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.

Mindful Eating

This year I took the opportunity at Lent to try something new.

I would normally give up chocolate, wine, or restrict another food in order to spend the 40 day period leading a simpler life without indulging in rich treats on a regular basis.

Chocolate and wine

I noticed that over the years I was doing this more out of habit than anything else so this year I decided to take the advice I have been hearing from dietitians and nutritionists and start to eat in a ‘Mindful’ way.

I first came across Mindful Eating when I attended a talk by Dr Lucy Aphramor, RD. She set up Well Founded, an organisation which teaches the principles of being healthy at any size, HAES®.

Mindful eating focuses on eating a diet that nourishes you, eating when you are hungry and stopping just as you start to feel full. It takes time to adapt but the advantages are that you make better food choices, the way you eat improves and the feeling of well-being increases.

I reflected recently on the assumption that ill health is not exclusive to people who have gained a lot of weight over their lifetime, my own family being a prime example of how to combine chronic illness very effectively with a body mass index (BMI) of under 25kg/m2!

Armed with new found motivation, I started by planning meals so that if I would be away from home I would take healthy and enjoyable snacks to have to hand. I checked restaurant menus online before going out so that I ordered what appealed rather picking anything really filling because I was hungry. I had red wine with meals but there were times when I didn’t drink any alcohol for days. I ate chocolate in the office when it was passed around but I had my block of dark chocolate to nibble at which I found more satisfying and I needed less of it compared to milk chocolate.

Switching the computer off, leaving the phone to one side and chewing my food thoroughly showed me that I pay more attention preparing my meals than actually eating them. Whilst eating in silence is not mandatory, eating without distraction really did make me focus on my meal and let it digest before rushing off to do something else.

Tea and laptop

Learning to eat only when hungry has been my biggest challenge as normally I eat when I know I am not going to be in a meeting, in the car or on a factory floor. I must admit that there were times when I was genuinely full but had a craving for sweet food. Colleagues would comment on the random choice of roasted vegetable salad for lunch followed by chocolate cake for dessert, I am convinced that my hormones were rebelling at the change in lifestyle but now the 40 days are up the sweet cravings seem to have disappeared. The added bonus is that I’m also in a better mood…