Eat the seasons

Alty market

It’s finally summer and St George’s Day marks the official start of the British Asparagus season.

I was in Hereford last week and got some lovely asparagus which has become part of today’s lunch, roasted in rape seed oil with cherry tomatoes and leeks and seasoned with thyme.

Allergy awareness week starts on Monday 24th April and I having been thinking of hayfever sufferers who probably aren’t as glad to see British growers ramp up to full production, however, the summer is packed full of great food that is right on our doorstep.

As the saying goes “if you keep good food in your fridge, you will eat good food”.

British Lamb for Sunday lunch with roast root vegetables was a favourite for my family last week and yesterday I bought fresh rhubarb which I boiled gently in water with a splash of apple juice, a pinch of cinnamon and served with creamy vanilla low fat yogurt.

Coming up in May there is the Watercress Festival  (18th-24th) and also British Tomato week (22nd May – 28th May)


I’ll leave you with the words of Elizabeth Berry as a reminder of why it’s good to eat locally sourced food

“Shipping is a terrible thing to do to vegetables.  They probably get jet-lagged, just like people.”

~ Elizabeth Berry

5 reasons for teenage girls to nurture a healthy diet

The first term of the school year is over, you have settled into the new timetable and worked out that there will be even more homework than last year.

School meals have not changed, it’s still ‘chips on Friday’, fizzy drinks are not allowed and the time you spent learning about the Eatwell plate seems like a waste because a different Eatwell Guide has been launched. The food groups reflect the importance of fruit and vegetables in the diet, sugary soft drinks have been replaced with water and there is an increased emphasis on fibre.

The Food Technology class is familiar territory with its continued focus on healthy options, so ‘Meat Feast’ pizza won’t cut it anymore. It’s all about the swaps. White rice is out, wholegrain is in, Bolognese sauces have added chopped vegetables and ‘brown food’ has been pushed out by a rainbow of colour on the finished plate.

Why is this important? Here are the reasons:

  • Maintaining energy levels

Breakfast literally means “break the fast”.  If you eat at 7pm in the evening and then eat your next meal at 8am, your body will enter a fasting mode after 12 hours and starts using energy stored as glycogen. Having breakfast provides a welcome source of energy and helps keep the brain alert and maintains concentration throughout the school day.


  • Build up calcium levels

As a teenage girl you continue to grow until around age 16, but your body requires high amounts of calcium for your bones to grow in size and density until your early 20’s.  Dairy foods, calcium enriched milk alternatives, dark green leafy vegetables, fish eaten with bones, and weight-bearing exercises, all help to build strong, heathy bones.


  • Establish a healthy weight as you start periods

Teenage growth requires sufficient energy and nutrients to give you a healthy weight. No food is a bad food, it is the amount that you eat of it that counts. Your body will increase its lean body mass (muscle tissue) and will need more iron as the blood volume expands and you start your periods. Eating a plant based diet provides a source of fibre and nutrients and adding good quality proteins such as eggs, nuts, pulses and meat gives you much need protein.


  • Staying hydrated

Drinking water is not only the best way to quench your thirst, but it is a necessity to help keep you hydrated, especially when exercising or taking part in a physical activity.  Carry a water bottle at school so that you can top-up throughout the day.  Adding slices of cucumber, citrus or chopped fruit will give it a natural flavour.


  • Creating a healthy relationship with food

Keep on mind that there are three important relationships in life:

  1. Your relationship with money;
  2. Your relationship with food;
  3. Your relationship with yourself.

Having a good relationship in these three areas will help you worry less about what your friends think about how you look and what you eat and give you the tools to enjoy life.


Barbara Bray

Registered Nutritionist (AfN)




Llauradó, E., Albar, S.A., Giralt, M. et al. Eur J Nutr (2016) 55: 1789. doi:10.1007/s00394-015-0997-8

  • Iron requirements in adolescent females. Beard JL. J Nutr.2000 Feb;130(2S Suppl):440S-442S.

It’s afternoon tea week – Leave the teenagers at home without breaking your health kick………….

Afternoon tea week is definitely something to celebrate and if, like some of my friends, you have been counting down the days until school starts and looking for reasons not to engage with your 14 year son then this is a clear option.

Usually, I’m quite happy to share an afternoon with friends and kids over a cup of tea but there is a step change in 14 year old boys that means it is no longer ‘cool’ to hang out with mum. In addition, it seems that half the U.K is heading to Spain this holiday and employing the usual ‘no carbs before marbs’ strategy.

What to do?

It would be a shame not to acknowledge the celebration of all things ‘afternoon tea’ so here is a list of places to enjoy that are unlikely to be a playground for said teenagers. Alternative menus are available for those who’ve already started the post-holiday restraint or want to stick with pre-holiday salads…


The Tea Box, Richmond nr London

A delicious selection of salads and gluten free dishes is available from the main menu in addition to afternoon tea. The selection of teas is amazing and the fabulous tableware ‘to-die’ for.

Abode, Manchester

A gorgeous venue that I ate at a few months ago. Relaxing but suitably smart for you to feel like you are out to celebrate. They offer a vegetarian selection.

Rockcliffe Hall, Darlington

My go-to venue when in search of a p.i.e (psychologically inspiring environment), the relaxing view over the golf course and gardens is difficult to move away from. High quality ‘light bite’ alternatives to afternoon tea.

Malmaison, Leeds

The last time I attended a girls’ get-together here. We drank far too much champagne and spent serious money in the Victoria quarter. I recommend going easy on the champagne. Vegan options available.

The Orangery, Burghley House, Stamford

A trip to Stamford is not complete without a visit to Burghley House. The lovely, light Orangery reminds me of a scene from a 1920’s film and the selection of small plates is recommended for those not wanting indulgent afternoon tea.

Brandshatch Place, Brands Hatch Kent

A beautiful setting for a spa day with afternoon tea thrown in. The Spa is discretely tucked behind the hotel and has its own cafe. Standard afternoon tea is available in the hotel as well as light bites from the main menu.

Betty’s, locations in Yorkshire

No afternoon tea list would be complete without a mention of Betty’s. Any of my visitors to the U.K get a standard trip to Betty’s thrown in so that they can experience afternoon tea at its best. The light menu is very good.

The Sheraton, Edinburgh

There are so many fabulous places to have afternoon tea in Edinburgh. The Sheraton has a wonderful Spa and is a great venue where you feel part of the city but tucked away from the hustle and bustle. A small plate menu is available.