Tag Archives: recipes

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

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.