Category Archives: Food & Nutrition

Holiday Exmoor Exploits

I wanted to share a few of the places I came upon whilst exploring on holiday this month.

There is a lot to be said for carefully researching days out, but sometimes it is those places that we just come upon that take our breath away! I did seem to keep being places at just the right time.

The Moyes Clan gathering holiday was in Timberscome this year and we had enjoyed a pleasant Sunday afternoon in Dunster village, before heading to the beach.

Wooly Dunster

Dunster Yarn Market is a historic timber octagonal building at one end of the High Street and creates single file traffic. As one of my sons commented as we drove through “it’s a bit in the way!”

Dunster Yarn Market

Dunster Yarn Market

Built in 1609 to provide shelter for merchants during cloth markets, we were staying during monthly woolfest. It was great to see the wool from sheep to jumper.

We were just in time to see a young ticklish sheep being shorn for the first time.

Another day I met Annabelle, a maker with a her own flock of sheep, had a crafty chat and bought  wool and wooden buttons.

When there was a group returning to Dunster to visit the castle, I decided to have a solitary explore towards the coast. I enjoyed a drive along the Somerset lanes, not worrying about the frequent delays for the “dance of cars” negotiating passing places and none.

Selworthy on a Sunny Afternoon

I parked up by Selworthy church and my first find was a craft shop in a thatched cottage to explore local makers work. Asking around I was directed to a path that took me towards the hill were “you can get a great view of Porlock Bay.”

 Glad I had borrowed a map from my local library that helped me to work out my route, but also appreciated a lady telling me the way – heading towards the hamlet of Bossington, and then on to find Selworthy Beacon on the headland, one of the highest points on Exmoor.

Thatched Shelter - Allerford Plantation

Thatched Shelter – Allerford Plantation

There are lots of thatched dwellings around, but I was fascinated to come across several thatched shelters, for walkers in inclement weather Thankfully the weather held for my walk. The gate  presumably deters animals.

Thatched Cobbled Shelter with wooden bench

Thatched Cobbled Shelter with wooden bench

St Agnes’ Fountain is a small spring in Allerford Plantation and has the seat with the bay view I had been told about. I am not sure I would have noticed the fountain if it wasn’t for the seat, after our dry Spring & Summer! There is no structure apart from an arrangement of mossy stones. The fountain was constructed in 1820 and named after the youngest daughter of Sir Thomas Acland. (SS 9047 4736 if you ever wish to find it)

St Agnes' Fountain a small spring, Allerford Plantation

St Agnes’ Fountain a small spring, Allerford Plantation

Seat with a Wiew, Allerford Plantation

Seat with a Wiew, Allerford Plantation

From here I climbed through forest, catching tantalising glimpses of deer and ponies. It was hot and tiring and I nearly gave up finding the Selworthy Beacon and the ocean views. I was so glad to finally meet another human who encouraged me it wasn’t too far and worth continuing to “her favourite place to be”.

A heather and gorse informal patchwork greeted me and I took a path through this to reach the view I had persisted for.

Selworthy Beacon View, Exmoor

Selworthy Beacon View, Exmoor

Amazing dark and light cloud formations coming over threatened rain but I remained dry and didn’t need to use the stone “wind and rain hut” built in remembrance of John Dyke Acland in on his death in 2009. He took his children, and then grandchildren on Sunday walks on the combe training them to love nature and poetry. There are some examples of his favourite poetry calved in the sections of the shelter:

wind and rain hut built in remembrance of John Dyke Acland

wind and rain hut built in remembrance of John Dyke Acland

poem calved in the wind and rain hut built in remembrance of John Dyke Acland

poem calved in the wind and rain hut built in remembrance of John Dyke Acland

From here I was able to work out how to get back to my car, back to our cottage to quickly wash and change to join my mother in laws birthday tea. I had been a much longer trek than anticipated but I felt uplifted by my Exmoor exploits.

The following day Nick and I set off early to take one of our sons to Exeter airport, as he had to fly to Ireland for a friends wedding. Afterwards we wend East to explore the coast there. I had noticed Otterton Mill on the map and we were driving past. Deciding to stop, we didn’t know what joys awaited us.

Milling and Fresh baked bread at Otterton Mill

Otterton Mill – on the River Otter was just preparing for one of the occasional demonstrations, allowing us to experience the ancient tradition of flour milling. The curved waterwheel paddles were turning it at a fair pace (12 revolutions per minute) producing 200kg of flour an hour.

Otterton Mill diagram

Otterton Mill diagram

This is helped by the petal shaped grooves cut into the millstones. I was impressed by the exhibit of this.

Groove patterns in millstones

Groove patterns in millstones

Milling has taken place here for over 1000 years and we watched a traditional wheat variety ‘Maris Widgeon’ being milled. This wheat is so tall its straw is used for thatching.

Otterton Mill Grinding

Otterton Mill Grinding

We browsed the local arts and crafts,  purchasing  some flour bread from the shop.

Driving to the coastal path above Sidmouth we tried the bread, before our walk down along the seafront, a paddle and a cream tea. It was at the beach I continued to stitch some seaside quilted cards.

seaside stitching

seaside stitching

seaside quilted cards

seaside quilted cards







Home Baking

After the blessing of summer sunny holiday exploits today is a cool wet day, just right for doning wool, lighting the stove and baking bread using the Otterton Mill stone ground flour.

Holiday Bread made with Otterton Mill stoneground wholemeal bread flour

Holiday Bread made with Otterton Mill stoneground wholemeal bread flour

Half the bag made two lovely loaves shown in their proving baskets:

Bread in Proving Basket

Bread in Proving Basket

I added some rosemary, olives and sun dried tomatoes to elude to happy summer holiday memories.

I would love to hear what your holiday exploits have included.

Happy CupCake Day

Hope you are enjoying a cupcake on national cup cake day?

Summer picnics and afternoon teas are a great tme for a cupcake.

I have made both a savoury and sweet versions during the last week and share my recipes with you here. Both can be enjoyed knowing they are easy ways to increase your vegetable intake.

My sons are generally Ok with vegetables, but are not keen on either courgettes or beetroot, both of which are summer seasonal healthy vegetables, so these cupcake recipes are a good way to encourage vegie consumption.

First the savoury Cheesy Courgette Cupcakes.


  • 1 medium courgette
  • 100g  cheddar cheese, or any hard cheeses lurking in your fridge
  • 225g (8oz) self-raising flour
  • 50ml (2fl oz) olive oil
  • 175ml (6fl oz) semi-skimmed milk
  • 2 eggs
  • black pepper


preheat the oven to gas 6, 200°C

Place the muffin cases in a muffin tin.

Rinse the courgette, cut the ends off,  grate it into a mixing bowl.

Grate the cheese into the mixing bowl.

Add the self-raising flour, along with the oil and milk.

Crack the eggs into a small bowl with some black pepper and add this to the other ingredients.

Stir just until all the ingredients are combined.

Divide the mixture equally between the muffin cases using two spoons.

Bake for around 20 minutes until they’re golden andspringy to touch

Cool on a cooling rack.

Now we have the Chocolate Cupcakes


  • 120g self-raising flour
  • 60g cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 150g golden caster sugar
  • 200g beetroot
  • 2 large-sized eggs
  • 140ml olive oil


Heat the oven to 180ºC/Gas 4.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into a bowl. Mix in the sugar.

Peel and grate the beetroot

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, add the beetroot, egg and oil and lightly mix with a wooden spoon.

Divide the mixture evenly between the cup cake tin (with cases if you prefer)

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until well risen and just firm to the touch. Cool on the cooling rack.

Lightly sieve icing sugar over the buns to serve.

National CupCake day takes place on June 14th and is held each year to raise awareness and  money to help the fight against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. This is needed everyday so don’t worry if you have missed the date in June, to enjoy cupcakes and consider a gift to the alzheimers society.

Happy Pancake Day

Happy Pancake Day – whether you are celebrating the once a year Shrove Tuesday pancake day, or having a pancake day at another time of year, here is one of my favourite recipes.

Any Day Healthy Pancakes

So before you reach for the sugar, syrup or chocolate, have you tried savoury pancakes?

A complete meal, suitable for vegetarians and diabetics. If you need to be gluten free, then use gluten free flour to make your pancakes.

The only difference in the batter is a little black pepper if desired.


Once your pancake batter is made, let it rest while you make a savoury filling.

Pancake Filling

You can use whatever vegetables you choose, selecting different colours and textures to give a nice variety. This is also a great recipe for using up left over cookerd vegetables.

I chose to start with sliced leeks and diced carrots. I sauted these in a little olive oil.

Then I gathered a few vegetables that didn’t need any prior cooking: some leftover cooked peas, a small tin of sweetcorn, a red pepper and a few sticks of celery. I chopped the peper and celery.

Once the carrot and leek were cooked, I added the rest of the vegetables and mixed well. A tub of cream cheese and some grated cheese were added and the mixture mixed really well. Use any cheeses you have avilable in your fridge.

As you make each pancake you can fill and roll it while your next pancake is cooking, making a production line process.

Place the rolled up filled pancakes in an oven proof dish.

Sprinkle over a lottle more grated cheese and then bake for 20 minutes in a preheated – moderate oven: 180 degrees centegrade/ gas 4

I made these ahead of time and allowed them to cool to take them to a pancake party.




Celebrating National Garlic Day

It’s national garlic day in the US, but I think it’s worth all of us celebrating the culinary, nutritional and medicinal uses of this pungent bulb!

Adding flavour to so many recipes, many of which I think would just not be the same without a little garlic. My hot broccoli dip recipe,  lemon & garlic chicken, hummus, and curries are a good examples.

If you want a vegetarian recipe, you can watch a film of me preparing one, and download my sweet potato curry recipe

When folk I am coaching say they don’t like the taste of garlic, I often suggest they try cooking with just one clove, and see what they think. Often it is the very strong garlic taste they find offensive and they will often like foods I demonstrate.
Sometimes folk report misinterpreting a recipe and using the whole bulb, or head of garlic rather than just one clove, or segment, taken from the split bulb!

The good: nutritional benefits of garlic

Garlic is low in calories and very rich in Vitamin C, Selinium, Vitamin B6, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid and vitamin E. It also contains trace amounts of other nutrients.

It has also been reported to reduce fat stores. Garlic stimulates the satiety hormone which reduces binge eating and sugar cravings and it releases the norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter which boosts metabolism.


The good: health benefits of garlic

Garlic contains antioxidants, notably allicin, helps to prevent and reduce the severity of common illnesses like the flu and common cold. An ingredient in Dale Pinnock’s flu fighter soup, which also containts lot of other health giving ingredients and is also a great base for curries.

Garlic is claimed to help prevent heart disease. High doses of garlic appear to improve blood pressure of those with known high blood pressure (hypertension). Garlic supplementation also seems to reduce total and LDL cholesterol, particularly in those who have high cholesterol.

Antioxidants  protect against cell damage and ageing. It may reduce the risk of cancer and dementia.

It is most therapeutic when crushed and then diced. You should not heat it for too long or important nutrients are damaged. Consider how you can addapt your cooking, adding garlic towards the end . It’s most potent when eaten raw, such as in guacamole, hummus or salad dressings. Some recommend chewing garlic raw!

If you don’t like the taste or the after whif, then it is worth taking odorless garlic supplements. However, do not take garlic supplements if you take blood-thinning medication,  have stomach ulcers or a thyroid condition. It may interact with some prescription medicines, including insulin, anti-viral drugs, anti-inflammatory medicines and certain contraceptives so discuss garlic supplementations with your doctor.

The good: beauty benefits of garlic

Rub a sliced clove of garlic on acne and cold sores for an effective topical treatment.

Infuse oil with garlic and massage it into your scalp to help combat hair loss, or onto skin to help with psoriasis.

Soak feet in a bowl of warm water and crushed garlic to relieve athlete’s foot.

Place a slice of garlic over a splinter of wood in your skin and covering it with a dressing.

Mosquitoes can be kept at bay by garlic

I have found garlic to be an easy garden crop. Several of the photos are from a visit to the garlic farm who supply smoked, black and even Elephant garlic for cooking as well as garlic to sow.

The bad: garlicky smell

Garlic is known for causing bad breath (halitosis), and causing sweat to have a pungent “garlicky” smell. The sulfurous compounds are absorbed into the bloodstream, and exit the body through the lungs and skin.

So, if like me you like what garlic brings to food as well as the likely health benefits, what can we do to cut down on the garlic breath phenomena?

If you want to be intimate with someone, then make sure they consume garlic too. The only time garlic breath bothers my husband or I is if one of us has consumed garlic and the other one hasn’t!

There is the mechanical removal of the garlic particles from our mouth by brushing and flossing teeth, as well as tongue scraping. Here are numerous suggestions to cover up or neutralize the garlic compounds.

  • My favourite is Parsley – using recipes that also use parsley and chew on parsley after eating garlic, if I am concerned about my breath.
  • Cardamom, mint, fennel, cloves, anise seeds
  • Studies conducted at Ohio State University have shown that drinking milk, especially higher fat milk can reduce garlic breath.
  • Lemon – Lemon is very effective in neutralizing the garlic odor. Some suggest sucking on a lemon wedge after eating garlic, but I prefer a slice of lemon in hot water to drink! Also washing your hands with lemon juice helps to remove the odor from your hands.
  •  Tea, especially green and peppermint, contain polyphenols that reduce the volatile sulfur compounds that the garlic produces.


The bad: possible bloating

Garlic contains fructo-oligosaccharides, short chain carbohydrates, commonly referred to as fructans. Humans do not have enzymes to break down oligosaccharides which mean gut bacteria ferment them, possibly leading to irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.

Are you on a FODMAP diet and avoid garlic? Since fructans are not oil soluble,  you can buy garlic infused oil, or make your own at the start of cooking. Using whole garlic cloves, sautee the garlic with coconut oil in a pan for 20 minutes at medium  temperature. Remove the garlic and then cook the rest of your meal with the infused oil. The oil  infused with garlic should be use immediately. Throw away any leftovers – something you rarely hear me say – to avoid the slight risk of a bacterium called Clostridium Botulinum.

Not all IBS sufferers, or indeed fructan sensitive people, are sensitive to garlic, so test  in the  reintroduction phase of the FODMAP diet to see if you can add small amounts back in.


I would love to hear about how you celebrate national garlic day – please leave a comment below


Festive Food for you to enjoy

Some tasty, and pretty healthy festive food ideas …

Whether I want a tasty supper, or a festive party dish that won’t be a repeat of what others take (or bring) to share, then this hot broccoli dip recipe is a favourite.


I have even found someone who liked it but declared they didn’t like broccoli! For lunch today we are having this with jacket potatoes.


Hot Broccoli Dip

350g/12oz broccoli, chopped – I use the stalk finely chopped too


1  onion, finely chopped


1 red pepper, deseeded and finely chopped


2 cloves garlic, pressed, or finely chopped. You can add more if you are into garlic like me!


55g/2oz Parmesan cheese, grated

225g/8oz cheddar cheese, grated


8 tbsp. crème fraiche

8 tbsp. mayonnaise


ground black pepper


  • Preheat oven to 200 C/gas 7

  • Add half the Parmesan cheese to the other ingredients and mix well.

  • Spoon into an ovenproof dish, sprinkle over the remaining cheese and bake for approx. 30 minutes until golden and bubbling.

For a festive buffet, or with drinks, serve with:

Baked Pitta Crisps:

Wholemeal pitta breads

  • split each pitta bread into half horizontally

  • cut into triangles using a pizza cutter or sharp knife

  • arrange in a single layer on a baking tray

  • bake 8-10 minutes until lightly browned

 A festive platter arrangement is also easy to do:


For pudding today, we are having apple crumble – I still have lots of apples from our garden harvest to use, but a more seasonal one is this oaty pud. You can do this in any dessert or even drinking glasses (even plastic party wine glasses, so it doesn’t matter if you get all your glasses back or are worried about broken glass!)

You can also add some whisky to make it even more festive.

Helen’s Quick Healthy Festive Desert

100g/4oz medium oatmeal

500g live, Greek-style yoghurt

3 tbsp. clear honey

150g/5oz blueberries

150g/5oz raspberries

  • Spread oatmeal in an even layer on a baking tray and toast in oven or under the grill until browned. Be watchful as it can easily burn! Leave to cool completely.

  • Mix yoghurt with honey and toasted oatmeal, until completely combined

  • Layer berries with yoghurt mixture in glasses, finishing with a few berries.

    I shared my Parsnip and fruit loaf with lemon drizzle recipe in this months’s e-newsletter. If you would like to subscribe to this then either email me, or complete the contact us form

    These recipes contain antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fibre, and healthy bacteria, to make our bodies happy.

    Adding as much fruit, vegetables, and whole grains to puddings can really help keep us healthy, as well as enjoying festive food. Cheers!

    Bake, Eat and Be Merry

Apple Recipe for Autumn

What a large apple crop this year! But what to do with them – here is a wonderful apple recipe.


I have made some crumbles, but this weekend I was invited to a pudding and wine evening with some women from church. I love puddings, wine and these church events, but remain largely unconvinced about combining  sweet pudding with non desert wine!

So I wanted to make a light-on-sugar but luxury feeling desert, and considered what ingredients I had. Although gooseberry fool is more usual, I made an apple version.

Light, fluffy apple stirred through  sweet vanilla flavoured custard and whipped cream – a deliciously comforting autumnal pudding recipe, which proved popular.

This so fits with the cosy concept of hygge, simple food using garden ingredients to share with friends.


You only need one or two egg yolks for this recipe. Store the egg white in the fridge for up to two weeks for making meringues.

If you have a glut of apples, you can cook up more and freeze the puree for another time.



Serves approx. 10


  • 800g apples, peeled, cored and quartered
  • 450ml milk
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 45g plain flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • the rind and juice of a lemon
  • 250ml double or whipping cream, lightly whipped


Chop the apples into 2-3cm chunks and place in a small saucepan with 150ml tablespoons of water or apple juice.


Put the saucepan on a medium heat and bring to the boil. Then cover with a lid, turn the heat down to low and cook the apples for about 15 minutes until completely softened. Set aside to cool.


While the apples are cooling, set up a double saucepan (If you don’t have a double pan, use a heatproof bowl placed over a pan of boiling water). Pour the milk into a saucepan and bring to the boil, then take off the heat. Place the egg yolk(s) in a heatproof bowl with the sugar, flour and vanilla extract, and whisk together. Pour the warm milk into the bowl while whisking, then pour this mixture back into the top of the double saucepan on a medium heat and whisk the mixture as it comes to the boil. Watch out –as soon as it boils it will go lumpy, so keep whisking.

home-coaching-apple-fool-vanilla-custardOnce it is thick, take it off the heat, strain into a bowl and allow to cool.

Mash or process the cooked apple, add the lemon juice and fold together with the cooled custard and softly whipped cream.



Pour into one large, or individual dishes. Chill for a couple of hours (or overnight if you want to prepare ahead).

Garnish with the lemon rind.


Hard Decisions

Home Coaching Healthier Cakes Judging1

I am very rarely overwhelmed by food to taste, but came near during  judging the Cookery Section at the recent Bamford Annual Show. The above picture is just one of the many categories, the healthier cake section, where I had asked participants to make a healthier cake, for example, by adding vegetablesand reducing the sugar.

Thanks to my assistant, Sue Mitchell all were sampled and scored. Some lovely bread, biscuits, scones, preserves …and the winner is the Lime & Courgette Cake! Lovely, looks, texture and taste and easy to cut and eat.

Home Coaching Healthier Cakes Judging2

Here is the recipe:


  • For the Cake
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 125ml olive oil
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 250g courgette, finely grated
  • For the icing
  • 400g cream cheese
  • 120g icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 40g pistachio nuts (finely chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest



  1. Preheat oven to 180 C / 160 C fan / Gas 4. Grease and line two 21cm sandwich tins.
  2. Beat together the eggs, oil and sugar in a large bowl until creamy. Sift in the flour, bicarbonate soda and baking powder and beat well. Stir in the grated courgettes until well combined. Divide the mixture into the cake tins.
  3. Bake in the middle of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes.
  4. Remove the cakes from the oven and carefully turn out onto a wire rack. Carefully peel off the paper lining and leave to cool.
  5. For the icing, beat the cream cheese in a bowl until smooth. Sift in the icing sugar and stir in the lime juice.
  6. Use a bread knife to level one of the cakes if necessary. Use 2/3 of the icing to sandwich the 2 cakes together, the levelled one on the bottom, and use the remaining icing to cover the top of the cake. Sprinkle with the pistachio nuts and lime zest.

I was then asked to judge the much smaller textile craft category and choose this lovely felted cushion cover.

Home Coaching Bamford Show Judging

So just when I thought my judging role was completed, I was asked to choose best in show! This set me thinking about all the many decisions we face each day, and how we can become overwhelmed. If we don’t get enough rest and know our own worth, making decisions can become really hard.

I was ill this last week and appreciated Nick looking after me, easpecially making me lots of drinks. There were times though, because I felt so rough, that the choice of what to drink seemed hard!

One of the most important choices we constantly have to make is how we spend our time, all 1440 minutes of each day. A new academic or calender year can be excellent times to consider our time management.

Home Coaching Brand New Day

Like so many things, there is a need for balance, to make sure we are looking after ourselves with enough rest, time to reflect, exercise, healthful food, time with loved ones … as well as choosing our goals and how best to reach them, challenging ourselves to step out of our comfort zone and grow.

Home Coaching Your CallToo often we think it is one or the other, but there really is the need for work (aka personal development), rest and play. If the balance is not right for us we can burn out or stand still!

step forward

If you think your tendency is to stand still, make sure you schedule some time to consider goals and steps to achieving them. If you think your tendency is to go too fast, make sure you schedule time to play and rest. What recharges your batteries?

And if you are thinking but where on earth do I find the time, spend 30 minutes considering what is steeling your time and how you can better manage this.

Home Coaching Disappearing TimeIt may be  habits, struggling to say no, or be down to procrastination, three age old time stealers!
Sometimes we can move forward with these ourselves, sometimes it helps to talk to a coach. Please get in touch if you would like chat about how we can help.

We would love to hear what you do that recharges your batteries, please comment below.

healthy eating at work

What is the most unhealthy food you eat? That was a question I asked at a recent Home Coaching Healthy Food At Work Workshop.

Home Coaching Healthy Food At Work Workshop5

For me the answer would be a Mars bar. However, one standard Mars bar contains around 280 kcalories, 43g of sugar and 6.4g of saturated fat. Does that matter? Well if I only occasionally have one as a treat, then not at all, I am a great advocate of the fact that there is no such thing as an unhealthy food, but unhealthy diets. It is not an occassional treat that matters but our more regular dietary habbits.

Home Coaching MarsBar

Maybe for me one of the reasons a Mars bar is my treat, is because when I was ill as a child, my grandmother would wrap me up in her comfy chair, let me watch TV and give me a drink and a pate with a mars bar cut up into slices. I enjoyed the slices during the day, and perhaps there is great wisdom in cutting up a treat to make it last.

It is not that we want to see some  foods as “bad” or not be enjoyed occasionally, after all, as soon as we tell ourselves we can never eat something, we usually start craving it! Increasingly though, it is sugar that we are seeing as being a real health issue, and it is recommended that we should have no more than 30g of sugar ( 7 cubes) a day.(World health Organisation) Sugar can harm us even if we don’t put on weight – lowering of beneficial gut bacteria– fluctuating blood sugar levels wreaks hormone production, contributing to excess fat around our middle, inflammation, heart disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, auto immune conditions, the list goes on…

Home Coaching Sugar Kills

Sugar fulfils four of the five criteria for an addictive substance, so my advice is to go easy and wean your self off sugar. I have found this really works, and now find some of the sweet things I once enjoyed, just too sweet now!

Home Coaching Cut back on sugarAnd I would recommend this taste change rather than consuming food and drinks with artificial sweeteners.

Home Coaching Eat less sugar

And i’t not just what we eat, drinks can contain a really high level of sugar. Just one 500 ml bottle of Coca Cola contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar, which is more than an adult woman’s maximum recommended intake of added sugar for the whole day. So have a check on the label of drinks and remember we should have no more than 30g of sugar a day.

Home Coaching How much sugar drink

Public Health England has released a new phone app which can count the amount of sugar in a product.The app comes as Public Health England has warned that many British children are consuming their own body weight in sugar each year. The Sugar Smart app can be downloaded in the App Store or Google Play and ITV News has put together a guide on how to use this app.

Home Coaching Sugar App

 One way I find to combat both the urge for sweetness and the grabbing of food on the go, is to plan ahead. If I have my breakfast smoothie, (banana, oats, nut butter & milk) I have both quick release and slower release carbs to give me energy, with protein which will slow down that blood sugar rush even more. I can blend it and go even if I’ve no time to stop, and will be less likely to be thinking of cake mid-morning.

Taking nutritious food to have at work, or when out and about saves us time and stress as well as money (what home coaching is all about in fact). We have it with us when neaded and we know we won’t be tempted in shops by the less healthy options.

Here are some of my favourite /easy to prepare at work recipes, which I shared at the recent Home Coaching Healthy Food At Work Workshop at A Tarmac cement works, health week.

Tuna Pasta Salad

Home Coaching healthy Food tuna pasta salad1

440g leftover cooked pasta (about 200g dried)

100g can tuna in oil

400g can cannellini beans, (borlotti or butterbeans are also good)

1⁄2 red onion, or bunch spring onions, finely chopped

zest and juice 1 lemon

large handful parsley



Tip into a bowl. Mix through the remaining ingredients (the warm pasta will really soak up the flavours). If using chilled leftover pasta, simply mix everything together – it will still taste great. You can also add some mayonnaise. Can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days.On the day, add chopped cucumber, tomatoes, tinned sweetcorn etc.


Home Coaching Healthy Food Hummus

200g/7oz canned chickpeas

2 tbsp lemon juice or more

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp ground cumin

100ml/3½fl oz tahini (sesame seed paste) optional

4 tbsp water

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp paprika

Drain the chickpeas and rinse. Reserve a few whole chick peas for serving.

Combine the chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, tahini, and water in a food processor, or with stick blender, and blend to a creamy purée.

Add more lemon juice, garlic, cumin or salt to taste. Turn out into a dinner plate, and make smooth with the back of a spoon. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and scatter with the reserved chickpeas.

Sprinkle with paprika and serve with pita bread, bread sticks, vegetable sticks, in a wrap with salad.

Home Coaching Healthy Food Hummus & Spinach Wrap

Porridge in the microwave

For each person use ½ cup rolled oats, 1 cup water, and ½ cup low-fat milk.

  • Mix rolled oats, water, and milk in a bowl (use a large bowl to prevent spilling over when cooking).

  • Cook uncovered in the microwave on high power for 1 ½ minutes. Stir.

  • Cook for another minute. Repeat if necessary until it boils and thickens, and becomes smooth and creamy.

Tip:Add your favourite toppings such as sliced banana, sultanas, canned or fresh fruit, chopped dates, or yoghurt.

Home Coaching Healthy Food At Work Workshop Microwave Porridge

Sweet Potato Curry

1 onion chopped

1″ piece of ginger, peeled & finely chopped

2 green chillies, finely chopped

2 crushed or chopped cloves of garlic

1 teasp garam masala

1 teasp ground turmeric

1 teasp ground cumin

1 teasp ground coriander seeds

1 or 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

chopped vegetables of choice eg. Cauliflower, green beans, red pepper

1 banana (optional)

  • Dry fry onion, ginger, chillies & garlic.

  • Add spices and some water with seasoning or stock

  • Add chopped vegetables and cook for 10 minutes

  • Add chopped banana

  • Serve with yoghurt mixed with cucumber and mint.

Sweet Potato Curry

Home Coaching Healthy Food Chicken Noodle Soup

900ml chicken or vegetable stock (or Miso soup mix)

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, about 175g/6oz (or any cooked chicken)

1 tsp chopped fresh root ginger

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

50g rice or wheat noodles

Bag of stir fry vegetables

2 tsp soy sauce, plus extra for serving

mint or basil leaves and a little shredded chilli (optional), to serve

  • Gently fry the vegetables(and cut up raw chicken if using raw chicken) in some oil (toasted sesame seed oil or coconut oil)

  • Add stock and noodles. Season with soy sauce and herbs, to taste.


Egg in a Nest

Egg in Nest

Egg in Nest

Potato (approx. 150g)

Small onion

1 rasher bacon

half a red pepper

1 spoon red kidney beans

1 egg

pinch of chilli powder (optional)

half teasp. paprika

  • peel & dice potato, microwave cook with a little water for 2 minutes on full power

  • heat a little oil in a pan and fry chopped bacon and onion, add paprika and chilliesadd potato, pepper and beans, mix well

  • spoon mixture into a bowl, leaving a hollow in the centre

    At this point you can cover the owl and take it to work sith you to add the egg and cook for 2 minutes!

  • break egg into the hollow, pierce skin of yolk with a cocktail stick/folk

  • cover dish with a plate and microwave cook for approx. 2 minutes until egg white has set

  • sprinkle with extra paprika

    Home Coaching Healthy Food At Work Workshop9I had a great day at this work place, with groups of workers choosing which recipes they wanted to have a go at, and then trying the different foods.  If you would like me to come to your workplace (if in Yorkshire or Derbyshire,  UK) please contact me. I would love to hear what healthy food you take to or make at work, and also your experiences of cutting down on sugar. Please comment below.

An English Summer – Cheers!

An English summer, sunshine and rain means plants grow including meadows and elder.

Both in my studio and in the kitchen I have been getting summery.

The garden certainly neaded some attention this week, but today I am able to relax and enjoy a refreshing glass of elderflower cordial.



Look out for the creamy white elderflowers. Go out prepared with some scissors and bags for collecting. Something to help lower the branches can help  harvesting these slightly scented flowers which can tend to grow high up.


Since this is the only time of year they can be found, it is worth collecting a good number of heads to make a large batch of cordial concentrate. This can be frozen  to be enjoyed throughout the year!


Home Coaching Elderflower Cordial 1

Once home put 2½ kg white sugar (either granulated or caster) and 1.5 litres/2¾ pints water into the largest saucepan you have. Gently heat, without boiling, until the sugar has dissolved. Give it a stir every now and again. Once the sugar has dissolved, bring the pan of syrup to the boil, then turn off the heat.

Pare the zest from 2 unwaxed lemons using a potato peeler, then slice the lemons.

Give the elderflowers a gentle swish around in cold water to loosen any dirt or bugs. Gently shake cut off any leaves and stem and  transfer to the syrup along with the lemons, zest and 85g citric acid (from chemists)

Home Coaching Elderflower Cordial 2

Stir well. Cover the pan and leave to infuse for 24 hrs.

Home Coaching Elderflower Cordial 3

Line a colander with a clean tea towel, then sit it over a large bowl or pan. Alternatively set up a jelly bag. Ladle in the syrup – let it drip slowly through.

Leave to drain ...

Leave to drain …

Discard the bits left in the towel/jelly bag. Use a funnel and a ladle to fill sterilised bottles (run glass bottles through the dishwasher, or wash well with soapy water. Rinse, then leave to dry in a low oven). The cordial is ready to drink straight away and will keep in the fridge for up to 6 weeks. Or freeze it in plastic containers or ice cube trays and defrost as needed.

There are lots of different recipes, some are to be found in this Telegraph article

In my studio I have been able to celebrate summer, even during rain. I have been using the faux chenille technique to create a summer meadow panel.

 Faux Chenille Meadow

Faux Chenille Meadow

This is an easy technique and I suggest it to help practice straight line sewing on a sewing machine.

It is a great way to use fabric which you don’t know how else to use, such as bright, garish fabric designs! In this meadow there is a bright yellow printed scarf as well as a plain orange fabric and layers of sheer green fabric. These were all pinned securely onto a base fabric. I chose to vary the width of my stitching lines and have some a little wavy. I wanted a meadow rather than imaculate lawn effect!

You need a slash rotary cutter which can usually be got for less than £10. This allows you to cut through all the fabric layers except for the base one. There is an offer on one from stuff4craftsebay also have one.

You then need to get rough, with your slashed fabric. I use a suede brush which I find works well, but rubbing and washing also help to fluff open the layers –  so you get to see glimses of the different fabric layers.

I would love to see your faux chenille projects.

If you would like to have a go, then this is an option at several of the textile art workshops I have planned. All forthcoming workshops I am doing are listed on my textile art facebook page.

I hope you get chance to get outside to enjoy your summer, and hopefully walk in a meadow, maybe finding some elderflowers.

Home Coaching Wild Flowers

Veggie Feasting

national vegetarian week 16

This week we are encouraged to think about the benefits of a vegetarian diet. There is lots of info at the vegetarian society website

There has also been lots in the press about countless vegetarian celebs

Whether meatless meals are a total lifestyle choice for you, or you are part of the growing trend of meatless Monday, here are some of my favourite vegetarian recipes.


Meatless-MondayHere’s a great recipe that can be made ahead. The oven tray of made burgers can be kept in the fridge to whip into the oven twenty minutes before you want to eat.

Vege Burgers

1-2 red onion(s) chopped

2 carrots, grated

2 small leeks, finely chopped

100 g mushrooms, finely sliced

1 clove garlic, crushed

150g finely chopped peanuts/mixed nuts

150g wholemeal breadcrumbs

50g rolled oats

1 teasp. dried sage or 1 tbsp. fresh chopped sage


3 teasp. Yeast extract

250ml milk

2 eggs

100g grated cheese

vege burger

  • Dry roast the nuts, in the oven, keeping a keen eye that they lightly brown and don’t overcook.
  • Gently fry the onions, leek, mushrooms and garlic in a little oil until softened.
  • Mix dry ingredients in a bowl
  • Dissolve yeast extract in 3 teaspoons or hot water and add with milk and egg to mixture
  • Mix well and shape into burgers, with floured hands. Place on a baking tray
  • Rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes
  • Bake at 190 deg. Centigrade/ gas mark 5 for 15 minutes, or until golden
  • Serve with salad


If you want to boost the meal with more sides, then potato wedges and a tomato and avocado salsa are great with these vege burgers. Cut potatoes into wedges and coat in a spoon of olive oil and some black pepper, bake in the oven with the burgers.

Whilst these are baking, mix some chopped tomatoes and avocado with some lemon juice,  chopped fresh parsley and either spring or red onions.. Season to taste, adding chilli if you wish.

Veggie Sides

Last year I was asked to create some recipes for the Derbyshire County Council Portion Size campaign and spend a day filming with them in my kitchen.

This Frittata recipe is one of the favourites at my cookery workshops so I had to include this.


Please let me know what you make of these vege recipes and share your own favourites.