Sugar – why is it always in the news?!

Sugar – why is it always in the news?!

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

There is now a war on sugar and probably for good reason.  But the type I mean is the white IMG_4915stuff, either in its pure form or added in large quantities to cakes, biscuits, sweets, chocolates, tomato sauce, soups, cereals in fact in many, many mass produced foods.  The manufacturers euphemistically call it ‘free sugar’.  A high sugar diet  could increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer

Many of you have already decided to say ‘No’ to sugar and are looking at ways to reduce it.  As a nutrition coach some of my clients are coming to me and asking the same question and fruit and veglooking for quick ways to cut back on sugar.  They often decide that cutting out fruit is the answer. I don’t think so; fructose is the natural sugar present in fruits and vegetables.  These are also sugars but come with vitamins, minerals and fibre and therefore should form part of a healthy balanced diet



Sugar WWThis article has featured in the West Bridgford Wire



So what’s out there to help us make sure our families don’t consume too much sugar? Change4Life, part of Public Health England haimagesve recently launched a  ‘Sugar Smart’ App.  A new campaign that highlights the high levels of sugar found in children’s everyday foods and drinks,  that hopes to encourage parents to get “Sugar Smart” and take control of their children’s sugar intake


Have you downloaded the App yet;  If so what do you think?

A local journalist, Jenny Thomas contacted me to get my views on the App, here’s an extract of the interview; it’s just over a minute long


_75844736_2010623_daily_added_sugar_v3One of the reasons why sugar has been in the news is that tooth decay is the single biggest reason for hospital admissions for children under 3.




Try these simple tips and swaps for helping to reduce the sugar intake of the whole family

  •  Instead of sugary fizzy drinks or sugary squash, go for water, lower fat milks and no added sugar drinks.
  • Remember that even unsweetened fruit juice is sugary, so limit the amount you have to no more than 150ml a day, and if possible add water.
  • If you prefer fizzy drinks, try diluting fruit juice with sparkling water.
  • Swap cakes or biscuits for malt loaf with mashed banana or rice cake with peanut butter.
  • If you take sugar in hot drinks or add sugar to your breakfast cereal, gradually reduce the amount until you can cut it out altogether.
  • Rather than spreading jam, marmalade, syrup, treacle or honey on your toast, try a sliced banana or lower-fat cream cheese instead.
  • sugar-in-sweetsCheck nutrition labels to help you pick the foods with less added sugar, or go for the low-sugar version.
  • To convert grams to teaspoons divide by 4 i.e. 20g = 5 tsp
  • Try halving the sugar you use in your recipes – it works for most things except jam, meringues and ice cream.
  • Choose tins of fruit in juice rather than syrup.
  • Choose wholegrain breakfast cereals, but not those coated with sugar or honey.

Another tip is to be mindful, by that I mean be aware of what you are doing.  Before you automatically reach for a biscuit to go with your tea ask yourself do you really need it or is it just a habit.  Have you always added sugar to your porridge or would a mashed banana be just as good.  Do think consciously and you may find you don’t need all that sugary stuff

I explain more about mindfulness in this little clip when Jenny Thomas interviewed me

(Its 2 ½ minutes long)


A sugar tax

This campaign is gathering momentum and will probably reach a decision after the much awaited obesity strategy is published next month.  If products that we buy have a high sugar content should a tax be paid by the individual, shops and supermarkets or manufactures?

What do you think; would a sugar tax work, and who pays?

IMG_4811The NHS is already proposing a 20% tax on all sugary drinks and foods in NHS cafes to be introduced by 2020.

Is a tax necessary? Personally I think something needs to be done to tackle the obesity epidemic

One in five children is obese by the time they finish primary school. Include those classed as overweight and the figure jumps to one in three.

Children consume three times as much sugar as they should – with a third of that coming from fizzy drinks. Sugar taxes have been applied in other countries and there is evidence it will work here.

Veg out, restaurant review – Zaap, Nottingham

Veg out – Zaap – did they Thai hard to please!

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

IMG_4784As a vegetarian, eating out can be a bit of a nightmare for me, but generally I do really well when I try Asian cuisine. So I have high or should that be ‘Thai‘ hopes when I visited Zapp, which promised Thai street food in the heart of Nottingham


IMG_5195My review of the veggie options at Zaap is in today’s Nottingham Post (27/1/16) and on their website Nottingham Post Zaap review

They have certainly gone to town on trying to recreate a typical street scene, and you will either love it for its kitchness or hate it for its tackiness. I actually loved IMG_4858it. I managed to book a table on a busy Saturday night for 8 people. We were seated very quickly and then left to look at the extensive menu. But really all we did was look around at all the artwork, the open kitchen and play about on the tuk tuk bike. But eventually we concentrated on the menu and made our choices


I’d previously phoned ahead and asked about veggie options and they said most recipes could be adapted, just ask the server. So I did!

I ordered edamame (Soya) beans – they look a bit like mange tout and are full of protein and are delicious. A good start. For my main course I decided on Pad Pak Kanar – and for those that don’t know its Stir fried Spring Greens with oyster sauce, garlic and chilli, served with jasmine rice. I spoke to the server and explained that I was veggie and that for me that meant no fish or meat so the oyster sauce was out. She said it would be made with veggie sauce and added tofu. Happy days!

My fellow guests were amazed at the choice so took their time to order. But eventually settled on corn cakes, tiger prawns in batter, Thai fish cakes, spring rolls and chicken skewers with satay sauce. The beauty of this type of food (unless you are veggie) is that you can share and mix and match.

For main course they ordered various meat and fish noodle dishes a few fish curries all washed down with copious amount of beer! They also have a good selection of non IMG_4785alcohol drinks., like the An Chan Soda – 
Butterfly pea juice with soda water and lemon juice. Very tasty and not too sweet


The service is exceptionally quick and many of the mains arrived within a few minutes of the starters so the table was groaning under the weight of all that tasty food

From a nutrition point of view many of the dishes are either fried or deep fried making them quite calorific and a bit oily. But they nearly all came with salad of some description. The rice was white jasmine or stirfied but I would have loved to have seen and eaten some wholegrain rice, for extra fibre and a lower GI

All of us really enjoyed our food, it was very hot and spicy – even the mild ones had a decent kick so be aware when ordering the dishes with a spicy symbol – they may blow your head off!

Zaap is a place best experienced in a group. It has lots to keep your attention and interest, the service is quick and efficient, the prices are reasonable. And there is sufficient vegetarian choices, if you explain exactly what you can and can’t eat. I shall definitely return

Shrek the smoothie!

Shrek the smoothie!

smoothieIn celebration of the fact that this week is ‘National Breakfast’ week and Veganuary, I thought I’d share with you my verdant green smoothie;  ‘Shrek the smoothie’ has an intense mineral hit thanks to the greens.  Smoothies are a good choice if you don’t fancy whoegrain cereal like porridge or weetabix, and you haven’t got time to prepare beans on toast.  This is a quick, tasty and nutritious drink that you can have on the go if time is short

  • IMG_2210240ml of unsweetened almond/soya/coconut or skimmed milk
  • 2 large handfuls of fresh washed spinach or kale (frozen is also fine and it means you can dispense with the ice cubes)
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed/linseed or sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 3 ice cubes
  • 1 banana or a handful of fresh pineapple cut in to chunks



Place all the ingredients in a blender or nutribullet, starting with milk first

Pulse on high until completely blended.

If you want it colder add a few more ice cubes.

Do you have favourite smoothie recipe, I’d love to hear about it

Should the day start with breakfast?

Should the day start with breakfast?

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

From the 24th January you have seven days in which to celebrate national breakfast week; It is an ideal opportunity to promote the wealth of wonderful breakfast produce on offer around the UK.

Breakfast comes from the word ‘break fast.’- the first meal you have after a long period of abstinence. So yes it is important but it doesn’t have to be eaten immediately after waking up. Some people’s digestion is a bit sluggish and like me they might like to start the day with a glass of hot water and lemon; there are lots of claims about the health benefits of IMG_3797consuming this drink from weight loss, to detox, to liver cleanse. I drink it because I like the taste and it is gentle on the stomach.  An hour or so later I then have my breakfast; usually homemade muesli, porridge, or scrambled eggs on toast. Protein is great for keeping you full until lunch and eggs are particularly good and could help you to eat fewer calories for the rest of the day

Eggs are a great way to start the day.  Being a ‘complete’ source of protein, they contain all eight essential amino acids; the ones you can’t make in your body and must obtain from the foods you eat.  As well as protein they are also high in essential fatty acids, both of which have a satiety value that helps keep you feeling fuller for longer.

A 2008 study (International Journal of Obesity August 5, 2008) supports previous research which showed that people who ate eggs for breakfast felt more satisfied and ate fewer calories at the following meal.


If I had a choice between a sugary cereal or nothing at all, I’d probably take nothing at all and IMG_2182about 10ish I’d have a handful of nuts and seeds or a rice cake and peanut butter (not always with pomegranate seeds but they are delicious!) or wholemeal toast; all would give me slow releasing energy and good protein. But if that weren’t possible I’d have a small bowl of the sugary cereal with some fresh fruit and some protein and calcium rich milk (or non dairy alternative). Doing so would however potentially give me up to 3 teaspoons of sugar



Extracts of this blog have appeared in todays (23/1/16) Nottingham Post, its also available online at Nottingham Post national Breakfast Week

Some people who like a sweet start to the day and will often have a coffee with a muffin on the way to work. What they may not appreciate is the muffin could have up toIMG_4811 10 teaspoons of sugar and 500 calories. That’s on top of a 250 calorie and 5 teaspoon ladened latte

To put that in contact, it is recommended that our daily sugar consumption should be no more than 25g or 6 teaspoons


I prefer a savoury start to the day and as a treat love having a IMG_4458lazy brunch at a café. My favourite place so far has been Bills restaurant In Nottingham; its rather pricey so it wouldn’t be my regular haunt. A more affordable and equally tasty place is The Kiosk in Sherwood. Their Middle Eastern Fried Egg sandwich is delicious and very reasonably priced


Do you go out for breakfast, if so where’s your favourite place, or are you a breakfast skipper and prefer to have just a cuppa?





The truth about detox!


For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

For many January is all about change and regrouping and trying to banish those Christmas excesses, so we join a gym, we make new years resolutions and we may try some form of detox.

imagesThis is a busy time for me because new clients want to make a fresh start and come to me hoping for a quick fix, a magic pill or a diet that will have then dropping the pounds in no time.  My friend and fellow therapist Misia Smith of Soothe Therapies also felt that at this time of year her clients wanted some unctuous lotions and potions that would rejuvenate, moisturise and rehydrate skin and cells that had been mistreated over the festive period

Detox February-March16


So we decided the best course of action was to help our clients and potential clients by dispelling some of the detox myths.  Our full article, which appeared in Nottingham Local News can be read at


I believe there is no quick fix when it comes to permanent weight loss; we can all starve ourselves for a few days to fit in to that ever so slightly tight dress; we can also eat watermelon, grapefruit, cabbage, or whatever is the latest fad at every meal for about a week in order to drop half a stone.  But the weight will inevitably creep back on (and then some!)

imagesSo I always advocate small but permanent changes, starting with adding more veg and fruit to your diet.  Why, because we need to help the body to do what it does properly and antioxidants are the key

Your body (via the skin, gut, liver and kidney) constantly filters out, breaks down and excretes toxins and waste products like alcohol, medications, dead cells, chemicals from pollution and bacteria.

IMG_3011In a nutshell, If you want to maintain peak health then the best approach is a balanced diet, with at least five portions (80g) of vegetables and fruit a day; small portions of wholegrain carbs, regular amounts of protein like lean meat, fish, beans and pulses, eggs, tofu and dairy products. Drink plenty of water (2 litres) and moderate your consumption of alcohol and caffeine.  And have the occasional treat like dark chocolate

And importantly quit smoking

To help your body do what it does naturally try and incorporate the following into your meals




  • Fibre from vegetables and fruit and wholegrains, like pasta, rice and oats
  • A rainbow of colours’ – a wide variety of vegetables and fruit will provide your body with plenty of antioxidants (vitamin C, beta carotene and vitamin E), B vitamins, calcium, and trace minerals to protect your organs from damage and help them do their job effectively.


chopped veggies

chopped veggies

  • Orange and red vegetables and fruits are especially high in antioxidants i.e. berries, sweat potatoes, red peppers, tomatoes, oranges, butternut squash, chilli, carrots, apricots
  • Some green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale are also rich in beta-carotene.
  • Almonds, safflower, corn and soybean oils, mangos and nuts are all high in vitamin E
  • Keep hydrated – it helps the kidneys to work effectively. Urine should be a pale straw colour
  • Limit the amount of processed foods you eat (these are often high in salt) to promote water loss. Cranberries, celery, asparagus and herbal teas can also help with water loss
  • Green tea is full of antioxidants and could help with a natural detox
  • If you are looking to lose weight then consider reducing portion sizes, and don’t forget to be active every day.


The one supplement that keeps cropping up when you mention detox is Milk-thistle or Salymarin. However if you regularly include the above foods into your meals and snacks it is generally unnecessary to take additional supplements

I’d love to hear your stories – Have you tried detoxing, if so what did you do and did it work?

Tomato and butter bean bruschetta

Tomato and butter bean bruschetta, serves 4 as a starter – 200 calories per portion

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website


Today is Blue Monday, allegedly the most depressing IMG_1709
day of the year, so help fight off the winter blues by making this simple yet tasty bruschetta dish.  It contains lots of minerals, antioxidants and wholemeal carbs to lift your spirits.  And for good measure you could sprinkle some chopped Brazil nuts on top for their mood enhancing selenium content

This is one of my favourite starters,  It is really simple to make and any left overs can be used to make a great salad when mixed with some left over quinoa, wholemeal pasta, giant couscous.  The beans you add can vary according to whats in your cupboard, so feel free to add cannellini beans, chickpeas, borlotti, red kidney beans etc.  And of course you can also vary the bread you use, as long as it is a rustic style like a sourdough, unsliced wholemeal or multigrain etc


1 tin of butter beans

20 chopped fresh cherry tomatoes

2 tbls chopped sundried tomatoes

1 tbls oil from the sundried tomatoes

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

salt & pepper

2 tbls green olives, pitted and chopped

1 plump garlic clove, crushed

½ tbls olive oil

Ground black pepper

8 fresh basil – torn

4 slices of sourdough


  • IMG_1702Drain and rinse the butter beans and place in a bowl add the chopped fresh and sundried tomatoes.  Pour in the oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary
  • Make the tapenade by blending the olives and garlic clove with a stick blender or nutribullet , add pepper to taste
  • In the meantime heat a hot griddle pan and rub the sliced sourdough bread with the oil and place on to the hot griddle pan.  Grill on both sides until crispy and marked with the hot pan lines.


Now assemble the dish by placing a slice of the toasted bread on to a plate, spread some of the tapenade over and top with the butter bean and tomato mixture.  Finally , sprinkle over a few torn basil leaves.  Repeat with the other 3 slices and serve

If you have your own version of this recipe I’d love to hear about it

Blue Monday – 18th Jan 2016

Blue Monday – 18th Jan 2016

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

Monday the 18th of January is considered to be the most depressing day of the year! When the bank balance looks pretty low, the New Years resolutions are fading and the temperature is dropping.

IMG_5039If you are feeling down don’t reach for the pills, or the booze (especially if you are committed to dry January) or the last of the Christmas chocs. Instead reach for food that can lift your mood and spirits


Fruits and vegetables are an obvious choice as they contain lots of mood enhancing vitamins – go for variety and colour. 3 Brazil nuts a day contain all your selenium needs – a vital mineral that helps us to feel happy. I’d IMG_0847also add oily fish, walnuts or flaxseeds to your diet for the good omega 3 fats they all contain. This good fat has been shown to lift our mood. Peas and marmite both contain B vitamins – these have also been show to have mood boosting properties

Wholemeal carbs like pasta, bread and rice also contain



valuable amounts of serotonin that can induce a feeling of calmness


And don’t forget the great outdoors; being outside is not only goof for our heart health and reducing feelings of isolations but it’s a chance for us to gain some much needed Vitamin D – also known as the sunshine vitamin

My Meat free Monday Blog will be a recipe that has lots of mood enhancing ingredients, to make you feel more uplifted. 


But in the meantime why not counter that sad feeling by incorporating some of the above ingredients in to your diet this weekend and here’s how

  • add some fresh or dried fruit to your wholegrain cereal (weetabix, porridge, all bran, shredded wheat etc)
  • IMG_2482make a smoothie using milk (or non dairy like coconut milk) and add some kale, carrots, avocado, banana, ginger
  • for lunch have scrambled egg with some smoked salmon on wholemeal toast or Ryvitas
  • for an afternoon snack munch on some walnuts or brazil nuts for great omega 3s and serotonin
  • and for your evening meal try a mixed veg stirfy with buckwheat noodles (not forgetting to add some protein and vitamin B rich peas!)

Have you got any ideas for lifting your mood and avoiding Blue Monday? 





Miso soup

Miso soup – 1 serving 80 calories 1.7g fat

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

This month I promised to create more recipes to support #Veganuary2016, so how about this vegan miso soup;  Its simple quick and very satisfying.  And if you are watching your weight this month this is the perfect low calorie lunch option for all you 5:2 fasters


IMG_21332 tsp miso paste (make sure it is suitable for veggies and vegans i.e. no bonito flakes)

1 mug of boiling water

25g soft tofu – cubed

1 sping onion – finely sliced

few flakes of dried chilli

20 (large handful) spinach leaves or 1 Nori leaf, shredded

  • Mix the miso paste with the hot water in the serving bowl or mug
  • Add in the cubed tofu, chilli flakes, spinach leaves and sliced onion
  • Stir until the leaves are wilted and soft

IMG_2893Optional extras – ½ tsp toasted sesame seeds (40 calories), few drops sesame oil (10 calories), 28g/small handful unsalted cashew nuts (150 calories), 2 sliced mushrooms (24 calories), soba noodles (28g will add 90 calories)

Dry January

Dry January – will you be taking the pledge this month?

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

11223739_10206568202381460_2339704874759701701_nThe New year often means new years resolutions but gaining in popularity is joining a national campaigns like ‘Dry January’. And although we are already 8 days in to this month it’s not too late to join the club.  It’s very simple for the rest of this month you say no to alcohol.  Not only could it save you pounds but it could also save you pounds of the weight variety too.

11947578_10153306259368089_8620443212190584547_nYou can simply stop drinking or do it for a good cause; has all the details and shows how any money raised will be used by the charity ‘Alcohol concern’ to help combat alcohol related issues

So let me give you some stats in case you need convincing that being alcohol free in January is a good thing

  • More than 9 million people in England drink more than the recommended daily limits – Do you know what they are?  have a look further down the page to see if you are right*
  • In 2012 there were 8,367  alcohol-related deaths in the UK
  • An estimated 7.5 million people are unaware of the damage their drinking could be causing
  • Deaths from liver disease have reached record levels, rising by 20% in a decade

*The new recommended maximum weekly units are 14  for both men and women (as at 8/1/16).

alcohol limits 2016


England’s chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies has advised that people abstain from drinking at least two days a week and that the weekly maximum intake of alcohol for men be reduced to the same level as for women i.e. 14 units a week

(image courtesy of BBC News)





IMG_5017The Nottingham Post contacted me in the New year about Dry January.  The full interview is on their webiste Dry January.  In it I state that cutting back on alcohol is a good idea at any time of the year.  But often a more manageable solution is to have alcohol free days every week and try and limit the drinking to the weekends.  The article can also be read online at Nottingham Post taking a break from booze



Cutting back on the booze can also be good for your waistline. The average wine drinker in England drinks around 2,000kcal from alcohol every month

Drinking five pints of lager a week adds up to 44,200kcal over a year, equivalent to eating 221 doughnuts**



There has been some calls for drinks to display the calorie content as well as the units of alcohol

What do you think; would that curb your drinking?

If you knew a pint of your favourite beer contained over 200 calories, or that bottle of red not only had 11 units but also 800+ calories would it affect how much you drank.  It would me.  That’s why Drink Aware have a Unit & Calorie Calculator.  Just enter your drinks of choice and it will work it all out for you,  there is a handy App too

** survey in March 2009 by YouGov for the Department of Health

Tips to avoid weight gain

To reduce the chances of gaining weight from drinking alcohol, follow these tips from the British Nutrition Foundation:

  • Stick to your daily recommended units – men and women should not regularly drink more than 2 units of alcohol a day. As an indication, a pint of lager (ABV 5.2%) and a 250ml glass of wine (ABV 12%) both contain 3 units of alcohol.
  • IMG_5039Alternate an alcoholic drink with a glass of water – this will help to prevent you becoming dehydrated.
  • Don’t drink on an empty stomach. If you do reach for snacks while drinking, opt for healthier options – like olives, unsalted nuts, natural popcorn, hummus and pitta bread
  • Drinking in rounds can mean you end up drinking more than you intended. Opt out IMG_5053and drink at your own pace.
  • Try cutting down with a friend, as you’ll be more likely to stick to it with moral support.
  • Eat a healthier dinner before you start drinking. Order or cook before you start drinking so you’re not tempted to go for the less healthy options.
  • Pace yourself by taking small sips.
  • Avoid “binge drinking” – some people are under the misapprehension that they can “save up” their units to splurge at the weekend.
  • If you’re drinking white wine,  add a splash of soda water to help the same number of units last longer?



Veg Out restaurant review – Prezzo, Nottingham

Veg Out – Prezzo, Forman Street

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

On a surprisingly warm winters night I went with 3 friends to Prezzo on Forman Street.

IMG_4636We were seated straight away and asked what we’d like to drink. The menu looked impressive with a good range of veggie options, and most importantly the cheese was suitable for veggies. This for me is a crucial point and why eating at other ‘traditional’ Italian restaurants can be so tricky, because the cheeses of choice are often buffalo mozzarella, grana padana or Parmesan – non of which are suitable for vegetarians; although many chefs don’t know that, and scatter them willy nilly over dishes described as suitable for vegetarians



My review is featured in today’s Nottingham Post  (6/1/16)





I knew I wanted a pizza so I skipped the starter. My companions on the other hand had bigger appetites so ordered bruschetta, Italian bean and mozzarella soup and Crab cakes with a very garlicky mayonnaise. They were all wolfed down and apparently delicious. Most came with a generous multi-coloured side salad, so they were well on their way to one of their 5-a-day!

IMG_4637Then on to the mains. First of all I had to decide on the type of pizza; Classic – traditional stone based, Light – a smaller flatbread base with a salad, or the VIP. I was slighter confused by the pricing; why was a smaller ‘Light’ pizza more expensive than the classic? 4 out of the 13 pizzas were suitable for veggies and in then end I chose the classic Verde, which contained Mushrooms, spinach, asparagus, egg, bella lodi cheese, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella on a béchamel base, with an accompanying mixed salad.

My companions ordered penne con salmon (with broccoli and red chilli in a creamy tomato and pesto sauce) and spaghetti with chicken and n’duja sausage (With olives, crushed chillies and a tomato sauce)

IMG_4640My friend asked for one of the salmon dishes to be without chilli, sadly when it arrived red fiery speckles were everywhere. But it was very quickly rectified and we all eagerly tucked in.

My pizza was about the right size, any bigger and I would have felt stuffed. It had plenty of toppings and the base was thin and crispy. My mixed salad was really fresh and tasty, and had that wonderful ‘rainbow of colour’ making it look reallyIMG_4641 healthy. I made the right decision to skip the starter.

My companions all enjoyed their dishes and all our plates were left bare.


To refresh my memory before writing this review I went on the Prezzo website to look at the menu and I noticed buffalo mozzarella and grana padano cheese were present in a number of dishes described as veggie, so if like me you like your cheese to be vegetarian it would be worth checking with the staff

On the whole Prezzo is a good and consistent place to eat, the staff are efficient and are happy to make dietary adjustments (they have gluten free meals). And the prices are reasonable.