Superfoods  – myth or magic?

Are you buying the superfood hype; either literally or figuratively?  These foods have been in the press for the last few years but recently new magic morsels have been added including lentils, quinoa, chills and green tea.

Its worth remembering there is no official definition of a “superfood” and the EU has banned health claims on packaging unless supported by scientific evidence.

So do certain foods deserve that badge of honour?

What makes a food ‘Super'; they often contain higher than average amounts of antioxidants or compounds that can keep the body healthy and potentially help fight some diseases.  In that respect foods like blueberries, broccoli, oily fish, beetroot juice, dark chocolate and to a lesser extent red wine all deserve praise as they have high levels of compounds like polyphenols and flavonoids

homemade chocolate bar

But so do blackberries, carrots, apples, oats, nuts, red cabbage, raspberries, flaxseeds, and most fruits and vegetables.  And importantly they are often cheaper than their ‘superfood’ cousins

The superfood debate got the attention of BBC radio Leicester, so I joined them for a discussion along with Sangita the owner of a local Leicester deli.

Click here to listen to the interview (15 minutes)


fruit-and-vegTo eat a ‘superfood’ rich diet we agreed that it should contain more fruit and veg than we currently eat.  Incidentally, did you know that only about 30% of the UK adult population get their 5-a-day.

cakesTry and reduce your level of processed foods; anything from ready meals, cured meats to pastries and cakes

Go for variety and moderation; the occasional treat is fine


Drink within safe alcohol limits (max 14 units a week) a small glass (125ml) of red wine can be beneficial

Stay hydrated with the original ‘superfood'; Water

In other words adopt a more Mediterranean diet that includes plenty of wholegrain, pulses, vegetables, fruit and olive oil and you will feel “SUPER




Foods to boost your immune system

Foods to boost your immune system

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website



Working at Maggie’s cancer supper centre in Nottingham, I’m often asked about what foods can help build up our immune system.  This is especially important to cancer patients who may have undergone some quite radical surgery, chemo or radiotherapy.  All of which can have a debilitating effect on the body




img_8426A strong immune system is also important to many us as we enter the autumn and winter months.

To strengthen your immune system it is important to

  • Load up on the foods that pack the biggest nutritional punch
  • Whilst avoiding processed foods (often high in fat and salt) and
  • Reduce the amount of sugar in your diet.
  • You can do even more by selecting foods that are loaded with specific immune boosting nutrients.

Top tips for a healthy immune system

  • chopped veggies

    A rainbow of colour

    Eat a ‘rainbow’ of colour to get more antioxidants in your diet.  By that I mean have plenty of variety,  all the following foods help to nourish the thymus gland, which is responsible for much of the immune-system function.  Eat at least two servings a day of these foods rich in vitamins B, C and E, plus beta-carotene (vitamin A) and zinc – red peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, oranges, apples, tomatoes, kiwi, carrots, berries, red grapes, kale, onions, spinach, sweet potatoes.  You get the idea!

  • Cook frequently with garlic because it’s a proven immune booster and has antiviral and antibacterial properties. The allicin helps to prevent and fight colds. So add it to hummus, pasta and curry dishes. Rub on to toasted sour dough for a low cal garlic bread
  •  spinachSpinach is rich in folic acid. It can be made into spinach pasta, added to soups, smoothies or pasta sauces.  It can brighten up a curry or an omelette and bulk out a salad
  • Cinnamon is antiviral, anti fungal and antibacterial; sprinkle it on your porridge or muesli. Add it to low sugar bakes and biscuits or smoothies
  • Mushrooms – contain vitamin D (and will absorb more if placed on a sunny shelf), which is good at combating viruses. Add to omelettes, stir-fries, soups and pasta dishes



  • Stay hydrated  – try and drink at least 6 glasses of water, fruit teas, green and black teas etc a day



  • Tactivity exercise walkingake some regular exercise: If you want to boost your immune system, get active. Just increasing your heart rate for only 20 minutes three times a week is associated with an increased immune function, and a brisk walk five days a week can help reduce your risk of catching a cold.  Also being out and socialising can help boost your immune system


  • Have a giggle! –  Laughing decreases the levels of stress hormones in the body while increasing a type of white blood cells that fights infection.


Vita-Berry Blast

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

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

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

nutribullet smoothies

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

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


IMG_61631 cup of blueberries

1 ripe banana

1 handful of strawberries

Cold water

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

Now for the difficult bit!




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

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

Eat right for good skin

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

How foods can help your skin, hair and nails to look their best.


These are the only type of nut that have a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acids. imagesThey’re also rich in biotin and vitamin E, which helps protect your cells from DNA damage. Too little biotin can lead to hair loss. Walnuts also have copper, a mineral that helps keep your natural hair color rich and lustrous. Walnuts are also great for the skin the essential fatty acids can act as a barrier and also hold water, making the skin appear plumper and younger.

Sprinkle walnuts on to your muesli, have a refreshing Waldorf salad with pears and a small amount of blue cheese or dry toast a tablespoon full and scatter over a tomato pasta dish

Oily fish

Oily fish are rich in protein and vitamin D – both are key to strong hair and bright skin.  But the omega-3 fatty acids found in herring, salmon, sardines, trout and mackerel are the real stars, because your body can’t make those fatty acids; which it needs to grow hair and new cells. Omega-3s are also found in cell membranes in your skin and scalp and in the natural oils that keep your scalp and hair hydrated.

If you are vegetarian do not despair you have the wonderful walnut (see above) as well as avocados, pumpkin and flax seeds


BEAUTY article



The very subject of how food can promote a healthy skin has been featured in ‘Nottingham Local Magazine’, a piece co-written with Misia Smith of Soothe Therapies




Dairy Products

IMG_4234One the most important components of skin health is vitamin A. One of the best places to get it is dairy products. If you are vegan oat milk contains this useful vitamin. Have a vitamin packed milk/yoghurt shake using skimmed milk or yoghurt with your favourite fruit.  Skyr is a great protein rich yoghurt, give it a try if you haven’t done so already

Another chief source of Vitamin A (beta carotene) are carrots, which can be juiced and blended into a smoothie, as well as numerous other culinary ways.

 Fruit and veg

fruit and vegBlueberries, blackberries, strawberries plums, broccoli, peppers etc are all packed with healthy antioxidants.  They mop up free radicals – produced for example when you have sun exposure.  Add these fruits to your cereals, or bake into a crumble made with a healthy selenium packed oaty topping.  Or add the veggies to a pasta sauce and serve with wholemeal pasta and some grated cheese


Healthy oilsimages

As well as essential fatty acids, eating good-quality oils helps keep you skin lubricated and keeps it looking and feeling healthier overall.  The less processed the oil is the better so look for ‘cold pressed’ versions like extra virgin olive oil

But please bear in mind that all fats, even a healthy one, are high in calories, so consume no more than about two tablespoons a day (about 260 calories!).

Brazil nuts, whole-wheat bread and cereals, turkey and tuna.

IMG_5123All of the above contain helpful amounts of the mineral selenium.  It plays a vital role in the health of skin cells. Some studies show that even skin damaged by the sun may suffer fewer consequences if selenium levels are high.

Just 3 Brazil nuts a day will give you your total Selenium requirement.


Green Tea.

Green tea is in a league of its own when it comes to beneficial skin-health properties. It has anti-inflammatory properties, and offers protection to cell membranes. Green tea can also reduce the risk of damage from ultraviolet light that you could get from the suns rays.


IMG_3503Water has a vital role in skin hydration; keeping it looking healthy and even younger.  The recommendation is to drink about eight glasses (2 litres) every day.  In addition to keeping cells hydrated, water helps cells move nutrients in and toxins out, which will automatically leave skin looking better.

When you are properly hydrated, you also sweat more efficiently. Doing this helps keep skin clean and clear as well.


IMG_5651Avocado’s are a great food for the body they contain monosaturated fat which means they also contain Vitamin E (along with Vitamins B and K), which is great for skin tone it also is known to slow the aging process.  The fat in avocados can also lessen your LDL cholesterol (the bad sort!).  Half an avocado contains 180 calories and is great in a salad or blitz into a dip with chillies, lime juice and coriander. Or serve avocado o sourdough toast, topped with a poached egg; delish!

Beauty Tip:

Don’t throw away the avocado skin; turn it inside out and rub it on your face and hands.  Don’t worry you will look like Shrek but it will be worth it.  Leave to do its magic for 5 minutes then rinse off with warm water.  The vitamin E that is at its most concentrated just under the skin of the avocado will make your skin looks hydrated, plump and soft


WholegrainsAs well as fibre for slow releasing energy, wholegrains also contain a powerful antioxidant called Coenzyme Q10. Its involved in making energy and helping our cells work effectively. CoQ10 is also found in oily fish and liver.



Red blood cells are replaced every four months, skin in 30 days, and the lining of the small intestine renews in less than a week! Each day the body replaces  a total of 50 to 70 billion cells. Inflammation in the body can play a part in how effective cell renewal is.

Eating a ‘rainbow of colour’ is the key to effective cell renewal

  • Incorporate plenty of red, orange and green fruits and vegetables i.e. asparagus, pomegranates, broccoli, berries, apples, herbs.
  • In addition mushrooms, ginger, seeds and seafood are also beneficial

 Do you have a beauty regime based around food? 

Nottm local mag

And don’t forget the full article can be read in this months Nottingham Local Magazine