Tag Archives: nutrition

I Tried It: Whole30

springtime at kew gardens

I haven’t felt like writing much about food and nutrition recently. There’s been a lot going on, personally and professionally. New job, a heavier course load at school and loads of political distraction (every morning, I wake up and think, ‘what now?’. Don’t you?). It’s times like these when it’s tempting to throw everything to the wind and drink and eat whatever I want.

After some reflection, it truly feels like an act of subversion to take care of what you put in your body, to nourish yourself with intention. Small acts of subversion matter, more than ever.

To me, it feels subversive now to give a shit about the things I put in my body, to take care not to treat it like a garbage can. To eat organic, to be mindful about the type of meat and fish I buy, to really think about the amount of sugar my family consumes.

There are so many (things) trying to grab me away from eating well; from working long hours, cartoon branded food grabbing my son’s attention while shopping, my own yearnings and desires.

I have been doing the Whole 30 this month, in an attempt to get myself back on the right food path. Not that I was eating particularly badly. I just found that I was eating without thought or intention and letting my cravings drive my nourishment. And I tend to crave things like sourdough pizzas, greasy, salty fries and sharp, cold ice cream. All washed down with lots of red wine and gin and tonics.

So I embarked on a Whole 30 as a bit of a reset. 30 days, lots of vegetables, high quality meat, nuts, seeds, fish and fruit. This is my fifth time and it’s like riding a bike. I’ve internalised the rules and know what works and what doesn’t work for me.

And this time, I’ve really enjoyed it. My cooking has improved, so I’ve enjoyed being creative within the parameters of the regimen. And I’ve enjoyed having to be a bit more intentional with my food. The health benefits are there too: I can think more clearly, I don’t get as tired, my anxiety has improved.  Being alcohol-free has made my mornings easier too.

Have you tried a Whole 30? What was your experience?

Sweet Potato Sliders

sweet potato and pulled pork sliders

This weekend, I really fancied an open-faced sandwich, but had no bread in the house. I shuffled through the cupboards and found a bag of sweet potatoes and decided to see what sweet potato ‘bread’ tasted like. Stay with me… it was pretty good.

I brushed an oven tray with olive oil and grilled them for 20 minutes on each side.

And topped with some mashed avocado, broccoli spouts and pulled pork that I had in the fridge. A simple, yet filling lunch, so these are definitely getting added into my lunch repertoire!

sweet potato and pulled pork sliders 2

What you need:

1-2 large sweet potatoes

2 tbsp olive oil

Any desired toppings – the sky’s limit here! Anything you would normally put on toast, from sweet to savoury, you can put on these sliders!

A large baking tray

Baking brush

How to make it:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C
  2. Slice the sweet potatoes into 1 cm slices
  3. Brush both sides of the sweet potato slices with the olive oil
  4. Put the tray into the oven on the highest shelf and bake for 20 minutes or until they are soft and slightly browning.
  5. Take the tray from the oven and turn the sliders over and bake for another 20 minutes or until they match the texture and colour of the other side.
  6. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes.
  7. Top with your chosen toppings and enjoy!

I Tried It: Dry January

coffee-and-date-ball

Have you ever done a dry January?

After a heavy November and December, I decided that I needed to give my body a break and get on the wagon for a month. And what better month than January, when everyone’s skint, partied out and needing a bit more time at home.

I also needed to regulate my relationship with alcohol. It’s easy, especially with the UK drinking culture and in a hectic city like London, to use alcohol to relax and let a quick drink after work turn into 3 or 4. Knowing everything I know about the effects alcohol has on the body, it was time to put all of my knowledge into practice for myself.  Alcohol is a tricky one for the body – it depletes your B vitamins, which can lead to anxiety and depression, it puts stress on your liver and diverts it from other, more important functions and it can lead to weight gain, poor sleep, spotty skin and dehydration. I decided it was time to take the advice I give to clients in clinic and get a grip on my alcohol intake.

On New Year’s Eve, I drained my last glass of champagne and rang in the new year, ready to kick booze to the curb for a while.

The first few days were hard. No glass of wine at lunch, no cold and crisp G&T while watching TV on the sofa in the evenings. But this was where the foundations for all the hard work of the next month started – breaking the little habits that I had developed and putting better ones in place.

I replaced my red wine and G&Ts with lots of warming cinnamon tea in the evening and sparkling water at lunchtimes. I asked M not to offer me any drinks (except tea or water) in the evenings. I talked about my dry January with my mates, so they knew what I was doing and changed plans to lunch and coffee dates, rather than evening meals, so I wouldn’t be tempted.

By weeks 2 and 3, I started to get in the groove and was enjoying waking up without a hangover and fuzzy brain. My skin was clearer and my jeans a little looser. And the biggest plus? My anxiety levels rapidly decreased.

Last Tuesday 31st January felt great. 31 days without alcohol, a clearer head, deeper sleep at night, more money in my bank account and less anxiety. I decided to carry on through to the end of February, as I have a big nutrition exam at the beginning of March and need all the focus I can get.

What comes after that? I’m not sure. I’d love to be able to get to a place that where I can have one drink and have that be enough. Any advice?

The Easiest Frittata Recipe

easy-frittata-hot-out-of-the-oven

Aside from their significance as a major plot point in the Harrison Ford – Rachel McAdams film, Morning Glory, frittatas are one of those recipes that everyone seems to have their own little twist on. And why not? Their versatility means that even the newest of cooks can make a lovely frittata.

What you need:

At least 10 large free-range, organic eggs (the more eggs you use, the denser the frittata will be – no bad thing!)

Vegetables of your choice – I chose 1 cup of collard greens and 1 tomato for my version

Protein of your choice – I used 1 cup of diced chorizo in this recipe, but have also liberally used shredded pork, chicken and beef, as well as many varieties of cheese in the past

Chopped herbs of your choice – I used 1 sprig each of fresh thyme and rosemary

Salt and pepper

1 tbsp olive oil

Non-stick pan

Oven

How to make it:

1.  Break all the eggs into a bowl and beat them together, until all the yolks and whites have combined.

2. Add your chopped veg, protein and herbs to the egg mixture and stir until everything is combined.

3. Turn on your oven to 175C.

4. Add the olive oil to your non-stick pan, making sure that there is a light coating of oil across the pan and turn on the stove to low-medium heat.

5. Pour the frittata mixture into the pan, stirring so that all the veg and protein ingredients are evenly distributed. Use the tomatoes to create a nice pattern on the top of the frittata.

6. Leave to cook for 5 minutes or until the edges of the frittata start to crisp up.

easy-frittata-cooking-on-the-stove

7. Remove the pan from the stove (not forgetting to turn it off!) and place it into the warm oven. Let it cook for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the frittata is firm to the touch and there are no runny areas around the top.

8. Remove from the oven. Using a pallet knife or something similar, lift around the edges of the frittata so that it is easy to slide out of the pan, on to a plate.

9. Let cool for 5 minutes and enjoy!

easy-frittata-ready-to-serve

Just eat more vegetables.

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People like shortcuts. Maybe it’s a symptom of our modern world, where we can get pretty much anything we want at the touch of a button.

Speaking of shortcuts, I’m often asked by friends, family and colleagues about the fastest ways to get healthy / fit / more energy (delete as appropriate).

There are two answers I always give, no matter what their underlying symptoms. Then I ask more questions and give a more detailed, tailored response.

The first answer is always – get more sleep or go to bed earlier.

I’ve talked about the benefits of sleep before – it regulates your metabolism, allows your various organs to repair and heal and allows your brain to process the events of the day. Don’t give into the current masochism around sleep – most people really need at least 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night to be fully functional.

And then my second answer is always – eat more fresh vegetables, especially green leafy ones.

I cannot overstate that vegetables are little nutrition powerhouses! Each vegetable has many individual benefits, with its own mix of macronutrients (protein, good fats and complex carbohydrates) and phytonutrients.

The greater the variety in your vegetable intake, the more benefit to you. When in doubt, just eat the rainbow!

Ideally, everyone would eat at least 5-7 servings of vegetables a day. I know that’s hard, so  you’ll often hear nutritionists,(including me!) say to prioritise cruciferous / brassica vegetables. You know them as broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, kale, brussels sprouts, savoy cabbage, radish, bok choy and watercress.

Not only are they high in antioxidants like vitamins A and C, they are also high in folic acid and vitamin K and have a huge amount of minerals such as magnesium and potassium.

Cruciferous vegetables are also high in phytonutrients like glucosinolates which support your liver in clearing excess hormones, alcohol, xenoestrogens and environmental chemicals.

So, adding a big handful of kale to your morning smoothie after a big night out will help your liver clear the alcohol from your system and make your feel better a bit faster!

In a nutshell, adding more cruciferous vegetables into your diet can help you boost your energy levels, support your liver, balance your hormones, support your immune system and feed the good bacteria in your gut!

There are lots of ways to add cruciferous vegetables to your diet:

Add a big handful of kale to your morning smoothie

Make a big pot of soup with broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower

Make a big a*s salad with loads of different veggies in it

Grate up some cabbage for a coleslaw

Make a big tray of roasted veg

Steam some asparagus and eat them with hummus as a snack

How do you eat your veggies?

Food is food – nutritious, cheap and tasty.

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This week, a prominent doctor in the UK talked about the need to reduce the 5-a-day fruit and vegetable intake recommendation because it was ‘unrealistic’ for low-income families to achieve this. She says that lots of families may struggle to afford the recommended amounts and that “many children are being brought up with a culture of not having any fresh fruits and vegetables at all.”

I was shocked when I read this headline (which was repeated across multiple websites) and decided to dig deeper into the story. What she is actually says, is that “in the consultation with patients, it’s vital that GPs sometimes need to tailor the advice to the family in front of them. That may be starting with one or two portions a day and building up to the five portions a day.”

My frustration with this misleading story (tailored advice is a good thing) reminded me of a quote I recently read in a profile of Jamie Oliver.

“It’s quite British, this association with having any degree of thought or love of food being upper class or middle class or whatever you want to class it up as. That’s not the rest of the world. On my travels, the best food has come from the most economically challenged areas.”

It’s easy to understand why there are such strong class associations with food in the United Kingdom – classism persists across all areas of life. It’s really quite remarkable. Even still, there has been a lot of great work by the likes of Jamie Oliver, Jack Munro and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to make food and food preparation more equalitarian and accessible.

It’s remains true that the more fresh fruit and veg you eat, the better for you.

So here are the million pound questions:

How can we continue to spread the message that eating well needn’t cost a lot?

That it is possible to get your 5 to 7-a-day without breaking the bank?

What role do supermarkets play in this? Schools?

I don’t have all the answers, clearly.

What I know, is that it’s our role as nutritionists and health professionals to present simple, easy to understand messages of food and health to our patients and clients. To teach them tasty and nutritious food can be inexpensive.

This lovely warm chickpea and bacon salad (47p per serving!) is a great example of cheap, tasty and nutritious.

Chestnut and caramelised apple and pear pancakes


I’ve been on a massive pancake kick recently. It’s probably because I associate pancakes with the comfort food of my childhood and right now, I seem to like the idea of getting a bit of comfort through food. Analyse that how you will.

Other foods in my comfort food list include French toast, macaroni cheese, spaghetti, roast chicken, chocolate cake, reuben sandwiches, guava duff and conch fritters. Every time I eat any of these foods, I get a burst of nostalgia and craving for the comfort of family and friends. What feelings do comfort foods give you?

I’m sure there’s lots of science behind why we choose particular foods as our designated comfort foods – the dopamine hit that these carbohydrates, fats and sugars give us, along with the soothing levels of satiety, probably give us the first hint!

Do salad or fruit ever factor into someone’s definition of comfort food? I would like to meet you if this is you!


As part of my pancake kick, I’ve been trying to create more nutritious versions that give you all the comfort with all the healthy benefits. And I love these chestnut pancakes. Adapted from an old recipe for Italian chestnut flour crepes, I love topping them with caramelised fruit. Recently, I’ve been doing a mix of pears, apples and plums – generally going for whatever is seasonal.

What you need:

Pancakes

150g chestnut flour

1/4 tsp baking soda

2 large free-range eggs

250ml organic whole milk

Caramelised fruit

2 small apples / pears

a pinch of cinnamon

a tab of unsalted butter

How to make it:

  1. Sift the chestnut flour and the baking soda into a medium sized bowl.
  2. Crack the eggs and separate the egg yolks and whites, adding the yolks into the dry mixture.
  3. Whisk the egg whites until they are frothy.
  4. Slowly fold the milk into the dry mixture, then add the egg whites.
  5. Fold the mixture until the wet and dry ingredients are combined. Do not over fold!
  6. Leave the batter to stand for at least 10 minutes so the milk and baking soda have enough time to interact.
  7. Chop the fruit into small wedges.
  8. Put a small non-stick pan on the stove on low-medium heat and add a tab of butter.
  9. Once the butter starts to bubble and go brown, add your fruit and cinnamon.
  10. Stir your fruit occasionally and remove from heat once it has gone soft and a bit sticky.
  11. After ten minutes has passed, put another non-stick pan for your pancakes on low to medium heat so it has time to warm up.
  12. Once your pan is warm, use an ice cream scoop to drop the batter in. I like to make pancakes on the smaller side so they are easier to flip.
  13. Once bubbles start to form on the edges of the pancakes (normally after a minute or so), flip them over. Chestnut flour tends to cook a bit faster than wheat flour so you’ll need to keep a close eye so they don’t burn. I learned this the hard way!
  14. Once you’ve made all your pancakes, top with fruit. You can also add raw cacao  and enjoy!