School puds – say cheese!

School puds

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

In January new guidelines were introduced in schools to make meals healthier. For more information read my earlier blog healthy school meals

IMG_3085The new guidelines included advice about puddings. One Nottinghamshire School – Ernehale Infant School, in Arnold has brought out a new menu, and has decided to include cheese and biscuits as a pudding alternative. This has created a bit of a stir, so the Nottingham Post sent the Food Sleuth to test out the changes to the menu Nottinghamshire schools healthy menu

And I was interview by Andy Whittaker of BBC radio Nottingham on Wednesday morning for my views on puddings in general and cheese and biscuits in particular


imagesThis is a 5 minute clip of that interview. Andy asked if unhealthy habits were being created by children expecting a pudding and was cheese and biscuits a suitable choice


imagesI believe a school has a duty to offer healthy and balanced food to its pupils and a pudding can be a part of a healthy balanced meal. With the caveat that portion control has to be observed.  1,800 calories is the daily maximum for children aged five to 10.  A portion of cheese and biscuits could only have 112 calories.

For some children a school dinner could be the most substantial meal they eat, and when they get home they may only be offered a snack

At lunchtime if a child has mushroom risotto with peas followed by cheese and biscuits they will feel satisfied and nourished. Not only can that help them to concentrate in the afternoon but it could mean they are less likely to buy a snack at break time


imagesCheese is not only full of calcium; needed for healthy bones but research has shown that eating cheese at the end of a meal can neutralise the pH in the mouth and therefore possibly reduce tooth decay. This is especially important to young teeth with delicate enamel


So my advice to parents is encourage your children to be adventurous and try new things. Appreciate a school that offers as wide a variety of foods as possible, so your child can be inspired to make healthy food choices

If you are a parent, would you be worried about your child having cheese and biscuits as a pudding, do you think school puddings can lead a child into bad habits.  Or do you, like me think its about balance, variety and overall portion control?

I’d love to hear your views

Ginger greens

Ginger greens

Serves 2, 53 calories a serving

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website



This is an amazingly low calorie lunch, or a very filling vegetable accompaniment, making it an ideal 5:2 fast dieting dish.  Dry frying in a  non stick pan means no oil is needed which keeps the calories really low.  But for a bit of luxury and some good fat soluble vitamins you could drizzle over some olive or rapeseed oil with a splash of lemon juice  – that would add about 100 calories



100g each of leek, courgette, green pepper and celery

large pinch of dried chillies

IMG_30281 tsp ginger garlic paste

1 tsp chopped parsley

½ tsp sesame seeds

splash of lemon juice

salt and pepper



Slice all the veg into batons, heat a non stick frying pan on a low light add the celery, leeks and pepper and cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the courgette’s, chilli and ginger garlic paste. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Add a splash of  water if it starts to dry out or brown too much.

Add salt and pepper, lemon juice and sesame seeds. Taste, adjust the seasoning if necessary

Divide between two plates and serve


Non- fast day additions

If you you want to make the dish more substantial or eat it on a non fast day then any of these additions will do the trick



Toasted pine nuts – 20g 140 calories

chickpeas – 100g drained and rinsed 120 calories

Quorn fillet – 1 x 55 calories

Salmon fillet – 100g 175 calories

Grilled chicken breast – 100g 100 calories


Sugary drinks ban

Should we ban sugary drinks sponsorship?

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

IMG_1326According to The British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF) the answer is YES. They believe that if sugary drinks were banned at major sporting events then people’s health would improve; especially that of children. Sugary drinks are their largest source of sugar and might explain why more than ¼ of all five year olds and ⅓ of all 12 year olds have dental decay


What do you think; should we remove all temptation? The BDHF want sugary drinks to be subjected to the same advertising and sponsorship rules as tobacco. So does that mean we will see them sold in neutral packaging from behind shuttered shelves?


BrUJz82CAAA-NK_My question is where does responsibility come in to it. And by that I mean a responsibility from the manufacturer to have sensible levels of sugar in drinks in the first place. The responsibility of parents to say NO – just because a sports person has advertised a drink doesn’t mean a parent has to feel pressured to give it to their child. The responsibility of the child, they need to be educated about what is a healthy balanced diet.  And that brings in schools, clubs, groups etc to educate children about healthy eating and taking personal responsibility


When you look at a label on the back of a drinks bottle (that’s if you do) do you understand what you are reading? For instance ‘sugar’ is under ‘Total carbohydrate’ and is shown in grams. I don’t know about you but I cant really visualise what that looks like, but I would have a better idea if it were in teaspoons.

That is easy to do; simple divide the figure in grams by 4 and you get the teaspoonscola

Here’s an example of a bottle of coke. A 250ml serving has 26.5g of sugar, divide that by four and it equals over 6½ teaspoons.  What would you do if your child asked for a cup of tea with 6½ teaspoons of sugar in it?


But what if the BDHF is right and we have a ban, what next; Fast food like pizza, burgers or fish and chips. Or sweets as they also lead to dental decay and the biggest consumers are children


Earlier in the week Gem106 asked for my views on this; listen to a small snippet of my chat with them. (less than a minute)

The amount of sugar children consume is often in the headlines, check out my other blogs about the sugary subject

children and sugartooth decaysickly sweet

IMG_2370Maybe we need to get back to basics. Sweet drinks like all sugary foods should be considered as treats and only consumed occasionally. When a child is thirsty they should be offered water or milk. And when it comes to sports drinks these should only really be consumed after extensive exercise – we just don’t need the additional sugar and caffeine otherwise.

What do you think; ban or no ban?!

Homemade nut butter

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

Homemade nut butter – serves 4, 140 calories approx. per serving (including 2 rice cakes)


IMG_2904If, like me you love peanut butter but are worried about the ‘extras’ that go into commercial brands, then why not have a go at making it yourself


I thought just that, so with my trusty ‘Nutribullet’ (any high speed blender will do the job), some nuts and a little imagination I was off


This recipe will be enough for 8 ricecakes (four servings). I’m not suggesting you eat them all in one go; 2 each for a filling snack or with some extra salad or a sliced banana for a 5:2 fast dieting lunch


A level tablespoon or there abouts will cover 2 rice cakes and works out at approximately 140 calories in total. It will vary depending on the nut variety


IMG_2893I used cashew nuts and pistachio, because they were the ones that immediately came to hand. Next time I’ll try hazelnuts, brazil, almond and maybe some seeds like sunflower, linseed, pumpkin, chia etc


So lets crack on!


IMG_2891125g of your favourite nuts

1 blender

A drizzle of water

Place the nuts in the blender and whizz for about 20 seconds. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides. You will need to do this a number of times until the mixture starts to ball together and the nuts begin to release their oils. At this point add a splash of water


Remember to only have your blender working for about 20 seconds or so at a time or else you are in danger of burning out the motor. This can take up to 5 minutes depending on the power of your blender


IMG_2903At this stage you can add some seasoning or additional flavours. For me the only addition is some simple rock salt. I don’t like the idea of an over sweet nut butter so no maple syrup for me, and in any case the cashew nuts are naturally nice and sweet


Spoon into a small dish and cover with clingfilm. It will keep in the fridge for about a week, but I doubt it will last that long

Stay positive

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

Many of you have tried to lose weight before, or you’ve been in that yo-yo dieting cycle.  And it is hard to keep on going, to make changes to your diet or lifestyle, but if you want to stay healthy, have a full and active life then you need to first of all recognise the good things that you have achieved; the weight you have lost, the gym membership you’ve taken out, the positive food choices you’ve made.




Appreciate the good that you’ve done and commit to doing more

So I thought I’d share with you a poem I found (I’m not sure who its by!)  But it seems a good place to start




I feel a sadness that cannot be measured 

A longing that cannot be quenched 

A loss of something I treasured 

The need to make it make sense


If only I could change just one thing

To understanding what went wrong 

And the things I need to make sense 

would be on the tip of my tongue


Could I somehow be mistaken

did I mishear what was said

If only I could change just one thing 

it would be the thoughts in my head


You can stay in the past forever 

seeking what needs to change 

but change only comes for the better 

when you understand what you have gained



If the time is right for you to make a change, then contact me and I can book you in for a FREE nutritional consultation

Nottm post feature photo

Susan Hart

07946 301338









Raw chocolate squares

Ginger, fruit and nut raw chocolate squares

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

IMG_3011Now if you’ve never tasted raw chocolate before, don’t expect these delicious treats to taste like the shop bought chocolate that you are use to.  They will be more intense and rich and less sweet.  So a little definitely goes a long way, but a healthier way to celebrate Easter

The mixture makes 25 small squares, enough to satisfy any chocolate craving.  I also have some small chocolate moulds so I made a few little shapes that are great to give as presents.

IMG_3001This recipe originally came from Rachel Holmes of KSFL, it was then adapted by my fellow gym fit bunny Michael of Synergy therapies and I’ve further adapted it with the addition of oats and tahini to make it more filling and substituted some of the fruits to keep the sugar content down

I obtained all the ingredients from a local health food shop in West Bridgford called the health store

IMG_29971 cup (250g) Raw Cacao butter

1/2 cup coconut oil

1 cup raw Cacao powder

¼ tsp vanilla extract

3 tbsp. manuka honey

1 tsp tahini paste

pinch sea salt

2 thumb sized pieces of ginger

1 cup of mixed walnuts and brazil nuts – or whatever you have in the cupboard

1 cup of mixed apricots and dates – again use whatever dried fruit you have in your cupboard

1 cup of porridge oats

IMG_3002Melt the Cacao butter and coconut oil together in a bowl over boiling water and once fully melted add to a blender (I used my Nutribullet but any blender will do) with the Cacao powder, 1 thumb of ginger, honey, tahini, salt and blend until you get a smooth glossy paste.

Pour the smooth glossy chocolaty paste into a large bowl

Roughly chop (or pulse in the blender) the nuts with the otherIMG_2998 thumb of ginger and the dried fruits to blend the flavours together and add to the bowl containing the chocolate paste, pour in the oats and mix everything together for 5 minutes lifting the chocolate paste in the air as you mix.

Then simply line a small square baking tray with cling film and IMG_3003then pour the paste into the centre of the tin so it spreads out to the sides. You could obviously use chocolate moulds if you wanted to be fancy.




I made some nice heart shaped ones!

Once the chocolate is in the tray IMG_3011place in the fridge to set and then cut into squares and eat very sparingly!  It makes about 25 squares and each square is 170 calories

They can be frozen for a weekly treat!



If you would like to understand the difference between raw cacao and cocoa and the health benefits then visit



Nutrition after Cancer

Nutrition after cancer recovery

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website



On Wednesday 1st April I appeared on Verity Cowlely’s show at BBC Radio Nottingham to talk about nutrition after cancer.  This was the second of a two part interview, the fist was about healthy eating during cancer treatment

You can listen to two excerpts of this interview – the first one lasts 6½ minutes, the second one 5 minutes



For most people, the factors that are most likely to have the greatest impact on your health include

  • diet,
  • weight control and
  • regular physical activity.

gym and foodThe biggest difference will probably be from a combination of factors, rather than from making any one particular change.

But there is a lot we can do to reduce our risk of getting cancer in the first place or reducing the risk of it reoccurring as four in ten cancers could be prevented if we were healthier.


An estimated 9% of cancer cases in the UK each year are linked to diet : eating too little fruit and vegetables, eating any red and processed meat, eating too little fibre, or eating too much salt .

An estimated 5% of cancer cases in the UK each year are linked to excess bodyweight

An estimated 4% of cancer cases in the UK each year are linked to alcohol consumption

IMG_2419Eating well will help your body rebuild muscle strength and overcome side effects such as anaemia or fatigue.


After a period of intensive illness remember to take it slowly and ease yourself into healthy eating and cooking. The odd ready meal or takeaway can occasionally take the place of a home cooked meal if you are feeling a bit lack lustre.  Friends and family are often more than happy to have you round or come over and cook for you.  If you are struggling for quick, easy and nutritious recipes then check out my selection on my recipes blog

Losing weight becomes much harder as we grow older, but it can still be done with careful diet changes and regular exercise or activity.

Maintaining a healthy weight is especially important for certain cancers. Fat cells contain oestrogen; extra fat cells mean more oestrogen in the body and oestrogen can effect hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. A diet rich in vegetables and fruits may decrease the risk of breast cancer and a diet high in total fat may increase the risk

How to be more healthy

These principles apply to everyone, whether you’ve been affected by cancer or not, but these  simple steps could make all the difference 

  • Limit sugar, refined carbohydrates (cakes, sweets, biscuits etc), and alcohol.
  • Eat small amounts of lean meat and processed meat.
  • Remove the skin and fat from meat, poultry, and fish.
  • cupped handPortion control. Use your hand as a guide; read my blog for how this works portion control
  • Eat lots of fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Lots of fibre and you will feel full longer and may be less tempted by fast-food.
  • Go for variety. Buy a new fruit, vegetable, or whole-grain product each time you go food shopping to keep IMG_1368from getting bored with your diet. Read about all the vibrant vegetables you can try.  or make my tasty quinoa salad
  • Drink water or drinks with no sugar added if you’re hungry between meals. Limit fizzy drinks and juices. You can read more helpful tips in my Hydration blog
  • Keep healthy snacks on hand – heres some ideas healthy snacks
  • Factor in regular activity into your lifestyle
  • Quit smoking
  • Be safe in the sun – images
  • Supplements - For most people, a balanced diet provides all the nutrients they need, and taking large doses of vitamins, minerals and other dietary supplements isn’t recommended.
  • Learn to relax, distress and have some fun – my stress free eating blog has some useful tips


maggies_nottinghamIf you feel you need some support around healthy eating after cancer then 

 first of all speak to your oncology team, or Maggie’s Nottingham or contact me

Nottm post feature photo

Susan Hart

07946 301338

Courgette pasta ribbons with rocket pesto

Courgette pasta ribbons with rocket pesto

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

IMG_2768This is the perfect lunch or light supper dish, as no cooking is required.  And for those of you who want to limit your intake of refined carbs (5:2 ers and fast dieters in particular) this is ideal for you because fibre rich courgettes take the place of gluten rich pasta.  Not only does the fibre and vitamin content increase when courgettes are used as pasta but the calories are vastly reduced.  A 75g of uncooked wholemeal pasta  per serving would make the total calories for this dish increase from 352 calories to 600 calories per serving


Comp health mag




The recipe has been featured in the online magazine Complete Health Magazine get your copy here






Courgette pasta ribbons with rocket pesto

Serves 2 – 352 calories per serving



2 courgettes

1 ripe avocado

2 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp pine nuts  – toasted in a dry pan

1 garlic clove, peeled

large pinch of dried chilli flakes

large handful (45g) of rocket

10 mint leaves

salt and freshly ground black pepper

IMG_27611 teaspoon of lemon juice

a splash of cold water

6 small ripe cherry tomatoes



  • IMG_2765To make the courgette ‘pasta, slice in to ribbons with a vegetable peeler or a spiralizer, coat with a splash of lemon juice and a few grains of salt to soften
  • IMG_2762For the rocket pesto, place the oil, pine nuts, garlic, chilli, S&P, mint leaves, 1teaspoon of lemon juice and rocket into a small food processor and blend until smooth. if its to thick add a splash of water to loosen it.
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary
  • IMG_2767To serve, pour the pesto over the courgette pasta ribbons and stir well to coat. Place the pasta into two serving bowls and top with sliced avocado, the halved tomatoes and a few fresh mint leaves


To make the dish more substantial you can also add either ½ a can of drained and rinsed butter beans or 40g of crumbled feta cheese.  They will add an additional 105 and 115 calories, respectively

Nutrition during cancer treatment

Nutrition during cancer treatment

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

imagesOn Wednesday 25th March I appeared on Verity Cowlely’s show at BBC Radio Nottingham to talk about nutrition for those going through cancer.  You can listen to two excerpts of the interview.

7 minutes long

4 ½ minutes long

cropped-bloglogo2.jpgMore information about healthy eating can be found on some of my previous blog posts

healthy lifestylewhat is a healthy balanced diethigh calorie foods

Eating the right kinds of foods before, during, and after treatment can help you feel better and stay stronger.

Eating well while you are being treated for cancer might help you:

  • Feel better.
  • Keep up your strength and energy.
  • Maintain your weight and your body’s store of nutrients.
  • Better tolerate treatment related side effects.
  • Lower your risk of infection.
  • Heal and recover faster.

Eating well means eating a variety of foods that will give your body the nutrients needed to help fight the effects of your cancer treatment. These nutrients include protein, carbohydrates, fat, water, vitamins, and minerals.


IMG_2698If you have a poor appetite eat little and often, have a fortified drink (Complan or something similar) or go for nutrient dense food (see my blog high calorie foods that I created after being asked whilst at Maggie’s Nottingham) like fats, nuts, seeds, peanuts, nut butters, avocados, hummus and oils are great sources of healthy fats loaded with maggies_nottinghamnutrients and are very calorie dense. Try to enrich your favourite foods with dried milk powder, cream or cheese.  If you are struggling with the quantity then blend the food to make a fortified soup




Protein  is especially important as its needed to heal tissue and fight infection – beans, pulses, eggs, chicken, fish, tofu quinoa are all great sources

Ginger can help with nausea – have it as a tea, drinks, biscuits or grated into food

If your taste buds change eat foods you like or have strong flavours. lemon, mint, cumin, turmeric, black pepper, ginger

If you feel tired and the thought of cooking is too much then the occasional ready meals are fine or on your good days cook extra and freeze

Don’t serve large portions it can be overwhelming

Sometimes the smell of food can be off putting so have food served warm or at room temperature

The more trauma a body has undergone the more energy it needs to recover and repair. And the best source is carbohydrates and fats.

IMG_2435Having sufficient amounts of carbohydrates means that protein will not be converted in to energy and can be utilised for cell repair – wholemeal pasta, rice, bread are good examples

Veg and fruit are also good carb sources and have lots of vitamins, antioxidants (A,C,E,Zinc etc) and fibre – needed for a healthy digestion

Using fats for energy again allows protein to be used for cell regeneration. They also have a key role in the structure of cell walls, reducing inflammation and aiding clotting.

IMG_2421Healthy fats to eat are olive oil, rapeseed oil, sunflower oil and those found in avocados and oily fish like mackerel, salmon, sardines and trout

Some people may develop anaemia (as chemo lowers red blood cells) – dark green leafy vegetables, iron-fortified bread and cereals, beans, nuts, meat, apricots, prunes, raisins are all valuable sources of iron. Eat foods high in Vitamin C at same time as non meat Iron to help with absorption.  so a red pepper with your green leafy veg for instance

imagesIt is important to increase your fluid intake, as dehydrated skin is less elastic, more fragile and more susceptible to tears. You may also experience a sore or dry mouth, drinking or sucking on an ice cube may help

Be careful about taking lots of supplements – you could have too many and be ill, so try and get all you need from the food you eat

Low immunity- avoid foods that may contain harmful bacteria like paté, raw eggs, live bacterial yoghurt, cheeses made from unpasteurised milk, such as Brie and blue-veined cheeses and raw or undercooked shellfish.

Have good personal and food hygiene to reduce risk of food poisioning

Factor in some gentle exercise, like a walk in the fresh air – can improve your appetite, boost energy levels, get Vitamin D (wear sunscreen as chemo can make you more light sensitive), socialise, change of scene, lift your mood


6389379-largeIf you have any issues about food or your diet during your cancer treatment first of all speak to your oncology team, or Maggie’s Nottingham or contact me

Susan Hart

07946 301338

The diet of the 1950s

The diet of the 1950s

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

11069372_974772509246900_7273530188136257966_nA new BBC2 programme about the nations diet through the decades began last week called Back in Time for Dinner, it kicked off with the 1950s.  I was asked to appear on Radio Nottingham last week to discuss the diet of a 1950s family, also appearing on the Mark Dennison show was Glennis, a housewife in the 50s.

Click here for a snippet of the interview that aired on Tuesday 17th March.

5 minutes long

In the 1950s some foods like sugar, tea, eggs and cream were still rationed so women had to be inventive when it came to planning meals for the family, especially as only 24% of households owned a fridge.  They learned to utilise all the food and not to waste a scrap.  IMG_2262The Sunday roast was a popular choice, on Monday the leftovers could be turned into a meet and potato pie, bubble and squeak or a stew (with dumplings to fill up the family).  Any unused veg was quickly turned into bubble and squeak and fried in the bacon fat from breakfast.  A dessert was often homemade cakes or scones with homemade preserves.  That will explain why in the 50s we ate more sugar.  Whereas now our sugar consumption mostly comes from fruit juices, soft drinks, sweets and sugary cereals

But surprisingly calorie intake peaked in the 1950s at 2660 kcal per person per day. This has now fallen, along with declining levels of physical activity, to 1750 kcal per  person per day.[1]

shopping 1950sThe average person in the 50s did more walking, cycling and travelling on public transport than we do now.  Also there wasn’t the labour saving devises that we now have, women were spending approximately 70 hours a week on housework, with the hardest work in the kitchen.  For instance washing could take up a whole day.

Food was more seasonal, there were no large supermarkets, no freezers so no frozen foods and a weekly takeaway was fish & chips!  To eek out the housekeeping the family would go blackberry picking, forage for mushrooms, grow their own vegetables and pick elderflowers to make wine

The first Wimpy Bars opened in 1954 selling hamburgers and milkshakes and proved extremely popular. They became a place for teenagers to meet and socialise, although the post war Government was more concerned with nutritional problems relating to deficiency, rather that it being all about excessive intakes now.




Ate more Ate less
Milk (which was full fat), potatoes, vegetables, bread, sugar (mostly for home baking, Jams etc) Fruit, cereals, meat (especially chicken – 10g per week in 1950 compared to 250g per week in 2000)

  • IMG_2609
    What can we learn from the 1950s?

    • shop locally and seasonally
    • try and be more active
    • eat less processed foods
    • base your main meal around vegetables
    • reduce food waste by making meals from leftovers, see my recipes for bubble and squeak and pea and mint soup and more advice about using leftovers in don’t waste it use it

Sample menu for a week’s meals from a 1951 cookery book

50s menu














If you would like some advice about getting back to the basics of healthy eating then please contact me

I offer a FREE initial consultation 

07946 301338