Butternut squash and coconut soup

Butternut squash and coconut soup – serves 2, 153 calories per serving

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website http://www.nutrition-coach.co.uk/

This is a really fibre rich soup that will keep you feeling nice and full.  By not using any oil and dry frying the vegetables it makes it very low calorie, so ideal for the 5:2ers and anyone wanting to say slim and healthy this summer.  The coconut milk, as well as adding calcium also brings some sweetness to the dish

IMG_3386330g butternut squash – chopped into small cubes, but not peeled

130g onion – chopped

300ml stock (made with half a stock cube, half a tsp vegetable powder or vegetable water)

100 ml non dairy coconut milk

large pinch of dried chilli flakes

salt and pepper to taste

1 tbls of the seeds from the butternut squash



IMG_3387In a non stick saucepan slowly dry fry the butternut squash. This means having the pan on a low light and allowing the veg to realease its own oils and liquid to help with the cooking. This will take about 6-8 minutes to begin to soften and colour

Add the chopped onions and keep turning over so all the veg colours evenly and doesn’t burn. This will take another 5 minutes

Add the stock, chilli and salt & pepper.

IMG_3390Cover with a lid and cook for 15-20 minutes until the squash is completely soft

Add the coconut milk and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Take out a few pieces of the cubed sqash, and set aside


IMG_3392Blitz the soup with a hand blender and pour into two warmed bowls


In another non stick pan add 1 tbls of butternut squash seeds IMG_3391and dry fry i.e. don’t add any oil. Have the heat low and gentle move the seeds around the pan until they start to toast and colour. Remove from the pan



Scatter the seeds over the soup and add the few cubes of reserved squash

We’re having a heatwave – so stay cool!

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website http://www.nutrition-coach.co.uk/

What does the heat mean for hydration?

IMG_3503Well if you are thirsty you are already de-hydrated so start drinking!

Two litres of water (or 8 glasses) is what you should aim for every day to keep your organs and body systems in good working order.

Of course if it’s very hot, as it is now and you are sweating or doing a physical job or exercising then you need to drink more than that.  Also consider drinking some sports drinks that can replace electrolytes lost in sweating – but be aware of the extra calories they contain.  Water has zero!

Why is it important to stay hydrated?

Our bodies are about 75 percent water and blood is nearly 80 percent water, so it is necessary to replenish what is lost every day. When water is not replaced, blood thickens, forcing the heart to work harder and raising the risk of a heart attack. Staying hydrated is therefore essential for heart function, but it also helps with alertness, controlling appetite, and generally improving all activity.

Not drinking enough can lead to:

  • A lack of concentration
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue and a general weakness of the body
  • Aching joints
  • Headaches
  • Muscle cramps

In a heat wave you also have to be careful not to get heat exhaustion or heatstroke.  Heat exhaustion can occur when the body overheats and fluid and salts are lost in sweat; resulting in feeling sick, faint and sweating heavily.  If action isn’t taken to cool down effectively it can develop into heatstroke; causing mental confusion, rapid shallow breathing and loss of consciousness.

IMG_3083Keeping properly hydrated will help reduce the risk of both conditions.  As will staying out of the sun, wearing a hat and wearing thin cotton clothing.  Don’t overexert yourself and take plenty of cooling showers or baths

Young children, the elderly and people with certain conditions like heart, circulation, kidney and diabetes are at greater risk.

Tips for healthy hydration

  • Keep a large water bottle handy to encourage you to drink water wherever and whenever. Take sips not large gulps
  • hydration foodBe sure to eat fruits and vegetables, which are great sources of water, especially cucumber, lettuce tomato, courgette, celery, spinach, melon, watermelon, pineapple, blueberry, peach, raspberry.
  • Eat bananas, which contain potassium and will help balance the salts lost in sweating
  • Eat smaller lighter meals
  • For those that don’t like drinking lots of water try coconut water
  • Have a glass of water before each meal.
  • After each trip to the bathroom, drink a glass of water to replenish your fluids.
  • Set reminders on your phone, watch, or e-mail to drink every hour.
  • Add a slice of lemon, lime, and/or mint to your water to give it some flavor without adding any extra calories.

Try this refreshing light summer salad to keep you healthy and cool

Watermelon, spinach and tomato salad with goats cheese.  Serves 4 as a main dish,       240 calories per portion

  • 4 tomatoes chopped into chunk
  • ½ a cucumber (peeled if preferred) and cut in to cubes
  • ¼ of watermelon, peeled and cut into cubes (700g)
  • 100g crumbled goats cheese
  • 200g raw spinach, washed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mixed fresh herbs, in any combination: basil, mint and parsley
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, watermelon, spinach, and herbs. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the tomato mixture and toss to coat evenly. Crumble in the goats cheese. Taste and adjust the seasoning before serving.

Baresca review

Veg Out – review of Baresca, Nottingham

Baresca on Byard Lane (the former site of Dogma) only opened this moth so I thought I’d get in there early and see how the third eatery belonging to the Perkins family has shaped up. The other two are Perkins Restaurant in Tollerton and West Bridgford’s tapas bar Escabeche

The big question is will a newly opened city-based tapas bar and market café be the place to find my definitive veggie breakfast?!




As usual my review has also appeared in the Nottingham Post (24th June)





IMG_3350On a sunny Sunday morning it was nice and quite so service was pleasant and swift. The server showed us to a window table and left us to peruse the menu. But I was too busy looking at the décor; which was utilitarian and industrial and very well done. The music created a chilled ambiance and the seating was very comfy and spacious. All in all I felt relaxed and ready to eat

IMG_3352The menu had many similarities with its cousin in West Bridgford and I was pleased to see catalan bread , which is one of my favourites. Baresca do a Spanish equivalent of a ‘fry-up’ but sadly not a veggie version. So after a few questions to the chef via the new and eager server I plumped for scrambled egg with fried onion, patatas and migas with chargrilled bread for a reasonable £5,95. They were very accommodating about my veggie requirements and between us we adjusted the dish to make it suitable by removing the Migas (which I now know to be a bacon and breadcrumb dish) and substituting it with fried mushrooms.

My companion ordered another veggie option (so we could share) the Catalan bread & eggs; chargrilled bread with tomato, topped with two fried eggs, again a very reasonable £4,95

We asked for coffees to be served with our breakfast and I was disappointed to be told that they didn’t have any soya milk, so my much loved soya cappuccino was only a dream. I felt inclined to ask them to pop over to the express supermarket a few minutes away but thought better of it!

IMG_3351The food is cooked to order so I didn’t expect it to arrive promptly, which was fine because it gave us time to soak up the Spanish vibe. When it did arrive I was eager to get stuck in. The fried eggs looked perfect as did the fried mushrooms and the smells were enough to get any stomach growling. My scrambled eggs were the right side of soft, but if you like ‘bath sponge’ eggs this is not the dish for you. The addition of fried potatoes and onions made the whole meal really savoury, and as an added extra the chef gave me some Catalan bread instead of the standard chargrilled variety. Lovely

So have I found the definitive veggie breakfast? If it was based on food alone; absolutely, the food is delicious but the lack of soya milk for my much missed cappuccino knocks it down a tad. But if they can sort that I’d be a very happy nutrition coach!

Have you eaten at Bareca recently, if so whats your opinion?  Or have you found a local restaurant that has  really good veggie options? 

Pea green smoothie

Pea green smoothie recipe – serves one,  330 calories

Peas are great, not only do they contain a healthily amount of fibre but are one of the most protein packed of all vegetables.  That and their natural sweetness makes them a great addition to a breakfast or lunch protein smoothie.  The avocado also adds some valuable omega rich fat and plenty of vitamins and minerals

So what are you waiting for; get blending!

IMG_290840 g frozen peas

Large handful of sliced spring greens, spinach or kale

1 thumb sized piece of fresh ginger

½ a banana

¼ (45g) of an avocado

1 tbls oats

1 tsp chia seeds

1 tbls (15g) sunflower seeds nuts

enough coconut milk to cover the ingredients (100 ml)


Place all the ingredients in the blender, making sure the liquid is added last.  Blend until smooth.










This makes a really thick smoothie that you will need to eat with a spoon.  I find this really helpful as it slows down your eating and makes you think of the smoothie as a meal. Your brain will be convinced you have eaten a high calorie meal and you will feel fuller for longer

The fibre and protein in the oats and seeds will also make you feel fuller for longer

But take your time; remember this is a meal mot a drink!


If you want to reduce the calories a tad then take out the sunflower seeds, the overall calorie content will reduce to 240.

Vitamin D

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website http://www.nutrition-coach.co.uk/

IMG_3083Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins for our overall health, but many people in the UK are not getting enough. It is so important that our bodies make it by itself – but only after skin has been exposed to sufficient sunlight.  It’s named the sunshine vitamin for good reason!

As we move into (hopefully) a warm sunny summer, we will have used up approximately five months’ worth of stored vitamin D in our bodies over winter.  Meaning many of us are possibly vitamin D deficient.

Verity Cowley 6.7.15


I was asked to appear on BBC Radio Nottingham on 6 July to talk about this very subject with Verity Cowley.  Here’s an audio clip of the interview

Why is vitamin D so important?

The main job of vitamin D is to keep the right amount of calcium and phosphorus in our blood? These are the 2 nutrients that work together to make our bones strong, so they don’t become brittle and break easily. If we don’t have vitamin D in our bodies, only a small amount of the calcium from our diet can be absorbed by our body, and only a little more than half of phosphorus is absorbed.

Who is at risk of not getting enough vitamin D?

The current advice is that most people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need by getting enough sun and eating a healthy balanced diet. However, the Department of Health says the following people may be at risk of vitamin D deficiency:

  • all pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • all children aged under five years old
  • all people aged 65 or over
  • people who are not exposed to much sun – for example people who are housebound and those who cover up their skin for cultural reasons
  • people who have darker skin because their bodies absorb less vitamin D

How can we get vitamin D?

First and foremost expose your skin to 10 minutes of sun a day.  This has to be without IMG_3374sunscreen, so don’t do this when the sun is at its strongest. Certain foods are also high in vitamin D, including oily fish (such as salmon and sardines), eggs, milk/non dairy milk, orange juice. In the UK, infant formula and fat spreads are fortified with vitamin D. It is also added to other foods such as breakfast cereals.

Vitamin D is also available in supplement form.

A vitamin D packed day – A vitamin D food day could look like this:

IMG_3349For breakfast fortified cereal with skimmed milk and a sliced banana.  With a glass of orange juice

Lunch: Scrambled eggs on toast

Dinner: Poached salmon, steamed potatoes and vegetables


When the sun shines get out there and absorb some rays! 

Pea and horseradish dip

Pea and horseradish dip

serves two, 56 calories per serving

IMG_3314Peas are great, not only do they contain a healthily amount of fibre but are one of the most protein packed of all vegetables.  That and their natural sweetness makes them a great  choice for this nutrias and protein rich dish

The peas and the Skyr will help keep you fuller for longer


80g frozen peas

¼ of a garlic clove

IMG_3310small piece of fresh ginger or ½ tsp ground ginger

or ½ teaspoon of garlic and ginger paste

small pinch of dried chili flakes

10 mint leaves

1 tsp minced horseradish (not the creamed version)

14g of Skyr yoghurt (or you can use thick Greek yoghurt or a vegan yoghurt)

salt and pepper to taste


IMG_3311Steam the peas for 2 – 3 minutes (or microwave for 1 minute)

Add the blanched peas to a food processor along with all the other ingredients.

Blend until you have the consistency you like. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper

Serve with a fresh mint leaf and some chopped up raw veggies or crisp Ryvitas




Two Ryvita’s will add 60 calories and a healthy portion of raw veggies like carrots, cauliflower and red peppers will add approximately 70 calories

This versatile dip can be used as a quick coating for cooked pasta.  Just tip in into the pan of cooked drained pasta (reserving some of the pasta water) add some of the pasta water to make it a nice coating consistency and serve with lost of freshly ground black pepper

The ‘F’ word – Fibre

The ‘F’ word – Fibre

Eating food with lots of fibre will help you feel full for longer, so you’re more likely to stay within your calorie limit.

Fibre keeps your bowels healthy and can help reduce cholesterol. Most people in the UK eat only about 14g of fibre a day, but should aim to eat at least 18g.

IMG_2435There is both soluble and insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre can be digested by the body and increases the water content of your poo.  It comes from fruits and veg, oats, lentils and beans.  Insoluble fibre absorbs water but passes through your body almost undigested.  It was previously known as ‘roughage’.  Foods containing insoluble fibre like wholegrain cereals, dried fruits and sweetcorn make you feel fuller for longer and bulk out waste products making you want to go to the loo

Word of caution!

Increase your fibre intake gradually, though, as a sudden increase can cause cramp and constipation. And make sure to drink plenty of water – aim for 2 litres a day – to avoid these potential side effects.









Here are some easy ways to boost the fibre in your snacks and meals:


cerealAdding some fibre to your breakfast will help you stay feeling fuller until lunch and reduce the urge for a mid- morning snack.

  • Swap white bread for wholemeal or wholegrain varieties.
  • Swap sugary cereals for high-fibre cereals such as wholegrain wheat cereals, unsweetened muesli, or porridge oats. Remember to check the salt content.

Lunch and dinner

uncooked lentils

uncooked lentils

Vegetables are a good source of fibre, so try swapping some of the things on your plate for more veg. Aim for two portions of veg on your plate at dinner.

  • Swap white rice and pasta for wholemeal versions – simply doing this can double the amount of fibre you’ve eaten.
  • Incorporate pulses – beans, lentils and peas – into your meals. They’re a cheap, low-fat source of fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals. Add pulses to soups, casseroles, rice and pasta, or serve baked beans (choose reduced-salt and sugar varieties) on wholemeal toast (with no butter or spread).


Stock up on healthier snacks containing fibre such as:

  • IMG_2609Fruit – fresh, dried, canned or frozen. Don’t forget to eat the skin on fruits such as apples and pears.
  • Veg sticks – carrot, celery or cucumber sticks or a packet of sugar snap peas. You can enjoy these low- calorie snacks if you feel hungry in between your meals.
  • Reduced-fat hummus. With veg sticks, wholegrain crispbreads or pitta bread. You’ll get the fibre from both the veg and the bread.
  • Air-popped, plain popcorn. Homemade is best, to avoid the high fat, sugar or salt content in some commercial brands. Don’t add any sugar or butter.

protein sources










So will you be talking more about the ‘F’ word?!

Krocus Kozanis teas

Krocus Kozanis teas

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website http://www.nutrition-coach.co.uk/

IMG_3165I was recently sent some new herbal teas and a packet of saffron threads to try, with a request to publish my findings. They are made by a company I’ve not come across before called Krocus Kazanis products, and although the teas are all different flavours they also all contain Greek red saffron

So without further ado please let me share with you my thoughts


IMG_3166Herbal tea with rosemary, thyme and saffron – very minty, but pleasant. I would suggest that ‘spearmint’ appears in the title as it is the first ingredient




Herbal tea with honey, orange and saffron – smells delicious and syrupy tastes like it smells. One of my favourites


Herbal tea with mint, lemongrass and saffron – a really refreshing cup of tea with a very soft and delicate aftertaste. It was definitely my favourite and made a perfect ‘first of the day’ cuppa


IMG_3181Green tea with ginger, liquorice and saffron – nice taste but I didn’t get the individual flavours. For me it needs a bit more punch



Herbal tea with cinnamon, clove and saffron – I love the smell but the taste is subtle


Herbal tea with lemon verbena, sage and saffron – the sage is quite strong and therefore has a slight medicinal quality about it


IMG_3234Black tea with lemon, spearmint and saffron – this is my second favourite. it had a lovely smooth taste and the flavours are very well balanced. I’d be happy to drink this throughout the day. But it would be especially good after an evening meal


The saffron strands make a great addition to rice and pasta dishes as it offers a subtle taste and a hint of colour. Perfect for disguising wholemeal carbs so all the family will eat it and benefit from an increase in fibre


IMG_3317So why has this company taken to adding a very expensive spice in to their teas. Their literature that is neatly folded in to each box explains that… well actually it doesn’t explain why this spice has been added. It states that saffron can lend colour, smell and taste to a dish but not what it can specifically lend to the teas. The website is a bit more informative and mentions some general benefits

My observation is that its golden colour comes through in to the tea making it a very rich, colourful and appealing drink.

In general saffron is an excellent antioxidant, making it good for eye health due to high levels of carotenoids. There is some limited evidence available to indicate that saffron’s high antioxidant levels may be able to help combat obesity-related metabolic disorders such as hyperlipidemia, diabetes and cardiovascular disease

There are also some early studies that indicate saffron could also help improve symptoms of depression

IMG_3168Would I recommend these teas to my friends and family; yes I would. They come in great packaging and we all know we eat (and drink) with our eyes first. The flavours are quite unusual and for the most part they work. And the addition of saffron could help boost your antioxidant levels. The cost on their website is £3.49 for a box of 10 individually wrapped tea bags. Making them ideal to take away with you on holiday or to meetings, or as a gift.

You can also buy a variety pack for just over £24 (or organic for just under £28) – for that you get all 7 varieties (10 in each box) and a box of saffron. That represents much better value

If you are interested in trying or buying some of Krocus Kazanis products, then follow this link to their website www.greeksaffron.co.uk

Quinoa salad

Quinoa salad

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website http://www.nutrition-coach.co.uk/

the finished dish

the finished dish

This recipe is the perfect dish for any vegetarian or vegan as the quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a complete protein; meaning it contains all the essential amino acids a person needs.  This is very important to vegans and vegetarians as they often have to combine foods to get that balance i.e. beans on toast!

It is also low in calories due to the large amount of high nutrient but low calorie vegetables that bulk out the dish to create a very filling meal.  Making it perfect for anyone on a calorie reducing regime like the 5:2 fast diet

My recipe has now appeared in the latest addition (June) of Complete health magazine.  So why not have a look at their healthy magazine whilst enjoying my healthy salad

Serves: 4,  200 calories per serving

  • IMG_3176400ml water or vegetable stock
  • 175g quinoa
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon soy sauce or ½ tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 2 bunches spring onions, diced
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 30g each of fresh parsley and mint, chopped


Bring a saucepan with 400ml water or stock to the boil and add the quinoa. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Once cooked* allow to cool to room temperature; fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine olive oil, soy sauce or mustard, lemon juice, chilli, tomatoes, cucumber, spring onions, carrots and parsley and mint. Stir in the cooled quinoa.


uncooked and cooked quinoa

* the quinoa is cooked when a little curly sprout appears on the grain





To make the salad more substantial add one of the following

200g cooked quorn,

1 tin of drained and rinsed chickpeas,

3 hard boiled eggs, sliced,

2 ripe avocados, chopped

and for non-veggies: 200g diced cooked chicken or grilled salmon




Go nuts for nuts

Go nuts for nuts 

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website http://www.nutrition-coach.co.uk/

IMG_2704Packed with protein, fibre and essential fats, nuts are nutrient packed gems. A golf ball-sized portion (about 28g) of unsalted nuts makes an energy boosting and mood enhancing snack and, unlike some less healthy options, supplies a mix of important vitamins and minerals. Due to their high fat content they make you feel satisfied and don’t raise your blood sugar levels too rapidly.  They are also great mixed in with some healthy seeds

But watch out that golf ball size could have about 180 calories. All nuts have different nutritional and health benefits – find your perfect snack partner with my guide…




Nuts are an allergen to some people, so before you add them to dishes etc please make sure that no one is allergic to them.  See my blog about allergies and intolerance

imagesOn Wednesday 27th May I went to  BBC radio Nottingham to talk to Mark Denninson about nuts and whether they are good or bad.  Have a listen to the 5 minute interview.  No guesses for my viewpoint!

If like some people you struggle to digest nuts (or seeds) or they give you tummy troubles, then try soaking them (and draining afterwards) for 8 hours or so or the night before.  It really helps to make them more digestible as soaking breaks down the phytic acid and neutralises the enzyme inhibitors.


IMG_2705If you avoid dairy, calcium-rich almonds are a good choice to ensure you’re getting enough of this bone-building mineral. Almonds are also high in vitamin E, a nutrient which helps to improve the condition and appearance of your skin. For some extra heart help them with their skin intact, because the almond’s skin is full of heart-protecting compounds called flavonoids.


Brazil nuts

Ideal for those with low thyroid function, Brazils are a good source of the mineral selenium, which we need to produce the active thyroid hormone. Selenium also supports immunity and helps wounds to heal. People with depression often have low selenium levels. You only need three or four Brazil nuts a day to get all the selenium you need


Because they contribute a good level of protein and are a useful source of minerals like iron and zinc, cashews make an excellent choice if you’re following a vegetarian or vegan diet. They’re also rich in the mineral magnesium, which is thought to improve recall and delay, age-related memory loss. Add a handful to a vegetarian stir-fry or try my homemade nut-butter on crackers or bread.



By far the nut with the lowest fat and calories, chestnuts are rich in starchy carbs and fibre, and in their raw form are a good source of vitamin C. They’re lower in protein than other nuts but make a useful contribution of B vitamins including B6. Ground chestnut flour can be used as a gluten-free flour for cakes and bakes, or buy fresh and roast for a tasty snack.



IMG_3300Choose hazelnuts if you’re concerned about high levels of homocysteine, an amino acid which has been associated with heart problems as well as conditions like Parkinsons. Hazelnuts are a good source of folate, which plays a key role in keeping homocysteine within normal levels.  Folate is also good if you have aneamia



With one of the highest fat contents, macadamias should be eaten sparingly, but they work well in both savoury and sweet recipes. Although high in fat, they do supply good levels of the healthy mono-unsaturated variety. They’re a rich source of fibre and make a useful contribution of minerals including magnesium, calcium and potassium. Buy in small batches and store carefully to avoid rancidity.



Heart-friendly pecans are packed with plant sterols, useful compounds that are effective at lowering cholesterol levels. Pecans are also antioxidant-rich which helps prevent the plaque formation that causes hardening of the arteries. They’re rich in oleic acid, the healthy fat found in olives and avocado. As a good source of vitamin B3 pecans are the perfect option if you’re fighting fatigue because this vitamin helps us access the energy in our food.



Being especially rich in vitamin B6, which is important for keeping hormones balanced and healthy, pistachios are a good option for those with problem periods. They’re the only nut to contain reasonable levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that play an important role in protecting the eyes. Pistachios also contain potassium and fibre – in fact a 30g serving has more than three times that supplied by the equivalent weight of plums.

Try and buy the shelled version, because removing them from their shells takes more time therefore you are less likely to over eat and consume more calories



Their excellent antioxidant content means walnuts are useful in the fight against cancer. They’re also a good source of mono-unsaturated, heart-friendly fats, and studies show they help to lower the bad form of cholesterol (LDL). They’re also rich in omega-3 (needed for a healthy brain function – they look like a brain*), so they’re a great alternative if you don’t eat oily fish.



*Foods that look like the body part they help


WalnuIMG_3301ts – brain (omega 3)

Celery – bones (silcon, sodium and magnesium)

Carrot – eyes (beta-carotene)

Ginger – stomach (phytochemical ginerol)

Sweet potato – pancreas (vitamin B6)

Avocado – uterus (hormone balance)

Swiss chard – the circulation system, veins


So whats your thoughts on nuts – Friend or foe?  

And if ‘friend; whats you’re favourite nut