnight oats  (a cold variations), wholegrain cereal like branflakes, Weetabix or shredded wheat.  Brazil nuts are also great as they contain selenium – a great mineral for lifting your mood.
  • IMG_0848Eat a variety fruit and veg – so you get a ‘rainbow’ of colour and a boost of vitamin A, C & E and Zinc.  All of which play a positive role in your immune system
  • During the day drink black or green tea – full of antioxidants
  • Stay hydrated with water – often you can mistake thirst for hunger so always have a drink first; wait about 10 minutes and then have something to eat if you are still hungry
  • Have a warm milky drink at night – the calcium soothes tension as well as eases anxiety and the protein has a calming effect on the body, which could lower blood pressure.
  • imagesRest and relaxation – take time for your self; read a book, have a warm bath, listen to your favourite cd or watch your favourite dvd
  • Limit your alcohol intake.  It is a depressant not a stimulant so drink within safe limits
  • De-stress with some exercise or activity  – brisk walking is great way to burn calories, get some fresh air and absorb some much needed vitamin D


Have a read through some of my additional blogs about stress and the immune system

Nottm post feature photo

don’t worry, be happy

managing stress

Foods to boost the immune system

food to make you feel good


dark chocolateAnd ending on a positive and happy note, eating a few squares of 70% dark chocolate can also make you feel happy by prompting the release of the mood-boosting hormone serotonin

Roasted pumpkin, carrot and lentil soup

Roasted pumpkin, carrot and lentil soup – makes 7 x 250ml servings, 95 calories a portion

IMG_1919A pumpkin that was kindly donated to me has now been transformed into this delicious and hearty soup.  Don’t be afraid to be generous with the spicing  – it can pack quite a punch, which is perfect on a chilly day

Pumpkins are low in fat, calories and cholesterol, and high in fibre, vitamin A, iron and vitamin C.  Like pumpkins carrots are also packed with vitamin A and fibre, which will leave you feeling fuller for longer.  The vitamins are good for eye health, IMG_1901cell regeneration and for boosting the immune system.  Lentils are also rich in fibre and iron and are an excellent low fat low calorie protein source.

A winner all round and a great way to use up the flesh from your hollowed out lanterns!


90g leek chopped

300g pumpkin, cut into wedges (no need to peel)

400g chopped or grated carrot

1 tsp olive oil

1 ½  tsp cumin, coriander

IMG_19141 tsp chilli flakes

100 g dried red lentils

1.25 ltrs hot water

1 tsp vegetable powder or 1 stock cube

1 tsp cumin and coriander and ½ tsp dried chilli flakes

black pepper and salt


  • Pre heat the oven 185oC
  • IMG_1904Wash and slice the pumpkin into wedges place in a large baking tray drizzle over 1 tsp olive/vegetable oil.  Sprinkle over the spices (1 ½ tsp cumin and 1 tsp chilli flakes).  Toss in the oil and place in the pre heated oven.  Cook until soft – about 30-40 minutes.
  • Remove the tray from the oven and place the wedges on to a plate and scrape the oil and seasoning in to a large pan
  • IMG_1906Slice the washed leek and add to the pan, don’t add any additional oil.   Cook until they soften – about 10 minutes, add the sliced or grated carrot and again cook until they soften. Chop up the pumpkin (no need to remove the skin unless you don’t like it) and add to the pan
  • Add 1.25 litres of boiling water and 1 heaped tsp vegetable bouillon, 1 tsp cumin, coriander and ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
  • IMG_1917Cook until the lentils and carrots are soft – about 20 minutes
  • Taste and season with salt and pepper
  • Blend until smooth either in a blender or using a stick blender.  Add more water if it is too thick
  • Serve 250g/250ml in warmed bowls


If you want to make a smaller batch, just reduce the individual ingredients, but still keep the same proportions.  if however, you make a big batch simply put portions in to a freezer bags; it freezers for up to three months

Why not share your best recipe that utilises this great and versatile vegetable

Get that vegetable vibe

Get that vegetable vibe – all hail the kale!!

IMG_1368We are all told that when it comes to vegetables 5-a-day doesn’t cut it any more and we should be eating 7 a day and more.

How is it possible to consume more veg and even if we could why should we?

logo160wFor an answer to those questions and a few more check out my new article on the Health Sciences Academy website

6389379-largeMy article goes on to explain that vegetables (and fruit) should form a large part of a healthy diet in order to reduce the risk of suffering from some major illness like strokes, type 2 diabetes’s and some forms of cancer

One of the easiest ways to add more veg to your diet is to buy an inexpensive stick blender and blend lots of cooked imagesvegetables into a thick tomato sauce.  This can be used to make a healthy lasagna, vegetable and lentil soup, spaghetti Bolognese or shepherds pie.

Another tip is to turn your veggies and fruit into smoothies.  Try my green smoothie described in a previous blog about imagesthe beauty of veggies

If you have children and are struggling to get them to eat these nutritious little gems then have a look at my previous imagesblog


1060158_f520And if you are unsure how much veg and fruit you eat then take my veg and fruit quiz quiz and find out!

Why not share with me your tips for adding veg to your diet – what worked best?

Veggie sausage casserole

Veggie sausage casserole, serves 4 

IMG_1894I think of casseroles as the ultimate comfort food. This is a great veggie/vegan version and is perfect for autumn, when it is just starting to get cold and dark.

Pumpkin works just as well as butternut squash, so make this with all the left over flesh from the hollowed out pumpkins on Halloween!




8 quorn or vegan sausages (get spicy ones if possible)

1 butternut squash (about 1kg in weight), peeled, deseeded and chopped

1 small chilli or 1 tsp dried chilli,IMG_1885

1 clove of garlic crushed

2 teaspoons of cumin,

1½  teaspoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoon marjoram or oregano,

1 large red onion or 100g of chopped leek,

1 tin of chopped tomatoes or 1 small punnet of baby toms

1 tin of beans – like butter beans, chickpeas, borlotti etc

½ tin water

salt and pepper

1 100g packet of spinach (or frozen or tinned) or 100g kale


  • Pre heat the oven 180oC
  • In a large casserole dish put in the chopped squash, sausages, chilli, onion/leek, seasoning, salt, pepper, tinned tomatoes and ½ tin of water.
  • Roast in the oven for 40 minutes until nearly done, then add the drained beans and spinach leaves (or kale).  Cook for another 15 minutes without a lid to brown the sausages.
  • When the squash is soft, remove the dish from the oven and serve in warmed bowls

Be breast aware in October

Be breast aware in October (and beyond)

breast-stats-doughnutOctober is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

In the UK in 2011 around 49,900 women were diagnosed with breast cancer, that’s more than 130 women every day.

The good news is survival rates are improving, more than 85% of women diagnosed survive more than 5 years. This is probably because of more targeted treatments, earlier detection and better breast awareness.


maggies_nottinghamThis is also the month I start my healthy eating workshop at Maggies in the City Hospital grounds, Nottingham.  Maggie’s is one of a number of regional cancer caring drop-in centres in Great Britain, which aim to help anyone who has been affected by cancer.

Every other Thursday from 10.30 I will be at Maggies running a free 2 hour healthy eating workshop.  I will be explaining what is a healthy balanced diet and how to make small but permanent changes to your diet.  We will be discussing good and bad fats, why sugar should be limited, as well as making some healthy snacks like hummus, quinoa salad and overnight oats.  All of which are low calorie, high in fibre and most importantly delicious!

maggies logoThe next session is Thursday 23rd October, so if you or a family member have been affected by cancer please come along and join me.  Contact Maggies for more information and to book for place 0115 924 6210

nottm post salmonThe Nottingham Post have published elements of this blog in their paper dated Thursday 16 October, including the salmon recipe below

Having a healthy diet is no guarantee that you will not succumb to this disease but the NHS have said “there are benefits for women who maintain a healthy weight, do regular exercise and who have a low intake of saturated fat and alcohol.’

How can you do your bit for Breast cancer awareness month?

wear pinkYou could simply buy a badge from shops and supermarkets, make a donation, if you are a woman be breast aware, wear pink on a Friday during October, do a fun run in aid of this great cause, or why not make some of these beautiful and healthy ‘pinky’ recipes and sell them to your friends, family and work colleagues

Beetroot and horseradish hummus – serves 4, 89 calories per serving

100g cooked beetroot (not the pickled version!) – grated or finely chopped, 3 tsp ground horseradish, 1 tin of chickpeas – drained (save some of the liquid as you might need it), 1 garlic clove – crushed, 1 tsp of lemon juice, Salt and pepper


Place all the ingredients in to a large bowl and using a hand blender make into a smooth dip. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary

Serve with Ryvitas, vegetable sticks or wholemeal pitta bread


Teriyaki salmon with courgettes-  serves 2, 430 calories per portion

3 tsp rapeseed oil4 tbsp dark soy sauce1 lime, zest and juice

1 small chilli

2 tbsp honey

1 fat garlic clove, finely chopped

1 chunk of ginger,finely chopped2 x 170g salmon filletsI

tsp Sesame seeds

2 small courgettes, thinly sliced

4 spring onions chopped


teriyaki-salmonTo make the Teriyaki sauce heat 1 tsp rapeseed oil in a pan and fry the ginger, garlic and chopped chilli. Add the zest and juice of the lime and pour in the soy sauce. Add the honey and cook for 1 minute or until reduced

Toast the sesame seeds in a large nonstick pan over medium heat, and set aside.

In the same pan add 1 tsp of oil and heat then add the fish (skin side down), and cook for 2 minutes. Turn and cook for 3 more minutes over medium-low heat. Remove from the pan and keep warm.

Add the courgettes, spring onions, and 1 tsp oil to the pan. Sauté  for 4 minutes, or until lightly browned. Stir in 2 tbls teriyaki sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, and serve with salmon and drizzle over the remaining sauce.


Overnight oats with raspberries serves 2, 190 calories per portion

60g porridge oats

40 ml coconut water

120 ml of skimmed milk or milk alternative (coconut, soya or almond milk)

120g of fresh or frozen raspberries

1 tbls sesame seeds

1 tsp chia seeds


Mix all the ingredients together in a container with a lid.  Cover and place in the fridge overnight.

In the morning stir all the ingredients again and add more milk or water if it is too thick and serve in two bowls


overnight oatsThe ingredients can be increased to make more than one serving and can be kept in the fridge for up to three days



If you would like more information or have been affected by breast cancer please click on any of these websites for helpful information and support

Overnight oats

Overnight oats, serves two,  202 calories per serving

overnight oatsThis really is a great way to enjoy fibre rich oats.  When they are soaked overnight they become soft and creamy, and with the addition of some fresh fruit they are also naturally sweet.  So there is no need to add extra sugar, honey, or maple syrup.  The oats are low GI and will give you a slow release of energy until lunchtime.  The fruit and the oats will also give you a big burst of fibre also great for keeping you fuller for longer and for improving your digestive health.  The chia seeds (pronounced chee- ah)  not only make the dish more firm but add extra protein and calcium

And here no no reason why this dish has to be limited to just breakfast.  It make a great dessert or afternoon treat.  The variations below will keep it interesting.

Go on pimp up your oats!!

Serves two,  202 calories per serving

IMG_184860g porridge oats

40 ml coconut water

120 ml of skimmed milk or milk alternative (coconut, soya or almond milk)

1 apple – grated

1 tbls sunflower seeds

1 tsp chia seeds



In the morning stir all the ingredients again and add more milk or water if it too thick and serve in a bowl


The ingredients can be increased to make more than one serving and can be kept in the fridge for up to three days


Additions to the basic recipe

1 tbls sultanas – 44 calories

7 (10g) cashew nuts chopped- 60 calories

1 tsp (5g) flaked almonds- 30 calories

2  (10g) apricots, chopped- 18 calories

2 (6g) brazil nuts chopped- 40 calories

1 tsp pumpkin seeds – 28 calories

1 pear, grated – 60 calories

1 tsp (15g) wholenut peanut butter – 96 calories

Allergy and intolerance

Allergy and intolerance – what you should know about the new

labelling guidelines

EUFIC_baseline_RGBDid you know there is a new piece of European legislation coming into force on 13th December this year, called the Food Information for Consumers Regulation (EU FIC) that will change the way allergen information appears on labels and on food that is pre‑packed, sold loose or served when you are eating out.  This will affect not only consumers but food retailers and suppliers

Wondering what an allergen is?!

food allergiesFood allergy is an abnormal response to a food triggered by your body’s immune system. Allergic reactions to food can sometimes cause serious illness and death; you may have come across the phrase anaphylactic shock. The foods that most often trigger allergic reactions are therefore called allergens

14 Allergens PosterUnder the new regulation, the main 14 allergens will have to be highlighted on the ingredients list label if they are contained in any foods.  They are:-

  • cereals containing gluten
  • crustaceans, for example prawns, crabs, lobster and crayfish
  • eggs
  • fish
  • peanuts
  • soybeans
  • milk
  • nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecan nuts, Brazil nuts, pistachio, cashew and macadamia (Queensland) nuts
  • celery (and celeriac)
  • mustard
  • sesame
  • sulphur dioxide, which is a preservative found in some dried fruit
  • lupin
  • molluscs, for example clams, mussels, whelks, oysters, snails and  squid




chalkboardThese new rules will also apply to food sold loose or in restaurants.  Details of allergens can be provided in writing, on a chalk board or delivered by a member of staff

Are you a food supplier, restaurant or café?




If you need additional help with the new guidelines then please Presentation 09.09.14carry on reading I may have the solution.  I’d like to introduce you to Nicky Gray, Director of Food Freedom a new company set up to help and deliver training on this specialist subject.




Food Freedom is a company with a social mission which offers real commercial benefit. We draw on personal experience and expertise to provide specially-tailored education and training on food allergies, intolerance and coeliac disease.

We’re working to create a world where people can live a normal life, even if their sensitivity to certain foods is a danger to their health – where they are free to choose where they eat, where they feel free from risk and free from stigma.

Through completing one of our training packages we will provide you with the knowledge to ensure compliance of the forthcoming legislation and therefore avoid enforcement action, we can offer a real marketing opportunity to help attract more customers and help you provide great customer service – and so create a real competitive advantage.

If you would like to discuss further please do not hesitate to contact us: 07902 759853,

food freedom left aligned





Are you allergic to any or some of the foods above?

In theory it will be easier for you to know if a product contains allergens, but are you struggling to know what to buy or make that is still tasty and nutritious and the whole family can enjoy?

me and food NPThat is where I come in.  As a trained chef and nutrition coach I can offer you adapted recipes for most of your favourite meals.  Have a look at my one to one sessions and how I could help you.  In the meantime try my delicious wheat, dairy and egg free quinoa and broad bean salad

Nicky and I can also work with you to make your food outlet compliant by providing training and support and healthy tasty recipes to suit people with specialist diets.  Just contact us and let us help you; phone Susan on 07946 301338 or Nicky on 07902 759853

Further information and advice

Food Standards Agency – Allergy leaflet

Allergy UK

Coeliac UK

Tooth decay – the tooth fairy has been very busy!

The tooth fairy has been very busy!

imagesYesterday it was reported in the news that a Public Health England survey revealed one in 10 three-year-olds has tooth decay. Young children on average had three teeth that were filled, decayed or missing. Unfortunately, children in Leicester have the worst teeth in the country with 34% having evidence of tooth decay


imagesIt was found that the biggest reason for this shocking revelation is the consumption of too much sugar, in the form of fruit juices, soft drinks and sweets.

Dentists agree that tooth decay is the most common reason for child admissions to hospital


So as a worried parent or guardian what can you do to prevent or reduce tooth decay in your children?

  • BrUJz82CAAA-NK_The first is obvious; limit sugary foods, this includes fruit juices, sweets, cakes, biscuits, dried fruit, sugary drinks etc.
  • Only allow your child to eat these foods at meal times so they can brush their teeth afterwards
  • Learn to read food labels.  Sugar will come under ‘carbohydrate’ and is often shown in grams.  Tcolao understand it better divide the number by 4 to work out the number of teaspoons.  The fizzy drink shown here has 26g of sugar in a 250ml serving; that works out at 6½ teaspoons of sugar!
  • Water and milk should always be available and offered before any other drink
  • Try and encourage your child to drink from a cup rater than a sippy cup or bottle.  Also encourage them to use a straw, so the sugary drink travels to the back of the throat and not over the teeth
  • When giving your child fruit juice always dilute it 50/50 with water
  • If your child is asking for a snack consider giving them fresh fruit and raw vegetables including tangerines, bananas, pieces of veggie-stickscucumber or carrot sticks. Other good snacks include wholemeal toast, rice cakes, oat cakes or plain popcorn.
  • Your children will benefit from brushing their teeth twice a day, but especially before bedtime
  • Unless your child has an allergy encourage them to eat cheese.  Not only is the calcium good for building strong and healthy bones and teeth it may also help protect teeth against cavities, by lowering the acidity (pH) in the mouth.

Sat Bains Review restaurant

Review of Sat Bains restaurant in the Nottingham Post 1st October 2014 – World Vegetarian Day

 Veg Out!

sat bains menuMy monthly column in the Nottingham Post is all about looking at vegetarian food on offer in Nottingham restaurants; Using my skill as a nutrition coach and being a long time veggie I review the choice, taste and nutritional balance of the food on offer.  This time it’s the two Michelin starred Sat Bains restaurant.  It maybe a bold choice considering the price tag but it is somewhere I have wanted to visit for a long time.


I booked a table for Friday evening as a special birthday surprise and the place was buzzing.   As you would expect the staff are very attentive, without being intrusive and nothing is left to chance.  The surroundings are comfortable, stylish and understated.  Sat Bains specialises in tasting menus (7 or 10 courses) and the only option I could go for was the vegetarian 7 course.  Before we arrived I had sent a couple of emails about the type of cheese they use and whether it was suitable for vegetarians.  They always replied promptly and assured me that any cheeses on offer would be suitable.  My usual dilemma of what to choose was therefore taken out of my hands and all I had to do was decide if I wanted the wine package to go with the meal.  It would have been rude not to!

So how did Sat Bains do?

My tasting menu was the same price as the meat version, so it had to be pretty good to justify the price tag and I wasn’t disappointed.  We all started with a dish that wasn’t on the menu -a miso soup with a horseradish ice cream wafer. It was divine. This was followed by roasted artichoke flavoured with smoked parsley, then a rataouille subtly flavoured with garlic.

We were all served the ‘grelots’; a flavoursome dish of small char-grilled onions in an intense braising liquor. My main dish was carrots served in a variety of ways and delicately infused with Indian spices and cooling creamy yoghurt.  A dish called the ‘crossover’ – a creamy lollypop, with beautifully balanced flavours of orange, liquorice and fennel, separated the savoury and sweet courses.  The first dessert was a wobbly chocolate and yoghurt panacotta with cumin and lime, followed by delicate pieces of fresh strawberry with frozen balls of cream suffused with vanilla, anise and hyssop, a herb in the mint family.  Each course was accompanied by a glass of wine that had been expertly chosen to compliment the flavours of the meal. Probably the most surprising and enjoyable was a sparkling apple flavoured sake, served with the onion dish.  I also loved the chocolaty dessert wine that intensified the panacotta.

But it didn’t end there; we enjoyed smooth and rich coffee served with wafer thin shards of chocolate unusually flavoured with green tea and rose petal.

I couldn’t fault the restaurants attention to detail or their service and my food looked every bit as spectacular as my meat eating companions, which is very often not the case.

I have to give Sat Bains top marks for choice and taste and I certainly had more than my 5-a-day!



Value for money is very subjective, and you expect to pay a lot when eating in a two star Michelin restaurant.  The 7 course tasting menu costs £85 per head but remember this was a special occasion and the food was absolutely divine.  A visit to Sat Bains is more than just a meal out – it’s an experience that you’re unlikely to be able to recreate at home.  And it all ended with a chat and a photograph in the kitchen with the man himself!

All green stir fry

All green stir fry – serves 2, 200 calories per serving

IMG_1826This is a really quick stirfry and a great way to introduce the family to brussel sprouts!  No honestly they are really tasty and packed with nutrients like vitamin C and compounds that are thought to fight cancer.  To maximise their benefit it is best to roast, stir fry or steam them rather than boil

If its too early in the season to try brussels then substitute kale instead, which is a great leafy veg and brilliant for eye health.  The cashew nuts not only add texture but good quality protein and the sesame seeds are a great source of calcium.  So the perfect vegan dish!

1 tsp oil – linseed or olive

100g leeks, thinly sliced

10 Brussel sprouts thinly sliced

1 little gem lettuce, sliced

160g courgettes, sliced

IMG_18221 tsp soya bean paste or miso

3-4 tbls hot water

20g cashew nuts

sprinkling of sesame seeds

dash of lemon juice

black pepper to taste


IMG_1825heat the oil in a in a frying pan until hot and add the leeks.  Fry until softened add the Brussels and courgettes and again fry until softened and coloured.

Add the lettuce and bean paste and enough hot water to make a small amount of sauce

Lastly add the nuts and a dash of lemon.  Season with black pepper.  Tip into a bowl and serve with a sprinkling of sesame seeds on top

Non-fast day additions

20 g cashew nuts – 110 calories

1 packet wok noodles – 221 calories

Why not send me your version of this great recipe and I will upload it.