Obesity – It will be the death of us

Obesity – It will be the death of us

ObesityThe latest health figures for the over 40s makes pretty somber reading.  83% of 40 to 60 year-olds are either drinking too much, are inactive or are overweight. Particularly, 77% of men and 63% of women in middle-age are either overweight or obese


Obesity is rising for all age groups including children, and I believe we are in an obesity crisis situation.  Public Health England (PHE) created a new initiative called ‘One You’ for the over 40s to try and engage them in healthy eating and lifestyles so as they age they still maintain good health.





Why not take their ‘How Are You’ quiz. It will help anyone who wants to take stock to find out quickly where they can take a little changes to make a big difference to their health.






The Nottingham Post asked for my views on this tricky subject. You can read the article either on line or in yesterdays paper.

But what do you think we need to do?




One of the knock on effects of obesity is the increased risk of certain illness including heart disease, certain cancers and type 2 diabetes.  Diabetes alone is costing the NHS over £10 billion a year and 80% of the issues they treat in hospital are about managing avoidable complications


So what can be done?  

I believe it has to be a combined approach, with the individual at the heart of it.  They need to take responsibility for their own and their family’s health; by looking at portion control, how often they eat ready/processed or takeaway meals, how often are children given fizzy drinks, sweets and chocolates. What level of activity to they undertake?  Some simple solutions are sit-down less and move more.  This can also be carried out at work; try and take breaks from your desk regularly, have a walk at lunch time, get off the bus one/two walkingstops earlier and walk the rest of the way home.  Buddying up with a friend is a good way to maintain an exercise programme.


I am getting more enquiries from parents who want to come and learn to cook with their children, so as a family they can eat healthily.  And its great watching them learn together and make a meal that is healthy and delicious.  I also give healthy eating advice and get vegan cookery poster jpegthe family to try different ingredients, and offer simple tips to make the shopping cheaper such as buying frozen veg, make soup with leftovers and what ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ really means in an attempt to avoid food waste

portion-sizesI advise that when out doing the food shop, never do it when you are hungry, make a list, plan your meals in advance so you don’t get sucked in to buy the special offers or be tempted by the cakes, desserts and crisps


_68243258_foodlabelManufacturers/supermarkets also need to take a responsibility; have more special offers on healthy food like fruits, veg, wholegrains etc.  Have clearer labelling on the front of the packets, especially about portion size.  Posters in the shops about the benefits of fruits and veg, recipe cards with simple, quick and cheap family meals

The government needs to deliver stronger and harder hitting messages about the dangers of obesity, type 2 diabetes etc (a bit like the smoking campaigns). And offer helpful advice about portion control, cheap healthy quick family meals etc

Schools need to follow on with a consistent message about healthy eating; get children growing veg, cooking, helping in the community.  Their school meals could use some of the homegrown veg and have fewer vending machines on the premises.

fast-food-outletsLocal planners could look at how many fast food outlets, sweet shops etc are located near schools or near housing estates and take a responsible view


So I believe we all have a responsibility is tackling this epidemic.

Food safety at Christmas

Food safety at Christmas

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

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAI don’t want to be completely bah-humbug about Christmas, but this might be the only time of the year when the fridge, freezer, hobs and ovens are groaning under the weight of food.


So I think its worth thinking about ways to keep the whole family ‘food safe’ over the Festive period. This is especially important if you have very young, old or infirm visitors.

You don’t want anyone sitting around your table to be one of the 30 people who die from food poisoning each Christmas

 So here are my top 10 tips:

Tip #1 – Sort out your fridge BEFORE doing your shopping; throw away half finished jars and bottles, turn scraps of vegetables in to soup and either eat over the coming days or freeze.  You can then put food straight in when you get back from the big Christmas shop. Try not to pack the fridge too tightly; cold air needs to circulate to cool your food.  Some items like beer, wine and vegetables can be kept in a cold garage, shed  or cool box until needed

Tip #2 – When buying your meat make sure none of the packaging has been damaged.  Place it in your trolley or basket away from other products.  When you are at the checkout wrap it in a separate carrier bag and transport it home as quickly as possible. To be extra safe you could put it in a cool bag in the boot of your car

Tip #3 –  Put raw meat at the BOTTOM of the fridge, so any drips don’t land on food that is ready-to-eat, such as cooked meats, desserts and salad items.

Tip #4 – Always wash your hands with warm water and soap, and dry them thoroughly, before handling food, and particularly after touching raw meat, poultry and vegetables

Tip #5 – Don’t wash your turkey (or any other meat) before cooking – harmful bacteria can splash onto work tops, clothes, dishes and other foods. Thorough cooking will kill any bacteria, so you don’t need to wash meat.

Tip #6 – Always clean and disinfect work tops, chopping boards, dishes and utensils thoroughly after they have touched raw poultry/meat.

Tip #7 – If your fridge doesn’t have an inbuilt digital thermometer then buy a cheap  fridge thermometer. Food in the fridge is best when kept between 1oC and 5oC.

Tip #8 – Check the dates on foods regularly and don’t eat foods past their ‘Use-by’ date, even though they might look and smell fine they may make you unwell.  ‘Best before’ is about quality not safety, so use your eyes, nose and taste to determine if you want to use it

Tip #9 – Eat leftovers within two days or freeze them. Only reheat food once, making sure it is very hot all the way through to destroy any food poisoning bugs . Chilled leftovers may be eaten cold if they have been stored correctly.



Tip #10 – Make sure you defrost and cook your turkey in plenty of time. See my charts below



If in doubt use a food thermometer.  The thickest part of the meat (for a turkey thats between the breast and the thigh) should be at least 70°C for two minutes. Any leftovers should be wrapped and stored in the fridge within two hours of serving

And finally, don’t forget to wash and scrub all your veg as they can also harbour bacteria and bugs

The video below highlights the potential risks







Veg out restaurant review – the Stratford Haven, West Bridgford

Veg out restaurant review – the Stratford Haven, West Bridgford


tofu-steakLast month I was asked by Castle Rock Brewery to be on their judging panel for new vegan and vegetarian food that may eventually find its way on to their menus. It was a great day and the winning dish was a tofu steak made by Tom the head chef at the Stratford Haven.


So with that in mind I decided to pay the Stratford a visit, unfortunately the Tofu steak was not on their Christmas menu, but a nut roast was!


stratford-haven-001-455x338Now anyone who knows the Castle Rock pubs will know many of them are famed for their beers rather than their food and I think the Stratford is no exception. It is a very busy, lively pub at the best of times but even more so at Christmas, so we tucked ourselves away in a quietish alcove and got ready for our pre-ordered festive menu to begin


stratford soupThe piping hot parsnip and apple soup soon arrived and it looked so appealing. The small bowl hid some wonderful little details, like the crispy croutons and the curly parsnip crisps. The soup was really smooth, rich and tasty. It was served with a hot white crusty baguette, which of course we ate but wished we hadn’t as it filled us up to much!


np-onlineMy review is feature online at http://www.nottinghampost.com/is-this-the-best-veggie-christmas-menu-in-west-bridgford/story-29996754-detail/story.html.  And will also appear in Wednesdays Nottingham Post

Nottingham Post article

Nottingham Post article

On to the main course; the nut roast. Now as a lifelong veggie I’ve had my fair share of nut roast and this was probably one of the best. It was incredibly savoury, flavoursome and substantial with a nice rich winey background flavour and topped with crispy parsnips curls. And the accompaniments really showed it off; the roasties were crispy and plentiful, the stuffing was crunchy and herby, and the veg was deliciously al dente and included carrots, Brussels and cauliflower. Hidden underneath the nut roast was spicy braised red cabbage. And all smothered in a jug of veggie gravy

stratford veggie meal

It’s not very often that a veggie dinner is equal (in looks and substance) to a meat version but in this case I think my meal looked better than my partner’s steak


We could have had a third course and if I’d had room I might have gone for the Christmas pub (there was also vanilla cheesecake, Christmas Sundae and cheese and biscuits). But no ‘v’ symbols were shown and I would have needed to make sure they were all suitable for vegetarians. But as I said we were both stuffed and felt two courses were more than sufficient.


The price was also very reasonable; £15.95 for two courses or £18.95 for three. However it wasn’t clear if the ‘Afters’ of coffee and mince pies were included in the price or extra. As it happens we were so full it didn’t matter


There is no dedicated restaurant area like there is at another local Castle Rock pub, the Embankment so you may struggle to enjoy a quite meal for two. But persevere and you will taste some of the best vegetarian food in West Bridgford

Where  do you think is the best place in Nottingham for a

vegetarian Christmas meal? 

Chestnut, leek and cranberry terrine

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

Christmas chestnut, leek and cranberry terrine – serves 2

IMG_4635This is a delicious and very festive recipe for all the vegans, veggies and non veggies gathered around the Christmas table.  Once cooked it keeps in the fridge for up to three days and freezers really well.  It is also really adaptable in that if you don’t like leeks you could use parsnips or carrots, and if you don’t like cranberry sauce you could use mango chutney.

The quantities can also be doubled or tripled depending on the number of guests.



If you have a favourite vegetarian show stopper then why not share it with?


1 tbls of reduced sugar cranberry sauce,

80g leeks – washed and cut into batons to fit the width of the loaf tin

1 tsp vegetable oil,

½ (50-60g) onion chopped,

½ tsp chilli flakes, 1 garlic clove, Salt & pepper

10g sage leaves , 5g thyme– finely sliced,

60g of cooked chestnuts (vacuum packed),

30g each of mushrooms (sliced), fresh spinach (washed), chopped hazelnuts (or walnuts, peanuts or cashew nuts), wholemeal bread,

Large pinch of mace or cinnamon




  • Pre heat the oven 180C/160 fan oven/gas 4
  • Heat the oil in a medium pan and add the onions and mushrooms, cook on a low heat for 10-15 minutes.  If the pan dries and the veg starts to stick add a drop of hot water.  Stir in the chopped garlic, sage, chilli and salt & pepper cook for a further 2 minutes then tip into a bowl.
  • In the same pan add a small amount of boiling water and cook the leeks for 4 minutes until soft.  Drain well and line  (width ways) the bottom and sides of a greased and lined (greaseproof paper) dish.   A foil container, the type takeaway food comes in is a perfect size.  Pack the leeks in tightly to cover the bottom.  Any left over leeks can be chopped and added to the cooked onion mix.
  • Put the spinach in a microwavable bowl (no need to add any water) and heat on high for 30 seconds just to wilt the leaves. Or place in a colander over the cooking leeks
  • Chop the chestnuts and hazelnuts.  This can be done by hand or in a food processor or nutribullet. whiz up the bread in the processor/bullet too.  Add them all to the bowl of cooked onion; add the mac/cinnamon and some of the leek water to bind it all.  Mix with a large spoon.
  • Place ½ of the chestnut mixture on top of the cooked leeks in the loaf tin; press down well with the back of the spoon.  Add a layer of wilted spinach.  Then spread the cranberry sauce on top of the mix. Repeat with the remaining chestnut mixture, pressing down with the back the spoon.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour.  Remove the foil and loosen the sides with a spatula before turning out onto a plate.  Any left overs can be wrapped and frozen





Now how tasty does that look!



*NB the terrine can be made, covered and chilled the day before

Think twice before having a cake with your coffee!

Think twice before having a cake with your coffee!

High street coffee shops in Nottinghamshire are selling muffins and cakes with the sugar equivalent of up to six doughnuts.

Its that time of year when many of us are hitting the High Street in a mad dash to finish (or even start) our Christmas shopping.  And what better way to get through it than stop for a caffeine pick me up.  Its also hard to resist the cakes and biscuits that stare at you as you wait to be served

cocta-cake-offferThe cafes and restaurants are also keen to get you to buy and their ‘up-selling’ skills are highly tuned!.

Take for instance Costa’s latest offer.  In the first week of December if you bought a Medio or Massimo drink from their Christmas range you could have any cake for just £1!

That could total over 1000 calories or half a woman’s daily calorie intake. But even more worryingly your coffee and cake combo could contain a whopping 114g or 28½ teaspoons of sugar.  Compare that to the daily recommended maximum of 25 teaspoons.

This week Holly Skelton from Notts TV interviewed me about this very subject, her full report can be read here http://nottstv.com/nottinghamshire-coffee-shops-selling-cakes-sugar-equivalent-six-doughnuts/




Other coffee chains are also muscling in; at Starbucks order an almond or cinnamon Swedish bun with a tall Latte for only £3.50.  The price may seem reasonable but you’ll be consuming over 700 calories and 46gs or 11½ teaspoons of sugar.  Better than Costa to be fair!






Caffe Nero also has a festive range; opt for their regular amaretto hot chocolate (with whipped cream) accompanied by a slice of festive chocolate fudge cake and your calorie tally will climb to just over 1000 calories and a belly busting 107g or nearly 27 teaspoons of sugar




Do you feel pressured in to buying more than you need? 

How to survive the sugar onslaught!

My 3 top tips

Tip #1 – simply consider only having a hot drink.  Always ask for it in a takeaway cup, as it stays hotter and you’re more likely to take your time and feel fuller.  And don’t always be persuaded to ‘go large’!

Tip #2 – If you must have a sweet treat, buy the smallest one that you like.  This might be a biscotti, mince pie, oat or ginger biscuit

Tip #3 – If you really fancy a slice of festive cake, muffin or biscuit then share it with a friend, or wrap the other half in a serviette and take it home for another time or give it to a friend or family member



Simply veg

Cooking up a storm!

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

coucousI’m half way through my vegetarian and vegan cookery classes in my converted convent in West Bridgford. So far my guests have cooked quinoa salad, spicy chickpeas with spring cabbage and cauliflower couscous. What’s waiting for them in the coming weeks is chocolate chia pudding with dates, spicy Thai tofu curry and spiralised sweet potato with kale


couscous1It is not all about ‘simply veg'; my aim is to show how easy it is to cook healthy simple yet tasty vegan food, which can be enjoyed by the whole family, eaten by one person or adapted for meat and fish eaters. Interspersed within the cooking is nutritional advice and cooking tips, such as freezing leftover herbs in ice cube trays, how lemon juice can take the place of salt as a flavouring, the importance of fibre and ways to reduce sugar intake.


ingredients2There is growing evidence that a more plant-based diet has positive health benefits, ranging from a reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and some cancers to weight loss.


If you fancy trying something new, want to cook with others and learn some nutritional tips then contact me and we can get you booked in


Classes generally start at 11am on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On a Tuesday they start at 12.30pm and 5.30pm . Each class lasts an hour and 15 minutes and all the ingredients and equipment are provided. All this for just £25. But if you book 6 sessions in advance you only pay for 5



There is no time limit on when you come for your 6 sessions, so feel free to take a break

phone  Call 07946 301338

Celeriac and leek soup

celeriac-4Celeriac and leek soup with hazelnuts and crispy sage – serves 2

This warming soup is an ideal starter if you have a vegan or vegetarian guest coming for Christmas.  It can be made in advance and frozen.  Crisp the sage leaves and add the hazelnuts on the day though

In fact it is so tasty all your meat eating guests will want a bowl, but don’t worry the recipe can easily be double or tripled

vegan-xmas-poster-jpegMy vegan Christmas cookery class guests will be making it (along with chestnut and cranberry terrine and chocolate pots) on Saturday 10th December. I have a couple of places left if you’d like to join me

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

Celeriac and leek soup with hazelnuts and crispy sage – serves 2

15g hazelnuts,2 tsp olive oil

100g leek

1 garlic clove

500ml veg stock

250g celeriac, peeled and chopped

200g floury potato (russet, Desiree, King Edward and Maris Piper.) chopped only

12 small sage leaves, salt & pepper to taste

Drizzle lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil


  • hazelnutsAdd the hazelnuts to a hot dry frying pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes until toasted, keep shaking the pan.
  • Wrap the toasted nuts in a paper towel and rub to remove the brown skin. Cool then roughly chop
  • Heat 1 tsp oil in the pan cook the thinly sliced leek on a medium heat for 5-6 mins. Add the chopped garlic and cook for another minute. Add the celeriac, potatoes and stock


  • Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 20-22 mins until the veg is soft. Using a stick blender blend until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning



  • celeriac-6Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan and fry the sage leaves, stirring for 1 -2 mins until crispy. Drain on paper. Serve the soup topped with the toasted nuts and sage leaves. Finish with a drizzle of lemon juice and olive oil (or you could add a splash of soya cream)

Case study #1 – weight loss via a virtual consultation

Case study #1 – weight loss via a virtual consultation


These are the words of my client Karen, she contacted me after seeing my blog on Mumsnet.  Although she is based in Yorkshire we were able to conduct a series of virtual consultations via Skype, so I could help support her to achieve her weight loss goal


I made notes in my journal dated 28/09/15, about my dissatisfaction with my weight, body image and relationship with food. At that point I was totally and utterly fed up with myself.

karen-white-dress-beforeI had been to the graduations of both my sons in the summer, having bought a very expensive Josef Ribkoff “ figure hugging dress for both occasions. I was dispirited when I saw the photos after, as the dress appeared to only accentuate the thickening around my middle section.


The main points were

  • I was worrying constantly about my weight and body shape but could not motivate myself to make changes
  • I hated the way I looked
  • I hated the way I felt out of control around food
  • I felt anxiety being “around food” all the time
  • My home felt dominated by food, food choices, preparation and cooking
  • My social life seemed to revolve around eating and drinking
  • My eating patterns had become very erratic – I wasn’t eating full meals but lots of snacks – I felt overly full very quickly if I ate a “proper” meal
  • My husband and son were at home a lot more than before (one semi-retired, one a student) so there seems to be food and cooking on the go constantly
  • I don’t want to go on a diet – I’m a Slimming World veteran
  • Female friends talk constantly about weight and diet

My Stats

  • My body details then were – height 5’9”, weight 11st 3lbs (would like to be 10st 7lbs)
  • Size 14 top, size 12 bottom – upside down pear – no hips or bottom but a largish bust, long legs
  • Tallness helps disguise “fat bits” and I’m highly skilled at dressing to hide them

On the plus side, I considered myself fairly active, swimming for 30 minutes three mornings a week. My diet includes many healthy options (I’m not a vegetarian but eat very little meat – red or white) I just ate too much of everything, too many snacks, too many coffees and teas and slightly more alcohol than I would like to, in an average week. I was generally very healthy with low blood pressure and plenty of energy.

However, I had got into a downward spiral and felt a strong need to talk to someone about all this, someone who would understand the psychology behind my problems and issues, but who would be able to help me formulate a healthier and more balanced eating plan.

Purely by chance, I found Susan whilst looking on Mumsnet Bloggers. Ideally I would have liked to have spoken to someone face to face but Susan appeared to have the skills and background to meet my needs. I confess, not being a wage earner, I was also drawn in by the offer of 3 sessions for £100!

Once I had hooked up with Susan, I wasn’t anxious in the least, although I had to put off our initial session due to holidays. I had used my “private” email address as I didn’t want my husband to see I was seeking help and using family money – I regarded the issues as a form of “weakness” and felt guilty about them – as though it was a problem an intelligent person should be able to solve on their own!

I felt embarrassed at home at having to secure some privacy to use my husband’s PC to use Skype, but made up my mind to tell him about the “project” and he was very understanding. I didn’t feel it mattered at all that Susan and I didn’t meet face to face – I found Skype absolutely fine.

I found Susan very understanding from the word “go”. She was “on my side”!!   I had not looked for anyone else similar as I sensed she was a lady of possibly a similar age group to me and therefore might have a better understanding of the issues facing a “middle-aged” lady!!

Karen before and after 

I felt we connected very well. I think I really needed some psychological support around my issues, as much as advice and ideas around the practical side of nutrition and diet. I needed to get over to Susan how I felt aspects of my family life and day to day catering needs were affecting me and discuss “emotional eating”. For example, a student son in the house, who seemed to be constantly preparing or cooking food, often at odd times of the day and night, and a husband who eats very little fruit or vegetables, but lots of red meat; also how to cope with my large social circle where meet-ups almost always involve eating and drinking.



It was very helpful to receive a summary of the points we had discussed – the positives and the negatives – to set some small goals to work towards. Writing is my “thing” – so having it all set down in black and white was a huge help to me. I set up a proper folder and notebook to record my progress.

I was able to ask Susan for some menu ideas – including the really helpful one of “basic recipes” that could be adapted to suit all family members – her website http://www.nutrition-coach.co.uk/blog/category/recipes/ was a treasure trove of ideas. I typed up my own sheet each week ready for the next session with Susan to help me remember positives and negatives, and to record success and questions.

It really helped to recap at the start of each new session what had gone before and for me the pace of change was just fine. It helped to not focus solely on losing weight, although I did lose some along the way.

What worked for me


Getting active!

I realised I really liked my swimming sessions and ensured they were almost in “tablets of stone” in my diary, and still do. They keep me energised and set me up for the day.

I had struggled with a rather sedentary husband who didn’t take much exercise, but managed to get him to join me on walks, and not encourage me into cafes and pubs as a “reward”. I learned tactics such as spotting my danger times – coming home late afternoon to an empty house, or one where other family members don’t greet or bother with me – and to find distractions – not head straight to the biscuit tin but to take time out for a little rest, a cup of herbal tea, read a book, take my DAB radio well away from the kitchen, listen to a podcast.

I became better at keeping a sense of perspective – which is hard, being an all or nothing type of person.

I established much better daily and weekly routines and tried to throw out the scattergun approach – I used printable diary sheets – these also helped me with meal planning.

The holistic approach was absolutely perfect for me as I already knew my problems were not just around food but my whole lifestyle as a semi-retired woman who spends a lot of time at home – and has a big living kitchen where a lot of family activity takes place.

Small permanent changes were exactly what I needed. The 80/20 rule was very helpful – especially as regards my tendency to see things as black and white – and I was only too aware I needed to get some balance back into my life. I became more confident and able to say to friends – let’s not go for coffee and cake, why don’t you come over and we’ll go for a walk (I became more appreciative of the rural area I live in!)

The 80-20 rule

Whilst talking to Susan was like talking to a friend, she did challenge me and not let me get away with being “sloppy” or “airy fairy”. I felt answerable to her, which I liked – Slimming World had “worked” for me in the past because I responded to the pressure of the weekly documented weigh-in!

Moving forward

I have felt recently I could use the occasional “top up” session from time to time, just to keep me on track and stop me being complacent – like I do with my physiotherapist. Maybe such top-ups could form part of a slightly broader package than just the three sessions?