Tag Archives: healthy eating

When did healthy eating become so complicated?

Healthy Eating is meant to be straightforward and a common sense approach to eating. Right? However when you look on Pinterest, blog sites and the internet you are suddenly confronted with complicated recipes using all kinds of specialist expensive ingredients and equipment – agave, coconut oil, himalyan sea salt, seaweed, the latest berries, spiralizers etc. Now I quite like a bit of faffing around in the kitchen and I’m all for experimenting with new foods…. but this isn’t something you can do everyday and I wonder how many people think this is how you have to cook to eat a healthily?

Dry tomatoes

Recently at a lecture I was reminded by the speaker how in the war, rationing meant that people had no choice but to eat less fat and sugar, grow their own vegetables, could afford less meat and had to make the most of the food they had. When rationing stopped there was a sudden binge on foods like sugar and butter, biscuits and cake!

Dietitan UK: War rationing

When I went to University I started out with minimal equipment, a small budget and I pretty much cooked all my own meals from scratch as it was the cheapest way to do things. Lots of vegetable and bean stir frys, pasta dishes, jacket potatoes and anything I could cook with a pack of minced beef! Chopped tomatoes, tins of pulses and beans and the local green grocer were my friend. It was a simple and enjoyable way of cooking with no real pressure, especially as I was mainly cooking for just myself.

Now I have to cater for a growing family. Fancy meals really do not work. We have our basic staple meals that work every time. Pasta with roasted veggies. Lentil bolognaise. Risotto done in many ways. Salmon Parcels

So what do you need in order to eat a healthy, balanced diet?

1. Fancy equipment is often nice to have but not needed! A good knife, peeler, spoons to stir with, a grater and a tin opener is enough to start with. 

2. A store cupboad with the basics in: chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, baked beans, tinned pulses, dried mixed herbs, tuna, pasta, rice, curry powder, olive oil are all things I have in mine right now.

3. A menu plan. Look for some simple recipes on sites like BBC Good Food and the supermarkets websites. Get hold of a cookery book that doesn’t have hundreds of ingredients per recipe and the meals can be cooked in 30 minutes. Make up a folder or use pinterest to save the ideas you like and use to build your weekly plan and shopping list. Think about foods you really like and the time you have on each night.

4. There is no need to be fancy on a daily basis! Save that for a weekend 😉

5. Cooking from scratch may seem like hard work at first but it really is worth it. Base your meals around your vegetables, add some meat and some carbohydrates on the side. Job done.

In the words of the great saying. 

Keep It Simple, Stupid.




Healthy Eating on a Shoestring

This post was written for Slimsticks, the original post can be viewed here.

“Fruit and Vegetables are too expensive”

“Healthy food costs the earth”

“I can get more for my money if I buy junk food”

These are just some of the excuses I hear as to why people don’t eat healthily. On the one hand I agree, you certainly can live off less healthy food and not spend as many pennies, but in the long term that’s not going to be doing your body any favours.

So here are my top tips for healthy eating on a budget:

  1. Set a food budget. You can’t aim to stick to a budget if you don’t have one, by setting a weekly food budget it can help you stay on track when you shop. 
  2. Shop around. Try not to do all your shopping in one supermarket. Compare the prices from your local butcher, greengrocer, budget supermarket and international food stores. Different types of foods will be cheaper in different shops, for example chickpeas may be cheaper in an Indian food store and your butcher may have special deals on meat.
  3. Look offers and where you can buy healthy foods that store well in bulk when they are on offer.
  4. Grow your own where possible. Even if it is just herbs and salad leaves you can save some pennies and have some super healthy food.
  5. Write out a weekly meal plan and shopping list. It will stop you buying those extras that you don’t really need. 
  6. Buy one good ingredient like a chicken and base your meals around it – so roast chicken, the leftovers for a stir fry, make stock with the bones for a risotto.
  7. Don’t throw away any leftovers, instead use them for the next days lunches, add them to the next days meal or freeze them.
  8. Watch your portion control. Often people cook too much and then have lots of leftovers. Try to only cook what you need, it will stop you over-eating at meals too.
  9. Cook as much as you can from scratch. Jars of sauces can be made from simple ingredients such as chopped tomatoes, herbs and spices, cereal bars can be baked fresh at home.
  10. Always look at the reduced food section! It may mean you alter your meal plan for that night but look out for reduced vegetables you can make into soups and meat you can freeze.

Top tips to Lose Weight.

Looking to shed a few pounds post Christmas and start off the New Year in a healthy, happy way? Then read on for some top tips from an experienced dietitian and fitness instructor. Trust me, I’ve seen it all when it comes to food diaries…. the good news is, you really can make a difference to your long term health, your self confidence and your weight by making a few long term changes to your eating and exercise.

  • AVOID those FAD diets. A diet is something that isn’t there to stay. You want weight loss that stays off – Yes? Then don’t diet. Dieting usually leans to the yo-yo weight affect that affects your metabolism in a negative way and though it may give a short term, feel good weight loss, a few weeks later you’ll end up heavier than you were before. INSTEAD go for a combination of healthy eating and activity that is there to stay. Long term change is the key
Dietitian UK: Fad Diets Don't Work
  • SUPERSIZE those fruit and veggie portions. Aim for 1/2 your plate to be full of fruit and veg. Have some at every meal and at snacks too. These are the true superfoods, packed full of antioxidants which fight disease, can lower cholesterol and combat ageing plus fibre to keep you regular and all the vitamins and minerals of the rainbow plus being low in fat – what more could you want.
  • TREATASTIC – plan in those treats. Yes you heard me. You can have treats whilst losing weight, they just need planning in. I always make people plan in 1 treat a week. This could be a coffee and cake out, a chocolate bar, a special meal…..of course some sense is needed in all of this but depriving yourself of your treat foods can lead to you falling off the wagon and overeating them.
  • DOWNSIZE PLATES. Think about the size of your plates. Psychologically a full plate =  a full tummy. So try using a slightly smaller plate. It really can make a difference.
  • TRY, TRY and TRY AGAIN. If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Relapse is a natural part of losing weight, so don’t panic if you have a wobble. The most important thing is to get back on track as soon as possible. Don’t berate yourself and get upset over it, just get back onto track and carry on. These things happen, its alright! 😳
  • CARB – IT  – DOWN. Carbohydrate foods are good for you, really they are, but too much will lead to too much, if you know what I mean. Include small portions of bread, rice, pasta, cous cous, cereal, potatoes, chappati etc… at each meal. Go for wholegrain versions where possible and avoid adding butter/cream to them.
  • HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE. Being hydrated can help you with weight loss. Read that one again 😉 It’s a real incentive to drink more water. Aim drink plenty of water, juice, no added sugar squash, decaff drinks and milk.
Water carafe
Water carafe
  • GOALS on FRIDGE. Keep focused and keep things in clear sight. Think about your goals. Why do you want to lose weight? What will the short term and long term benefits be? Think about the positives and negatives (hopefully the positives will outweigh the negatives!). Write them out and use them to keep you going.
  • STAY ACTIVE – activity is a necessity. Plan something in everyday but make sure it is enjoyable and accessible. Find exercise you like doing and you are more likely to stick to it, think about where it is, what is it, who it is with and how it fits into your routine? Will it be easier before work, after work or in a lunchbreak? Family bike rides, dance lessons, workouts at home and gardening all count.
Running Feet
Running Feet
  • REWARDS – plan in a non related food reward to keep you motivated. For example when you lose half a stone have a massage.


Nutrition in the Under 5’s: an overview.


Here’s an overview of nutrition in the Under 5’s, over the next few weeks I shall be delving in and looking at nutrients in more details including Iron and Vitamin D, so follow my blog or keep and eye on twitter and facebook for more!


Children are not mini adults. Not only do they need good nutrition to stay healthy and well but unlike adults, they are growing and developing too so have different requirements.


By 12 months children should be joining in family meals, this doesn’t mean cooking two meals but some modifications like cutting out salt in cooking. Meals should be based on the Eat Well Plate with 1/3 of the plate being starchy foods, 1/3 veggies, some protein foods and some dairy.



Variety – no one food contains all the nutrients children need so therefore they need to eat range of different foods. Try to plan ahead for the week so a variety of starchy foods and protein foods plus fruit and veggies are eaten. This is good for the whole family.


Portions – The amount of food a child needs varies with age, body size and physical activity. Appetite can vary from day to day, let them guide you. Generally if your child is growing and developing normally  and happy then they are ok! A healthy meal pattern is small regular meals with one or two healthy snacks and drinks in between.


Protein – needed for growth, repair and renewal. Found in meat, fish, eggs, milk, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. Babies and children have higher requirements as they are busy creating lots of new cells as they grow. Protein is made up of amino acids and not every food contains all amino acids so eating a variety is key to getting them all.


Carbohydrates – provides energy and fibre. Found in cereals, potatoes, rice, pasta, bread, fruit, vegetables, lactose in milk. Base meals on these foods. Children have small stomachs so do not give too much fibre, gradually build this up as they grow to keep their digestive system healthy and help prevent constipation. There is a balance between fibre and fluid that keeps the digestive system happy. So if constipation is an issue reduce fibre slightly and check how much your child is drinking.


Fat– needed for energy for children as they grow, also for storing vitamins A,D,E and K and for providing essential fatty acids. It’s important to choose unsaturated fats (good fats) found in vegetable oils like olive, rapeseed, sunflower, seeds, nuts and oily fish (salmon, trout, mackerel). Saturated fat and trans fats (bad fats) are found in cakes, pies, pastries, biscuits, fatty meat and meat products, butter, cream, whole milk, coconut and palm oil. Limit these bad fats and swap for ‘good’ fats. Eat oily fish once a week.


Salt– Babies and children only need a very small amount of salt in their diet. Salt is ‘hidden’ in many ready-made foods, such as bread, baked beans, and even biscuits; it can be easy to have too much. Do not add salt to the foods that you give to your baby because their kidneys cannot cope with it. Avoid giving your baby ready-made foods that are not made specifically for babies, such as breakfast cereals, because they can also be high in salt. Check food labels. The salt content is usually given as figures for sodium. To convert sodium to salt multiply by 2.5. Food that contains 0.6g of sodium, or more, in a 100g is a lot, and foods with 0.1g, or less, in a 100g, is a little.


Fruit and vegetables – Aim for at least 5 a day. Have a variety (eat a rainbow – children find this fun to do). Peel and chop so easy to eat and readily available e.g. carrot sticks. Keep the fruit bowl full and biscuit tin empty! Portion size is roughly what would fit into the palm of their hand. Fruit on cereal+ fruit snack + veg at lunch or in lunch box + veg with evening meal + fruit for dessert = 5 a day

Get planning and get healthy 🙂


Penny saving Prawns.

This weekend it was my birthday…. and birthdays mean special meals 🙂  This year having a baby meant the idea of getting dressed up and going out past 8pm felt like the last thing we fancied, and the prospect of an early morning after a late night was not so appealing….so instead we opted for a meal in. Take-away is almost a non-existant word in our house, mainly because I’m wheat free, can’t take too much spice at present and am not great with fatty food. I know, I’m a tough cookie to please at times. So we wanted a quick, tasty meal. The decision – king prawn and mussel thai green curry. Easy to prepare with fresh lemongrass, ginger, chilli, coriander and coconut milk, full of tasty veggies alongside the seafood and served with thai style rice and a chilled glass of white wine. Prawn crackers on the side as a treat . I could eat it all over again.

We ended up buying the fresh shell on prawns from the fish counter. These were not only cheaper by far, tastier and we got the added fun of deshelling the prawns 🙂 After dinner we collected up all the prawn shells. They have made a delicious fish stock and then got scoffed by the cats. A true bargain, feeding 2 adults, 2 cats and a tasty stock ready for a fish pie. Yum.

Prawns are a good lean source of protein, they have high levels of vitamin B12 as well as being a good course of Selenium, Omega 3, Vitamin E and Phosphorus. They are also low in fat and saturated fats so a healthy choice.

So I’d encourage you to have a look at your fresh fish counter/fishmonger, not only can it be tastier and fresher but it may be cheaper too.

Peppers stuffed with Quinoa (Wheat free, GF, DF)

I love vegetarian food, though I’m not actually a vegetarian. I love the colours, flavours and creativeness of it. We tend to have meatless meals 3-4 days a week and use lentils, beans and pulses a lot.

Last week I really fancied having a go with Quinoa, its not something we eat that often but being wheat free I can’t eat cous cous and had had an urge for making stuffed peppers, plus the baby hadn’t given Quinoa a go yet.

These came our really well, even if my husband had to take his in a plastic tub back to work to eat as his on-call phone rang! His comments were that it was difficult to eat without a knife but the Quinoa was delicious and nutty. The baby managed to eat hers all without a knife 😉 fingers sufficed and the whole lot went quite quickly, so I’m taking that as a compliment.


Remove the stalk and seeds from the pepper and then halve them, roast in the oven for about 30 mins at Gas Mark 5.

Saute a mix of veggies (I used mushrooms and courgettes), cook the Quinoa using stock and then add to the veggies with a little stock and plenty of fresh herbs.

Stuff it all in the pepper and top with grated cheese, bake until the cheese bubbles (Use Cheezly if you are dairy free as it melts best). Yum yum.