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.

How do you solve a problem like dashboard dining?

I can spend a considerable amount of time, driving or travelling between clients so can I eat away from home several times a week. Hotel breakfasts are a convenient way to get started in the day, sandwich lunches at client sites are not uncommon and dinner selected from the preferred motorway service station supermarket is an established habit. Sound familiar?

This month I decided that if I was going to improve my diet and fitness then I would have to follow a programme in order to get some discipline and routine back into my daily life. I chose the ‘Arbonne 30 days to Healthy Living and Beyond Programme’ then set about working out how to follow it.

The instructions were simple – have a protein shake and two plant based meals a day for 30 days, or to lose weight, substitute a second meal with a shake. The programme required setting myself goals and methods to overcome any obstacles then measure my progress over the 30 days.

This is where the problem started…….

How to eat healthily and maintain an exercise regime with so much time spent away from home?

Create smaller goals as part of an overall improvement plan

My personal exercise goals had to at least hit the Public Health England minimum target of 150 minutes per week but I threw in a 2 minute plank challenge to boost my core strength. Starting from 30 seconds it certainly seemed liked a goal that would stretch me mentally and physically! I uploaded an exercise DVD onto a memory stick and used that whenever I was staying somewhere without a gym.

Plan food shopping to include meals and snacks eaten away from home

The food goals then boiled down to what I could increase and what I could decrease. I chose 5 portions of veg a day as a target and replaced bread with wholegrain rice, quinoa, oatcakes etc. The snacks were usually tangerines, dark chocolate and almonds.

Build flexibility into your meal plans

I managed to have a basic protein shake most days although when I was at home I could add 3 portions of veg and kill 2 birds with one stone. I chose eggs for breakfast when staying in hotels or plain yogurt and fruit.

Have a hit list of products that available from your preferred retail outlet

I bought packs of ready to eat houmous and carrot sticks, salmon salads, crayfish and rocket salads from the motorway service station shops when I needed to get vegetable based meals. When on the run in town then avocado and edamame salads were another handy choice.



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Remember to drink plenty of water

Water is not only refreshing but also filling. Unlike consuming sugar sweetened drinks and fruit juice, you can drink to quench your thirst without overdoing the sugar.

In general I was able to follow the plan but the beauty is that now it has finished, I have a ready made shopping list and routine that can work with lifestyle and keep me fit and healthy.


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