The Nutribullet

The Nutribullet – my latest gadget!

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

Last year I blogged about juices and smoothies and which one I considered the nutritional best; I went for smoothies

My only issue is that a blender is fine for whizzing up soft fruits and milk/yoghurt but they struggle a bit to blend vegetables like kale, carrots, broccoli, spinach etc into something that is smooth enough for you to eat


IMG_2481So a few weeks ago I purchased the all singing all dancing Nutribullet. It’s a bit more expensive than a run of the mill blender – approximately £90, but it does the job really well.

This is an extract from the officially Nutribullet website

“The secret of the Nutribullet is its super high powered motor, with bullet cyclonic action which breaks down and pulverizes the stem, seeds and skins of food, unlocking the unused value and nutrients that come with it”


This gadget is compact and easy to clean; so it is already better than my current blender. But where it really excels is its ability to make light work of tougher, more fibrous foods like kale, nuts and seeds

I must admit I haven’t made loads of things yet or done a lot of experimenting because I like a lot of variety in my diet including texture so I don’t want to ‘drink’ my food regularly. But its really useful if I leave the house before I’ve had breakfast because I can quickly whizz up a shake and take it with me. The handy cups, handles and lids all make that process so easy

However, I can already see how easy it is going to be to get more veg into a diet, use up the odd carrot, handful of spinach or squishy banana. It will make having a nutritious but calorie low meal easy to do; great for all the fasters and 5:2ers.  It can also be used to whizz up some healthy baby food!

The meal is made up of four main parts

  1. IMG_2210The veg – green and verdant is best so kale, spring greens, broccoli, spinach, swiss chard, little gem lettuce.  You can also make it interesting by adding carrots, cucumber or avocado (for creaminess).  The veg adds fibre, vitamins and antioxidants
  2. The fruit – soft fruits like blueberries, bananas or frozen summer berries or harder fruits like apples, pineapple as well as melons, pears, mango etc.  Again more fibre, vitamins and some natural sugar for energy
  3. IMG_2555The protein section – in the form of any nuts and/or seeds like chia seeds, sesame & flax seeds (toasted adds a different taste), pumpkin seeds or brazil, cashew, almond etc  and oats.   This will give you the feeling of satiety and fullness
  4. The liquid section – the instructions recommend water, which I agree is a great choice but when reading up on this other ‘Nutri’s’ have suggested almond and coconut milk or coconut water.  I will have to give all the variations a go!
  5. Dont forget natural flavourings like mint, cinnamon, nutmeg, raw cacao, ginger, lemon juice, vanilla

Here are a few concoctions I’ve tried

IMG_2482Kale, carrot, ⅓ banana, ½ avocado, 1 tbls sunflower and 1 tsp chia seeds  – basic recipe

I then improved it by adding 3cm piece of fresh ginger (no need to peel it)

I’ve also tweaked what I call my basic recipe above by adding kiwi or persimmon and cashew nuts or brazil nuts



They have all created wonderful smooth and tasty meals.

IMG_2547 IMG_2549One that didn’t work so well was kale, carrot, beetroot, ginger and banana. The colour was terrible and the taste was a bit odd!



But some you win and some you lose!

Here’s another winner though, my breakfast bullet that I made this morning; consisting of coconut milk, ⅓ banana, 8 almonds, 2 large spoonfuls of yoghurt (I used Alpro soya yoghurt but just add your favourite), 1 tsp of cinnamon, 1 tsp of ground nutmeg – I used a fresh nutmeg and ground just the amount I needed, I tsp chia seeds and 1-2 tbls oats.  whizzed until you get the desired consistency.  Delish and filled me up until lunchtime, even after doing a HIIT class at my local gym

IMG_2552 IMG_2553 IMG_2554

My top tips would be

  • Always think of the shake as a meal not a drink. They can be very calorie ladened, especially if you go heavy on the nuts and seeds
  • Take your time eating it – it should take at least 20 minutes. One way to slow down is to eat it with a spoon.  To do this reduce the amount of water slightly to get a thicker result
  • Avocado makes the finished result really creamy
  • If you make a meal that you don’t like the taste of, rather than throw it away use it in a soup or turn it into an enriched and nutritious pasta sauce by adding chopped tomatoes, onions and garlic and heating in a pan
  • Read the instructions! – I know a number of people who haven’t and they didn’t know you had to add water to the fruits and veg. You could damage the motor
  • If you buy a big bag of kale and think it will go off before you use it all take a handful and place in a freezer bag and freeze for another day – simples!
  • Don’t always assume that you need to use the ‘tall’ cup.  For me the ‘small’ cup is enough for a breakfast and lunchtime serving.  If I made a bullet instead of an evening meal then I would use the ‘tall’ cup

But this is not a one trick pony it can also make soups, smoothies,salad dressings, salsas and sauces. And things not just beginning with the letter ‘S’ like Flour! using the special milling blade to make oat, rice or quinoa flour

Happy blending!

Cross Keys review

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Veg out – Cross keys review for the Nottingham Post

My review of the Cross Keys has appeared in todays Nottingham Post (28 Jan 2015)


Continuing my search for the ultimate veggie breakfast I decided to check out the Cross Keys, on Byard Lane in the centre of Nottingham.

I arrived on a Sunday morning before all the shops were open so it was nice and quiet.

The service was efficient and friendly and we were asked straight away what drinks we liked. Sadly they didn’t have soya milk so I couldn’t have my much needed soya cappuccino and had to make do with a black Americano

The breakfast menu had quite a few ‘V’ for veggie symbols, so I was optimistic. My companions plumped for the full English, but I couldn’t because sadly they didn’t do a veggie version. Instead I went for eggs Florentine – two free range poached eggs on a muffin with spinach and hollandaise sauce.

IMG_2410The full English arrived first and it looked very substantial, mine came next and looked smaller but beautifully formed. The eggs were really tasty and perfectly cooked – nice runny yolks, just how I like them. There wasn’t too much hollandaise sauce, which for me is a good thing and the muffin was nice and toasted. My only (slight) criticism was the skimpy amount of wilted spinach. A larger amount would have balanced the dish a bit more and given a nice hit of iron, something us veggies always need to top up. The addition of my tomato ketchup helped with the absorption of the iron, as would a glass of orange juice


IMG_2412My companions enjoyed their full English, saying the bacon and sausage were very tasty and well cooked. They also liked the black pudding. And I have to say I really enjoyed mine too, even though it was smaller – which happily was reflected in the price. The nice doughy muffin really helped to fill me up (although a wholemeal version would have done an even better job!)

My Americano coffee was nice and strong and not at all bitter. The staff were happy to provide me with additional hot water to soften the taste. The bill for 3 came to a very reasonable £26.


Would I go back to the Cross Keys, absolutely! I would certainly go back for breakfast and possible order the mushrooms and goats cheese on toast. During the week they also have a great offer of a veggie breakfast cob (meat versions are available) and a hot drink for an amazing £1.99

With the quality of the ingredients and the level of service I would also like to try the lunch and evening meal menus.



I think the photograph on the right speaks for itself!

This is definitely one place I will be coming back too, and the icing on the cake would be to have a soya cappuccino (please!)

Homemade baked beans

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Homemade baked beans

Did you know that a tin of baked beans can have as much as 24g of sugar which is 6 teaspoons.  A reduced sugar tin can have 4 teaspoons.  The current recommendation is that your daily amount of sugar should not exceed 11 teaspoons or 10% of your overall IMG_2514daily calorie intake.  The World Health organisation (WHO) and ‘Action on sugar’ would like to see this reduced to 5%

My healthier version has only 2g or ½ a teaspoon of sugar and an amazing 11g of fibre, which will have you feeling nice and full and aid your digestive health

Read my previous blog posts for more information about the effects of too much sugar in you diet; children and sugarsickly sweet and tooth decay


Homemade baked beans

Serves 2, 172 calories per serving


1 teaspoon of olive oil

1 medium onion – finely chopped

IMG_25031 x 400g can of chopped tomatoes

1 clove of garlic – finely chopped or grated

pinch of ground ginger

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

½ teaspoon of dried chilli flakes

1 x 400g can of haricot, borlotti or cannellini beans – drained and rinsed

Large pinch of salt and pepper

splash of lemon juice




Heat the oil in a pan and gently fry (with the lid on) the onions until they start to colour and soften – about 5 minutes


IMG_2506 IMG_2505Add the remaining ingredients, turn down the heat to a simmer (again with the lid on) and cook for about 20 -25 minutes until the sauce thickens.

Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary




Serve with :-

a medium jacket potato – 150 calories

a medium sweet potato – 140 calories

one slice of sourdough toast – 80 calories

one slice of wholemeal toast – 80 calories

Peri-menopause and food

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How food could help you through the Peri-menopause

imagesAccording to Boots WebMD The perimenopause is the start of transition towards menopause.

It begins some years before the menopause itself as the ovaries gradually begin to produce less oestrogen. It usually starts in a woman’s 40s, but can sometimes start in her 30s.

When entering the perimenopause you may experience some of these symptoms

  • Hot flushes.
  • Breast tenderness.
  • Weight gain
  • Worsening of PMS.
  • imagesDecreased libido.
  • Fatigue.
  • Irregular periods.
  • vaginal dryness; discomfort during sex.
  • Urine leakage when coughing or sneezing.
  • Urinary urgency (a pressing need to urinate more frequently).
  • Mood swings.
  • Difficulty sleeping.

Some of these symptoms may be improved or lessened if you do things that enhance your general well-being and make you feel better, such as:

  • Exercise
  • Stop smoking if you smoke
  • Get more sleep and try going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day.  See my blog about a good night sleep
  • Decrease the amount of alcohol you drink
  • IMG_1525Get to a healthy weight and stay there.  My blog  8 tips for successful weight loss will help
  • Consider taking a multivitamin supplement and ensure you’re getting enough calcium
  • Drink at least eight glasses of water each day; my blog about Hydration  will tell you why that is so important
  • Learn to relax and distress – There is a link between stress and body fat. See my stress free eating blog for more advice
  • Get out in the sunshine so you can absorb vitamin D – works with calcium for healthy bones see my blog post about the sunshine vitamin


Foods for the Peri- menopause

Eating a healthy balanced diet is key whatever your circumstances, but it is especially important at certain times of your life; the perimenopuse being one of them.  So consider eating plenty of the following :-

  • IMG_2435Foods that are high in fibre to keep you full and to encourage a healthy digestive system– wholegrain carbs (bread, rice and pasta), beans and lentils and lots of vegetables
  • Eat lots of protein to maintain muscle mass – chicken, eggs, beans, fish, tofu, quorn, quinoa, edamame beans
  • Foods high in calcium, for good bone health – milk, yoghurts, cheese, soya, green leafy veg,
  • Important to eat vitamin D and K with calcium. See my blog for more details
  • Plenty of fruit and veg, for their high antioxidant quality – a ‘rainbow’ of colours
  • Foods high in vitamin E for healthy skin – avocado, soya, peanuts, almonds, sunflower seeds
  • IMG_2210Foods high in Folic acid- working with B12 to protect from you fom anemia– found in dark green leafy veg, beans and lentils, brown rice, avocados, citrus fruits and fortified cereal
  • Water – needed for hydration (the sensation of thirst decreases with age) and will also replace lost fluids through sweating


Tips for easing hot flushes:

  • 1_soy-productsAvoid getting too warm by dressing in layers and sleeping in a cool room.
  • Limit or avoid eating hot and spicy foods.
  • Limit or avoid alcohol as it can trigger hot flushes.
  • Always have a bottle or glass of water to hand
  • Reduce stress – deep breathing, listen to music, meditate
  • Consider eating soya products, after first checking with your doctor. There is some evidence that soya may help relieve mild hot flushes, although the effects may take several weeks to realise and more research is needed.

Lettuce and pea broth

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Lettuce and pea broth with Quorn – serves one, 210 calories 

IMG_2468This is the perfect dish to eat today as its Blue Monday; the most depressing day of the year, because it contains Peas which are a good sources of vitamin B1 (thiamin), a powerful mood influencer. Too little can lead to irritability and depression.

If you drink alcohol regularly, tuck into peas, marmite, tuna and sunflower seeds regularly, as alcohol rapidly depletes vitamin B1 levels.




IMG_2460100g new potatoes – steamed

1 little gem lettuce – quartered

½ sliced onion or ½ fennel bulb

1 garlic clove – crushed

a few dried chilli flakes

1 Quorn fillet or 100g of Quorn pieces or 100g of firm tofu

1 tsp olive oil

250 ml vegetable stock made using ½ tsp vegetable powder

Handful of frozen peas – 50gs

Splash of lemon juice

Handful of fresh mint and parsley leaves – chopped


IMG_2463 If the new potatoes aren’t already cooked, now is the time to put them in a pan of boiling water and cook for 10-15 minutes, when cooked slice. Save the cooking water as it can be used to make the stock

IMG_2465Fry the onion in the oil for a few minutes to soften then all the above (except the stock and peas) and cook on a low heat to soften without colour for 5 -8 minutes.

IMG_2466Add all the vegetable stock and frozen peas, cook gently for 10 minutes.

Taste and season with salt and pepper, a splash of lemon juice and chopped mint and parsley



Blue Monday 2015

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Blue Monday!

6389379-largeMonday 19th January is considered to be the most depressing day of 2015; pay day is over a week away, dry January is getting harder,  the weather is miserable etc.  So lets make Monday the 19th January all about being uplifted.  My Meat free Monday Blog will be a recipe that has lots of mood enhancing ingredients, to make you feel better.

Update: My Meat free recipe is Lettuce and pea broth

Food can play an important part in managing stress, anxiety and mood swings.  As well as making sure we eat right at this time of year we also need to think about being out in the fresh air as often as possible; not only is it a chance to meet people and get some exercise but our bodies can stock up of some much needed vitamin D – which it gets from the sun.

So in preparation for this Monday what should you be buying and turning into mood enhancing ‘happy’ meals?

IMG_2421Oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel contain omega-3 fats which are vital for healthy brain function and have been shown to lift depression. Aim for two 100g (equivalent to a small salmon fillet) servings a week. If you are vegetarian, flaxseed or walnuts are both rich in omega-3s. Aim for 3-4 walnuts a day. Try my uplifting salmon with spicy pasta sauce dish, or simply open a tin of mackerel fillets and flake over a bowlful of salad with a drizzle of linseed  or walnut oil.  Another smile idea is to shave a brunch of scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast with some smoked salmon.


IMG_2428Peas and marmite are a good sources of vitamin B1 (thiamin), a powerful mood influencer. Too little leads to irritability and depression. If you drink alcohol regularly (not a problem if you are a Dryathlete this month), tuck into peas, marmite, tuna and sunflower seeds regularly, as alcohol rapidly depletes vitamin B1 levels. Simply have a slice of wholemeal toast with some marmite, for extra goodness and some added vitamin E and fibre add a half a ripe a avocado sliced on top.

Brazil nuts are packed with feel-good selenium, a mineral many of us don’t get enough of. People suffering from depression are often found to be chronically deficient – 3 or 4 nuts a day will put you back on track.


Wholemeal carbohydrates, such as pasta, rice and couscous all contain serotonin, which is a chemical that enhances calmness, improves mood, and lessens depression. High levels of serotonin can also control appetite and satisfy cravings.  try this delicious giant couscous salad

And lets not forget dark chocolate.  Just a couple of squares are enough to release endorphins, hormones that create aIMG_1945 natural high. It also contains caffeine and magnesium, which are known to lift the spirits. Just don’t overdo it. Two squares of dark chocolate are enough to satisfy your sugar craving and contain approximately 50 claories

Parsnip, carrot and ginger soup


For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

Parsnip, carrot and ginger soup

IMG_2394This is the perfect winter soup because its easy to prepare, the ingredients are readily available and its very warming. The parsnips and carrots are washed but unpeeled not only to keep the recipe simple but to maximise the fibre content and nutrients like vitamin A and C.  The addition of ginger gives it a warming feel as well as  aiding  digestion.

Serves 4 (250g), 98 calories per serving




1 small onion, chopped

50g leek – washed and chopped

250g parsnips – washed and chopped

250g carrots – chopped or grated

1 clove garlic

1cm piece root ginger, peeled and chopped or ¼ – ½ tsp ground ginger or 15g pickled ginger plus a few slivers reserved for decoration

700ml vegetable stock (made with 1 tsp vegetable powder)

salt and pepper to taste


  • In a large pan or pressure cooker add the onion and leek and cook for 3-4mins or until pale golden. Because you are not using any oil keep the veg moving, so it doesn’t burn. Meanwhile, wash the parsnips and carrots, trim the ends and chop into even sized chunks (no need to peel them)
  • Add the parsnips and carrots to the pan along with the garlic and ginger, cook for 2 mins, stirring regularly. Pour in the stock and a little seasoning. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 20-25 mins or until the parsnips are tender. If you are using an older style pressure cooker like mine, cover and wait for a steady stream of steam to come out of the lid, turn down the heat add the pressure weight and set the timer for 10 minutes. Remove the heat and allow the pan to cool before gently removing the weight
  • Use a stick blender to puree the soup until its nice and smooth, taste for seasoning. Serve hot in bowls, sprinkled with a little parsley and some slivers of pickled ginger.


If you want to make this a complete meal then add in some good quality protein like some cooked beans i.e. butter beans or a handful of cooked Quinoa


2015 health crazes

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BBC news logoYesterday (5th january 2015) I was interviewed by the BBC  to discuss  2015 Health crazes and fads.  I believe many of the New year diet plans will not work because they are too extreme and the only way to really succeed is to make ‘small but permanent changes’ to your diet.  However I consider some of the new Apps to be very useful.  They are very accessible and can help you make informed choices, for instance some have scanners so IMG_1525you can scan in a ready meal and look at all the nutritional information and input it in to your daily calorie, fat and sugar total.  You may then decide to choose a  healthier alternative.  The same Apps can also be used to monitor your activity levels and can be a good motivational tool
The full interview can be viewed on their website  at Exercise plans and health crazes starting 2015
Go on have a read!

Are Children eating too much sugar?

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Are Children eating too much sugar?

IMG_2370Public Health England has a new ‘sugar swaps’ campaign and would like parents to swap one sugary food for a healthier item at each mealtime,

I was asked by Gem 106 to talk about this on their news this week.  Click on this link to download the short soundbites Gem106 sugar interview 1 Gem 106 sugar interview 2


The problem


  • imagesChild obesity is on the rise; almost a third of 10-11 year olds and over a fifth of 4-5 year olds are overweight or obese.
  • Children who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, possibly experience problems in school, go on to experience weight and health problems in adolescence, and are more likely to become overweight or obese adults
  • Sugar in a major contributory factor to obesity, diabetes and cancer
  • images1/3 of cancers can be linked to lifestyle (like eating unhealthily) and/or a family history
  • In October 2014 it was reported in the news that a Public Health England survey has revealed one in 10 three-year-olds has tooth decay.  Leicester have the worst teeth in the country with 34% having evidence of tooth decay

It 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

For more information about the effects of sugar read my previous blog post about tooth decay  or read this compelling article from New Zealand with more sugar stats  – Thanks to Anne Andrews for the link

How can we help?

  • imagesFrom this January all schools in England will have to deliver school meals based around new guidelines, which include more fruit, veg and salad, more water, less deep fried and bread crumbed food and fewer sugary drinks.  For more information read the latest BBC school meals article


  • Consider swapping your child’s breakfast cereal; both Coco-pops and Frosties have 17g or 4 tsp of sugar per 30g serving.  Whereas Weetos and Rice Krispies both have about 2tsp


  • BrUJz82CAAA-NK_Children need to keep hydrated but try and get them to drink water rather than fruit juices or ‘healthier’ drinks as they are often laced with sugar.  For instance some shop bought freshly squeezed orange juices can contain as much as 50g (12 ½ tsp) of sugar, that’s equivalent to 10 fingers of Kitkat, or 500ml of blackcurrant Ribbena which contains 52g (nearly 13 tsp sugar), the same as nearly 9 small pots of Petits Filous Strawberry & Raspberry Fromage Frais


  • The latest research shows that if you introduce young children to a wider choice of foods and try it 5-10 times they are more likely to eat them.  So perseverance is the key.


  • The new ‘Action on sugar’ (a group of specialists concerned with sugar and its effects on health) has been tasked to bring about a reduction in the amount of sugar in processed foods


  • IMG_2369A new voluntary labelling (compulsory from 2016) will be seen shortly that traffic lights fats, sugars, calories etc


  • When reading a food label, it is easier to visualise the amount of sugar if you see it in teaspoons not grams; to do that divide by 4 i.e. 20 g sugar = 5 teaspoons (20/4)


  • There is no official guidelines for daily amount of sugar for children, but it most commonly stated as the same as adults i.e. (For FREE sugars only – those added to processed food) 10% of daily calories (1700) 170 calories = 45g or 11 tseaspoons – WHO (World Health Organisations) wants this to be reduced to 5%


Simple tips to help reduce the amount of sugar your child eats


  • unnamedThe 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


  • Be aware of the food they eat at home, school, after school clubs, parties, sleepovers etc
  • 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
  • veggie-sticksIf your child is asking for a snack consider giving them fresh fruit and raw vegetables including tangerines, bananas, pieces of cucumber 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.




Lets not completely vilify sugar, it is naturally present in healthy foods like fresh fruit and vegetables, which also provides us with lots of vitamin’s and minerals and are a valuable source of fibre, which we need to fill us up and help our digestive systems.  It is important that our whole families aim for the 5-a-day

Green lentils with grilled halloumi

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Green lentils with grilled halloumi

Serves 2 as a generous main meal or 3 as a light lunch – 379 calories as a main meal or 250 calories as a lunch

This warming and comforting dish uses a mixture of store cupboard standbys like tinned beans and tomato puree and fresh colourful ingredients like peppers, courgettes and celery*

The beans and lentils are a great low fat, low cholesterol protein source and will keep you feeling fuller for longer.  The vegetables are bursting with vitamins, minerals and fibre needed for cell regeneration, good digestive health and supporting the immune system.  And lets not forget the halloumi cheese, which is a great source of calcium needed for healthy bones

1 can of green lentils drained and rinsed

1 can of mixed beans in spicy sauce

IMG_23651 packet of halloumi cheese* – drained and sliced (about 7 slices)

1 tbls tomato puree

1 tsp olive oil

1 stick celery – chopped

1 red pepper – chopped

1 leek – finely sliced

1 fat clove of garlic – chopped

½ fennel bulb – finely sliced

1 large courgette – chopped

1 tsp smoked paprika

½ – 1 tsp chilli flakes (depending on how hot you like it)

1 tsp chopped mint and parsley

salt and pepper


IMG_2363In a large frying pan heat the oil over a medium flame and add the leek and celery.  Soften for 5 minutes then add the pepper, fennel and courgette.  Stir often to stop the veg from burning, after another 5 minutes add the garlic, paprika, chilli flakes and tomato puree.  Stir then add in the beans and lentils and half a can of water.

Turn down the heat to simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until the veg is soft and the sauce has thickened slightly.  Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary

Meanwhile, heat a non stick frying pan and when hot (don’t use any oil) add the sliced halloumi.  At first it will hiss and lots of water will evaporate.  Don’t be temped to turn the cheese too soon as it will stick.  After 2-3 minutes flip over the cheese and cook the other side.  It should look nice and brown.



Spoon the lentils and beans into two warmed bowls and top with the cooked halloumi. Scatter over the parsley and mint



* These ingredients are part of the new 14 allergens that must be labelled as such, so please make sure that you advise anyone eating this dish that it contains celery and dairy