5 real ways to boost your health right now

Boosting your health and nutrition, its’s easy right? Not always. So many of us lead busy lives juggling work, home and families, that food often falls to the bottom of the priority list.

Making a few simple changes can have an incredibly powerful impact on our overall health and is a great place to start on the road to feeling more fantastic than ever.

Add in the good things

Ok, this may sound obvious but instead of focusing on what you’re going to cut out why not look at what you can add in? Try making an extra vegetable to go with a dish, perhaps a side of greens or something raw to kick off the meal? Can you grab some extra fruit, nuts or seeds during the day?

The magic is… the more you add in the good stuff it leaves little room for the not so good stuff – we can only eat so much in a day! And of course, you start to feel so good eating the best food, that becomes everything you want.

Count chemicals, not calories

All calories are not created equal. Foods such as avocados and nuts deliver a large calorific hit but are full of essential nutrients you don’t want to miss. To boost your health start counting the chemicals and stop worrying about the calories.

Many food additives can have a seriously negative effect on your overall health, and we are still completely in the dark about the long term impact of consuming these in large quantities.

Get stuck in reading the ingredient lists of your food. If you don’t recognise the name of something as food– it’s probably not great. As a rule of thumb, anything labelled fat free, sugar free etc – think chemical weapon!

It’s also likely that if additives are being included these are to compensate for the food being of poor quality or to give it a super long shelf life – these are not going to be nutritionally rich foods!

Make it yourself

There are so many health advantages to preparing food in your own kitchen, I could write an entire article!

Frequently, packaged food is made with a completely different agenda to the food you make yourself. The aim is often to boost profits and make incredibly cheap ingredients taste good – not to nourish you.

Often the homemade version of most foods will be lower in salt, fat and sugar as well as countless other chemicals. Obviously, that loaf of bread or bowl of coleslaw you make at home doesn’t need to stay fresh on a shelf for several weeks so there’s no need for a host of preservatives and stabilisers.

Stick to fresh foods with their own flavours and then there’s no need for the extras!

Stay inspired

Surround yourself with books, films, websites, ideas and articles to keep your motivation up. You generally won’t sit down to eat a huge bag of crisps or a massive bar of chocolate straight after watching a documentary on healthy eating!

Talk to friends about the changes you want to make and connect with those who already follow similar paths. Try swapping recipes for extra ideas.  Inspiring each other is powerful!

Start by putting together a list of healthy foods that you love – there’s loads to go at. Think about your favourite fruits, vegetables, dips ,sauces etc and start there.

Making a permanent change takes time and being interested and inspired makes the process so much more enjoyable.

Once you start to eat not just good food but great food, there’s no going back!

Curried lentil soup

This soup is comfort food at its best – warming, rich and gently spiced. Perfect for a cold day when you need a little pick me up.

This recipe is loosely based on a retro seventies mulligatawny only minus the meat and adding in a few more spices. As well as tasting great the extra coriander and cumin give the soup an anti-inflammatory boost, while the garlic lends a helping hand to the immune system.

Try letting your garlic stand for around 10 minutes after chopping before cooking to allow the allicin to build. Allicin is one of the sulphurous compounds in garlic that is both antibacterial and antifungal, so a fantastic addition to the diet. Interestingly microwaving kills off almost all of garlic’s helpful properties – so stick to the saucepan!

Cook this super low and slow for best results, so the lentils break down and the potatoes soften to almost crumbly. This makes for a smooth and beautifully silky textured soup. Go for any type of stock you like here – I always use veggie but chicken or beef would also work.

  • 1 onion
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2.5cm fresh ginger
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 170g red lentils
  • 1.5 litres stock
  • 30g basmati rice
  • 1 tbsp mango chutney

Finely chop the onion and garlic cloves then grate the piece of fresh ginger. Chop the potatoes into small cubes.

Transfer the vegetables to a heavy based pan and add the cumin, coriander, turmeric and curry powder.

Gently rinse the lentils in cold water and add to the pan with the stock.

Bring everything to the boil and then simmer on a very low heat for around 1 hour. Meanwhile cook the basmati rice according to packet instructions.

When ready the soup should be thick, smooth and golden. At this point add the basmati rice and stir in the mango chutney.

Serve with a little fresh coriander.

Enjoy!

Raw nut and seed bars

Its snack time!

There are always times when no matter how hard you try you just need to eat something between meals. A little preparation goes a seriously long way and having something healthy and delicious to snack on is essential.

These bars are super delicious and contain an absolute powerhouse of a dried fruit – the goji berry. These tiny berries are packed with around 500 times more Vitamin C per gram than oranges and are a great source of Vitamins A, B1, B2 and B6. They also contain ten times the antioxidant content of blueberries so they are fab for boosting skin health. The fresh berries deteriorate quickly so drying preserves their nutrient value.

There are some great bars out there to buy but so many are loaded with additives, preservatives and sugars – some almost as much as a bar of chocolate (so then you might as well have the chocolate…)

These bars take only five minutes to make and you can freestyle with any nuts or seeds you have kicking around. They’re great when you’re craving something sweet and a piece of fruit won’t quite cut it! Have a go.

160g dates
350g nuts, any type
50g seeds, any type
50g goji berries
75g oats
100g smooth nut butter
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp agave syrup/honey
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Cover the dates in hot water and leave to soak for at least 30 minutes, until soft.

Line a 25 x 25cm tin with parchment or greaseproof paper.

Place the nuts, seeds and oats in a food processor and whizz until chopped and mixed well.

Add all the other ingredients and mix until combined.

Transfer to the prepared tin and press down well until even. Place in the fridge to chill.

Cut into squares and transfer to an airtight container. Store in the fridge.

Pimp it up!! Drizzle over some melted dark chocolate. Take the cocoa solids as high as you dare!

Raw cacao? Isn’t it just cocoa?

Well the quick answer is both yes and no!

Most commercial cocoa powder is produced via the Dutch method meaning it’s been heated up to around 150C. That and the potential chemical solvents involved in the process mean many of the nutrients and antioxidants do not survive.

Raw organic cacao on the other hand is not subjected to temperatures exceeding 40C meaning that all the lovely vitamins and minerals remain.

So, what are the benefits of going raw when it comes to chocolate?

For starters raw cacao is packed full of antioxidant flavonoids – 40x more than blueberries and 21 times more than green tea!

It’s super rich in magnesium and one of the highest plant-based sources of iron. The presence of phenethylamine and anandamide also deliver mood boosting and anti-depressant properties.

Of course the main added benefit is that it tastes great, and fun part is finding your favourite way to use it.

We all fancy a sweet treat every now and again and this recipe delivers on taste and nutrition. Its a simple pudding that combines cacao, avocado and banana and adds a touch of extra sweetness from dates so no refined sugar involved.

There are a thousand avocado puddings out there, but this is the best I’ve ever tasted by far. Extensive research has been undertaken, so see what you think!

Raw Cacao Avocado Pudding

  • 85g dates, stoned
  • 2 ripe medium avocados
  • 2 ripe medium bananas
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 3 tablespoons raw cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)

Makes around six small puddings

Soak the dates in warm water for around 30 minutes to soften, then drain.

Place the avocados, bananas and soaked dates in a blender and pulse until smooth.

Add all the other ingredients and blend again until everything is combined and the pudding has a silky texture.

Transfer to small serving dishes and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.

To add texture try serving with a sprinkling of goji berries, raw cacao nibs, toasted nuts or some bee pollen – really whatever you fancy!

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The classic chilli

I can’t tell you how many times batch cooking has saved the healthy eating day here! An hour spent over the weekend is pure gold when you come home frazzled after a super long day to find you have a delicious dinner already prepared 🙂

Having a few classic recipes in your healthy eating toolkit that you can make in bulk, means you will never be without a great meal. Keep in the fridge for a supper later in the week or simply portion up and freeze for another day.

This recipe is one of our absolute favourites and who doesn’t love Mexican? Its quick to put together and can be adapted for different meals during the week. The flavours only improve the next day – winning! Pack in as much veg as you fancy here and add more chilli if you can take the heat.

Classic Lentil Chilli

  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 large courgette (optional)
  • 170g mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable stock powder
  • 300ml water
  • 180g green lentils
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 500g pack of passata
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 1 tin kidney beans
  • Salt and pepper

Serves at least six

Place the lentils in a bowl and cover with boiling water while you prepare the vegetables.

Chop all the vegetables and place in a large pan.

Strain the lentils. Add all the other ingredients except the salt, place on the heat and bring to the boil.

Lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 1 hour until everything is tender. Add more water if necessary. Taste and season before serving.

Try making this in the slow cooker and leave on low for at least six hours.

Try serving with brown rice, salad, plain tortilla chips and don’t forget the guacamole! Its a great way to pack extra flavour into the dish and those good fats from the avocado. Simply mash an avocado with the juice of half a lime and a little salt then throw in a finely chopped tomato, a couple of spring onions and a handful of fresh coriander. Mix well and then check the seasoning to taste. Easy and so much more fresh tasting than anything you can buy!

This is also fab with a baked potato or served solo with flatbreads. Pretty much however you like it!!

Weekend brunch…

There’s nothing more relaxing after a busy week than a super slow breakfast with good friends. Taking the time to linger over fantastic healthy food, good coffee and great conversation gets the weekend off to a chilled start. But what to serve to please everyone?

Keeping things simple but excellent quality never fails! Kick things off with a chilled glass of fresh juice, either classic orange or try this zesty green juice for an extra vitamin hit…

Simple Green Juice

  • 1 large cucumber
  • 2 handfuls spinach
  • 1 lime, peeled
  • 6 small apples

Wash everything and chop into suitable sized pieces for your juicer. Juice everything. Add half a teaspoon of vitamin c powder to a glass juice and pour in the fresh juice. Mix well and chill ready for serving.

Next move on to an abundant fruit platter, easy to prep in advance and it always impresses. Just grab any ripe fruit you find and aim for a variety of colours. Try adding some dried fruit such as dates, figs or apricots to mix it up. Arrange everything on a beautiful plate and you’re done! Place this in the centre of the table for everyone to pick at throughout the morning.

For crunch I always make my own granola. So simple to prepare and you can easily adapt this to include all of your favourite nuts and seeds. I always love to bake this just before everyone arrives as this winter spiced version makes the kitchen smell incredible! Sealed in an airtight container this will keep for ages so you can enjoy on even the busiest morning.

Winter Spiced Granola

  • 85g coconut oil
  • 100g honey
  • 250g oats
  • 100g nuts, roughly chopped
  • 50g seeds
  • 1 tsp mixed spice or cinnamon
  • 30g coconut chips

Preheat the oven to 150C.

Place the coconut oil and honey in a small pan and melt gently.

Mix together all the other ingredients until combined. Add the melted oil and honey mixture and combine until everything is well coated.

Spread out on a large tray and bake for about 40 minutes, stirring everything around about halfway through. Keep a close eye on it for the last 10 minutes to ensure the edges don’t burn at all.

Serve with cool and silky coconut yoghurt and you have everything set for a fantastic, delicious and super healthy breakfast. Then just put the coffee pot on…

Best most flexible minestrone soup

Welcome to New Year and I’m sure you’re keen to be doing something… well something better at least! We all know the feeling but are often so overwhelmed about where exactly to start.

These days we’re bombarded by so much conflicting and confusing health information, should I go vegan, paleo, keto… blah blah. No wonder we all get demotivated and end up running for the nearest plate of nachos.

A few years ago, I realized the only way I would be able to reclaim my health was to adopt a common sense approach focusing on whole real foods and no fads. I cut out all the weird stuff that my body couldn’t deal with and I couldn’t even pronounce. Then focused on proper real food that tasted fantastic and made me feel great!

In this space I will share all my best tips, cheats and recipes gathered over the last decade. I’ve tried everything – so now you don’t have to.

So, if you’re wondering where to begin, let’s start with one of my basics and a fantastic winter recipe.

I was always a pro at falling off the health wagon at lunchtime, getting too hungry and then tempted by whatever high fat, high sugar offering I could grab in town. Now having something home-made and ready to go at work is a lifesaver and produces an excellent smug feeling that you’re winning at lunch and healthy living!

A favourite go-to in winter is always soup – easy to make, portable and handy to have in the fridge if you’re back late. This Minestrone never fails – so give it a go.

Don’t worry too much about which vegetables you use here or if you don’t have them all. This is a super flexible recipe which will easily cope with more or less of anything!

My Minestrone Soup

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 medium leeks, halved lengthways and sliced
  • 3 sticks celery, halved lengthways and sliced
  • 1 large red pepper
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 500g pack passata
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1½ tsp mixed herbs
  • 1 tin haricot/cannellini beans (or whichever type you fancy)
  • 1 litre water
  • 4 tsp Marigold vegan stock power
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • ¼ medium savoy cabbage, shredded

Warm the olive oil in a large saucepan and add the onions, carrots, leeks, celery, pepper and garlic and cook gently for about 5 minutes until slightly softened.

Next add all the other ingredients except the savoy cabbage, bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes until everything is tender.

Add the shredded cabbage and then cook for a further 10 mins. Add more water if the soup becomes too thick.

Taste, then season if needed.

If you have any fresh herbs on the windowsill, serve with some shredded fresh basil or parsley.

Pimp it up…

  • If you’re doing meat – try adding a few pieces of chopped bacon and chorizo with the olive oil.
  • If you’re doing grains – add some small pieces of pasta or micro pasta shapes – good crowd pleaser with the kids 😊
  • If you’re doing dairy – shave some parmesan over the top to serve.

Make it even easier…

If you have a slow-cooker kicking about at the back of the cupboard pop everything in and cook on high for 3/4 hours or low for 6/7.

Then sit back and enjoy…

Healthy food just got real

Being healthy and feeling fantastic, that’s what we all want right?

We all love those gorgeous Instagram photos of perfect dishes in immaculate kitchens with ingredients bought from the most unusual little specialty food stores.

We search around for great ideas to inspire us and watch people making delicious food in lovely sunny climates followed by two hours of yoga.

But… what if you’re not in California or any other glamorous location – its Tuesday – you’re late back from work – its freezing and throwing it down with rain, and the most inspiring veg you have in the fridge are a few dodgy carrots.

This is where we can help and nourish you in the real world – no complicated recipes – no expensive equipment – no ingredients you have no hope of finding in your local shop – just delicious simple food to make you feel better than ever before.

This is our journey to make it actually happen and make it real.