Vegan Merry Christmas!

Vegan Merry Christmas!

Sorry to mention the ‘C’ word in October!

img_4983Have you got a vegan coming for a Christmas lunch, is there only one vegan in your family or are you vegan yourself and want to cook something different?


Then I might have the answer! Every Saturday in November (and possibly the first two of December) I will be running a vegan festive cookery class.



Come along to my professional 5* rated kitchen in West Bridgford where you will make a 3 course festive lunch.  The class runs from 10 am – 1.30pm.


The ingredients, equipment, a recipe folder and refreshments will all be provided, all you need to do is bring containers to take your dishes home. And all that for £125


xmas2Every Saturday it will be the same menu, so just choose the date that best suits and book in. I accept four guests at a time


To book your place on either 5th, 12th, 19th or 26th November class, just contact me

Susan Hart on 07946 301338  or email me at


If these get booked up I will offer the following additional dates

3rd and 10th December


For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

Banana, berry and oat smoothie

Banana, berry and oat smoothie

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

IMG_4336October is Breast Cancer awareness month, so I thought it only fitting to take a recipe from the Royal Marsden cancer cookbook as today’s ‘Meat Free Monday’ choice


My version of the banana smoothie is vegan, so I’ve used soya milk and yoghurt. I’ve also added a teaspoon of chia seeds for extra protein, some turmeric and a mint leaf to give it a fresh flavour


berry-smoothie1 small ripe banana,

3 heaped tablespoons of porridge oats,

1 teaspoon chia seeds,

½ teaspoon of honey/golden syrup/agarve (optional),

pinch of cinnamon, black pepper and turmeric,

oats100g frozen berries or just blueberries

150ml soya milk,

1 mint leaf.



If you like you can use other non-dairy milks, although soya has the closest nutritional makeup to cow’s milk.

berry-mixNow for the complicated bit!  Place all the ingredients in a blender – I like the nutribullet as it makes a very smooth and creamy consistency, and blitz.


This is a great breakfast alternative and the berry-smoothieoats and milk will keep you full until lunchtime. But please take your time and sip your smoothie slowly or use a spoon

Finally its a beautiful pink colour so show your support for breast cancer awareness month

Part time veggie

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

thai-tofu-curryOn Monday why not take part in ‘meat free Monday’ and become a part time veggie.   The idea is that one day a week you eat vegetarian or vegan meals. There are now an estimated two – three million vegetarians in the UK, who for a variety of wide-ranging reasons have given up meat and fish. You could become one of them

The number of vegans in the UK is also growing as the evidence that a plant based diet has health benefits increases


Why should you bite the bullet (or rather the carrot!)?

  • Weight – According to recent research by Cancer research UK vegetarians and vegans have a lower body weight.  Meat eaters who continue eating meat will carry on putting on more weight over a five year period, compared to those who switched over to vegetarianism.  The World Health Organisation believes being overweight can increase the risk of serious health consequences such as cardiovascular disease (mainly heart disease and stroke), type 2 diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders like osteoarthritis, and some cancers.  What is not widely known is that the risk of health problems starts when someone is only very slightly overweight, and that the likelihood of problems increases as someone becomes more and more overweight
  • imagesCholesterol – vegetarians  and vegans generally have lower cholesterol levels.  A recent study demonstrated that a vegetarian diet made up of specific plant foods can lower cholesterol as effectively as a drug treatment.
  • Longevity – many vegetarians and vegans will live longer due to their reduced risk of becoming obese, developing diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases; in fact vegetarians have 32% less chance of having heart disease than their meat-eating friends.
  • Saturated fat – Red meat, especially processed meat, contains a lot of saturated fat (plus sodium, nitrites etc) that have been linked to increased risk of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.
  • beansCost – as food prices rise its good to know that you can still buy good quality inexpensive protein like beans and pulses and turn them into delicious meals such as  veggie chilli or cauliflower chickpea curry.  Buying seasonal vegetables and fruit will also make your meals less expensive and more nutritious. More delicious veggie and vegan recipes can be found on my blog

Quick tips

  • Add a tin of beans to your soups, curries, chills and pasta dishes.  You’ll be adding low fat, low cholesterol protein
  • Make a frittata bursting with veggies like peppers, onions, courgettes and mushrooms.
  • soupHomemade soups are a great way to introduce a vegetarian meal.  Add lentils for additional protein.
  • Spiralise vegetables and have them instead of pasta
  • Nuts can be ground to make your own nut butters – packed with protein and good fats
  • Chickpeas make great hummus. Add to jacket potatoes, enrich a cauliflower curry or smear on to a piece of toasted sourdough

However the veggie garden isn’t completely rosy.  There is a higher risk of developing a B12 deficiency, which can lead to anemia.  Eating plenty of milk, cheese and eggs or certain fortified breakfast cereals, non dairy milks, nutritional yeast if you’re a vegan, should provide enough of this essential vitamin

coucousIf you’d like to increase your vegetarian repertoire then why not come along to my vegan and vegetarian cookery classes in West Bridgford? They occur most days from 11am (Tuesdays start at 12.15), I also run a session on a Tuesday evening at 5.30pm

Contact me for more details or to book a place 07946 301338


More detailed information about healthy eating can be obtained from my previous healthy diet blog


The rise and rise of Diabetes!

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

imagesThe rise and rise of Diabetes!

Diabetes has been in the news again: “Diabetes the hidden Killer’ was a Panorama documentary showing how diabetes can lead to heart failure, blindness, kidney disease and leg amputations.

Diabetes costs the NHS nearly £10 billion a year (or 10% of the total NHS budget), with 80% of that being spent managing avoidable complications.  More than a third of adults in England are at the brink of developing type-2 diabetes, and even children are being diagnosed with the condition

A study, in the British Medical Journal, reports that there has been an “extremely rapid” rise in pre-diabetes since 2003; then 11.6% of adults surveyed had pre-diabetes, but the figures trebled to 35.3% by 2011.

diabetes graphIt predicts a surge in type-2 diabetes in the coming years, with consequences for life expectancy; between 5% and 10% of people with pre-diabetes go on to develop type-2 diabetes each year.

Pre-diabetes (also known as borderline diabetes) is where blood sugar levels are abnormally high, but lower than the threshold for diagnosing diabetes.


Should you be worried?

If you are overweight (use the BMI calculator to find out) or over 40, you should ask your GP for a test for Type 2 diabetes.

Did you know that if you are overweight, every kilogram you lose could reduce your risk byimages up to 15%?

You could start by taking the Diabetes Risk Score Test to calculate your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes.  If the results concern you then consider visiting your GP and following the 10 tips below

Diabetes UK has said that ‘up to 80% of cases of type-2 diabetes could be avoided or delayed’ and risk can be reduced by up to 60% after making some basic lifestyle changes.

The statistic that should worry you is that 1 in 5 hospital patients has diabetes 

Top 10 tips to reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes

  1. Read my 5 top tips for weight loss if you consider yourself to be overweight
  2. Eat regular healthy meals to keep your blood glucose levels stable.
  3. Include all the food groups every day,  fruits and veg, starchy carbohydrates (such

    as wholemeal bread, wholegrain cereal and pasta, oats, sweet potato or brown rice), dairy (such as milk (cows, goats, sheep or soya), yoghurt, cheese), and a small amount of protein (such as lean meat, chicken, fish, tofu, eggs, lentils, quinoa and pulses).

  4. Choose low-GI snacks such as fruit, yoghurt, reduced fat cheese and wholegrain crackers or unsalted nuts. And limit sugar and sugary foods, sugary soft drinks, white bread, potatoes and white rice
  5. Limit unhealthy snacks that are high in salt, sugar or saturated fat – this is easier if you eat less processed foods and stick to fresh produce where you can.
  6. IMG_3596Watch your portion sizes. Eating smaller amounts at main meals and snacks will help with weight loss and improve blood glucose levels. Take a look at my article about portion control
  7. Stick to your recommended daily alcohol limit i.e.  2–3 units for women and 3–4 units for men. Drinking five pints of lager a week adds up to 44,200 calories over a year, the equivalent to eating 221 doughnuts. The average wine drinker in England consumes around 2,000 calories from alcohol every month.
  8. Exercise burns calories, so try and be active for at least 30 minutes, five times a week
  9. If not now, when?Set yourself goals – mark your milestones and celebrate your successes.
  10. Most importantly, start today!

Sweet potato falafels

Sweet potato falafels – serves 2

sweet-potat-falafelsThese are a great way to use protein rich chickpeas and vitamin packed sweet potatoes.  If you have some roasted butternut squash that can easily be used in place of the sweet potato. And feel free to play with the spicing by using curry powder, garam masala, turmeric or a small amount of cinnamon

My vegan cookery class guests will be making these little morsels all this week.

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

Makes 10 x 30 g bites

sp-falafels-ingredients250g raw sweet potato

½ tin (108g) drained chickpeas (keep the water)

or 25g dried chickpeas soaked overnight in water until they swell to 125g (discard the water)

35g chickpea (gram) flour


1 large garlic clove

½ tsp salt

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

½ tsp chilli flakes and smoked paprika

5g fresh coriander or parsley, chopped finely

toasted sesame seeds, to coat (optional)


Sesame sauce

1 tbsp tahini

2 tsp lemon juice

½ small garlic clove, crushed

½ tsp maple/golden syrup

salt & pepper to taste

chickpea water



mashed-falafelsPut the potato(es) into a 200° C / gas mark 6 oven and roast it until soft, it takes about 1 hour (depending on size). Or microwave for 4-5 minutes on full. Let it cool, peel it and mash the flesh with a fork. You can fry or bake the skins until crispy and serve with the falafels

Finely grind the chickpeas and garlic in a food processor.

In a large bowl, combine mashed potato, ground chickpeas and garlic, chickpea flour, herbs and spices. Mix it well and place in the fridge for an hour or two (or freezer for ½ an hour) to firm up.

patie-shapesUsing your hands, form small patties (about 30g) out of the mixture. Once shaped, press them lightly into some sesame seeds spread on a small plate. If the mixture is still too soft add a bit more chickpea flour.

Brush a small amount of olive oil onto a baking tray and place falafels on it, making sure they do not touch. Bake falafel-in-the-ovenfor 20- 25 minutes, keep an eye on them after 15 mins and flip them over if they look too brown. They are done when they are crispy and golden.

Sesame sauce

In a bowl, mix tahini with lemon juice and a splash of chickpea water.

Add maple/golden syrup, garlic and a bit more water to then it down so you can drizzle it. Taste and if necessary season with salt and pepper.



When you try this recipe, why not post your photos here?!




recipe inspired by LazyCat kitchen

Veg out restaurant review – The Peacock, Nottingham

peacockVeg out restaurant review – The Peacock, Mansfield Road, Nottingham

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

Last month the Peacock hotel, on Mansfield Road temporarily closed its doors for a refurbishment. When it re-opened on 5th September it had become a vegan dining pub. Yes that’s right its whole food menu was vegan.


Well that obviously meant I had to pay it a visit! And it seems many others had the same thought, because there was hardly a seat to be had on a Friday evening a few weeks ago.

interior-peacockEventually we squeezed ourselves in to a table for two and told that there would be a 45 minute wait and that food orders stopped at 8pm. Not a good start but maybe it shows how popular vegan food has become and how much this type of establishment is needed in Nottingham.


A quick trip to the bar to order drinks whilst perusing the menu, confirmed that (at the moment) it is only the food that is 100% vegan. So do be careful when ordering beers etc.




My review is online at Nottm Post review




np-paperIt is also in today’s (28/9) Nottingham Post

Now on to the menu, unless you paid attention before entering the pub you could be fooled into thinking their menu is like any other with classics such as fish, chips & mushy peas, chicken stuffing & mayo sandwich, lasagna with chips & garlic bread or an all day breakfast with bacon, sausage, egg etc

It does however clearly state on the front that it is a ‘vegan kitchen’, but it lacks any description of the ingredients


A quick chat with the staff answered some of the questions, but there is probably still a training need to get them all fully up to speed.


So a 45 minutes later two plates arrived with fish & chips and the asparagus, pea and onion pie with mustard mash


I was immensely pleased with my choice of fish and chips, which turned out to be tofu wrapped in seaweed, then battered and fried. Served with crispy homemade (skin on) hand cut chips and a generous portion of mushy peas and tartar sauce. As a vegetarian it is so rare to be able to have battered food because it is often cooked along side fish and meat products. So I really enjoyed the crunch and texture of the batter, which complimented the soft and salty filling. But because of the relatively high calorific value it is not something I would eat weekly.


My other half was a little disappointed with his meal. The mashed potatoes were very dry and heavy with mustard. The dish was served with roasted veg and a salad. And in his opinion the salad should have been dropped and exchanged for some vegan gravy, which may have gone someway to moisten the claggy potatoes.


On the whole I was very impressed with the food and the choices on offer. It may bother some vegans and vegetarians that words like fish, battered sausage and chicken are used. But personally I’m ok with that.


I hope that the Peacock remains as busy, vibrant and welcoming as it was on the evening we visited. And I will most certainly be back to try their ‘all day breakfast‘

Have you been to the Peacock, what did you think?

Banana oaty bars

Banana oaty bars


I first posted this recipe early last year but recently a reader, Jocelyn  asked if I’d re-post.  She said

It’s a great recipe and my daughter and I use it a lot. We haven’t made them for a while and can never remember the amounts of the ingredients. It would be great to get the recipe back!

So this is for you Jocelyn and all those  who like a healthy treat.



These make an ideal afternoon treat, when the 3pm energy slump hits and you can feel your blood sugar levels dropping, as well as your resolve not to eat that chocolate bar!

They are also a great post gym energy boost

They are low GI I and low cholesterol due to the oats, that will release their energy slowly.  As well as fibre and potassium rich bananas, great for lowering blood pressure.  The carrots are also a good source of vitamin A and have been shown to have a positive effect on eye and heart health


For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

Makes 12 generous bars, 63 calories per square


3 x (330 g) ripe mashed bananas

IMG_2739I apple,diced or grated

2 cups (200g) of oats

¼ cup (100ml) coconut/soya milk

½ cup (70g) grated carrots

1 tsp chia seeds

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp cinnamon and nutmeg (mixed)


  • Mix all the ingredients together tip in to a greased tin or baking dish
  • Bake at 175oC, 350oF or Gas mark 4 for 20- 25 minutes
  • Allow to cool slightly before slicing into 12 generous squares
  • Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days


Shreddies with Max Protein


For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

Shreddies with Max Protein

shreddiesThe other day an advert came on the TV, it was for a new version of Shreddies, the malted wheat cereal.  And it got my attention!

According to Nestles website Shreddies with Max Protein is “Delicious Crunchy Oat Granola with SHREDDIES® pieces. Made with Protein from Whole Grain Wheat & Oats. MAXimise your morning!”

But lets look beyond the marketing and crunch some data.

shreddies-p-servingA recommended 45g serving has 181calories, 11g of sugar and 5.85g protein

Now lets compare that to Original Shreddies: A recommended 40g serving has 146 calories, 6g of sugar and 4g protein


A couple of things to mention, the recommended portion size of the protein version is bigger, so the sugar content and calories will both increase.  There is almost 3 teaspoons of sugar compared to only 1½ in the original version.

The price may also be a consideration; the original Shreddies 500g box is *£2.49 (49p/100g) and has 12 servings in a box, making it 20p per portion

Protein Shreddies is sold in a 400g box for *£2.49 (61.5p/100g) and has 8 servings in a box, making it 31p per portion

Is the extra 11p per portion worth the additional 1.85g of protein?!



I don’t think it is.  My advice is to buy the original version and serve it with more milk.  A mere 50ml of semi skimmed milk or 60ml of soya milk has 1.8g of protein.



And judging by the comments on the Nestles website I’m not alone in my negative views

shreddies-p-review shreddies-p-review2



fuel-protein-bricksNestles are not the only brand to bring out a ‘Protein’ version; Fuel make protein boosted wheat biscuits.  2 biscuits ( a recommended  portion) contain 7.6 g protein and 23g of sugar ( or nearly 6 teaspoons of sugar).  They cost 22½p a portion




oatsOne of the best and cheapest protein packed cereals is porridge OATS, They contain 5.2g of protein), 0.4g of added sugar and a good hit of Fibre to boot.  A supermarkets own brand can work out as little as 6p per serving

Don’t be fooled by the advertising, you are paying extra for increased amounts of calories and sugar!



*Some supermarkets have both products on offer

Cauliflower and tomato Moroccan soup

Cauliflower and tomato Moroccan soup – serves 2

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

The weather seems to have taken a bit of a turn, so lets turn up the heat again and make a spicy soup.  In fact my vegan cookery classes will be making this all week!

cauli-soup-ingredients100g cauliflower, chopped or grated, ½ onion chopped, 3 (150g) tomatoes chopped or ½ tinned tomatoes, 1 clove of garlic chopped, 1 tsp oil, 50g red lentils, a few chilli flakes, ½ -1 tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp smoked paprika, salt and pepper, 500 ml boiling water, small handful of chopped parsley, splash of lemon juice


In a medium  pan heat the oil and add the cauliflower, onion and garlic. Fry on a low heat until they are lightly coloured and softened about 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, chilli, cinnamon, paprika, lentils and boiling water

Cook with the lid on, on a low heat for 20 minutes until the vegetables and lentils are soft.

Add more water if its too thick, taste and adjust seasoning. Leave chunky or blend with a hand blender if you like it smooth.




Serve in two bowls and scatter over the chopped parsley

“Must haves” for a healthy balanced diet

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

Do you think you eat a balanced diet? Read on and see if you still feel the same way at the end!

thai-tofu-curryEating a nutritious, balanced diet will help you improve your overall health. In particular, a balanced diet can help:

  • Reduce your risk of heart disease and high blood pressure
  • Reduce your chances of getting cancer
  • You have more energy
  • Keep you well
  • You to lose weight
  • Improve your bowel health
  • Your skin, nails and hair look healthier


The two key elements to a healthy balanced diet are:

  • Eat the right amount of food for how active you are, and
  • Eat a variety of foods – this is where the ‘balance’ comes in

The “Must haves” for a healthy balanced diet should include:

  • fruit-and-veg-225x300Plenty of fruit and vegetables – at least 5 portions a day. Think ‘A rainbow of colour’
  • Fruit like grapefruit or melon eaten before a meal can help fill you up so you are less likely to overeat on higher calorie foods
  • Small amounts of bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods (choosing wholegrain varieties when possible)
  • Some milk and dairy foods (or diary alternative like soya).  Aim for 3 servings a day.
  • Sufficient meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein i.e. Quorn, tofu and quinoa.  Aim to eat low fat protein at every main meal.
  • Just a small amount of foods high in fat, sugar and salt
  • Keep within the safe alcohol limits (14 units a week for men and women).  Its also advised to have alcohol free days
  • activity exercise walkingDrink plenty of water, about 6-8 glasses (or other fluids) every day: more if you exercise or if the weather is hot
  • Green tea contains two compounds; caffeine and catechises, that may boost your metabolism for a couple of hours.
  • Stay active – aim for 150 minutes of activity a week.  this can include classes at a gym, running, weight training.  But equally housework, gardening, walking and dancing can all count too


Some people make the mistake of thinking that because they are eating healthy food they can eat more of it.  This can lead to weight gain in the same way that eating unhealthy foods can, because all foods have calories!

Follow this portion guide and you won’t go far wrong

  • A healthy 75g serving of protein (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, tofu) is the same size as the palm of your hand
  • A medium potato is the same size as your computer mouse
  •   A serving of dairy is:
    • 200ml of milk – regardless of full-fat, semi-skimmed or skimmed.
    • 30g hard cheese including cheddar, brie or stilton (around the same size as a matchbox)
    • 150g of plain or fruit yoghurt.
  • A medium piece of fruit is the same size as your fist
  • pasta-portionA serving of rice is half a teacup or 75g (uncooked)
  • A serving of pasta is 75g uncooked which weighs 170g when cooked al dente
  • A serving of vegetables is about 80g or about 2 tablespoons
  • A teaspoon of butter or margarine is the size of the tip of your thumb.
  • A unit of alcohol is half a pint of standard strength (3 to 5% ABV) beer, lager or cider, or a single pub measure of spirit. A 175 ml glass of wine is about 2 units and alcopops are about 1.5 units. A bottle of white wine has up to 9 units and 650 calories