The rise in popularity of vegetarian, vegan and gluten free food

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

people-ask-if-being-vegan-is-hardAs a nutrition coach many of my clients are looking to make changes to their diets and lifestyle in order to get healthy or remain healthy. I’ve noticed more and more are asking about specialist diets like vegan, vegetarian and gluten free. The reasons for their interest is wide and varied from ethical, health conscious, animal welfare, weight loss etc.

As a chef and vegetarian myself I can help them to make changes to their diets at home, like looking for good protein sources from nuts, tofu, beans etc.  But it can be a challenge when eating out

I’m always looking out for places that can cater for my clients needs, so I was really 13254478_1160235210663280_6513997701495040005_npleased when a friend pointed me to a Facebook page of a local restaurant. The Parlour, West Bridgford have taken the step of producing a vegan and vegetarian menu (along side their standard menu), it even has a vegetarian and gluten free afternoon tea option


Well I obviously couldn’t pass up this opportunity to pay them a visit and see for myself.

The staff were very quickly at my side asking if I’d like to see the new menu, they were  13267770_1164185180268283_4277182947733651586_nexcited about the launch, which so far was proving a winner. Time would tell if I thought so too. They were well versed in all aspects of the new menu and talked me though it, answering all my questions.

The menu was really appealing and extensive, with some interesting sounding dishes like the Persian salad of Spiced quinoa with pomegranates and a mojo dressing, or the pea and mint tortellini. After much thought I went for the ‘naughty vegan burger’; a soya burger, vacon, vegan cheese, flamenco yoghurt served in a vegan bun with sweet potato fries and fermented slaw

IMG_6179It looked pretty impressive when it arrived, like any other loaded burger. Now this is a good thing because often when I’m out with my meat eating friends my veggie/vegan food looks second best. However this burger would most definitely win ‘Best in show’

And it tasted good too. The bread was not too doughy, there was a good selection of salad and the bun wasn’t soaked in sauces and dressings. The fermented slaw had a lovely crisp freshness to it; nutritionally it will add lots of good bacteria in to your diet. And somewhere in the burger there was some lovely heat and spice, not sure if it was the Flamenco sauce. The sweet potato chips IMG_6181were a good option because of their additional nutrients and fibre, they tasted good too.  But I had to leave some as the portion was quite generous. I was even offered vegan ketchupIMG_6183

All in all, a triumph!



I was shown all the homemade veggie, vegan and gluten free cakes  And as tempting as they were I had to decline as I was too full.   Which means I will have to return

A quick additional note on the décor, when I first visited I noticed a few stuffed animals on the wall. I always felt uncomfortable knowing they were there, and wondered if they would remain now that the restaurant was expanding its veggie repertoire. And I am very pleased to say a member of staff had the same thought, so the animals have been replaced by some rather nice paintings.


Well done the Parlour, you have thought of everything!

Vita-Berry Blast

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

smoothieThis Wednesday I will be at Maggie’s, Nottingham, The cancer support centre at the City Hospital, talking to teenagers and young adults about healthy eating.  So what better way to showcase good nutrition than by making a smoothie, I’m hoping to have lots of audience participation

Smoothies are a great way to get one or more of your 5-a-day.  The combinations of fruits, veg and protein can be endless.  But I will be using a recipe based on one from my Nutribullet recipe book (with a little upgrade!)

nutribullet smoothies

We are also coming to the end of National vegetarian Week so what better way to celebrate the goodness of fruits and veg that to make the Vita berry blast (plus!)  The fruits anIMG_5263d veg chosen for this recipe are rich in antioxidants and flavonoids; which are particularly good at protecting the body from damage by ‘free radicals’

1-2 handfuls of rinsed fresh spinach or 2 blocks of frozen spinach – I use these all the time in smoothies they make the drink nice and cold and thick


IMG_61631 cup of blueberries

1 ripe banana

1 handful of strawberries

Cold water

Plus 2 tablespoons of oats and 2 teaspoons of chis seeds – for extra protein

Now for the difficult bit!




Tip all the ingredients  (except the water) into the large nutribullet cup.  Fill up to the MAX line (or just below) with water.  Screw on the blade, place it in the nutribullet, push down and twist and whizz for 1-2 minutes.

Serve as is, or add a sprig of mint for that professional touch!

Café Roya

Veg out – Café Roya, Beeston          

It was back in December 2014 when I reviewed a vegetarian restaurant; you may recall it was the Bluebird Café in Sherwood and since then it seems to have gone from strength to strength. It has decided to adopt a vegan approach to its menu as well as branching out and opening a retail shop next door to the restaurant

cafe royaSo I thought the time was right to visit another specific vegetarian restaurant, this time Café Roya in Beeston. I went with a group of friends; one of whom was a fellow veggie and the others were confirmed carnivores.




It is also national vegetarian week; what better way to celebrate than highlight great veggie restaurants in Nottingham

Because of the size of our party we were asked to pre-order. Now for cafe roya menumany studying the menu and deciding what to eat is a bewildering affair because of the choices on offer. That is not usually the case for vegetarians. But in this instance I took ages to decide what to have and it was such a great feeling to know I could eat anything in complete confidence that all the ingredients were going to be suitable.


On the night we were shown upstairs and had a little room all to ourselves. The brick walls were adorned with twinkling fairy lights and hopes were high; or at least mine were as the meat eaters looked a little apprehensive

My review has also been published on the Nottingham cafe roya reviewPost website Cafe Roya Nottingham Post



Our drinks order was quickly taken, we were asked if we wanted to make any changes to the pre orders after looking at the specials board. And then the starters promptly appeared.


I had Tempeh and shitake rice paper rolls – filled with ginger, spring onion and kaffir lime leaves and a sweet and sour dipping sauce, which were delicious and, by the way, vegan. My companions had equally tasty food including broadbean and mint mille feuille and raw food tacos – gem lettuce leaves topped with garlic avocado mayo, walnut ‘meat’ flavoured. The empty plates from around the table were taken away and I eagerly awaited the next course.


I kept with the Asian theme and my kombu and wakame seaweed and mushroom risotto looked pretty impressive. And it didn’t let me down on flavour either. Other popular choices were buttermilk soaked halloumi – in a crisp batter served with minted crushed peas, nori tartare sauce, vodka spiked tomatoes, pickled new potatoes and preserved lemon relish and oaxacan Mole – Mexican dish with sweet potato, peppers, corn and green beans in a thick sauce made from ground peanuts.


With that amount of variety and range of ingredients we all got our 5 a day. The dishes were beautifully presented and the best thing was they didn’t look ‘vegetarian’, just tempting and appetising

It would have been rude not to indulge in a little dessert so I went for a small piece of chocolate cake, while others chose hot banana and custard turnovers or toasted marshmallow skewers – something generally not suitable for a vegetarian because of the gelatine.

And deep joy, I finished off the night with a creamy soya cappuccino. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at café Roya as did my carnivore companions and we will definitely be returning.

Get that vegetable vibe

Get that vegetable vibe – all hail the kale!!

UnknownNational Vegetarian Week 2016 runs from 16-24 May; it is a celebration of all things veggie.  We are all told that when it comes to vegetables 5 a-day doesn’t cut it any more and we should be eating 7 or more a-day.

So during this celebratory week ask yourself how is it possible to consume more veg and even if we could why should we?


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

IMG_1368I go 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.  Its in part down to the wealth of antioxidants they contain.


veggies on the rise


Perhaps the message about the health benefits of being vegetarian is fining ground; The media, only this week announced that 25% of us will be veggie within the next 25 years.

So whether they are fresh, frozen, tinned, dried, cooked or raw vegetables and fruits will all add fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to your diet; without adding lots of calories, fat or cholesterol.  Whats not to love?!

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, veggie pizzas, spaghetti Bolognese or shepherds pie.

Another tip is to turn your veggies and fruit into smoothies.  A green smoothie is a great way to mix the two.  IMG_2210Try adding kale, spinach, apple, mint and pineapple to a powerful blender like a nutribullet.  The resulting green mix will be packed with vitamins, minerals (including iron and calcium) and disease fighting antioxidants.  Add a couple of spoonfuls of oats and you will increase the fibre content, which will have you feeling fuller for longer

Try taking your time with your smoothie; think of it as a meal rather than a drink.  It takes about 20 minutes for messages to get from your stomach to your brain to say you are full.    Taking your time also allows all those hard working enzymes to extract maximum nutrients from your food.

If the thought of going veggie is too much then why not start with just one day a week.  There is a movement called ‘Meat free Monday’, and you’ve guessed it you have a meat free day on a Monday (and possibly Tuesday, Wednesday Thursday..!) I have created some great recipes that may inspire you to embrace this concept

If you don’t fancy cooking your own veggie food then why not check out my reviews of vegetarian food in local restaurants around Nottingham. Cafe Roya, in Beeston is a great example of how veggie food can be imaginatively prepared and served

IMG_6140Sometimes I even go further a field like Fellinis in Windermere, Lake District.  Their vegetarian food is well worth the trip

Today is also #foodrevolutionday, an idea devised by Jamie Oliver to encourage more children to become involved in fresh and healthy ingredients.  And you guessed it vegetables and fruits are high on the agenda

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

English watercress; king of the summer salad leaves

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

watercressDid you know it is the start of the English watercress season, which means that the greengrocers and supermarkets will be full of those peppery verdant leaves.  But why is it so good for you and what can you do with it?

That question was put to me by Jeremy Lewis at the Nottingham Post, and I replied…..

Watercress contains lots of vitamin K that helps calcium to form strong bones.  It also has an abundance of vitamin A, which is really good for eye health.  And if that wasn’t good 14281445-largeenough it also contains good levels of glucosinolate compounds, which many studies now suggest have anti-cancer effects.

So what to do with these little leaves of goodness?  Soup is the obvious choice, adding it to bulk out a salad is another great idea and cooking it into a frittata is a great way to get some additional nutrients.  And at only 26 calories per 100g you can afford to be generous



My full response can be read in todays Nottingham Post or online English watercress, king summer salad leaves





Why your diet is never going to work!

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

Why your diet is never going to work!images

You’re about to embark on yet another diet so you can be fit, healthy and slim for that bikini in a few months time.  But in your heart of hearts you know you will be miserable, moody and hungry.  And more importantly you will fail.

So let me share some secrets with you as to why you will keep on failing unless you change your approach

  • Portion control – Put it simply many of us eat too much even on a diet.  You have more control over what you eat at home but what about that quick latte on the way to work because you didn’t have time for breakfast; a large skinny latte could have up to 130 calories, add a ‘healthy low fat’ muffin and that’s another 340+. Or that sandwich from the supermarket at lunch time; an egg mayo could have upwards of 400 calories.  You may decide to meet friends after work for a low cal drink (or two) and a small bowl of pasta – where’s the harm! A small slimline gin and tonic will set go largeyou back a meagre 56 calories.  But restaurant portions are getting bigger and they are served on bigger plates or bowls so it is hard for us to judge the true amounts we are eating; a bowl of Prezzo’s  Penne con Salmon (light) still has a whopping 800 calories, a shared garlic bread will add 140 calories a portion and that sprinkling of parmesan is about 60 calories.  By now your one slimline G&T has morphed in to a large glass of house red (170 calories) so you decide to share a dessert (it would be rude not to!) half a portion of ‘healthy’ lemon Torte is 225 calories.

So in total on your diet you have some how managed to consume over 2,300 calories in one day.  Impressive!

  • Mindless eating – how often do you sit at a table to eat your meals?! When we sit in images front of the TV, laptop, tablet etc we are distracted and often do not register what we have eaten and therefore when we are full.  The signal from our stomach to our brain to say STOP takes about 20 minutes but if we are distracted we tend to eat faster, so that signal doesn’t get through until we are well into that unnecessary pudding.  How often have you been surprised when you look down at your plate and realised it is empty?
  • Stressed out – if you are stressed, anxious or worried then you are more inclined to comfort eat.  This is because being stressed can produce a hormone called ‘cortisol’, which can release glucose in to your bloodstream, promoting a hunger response thereby increasing your appetite.

So if you are not mindful of portion control then your weight may go up this will make you stressed and you will eat more!

  • Snack attacks! – Be careful what you snack on. Carrot sticks and hummus or rice cakes with wholenut peanut butter may be a better option than the low cal snack bar which could be full of refined sugars that your body processes very quickly, so it may not fill you up for long.  A small portion (28g) of unsalted nuts maybe a better option
  • IMG_5040What are you drinking? – Both alcoholic and soft drinks contain an abundance of calories.  Stay hydrated with water; not only will it quench your thirst but it will stave off hunger pangs.  A ‘healthy’ shop bought smoothie could have as many as 250 calories and up to 5 teaspoons of sugar.  Even though a can of diet drink has only a few calories latest research indicates that the artificial sweet taste prepares your body to expect calories and when they aren’t forthcoming your body craves food and your appetite could increase
  • Lack of sleep Scientists believe that if we don’t get enough sleep it disturbs the levels of two specific hormones leptin, which lets you know when you are full and ghrelin, which stimulates your appetite.

So put very simply the more you sleep the less you eat!

  • Are you eating enough?! This may sound odd but even on a diet you do need to consume enough calories to meet your bodies needs.  You can work this out on imagesvarious website to get you Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which is the calories you consume at rest.  But you may think you’re eating only small amounts and should therefore lose weight but as previously mentioned it is not just about portion size its also about what you eat.  For instance a flimsy cheese croissant, which is gone in seconds could have 340 calories.  Compare that with a medium sized jacket potato and a large salad with balsamic vinegar all for 300 calories.  Not only are you eating less calories but more fibre which will leave you feeling fuller for longer
  • 11701046_10207112983767058_664974267398185262_nAre you a couch potato? – Moving more (it doesn’t have to be structured or an expensive exercise class) not only burns calories but releases endorphins which can enhance your mood and make you feel good. The Government recommends at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week, and  muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).

Next week I’ll blog about the things you can do that won’t sabotage your weight loss goals but help you to lose the pounds permanently!

The Embankment bar

Veg Out – The Embankment, Nottingham


IMG_5863The Embankment pub on London Road just near Trent Bridge is an historical and iconic Nottingham building, being the site of the Boots store and social club. Castle Rock Brewery has recently restored it to its former glory, retaining many of the original features.

I have visited a couple of times over the last few months but only to quaff a few glasses of wine and the odd bottle of vegan beer. But this time I had my sights set on the menu and specials board


IMG_5845The pub has three distinct menus; Tapas, Pizza and Bar meals plus an extensive specials board, all with a decent amount of veggie options. I could have chosen a curry, stroganoff, risotto, burritos, various pizzas and numerous tapas sharing dishes but in the end I plumped for a veggie burger, off the specials board. My companions eventually chose red snapper curry, lamb tagine and a steak sandwich



My review ca also be found in todays (27th April) Nottingham Post






IMG_5832Burgers are regular vegetarian fayre and if I’m honest are often a disappointment because of their lack of flavour, poor presentation or absence of added extras. However, this burger was a pleasant surprise; it came in a lovely soft brioche bun, not the ubiquitous white roll.   The burger itself was very tasty, generously seasoned and full of veg. It sat on top of a bed of salad and some delicious little gherkins, and it wasn’t smeared in mayonnaise, ketchup or other sugary, fatty accompaniments. The chips were hand cut, proper crispy ones with a side of creamy coleslaw. These simple touches made the whole dish really enjoyable and the reason why I told the staff it was the best veggie burger I’d eaten in a long time.


My companions were all equally as impressed with their food; the fish curry was particularly praised for its flavour.


As tempting as the puddings were, I was too full but I spied a big coffee machine and asked for a soya cappuccino. Sadly they currently don’t have soya milk so my dining experience had to end there.


IMG_5843 IMG_5847












All in all I was mightily impressed with the Embankment; the veggie options are numerous, the flavous are great and the setting is impressive. What more does a veggie need!






Ps I enjoyed the Embankment so much I went back a few days later for a quick lunchtime bite to eat. The roasted vegetable, mushroom and cheese panni (with a side salad and coleslaw) was delicious.

vegan and gluten free chocolate lime cake

Gluten and egg free chocolate lime cake

Serves 13 – 250 calories per portion

IMG_1737The original recipe came via Michael of  Synergy Therapies and I adapted it to make it vegan. The addition of chia seeds adds protein and fibre so a small slice will make you feel quite full. It is a very moist and intense cake so have a small piece and enjoy with some raspberries, sliced banana or figs to cut through the richness.



I took a slice into my favourite gym and after a hard HIIT class asked my fellow fitness fitties to give it a try.  I think they liked it!




50 grams cacao or cocoa powder (or 150g dark chocolate and 4 teaspoons of good quality cacao powder – this will increase the calories to 310 per slice)

1 tsp instant coffee granules

125 ml hot water

150 ml linseed oil or coconut oil (melted)

3 tsp ground flaxseeds (linseeds) mixed into ¾ cup water – leave to thicken slightly for 10 mins (this is the equivalent of 3 eggs)

200 grams unrefined brown sugar

2 tbls ground chia seeds

150 grams ground almonds

1 Lime – juice and zest

  • IMG_1714 Preheat oven to 170oC/ 150oC (fan oven)/Gas Mark 4/ 350oF, then grease and line a 9 inch loose bottomed cake tin
  • Melt the chocolate over a bowl of hot water add the coffee.  Or mix the cacao, coffee and hot water in a bowl, allow to cool.
  • Whisk the flaxseeds/water with the oil and sugar together in a 2nd bowl, use a hand held electric whisk or stick blender.
  • Gently add the cooled cacao mix to the flaxseed mix, whisking on low to prevent the mixture from redecorating your kitchen, followed by the ground almonds.  Finally add the juice and grated rind of the lime.
  • IMG_1717Pour into the prepared cake tin, and bake for around 1hr 10 mins (cover with foil after about 55 mins if it starts to brown at the edges).  The cake will be firm on top with a little bounce beneath.
  • Allow the cake to cool whilst remaining in its tin. Cover with a clean tea towel to prevent the top becoming too crunchy.
  • When sufficiently cool, remove from the tin and slice in to small portions.
  • IMG_1718Instead of lime, you could also try orange and lemon or use chopped mint to make a chocolate and mint cake, they all work equally well.
  • Serve with some fresh raspberries or fig

So why not make this delicious cake and then share your photo here?

Food allergies and intolerances

Do you have a food allergy or intolerance? 

These are just two names used to describe an adverse reaction to food and are often lumped together but they are very different and therefore need to be dealt with differently

imagesVery simply an allergy is a reaction caused by the immune system’s reaction to a food, causing distressing and often severe symptoms, which usually develop rapidly, ranging from skin reactions like itching and rashes; swelling (including in the throat) ; gut symptoms, vomiting, tummy pain, diarrhoea; respiratory symptoms such as blocked or runny nose, coughing and wheezing. Severe cases can result in a hospital admission

Food intolerance, although not life threatening can cause the sufferer to feel unwell, the symptoms can take some time to occur and are mostly confined to the gut, such as bloating, diarrhoea, constipation and IBS; but can also cause skin problems like eczema and joint pain.

allergy intolerance the difference

courtesy of Health Sciences Academy

Next week it is Allergy Awareness week so with that in mind I thought I’d talk to you about how healthy eating advice can help if you are allergic or intolerant to certain foods

My diploma in food allergies and intolerances means I can help support you to manage your symptoms and adapt your diet without compromising on taste and variety.  My training as a chef means I can help you to modify your recipes so they are still nutritious and delicious.

allery diploma

During a consultation I will ask a series of questions similar to these to determine your needs

digestive diet check

Based on the result I can start to modify your current diet and help reduce your symptoms

In the meantime you can help by keeping a detailed food diary, using an App like Nutracheck could be really helpful in determining the foods that are causing the issue

If you don’t already know new European legislation came into force in December 14, called the Food Information for Consumers Regulation (EU FIC) that changed the way allergen information appears on labels and on food that is pre‑packed, sold loose or served when you are eating out.

Wondering what an allergen is?!

food allergies


The foods that most often trigger allergic reactions are therefore called allergens



14 Allergens PosterUnder the new regulation, the main 14 allergens 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



There is no need to suffer with debilitating IBS anymore.  Contact me for a free consultation and I can help you to take control.

07946 301338 or

me and food NP







Further information and advice

Food Standards Agency – Allergy leaflet

Allergy UK

Coeliac UK

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 there is no reason why this dish has to be limited to just breakfast.  It makes 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

large pinch cinnamon

1 tbls sunflower seeds

1 tsp chia seeds

* If you haven’t got coconut water or indeed don’t like it, not to worry just use 160ml of milk instead

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and stir, then place in the fridge overnight or at least for 2 hours


In the morning stir all the ingredients again and add more milk or water if its 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