For the Love of Our Home-Grown Berries!

Huge thanks to Food52 for pointing out that this week is Blueberry Week and providing a fabulous selection of recipes that champion these little dark balls of deliciousness and greatness! If you don't already subscribe to the Food52 newsletters, I urge you to do so now - it's inspirational!

chocolate dipped strawberries

However, if you live 'this side of the pond' I urge you to celebrate the incredible wealth of home-grown berries that are crowding our shelves right now - particularly strawberries, raspberries and blackberries (or brambles as we call them in Scotland).

Blueberries have 'bagged' a superfood spot - they are low in calories, high in fibre, chock full of immune-boosting vitamin C, offer good levels of bone-building vitamin K and are believed to contain the highest, health-protective antioxidant capacity of all commonly-consumed fruits and vegetables BUT how often do you find 'locally-grown' blueberries on your supermarket shelf? In my experience, occasionally, but not often, WHEREAS just yesterday, the minute I walked into my 'local', I was greeted by an overwhelming, almost 'jammy' and extremely enticing aroma of strawberries, grown only around 50 miles from my city dwelling so there was no competition - the strawberries won hands down for tomorrow's breakfast! Furthermore, the strawberries were around £5 per kg and the blueberries were around £11 per kg - not a difficult decision! 

I read somewhere that not only has the European love affair with blueberries come as a direct result of health reports hailing them as one of the world's most beneficial superfoods but also that we appear to be more than happy to gorge on them because unlike strawberries, they don't require any work - you have to 'hull' a strawberry and that seems to be too big a task for some - what?? 

Just so you know... strawberries, raspberries and blackberries all offer more vitamin C than blueberries and when in season and locally-grown, pack a health-protective punch not too far behind blueberries (particularly those poor little mites that have had to travel a good many miles over a number of days to get onto our shelves)! 

Bag your home-grown berries while you can - the season is short. Have them early doors with creamy-smooth yoghurt and a handful of nuts and seeds, top a couple of crisp breads with nut butter, berries and black pepper or add them to salads for lunch, whizz them up into a smoothie with a dollop of delectable crème fraîche or have them on their own when you need a little sweetness in your world mid morning or mid afternoon or make a spicy berry sauce and serve it with meat or game for dinner (delicious) or when nothing else will do... dip them in melted, deepest, darkest chocolate and tell yourself you are benefitting from even more superfood superiority! 

Lots Going On!

The new book has been featured widely in newspapers, magazines and online sites with more to come over the next month or two - have a quick look at my press page to see what they are all saying...

press page.jpg

The free book competition I offered to those of you who subscribe to my newsletters was a huge success and rather than giving away just 10 books, I decided to give away 30 - I hope all the winners are enjoying it and getting comfortable with all the new recipes and fat loss tips! And the same applies to the hundreds who were not in the first 30 to respond with the correct answer. I tried to email everyone who entered but if for some reason you 'slipped through the net' - apologies!

And... huge thanks to all of you who have been emailing me with queries - I am working my way through them and promise I will get back to you very soon.

In the meantime, if you are heading off on holiday and have a horrible suspicion that you have left it a bit late to shed a few pounds, try a few Soup and Juice Days - they work a treat! Click on my slideshare presentation below which includes a few slides explaining 'how to make them work for you'!

 

 

At Last, I Hear You Say!

The new, updated 2 Weeks in the Fast Lane Diet is out today!

There's a brand new 14 day eating plan...

Lots of new (and delicious as always, may I say modestly!) recipes...

Loads of tips on how to keep you on the right track as you shed the pounds...

And some excellent exercise advice from the highly-respected Ben Camara of No1 Fitness

Click here or on the book cover or on the 'announcement bar' at the top of the page to find out more about the book and if you are tempted, where to order your copy...

A Feast of Election Night Madness!

Will you be staying up into the wee small hours on Election Night to watch dear, dear David in his role as BBC 'anchor man' for the very last time and to keep a keen eye on Jeremy and his oh-so-addictive 'swingometer'? If so, a bit of snacking might be in order!

If things are going your way, it might with luck, mean 'healthy and happy snacking' but if it's all going horribly wrong, so could the snacks so a bit of pre-planning could be the saviour of your waistline (if not the saviour of your chosen party)!

You don't want to be continually bobbing up and down to prepare something when you are glued to the TV so here are a few dishes and snacks that can be thrown together earlier in the evening so you can simply grab them and get back to the sofa! 

roast a chicken and a bunch of vegetables earlier in the evening and pick at the leftovers later on - lots of great protein and energy-enhancing carbohydrates!

roast a chicken and a bunch of vegetables earlier in the evening and pick at the leftovers later on - lots of great protein and energy-enhancing carbohydrates!

have a dip or two in the fridge and some crunchy raw vegetable sticks - they really take the edge off sugary and salty snack attacks!

have a dip or two in the fridge and some crunchy raw vegetable sticks - they really take the edge off sugary and salty snack attacks!

midnight is the perfect time for half a creamy, fat-rich avocado - just stone it and spoon the flesh out of the shell or pile in some tuna or prawns!

midnight is the perfect time for half a creamy, fat-rich avocado - just stone it and spoon the flesh out of the shell or pile in some tuna or prawns!

switchel... a great alternative to alcohol as the night ploughs on! really tasty and great for the digestion. see my recipe page...

switchel... a great alternative to alcohol as the night ploughs on! really tasty and great for the digestion. see my recipe page...

... and/or prepare a super green salad, sling some of the cold cooked chicken on top and smother with a Balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil dressing!

... and/or prepare a super green salad, sling some of the cold cooked chicken on top and smother with a Balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil dressing!

you can't beat a bowl of fresh fruit 'bites' at this time of the year - the more colourful the better and the choice out there is staggering!

you can't beat a bowl of fresh fruit 'bites' at this time of the year - the more colourful the better and the choice out there is staggering!

my very quick tomato soup sharpens up the palate and is great in a mug! the added dollop of yoghurt is inspired! see my recipe page...

my very quick tomato soup sharpens up the palate and is great in a mug! the added dollop of yoghurt is inspired! see my recipe page...

... or perhaps a pot of calming and refreshing herb tea? mint is especially good - just soak a bunch of fresh leaves in a pot for 10 minutes...

... or perhaps a pot of calming and refreshing herb tea? mint is especially good - just soak a bunch of fresh leaves in a pot for 10 minutes...

olives are a tasty and brilliant source of filling and brain-focusing fats - mixed, stuffed with anchovies or with feta cheese, they won't let you down!    

olives are a tasty and brilliant source of filling and brain-focusing fats - mixed, stuffed with anchovies or with feta cheese, they won't let you down!    

... and have a handful or two of nuts and seeds with your fruit for a bit of extra 'crunch', a few more good fats and to keep hunger at bay !

... and have a handful or two of nuts and seeds with your fruit for a bit of extra 'crunch', a few more good fats and to keep hunger at bay !

a fruit or vegetable smoothie (sipped not gulped) hits the spot as the night progresses! create your own or get one off the shelf...

a fruit or vegetable smoothie (sipped not gulped) hits the spot as the night progresses! create your own or get one off the shelf...

chocolate works no matter how the voting is going - but make it small, very, very dark and perhaps with added chilli to spice things up!

chocolate works no matter how the voting is going - but make it small, very, very dark and perhaps with added chilli to spice things up!

A Cheering Glass of Red with Mr Buettner!

There is always someone out there trying to spoil all the fun isn't there? Particularly when it comes to the occasional tipple after a stressful day!

The 'can alcohol be part of a health-enhancing diet?' debate rages on and on and on and on... but my good friend Dan Buettner (no I have never met the man and I am well-aware that he probably doesn't know I exist but I like to call him my friend anyway coz I like what he has to say!) has obsessively studied the diets of those who live to a healthy and ripe old age in those countries known as 'The Blue Zones' and he tells me (through his research) that "yes, a glass or two of red wine - especially when consumed with a Blue Zones, plant-based meal­­ - is a good idea for most people" so I can't imagine for a second why I might decide to argue?

Macro of a glass of wine with shallow focus on the glass lip

Of course, summer is upon us and many of us prefer a cool drink when the temperature has gone up a few notches but there are quite a few 'reds' offering a whole bunch of protective plant chemicals that lend themselves rather nicely to being chilled so try the following grape varieties: Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Gamay, Cinsault, Shiava, Grenache or ask your local wine merchant for advice.

NB: can I urge you to remember the bit about 'with a blue zones, plant-based meal'... ie: with a nutritiously-fabulous-every-colour-under-the-sun salad rather than a takeaway pizza! 

Easter = Chocolate = Weight Gain (or does it?)

It seems like only a few weeks ago that the supermarket shelves were groaning with 'quick to cook' pancake batter mixes and delicious toppings and the internet was awash with syrupy-sweet recipes to help us celebrate Shrove Tuesday and now here we are facing Easter and it’s all about chocolate!

Chocolate.jpg

How are we supposed to keep our waistlines in tact when faced with such potential indulgence? One route is to just say “no” but where’s the fun in that? Another route is to carefully plan your chocolate moments!

How, what and when we eat daily has a meaningful impact on how efficiently we digest and absorb the nutrients provided by our last meal or snack to generate energy within our trillions of hard-working brain and body cells. And when we get the timing right, there is a good chance that the occasional indulgence (be it a chocolatey or otherwise) won’t do too much damage!

Here are a few magical tips to keep up your sleeve and allow for a little guilt-free sweetness this Easter:

  • If a sweet treat is perhaps on the cards, have it somewhere between 11am and 4pm when your energy requirements are likely at their height and there is a good chance the sugars will be used to generate some of that energy rather than being stored in your fat cells.
  • Always have some protein just before or alongside a sweet treat - the protein helps to slow the release of the sugars into the blood stream and keeps you feeling fuller for longer so you don’t experience an energy dip and seek out more sugar all too soon. For example: have a small carton of natural yoghurt or a handful of unsalted mixed nuts and seeds or a protein-rich smoothie with your chocolate treat (darker the better by the way) for a mid morning or mid afternoon snack or have your sweet treat just after a protein-packed lunch (a chicken salad, a mixed vegetable omelette, a fish curry, a couple of rye, seeded crisp breads topped with avocado and smoked salmon).
  • If you exercise regularly and strenuously, your ‘cooling down’ time is perhaps the best time to sneak in a sweet treat as your metabolic rate is likely to be boosted for a couple of hours so the sugars will be used to replenish your depleted muscle glycogen levels rather than being stored as fat - but don’t forget to have some protein alongside and no, this is not an excuse to chow down a whole chocolate Easter egg!
  • And lastly… make soup your waistline-preserving friend. It’s almost impossible to get as much goodness into a small space as in a bowl of fabulously-tasty, filling and protein-rich soup. If you suspect that there may be a little too much chocolate indulgence over Easter, get the soup pot out now, make a couple of vats, bag them in portions and freeze them, have them for lunch or for a snack and be confident that a little sweetness in your life won’t cause too much drama when enjoyed just after a bowl or mug!
  • Have your tried my Roasted Red Pepper, Tomato and Chorizo Soup? - it's really, really good and seriously moreish let me tell you!