• The Cost of Diabetes

        At a time when the NHS is in crisis, it is staggering to think that the cost of treating Type 2 Diabetes (and its complications) is estimated to be more than £12bn per year. At present it is thought that around 1 in 16 of the UK population has Diabetes (diagnosed, or undiagnosed) and this number has doubled in the last 20 years.

        So what is Diabetes?

        Diabetes is a medical condition characterised by high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood stream. It is caused by either the immune system attacking the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas (Type 1), or the body’s cells not being able to react to, and deal with, high levels of sugar in the blood (Type 2). Type 1 is an auto-immune condition which is non-reversible, typically managed through careful monitoring and regular medication, and tends to be identified at a young age.  Type 2 is more often diet and lifestyle related, and the good news is that small changes in these areas can have a significant positive impact.

        Why is blood sugar balance so important?

        Carbohydrates in our diet are broken down into simple sugar molecules when we digest our food. These sugar molecules enter the blood stream and give us a source of energy for our body and brain. The body is a clever beast, and it understands that sugar levels need to be stable. Too much in the bloodstream is harmful and can cause tissue damage; too little and we are deprived of the energy source we need to function and survive. We therefore have our own in-built mechanism to regulate this, which is where the pancreas and its hormones come into the story.

        When we eat, and sugar enters our blood stream, our pancreas releases the hormone insulin, which then travels to the bloodstream and carries the sugar molecules away to safety, storing them in cells as fat (glycogen). When blood sugar levels dip too low, the brain signals the pancreas to release a hormone called glucagon, which breaks the glycogen stores, converts them back to glucose, and carries it back to the bloodstream to give us energy we are craving. We therefore create our own in-built larder to store and release energy.

        This worked perfectly back when we evolved and had irregular access to food, but modern living has now thrown a huge spanner in the works, and is creating a health crisis. Our 24 hour access to meals and snacks means we are overdosing on the sugar, storing it as fat, and then overdosing again before our body has the chance to break down and use what we have stored. This has a number of implications for our health; we are gaining weight at an alarming rate, and we are damaging our blood sugar regulation by over stressing it.

        The insulin demand to deal with more and more sugar becomes ever urgent, the body tissues receiving the insulin tire and eventually fail; a situation known as insulin resistance. Blood sugar levels then rise and the body is in severe danger, resulting in diabetes and associated health complications such as damage to the nerve endings in the eyes, kidneys and extremities. When uncontrolled this can result in blindness, kidney failure, amputations, and eventually death.

        That’s the doom and gloom bit over. How can you find out if you are at risk; and more importantly, what can you do about it?

         Look out for symptoms associated with Pre-Diabetes and Diabetes, such as:  

        Fluctuating energy and slumps; particularly after eating

        Mood swings, irritability and depression

        Cravings; particularly for sugary and junk food

        Frequent trips to the toilet; excessive thirst

        Headaches, shakiness or dizziness

        Difficulty sleeping or poor concentration

        Weight gain – in particular around the waist

        Make small but important changes to your diet

        Foods to include:

        • ‘Break the Fast’. Start the day with a good breakfast to kick start your metabolism. Low sugar muesli or porridge with nuts, seeds and live yoghurt are ideal. Add cinnamon, which can help regulate insulin and reduce sugar cravings.
        • Combine complex carbohydrates (brown rice, lentils, pulses, oats) with lean proteins, such as fish, chicken, eggs or beans. Protein takes longer for the body to break down, so will slow the release of the sugar into the bloodstream.
        • Eat small, frequent snacks every 2-3 hours throughout the day; e.g. in between meals, eat an apple with a handful of nuts or seeds; hummous on Ryvita or with raw vegetables such as carrot sticks. Fibre in fruit and vegetables also helps to slow the release of the sugar.
        • Eat healthy fats such as oily fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna), flax or hemp seeds, walnuts (all omega 3 essential fats) or olive oil drizzled on your vegetables. Seeds can be ground onto muesli or eaten as snacks.  
        • Eat your greens; in fact all vegetables. They are rich not only in slow releasing carbohydrates, but also plenty of other nutrients to keep you healthy.

         Foods to avoid:

        • Avoid alcohol – it is full of sugar, with little nutritional value, and not only quickly converts to fat, but also depletes B vitamins which are essential for energy metabolism.
        • Avoid processed foods ie cakes, sweets, chocolate, cakes, crisps and biscuits.
        • Switch from white bread, rice and pasta to brown alternatives. These will release sugar more slowly into the blood stream and keep you feeling full for longer.
        • Never skip meals! This creates a rollercoaster of blood sugar levels.

        Stress has a similar impact on insulin release as sugar, so  find ways to relax with some nurturing activities such as meditation, yoga or pilates. Moderate exercise can also help enormously with glucose and insulin regulation, and also weight management, so keep moving and factor in at least a daily walk.

        For more information visit Diabetes UK’s website and look out for Diabetes Awareness Week from 11-17 June.

        If you are struggling with any of the symptoms above, or are worried about the amount of sugar in your diet, feel free to contact me  for a chat.


      • Beating the winter germs..with an apple?

        apples Borough market‘Adam and Eve ate the first vitamins, including the package’ so said American pharmacist and MD E.R. Squibb; and he wasn’t wrong!

         It’s that time of year again. The temperature outside is going up and down like a yo-yo, the radiators are going on, and with it the hankies are out;  so how can a simple apple help?

        Winter coughs and colds are generally caused by viruses which can spread rapidly as the weather closes in and we are in closer proximity to one another. Did you know, for example, that infectious droplets from a sneeze can travel at 100mph? Whilst a heavy cold may not necessarily be life threatening, it can make you feel pretty rough, and can have more serious consequences for the very young, the elderly, or anyone with a weak immune system.

        The best way to approach the winter germ season is to build your defences to fight back naturally when you become exposed to these viruses. Your immune system needs around 20 very specific micro-nutrients to function effectively, and Vitamins C and A are just two of particular benefit. Maintaining a healthy gut by eating plenty of fibre is also vital since a large part of your immune system is based in the gut and this immune defence mechanism is controlled by colonies of ‘good’ bacteria.

        So to the humble apple is a rich source of these important immune-boosting nutrients. Here’s what it contains and what it can do for you:

        • Vitamin C – the ‘master’ nutrient which is integral to all parts of the immune system. It helps white blood cells replicate, and these are the cells which form our internal defence army for fighting infection. This clever vitamin is also anti-bacterial and anti-fungal and has anti-inflammatory properties.
        • Vitamin A (found in apples as beta-carotene) is also antiviral and antibacterial, and also has antioxidant properties to help scavenge harmful free radicals which can cause damage in the body.
        • Vitamin B; particularly B6, helps support the thymus gland – the gland in the body which produces the immune cells which fight infection.
        • The apple skin also contains pectin – a soluble fibre which helps promote good bacteria levels in the gut; hence why eating the whole package is important.

        sliced apple

        The best bit about apples is, they are also low in calories, cholesterol and saturated fat, and can help stabilise blood sugar levels; all important factors in maintaining a healthy weight.

        Different varieties of English apples are grown year round, so you should always be able to find a home grown variety whatever the season.

        So next time you are doing your weekly grocery shop, make sure you include a bag of apples; after all there’s a great deal of truth in the adage “An apple a day keeps the doctor away!”


        To find out which English apples are currently in season, visit www.englishapplesandpears.co.uk

        For ideas on how to include apples in your cooking, visit my Recipes 


      • What’s Lurking in Your Fridge?

        refrigerator full with some kinds of foodIs there anything dangerous lurking in your fridge, and could it be seriously harming your family’s health?

        It was revealed by the Food Standards Agency in 2012 that there are over a million cases of food poisoning each year, 20,000 hospitalisations and 500 deaths. This is largely due to the way we store our foods, resulting in growth of bacteria, viruses, and parasites which can pose a serious threat particularly to pregnant and breast feeding women, young children, the elderly, and anyone with impaired immunity.

        The good news is that up to 25% of the outbreaks can be prevented with safer practices in the home.

        Modern day refrigerators, however, only really became a household kitchen appliance after the Second World War and this modern technology has undoubtedly changed our cooking and eating habits, but not necessarily always for the better!

        When pre-technology families relied on ice boxes and snow packed pits to keep their food cold, space was a luxury they seldom had and any available was used for vital staples such as meat, milk and butter. Other foods were preserved using methods such as salting, smoking, spicing, pickling and drying. Seasonal eating was embedded in their lives with fruits and vegetables, by necessity, grown and bought locally.

        The arrival of kitchen refrigeration has been a mixed blessing. It introduced the concept of ready meals and pre-prepared foods which many see as a step backwards from healthy eating, but has also allowed us the opportunity to store more luxury foods and to buy and store more exotic and even foreign produce; so arguably whilst home cooking has declined in many homes, and wastage has become an issue, some have been able to embrace more exciting and challenging ingredients.

        Safe storage, however, remains paramount, and the temptation is to overstock the fridge, seriously risking cross-contamination and poor air circulation which prevents the fridge from holding its optimum temperature. This can quickly encourage the multiplication of bacteria which can result in unpleasant and potentially life-threatening food poisoning,

        Check out your fridge and see if you are cleaning, storing and separating your foods correctly!

        Sub Zero Storage Refrigerator ThermometerGENERAL ADVICE

        • Clean your fridge regularly (ideally weekly) with warm water and mild bleach to prevent mould and bacteria spreading
        • Keep your fridge at or below 5 degrees centigrade – you can buy cheap thermometers which allow you to check this.
        • Monitor Use By dates. Sell By dates are less important – these are generally a tool for supermarket stock taking rather than a safety tool guideline.
        • If you have a power cut, fridge contents can remain safe for up to 2 hours, as long as the door remains closed. After that time, check to see whether the food is still cold. When in doubt, throw it away!


        TOP SHELF

        • Dairy, yoghurts, cream and other ready to eat foods


        • Cooked meats, leftovers and packaged foods


        • Raw meat, poultry and fish should be placed covered and in sealed containers


        • Salads, fruits and vegetables then go in the bottom drawers


        • Unopened they are fine, but once opened it is advisable to store these inside the fridge


        • Never store opened cans in your fridge. The metal in cans can contaminate the food within, so remove contents to sealed bag or container

        Boiled eggs brighton hove nutrition wellbeingEGGS

        • Opinion is divided on this one, but when storing eggs in the fridge, it is best to keep them in their egg box and store them on either the top or middle shelf. Most egg racks are on the back of the door, which is an alternative, but is subject to greater temperature variation when the door is opened and closed; and when taking eggs out of the box you can sometimes lose information about use by dates.
        •  If you prefer to store eggs out of the fridge, make sure they are at a temperature of c 20 degrees centigrade or below; and if they have been refrigerated, bring them out and up to room temperature before cooking.

        Used well and safely, fridges are a valuable solution to busy modern lives, enabling us to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables which are such an important part of our healthy diet; or to batch cook and store healthy home made meals.

        Check yours now!





      • Making Healthy Christmas Food Choices

        Holiday turkeyAs we all start to indulge over the festive season, it is good to know that there are some healthy choices out there. Many of the foods we eat at parties and on Christmas Day have significant nutritious value; it’s a question of knowing what to look for.

        Here are some healthy options to pick:

        Turkey –This Christmas staple is a highly nutritious choice of meat; a low fat source of protein, which is rich in the essential amino acid tryptophan; vital to create the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin.

         Isolated brussels sproutsBrussels sprouts –Love them or loath them, sprouts are a rich source of nutrients including Vitamin C and folate.  They also contain powerful phytonutrients, which support the body’s detoxification enzymes, helping to clear potentially carcinogenic substances from the liver more quickly. The trick is not not overcook them – and  try serving with almond flakes.

         Nuts – A great protein snack to help you manage your blood sugar levels, and packed full of the Pile from different nuts on white backgroundessential fats, missing from so many of our modern day diets.  They are also packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre so make an excellent snack at Christmas time, so long as they’re not the roasted or salted versions!

        Festive Fruits – Whether it is a bowl of juicy Clementine’s or some bright festive berries such as cranberries, blueberries and redcurrants; this is a perfect time to make sure your intake of immune-boosting nutrients, particularly vitamin C, is at an optimum level.  Brightly coloured fruits are packed full of antioxidants and so are an excellent addition to a festive diet.

         Juicy pomegranate and halfPomegranate – With their bright red, almost jewel-like seeds, pomegranates are fast becoming renowned as a superfood for their nutrient value too.  They score even higher then blueberries on the antioxidant scale, ORAC; in particular they are known to contain powerful polyphenols, which act in the body to protect against cell damage. Delicious added to salads or to blend into fruit juices.

        Red Wine –  Research has shown that red wine, when consumed in moderation, can offer significant health benefitsRed wine pouring down from a wine bottle (clipping path included) which can be attributed to the polyphenolic compounds present in grape skins; namely resveratrol.  Adding cinnamon, spices, cloves & orange juice to make a warming mulled wine is a lovely festive option!

        Root Vegetables – Roasted root vegetables are a recurring favourite on the festive plate.  A selection of carrots, Swede and parsnips provide a hearty supply of fibre and energy-rich carbohydrates to help support your digestion (and don’t forget to pile on the salad leaves with your leftovers!)

         chocolate nutrition diabetes fat BrightonDark Chocolate – Choose the intensely dark varieties and as well as your sweet treat, you’ll also get a powerful punch of antioxidant-rich compounds, magnesium and copper.  Ideally look out for a chocolate treat that contains at least 70% cocoa solids.

        hollyWishing you a Healthy and Happy Christmas and New Year!


      • Diary of a Metabolic Detox – Day 4

        Day 4, and so far things seem to be going well.

        need a bigger kitchen!Admittedly this programme has taken a degree of planning and preparation, but thank goodness for great health food shops in Brighton & Hove! Infinity Foods makes life so much easier and local grocers and supermarkets are now also stocking much more variety when it comes to alternative flours and unusual vegetables, so it’s more a question of being organised! My kitchen has transformed into a healthy mini-mart, but a good distraction for the weekend could be a kitchen cupboard clear out.

        This isn’t intended as a weight management exercise, but my clothes are definitely feeling looser, which is very motivating. More importantly, I have been sleeping very deeply, my mind feels clearer and I’m waking up quickly and with plenty of energy, so I seem to be getting through so much more during the day.

        The hard part is planning meals. I have all the ingredients and plenty of menus, supplied both by the organisers but delicious quinoa porridge with cinnamon apple raspberriesalso other participants who are kindly sharing theirs on the group Facebook page we are using; but fitting the meal preparation into a busy working day needs a bit of organisation. I have to say though, the results have been fun and I’ve tried all sorts of things which I have never sampled before. (Admission to former clients – I had never actually tried quinoa porridge before, but it’s genuinely delicious!)

        The other challenge is planning meals whilst away from home – a reality for most of us face on a regular basis, and one of my biggest this week. Again pre-planning so the key here. Work out where you are likely to be, and the options you will have available. If eating out in a restaurant, it is usually possible to look at the menu online before you go. This helps your brain engage with the choices you want to make and helps avoid making hasty bad decisions when faced with the waiter and his notebook. When heading out for a day’s work, take prepared food and snacks to avoid the temptation of the local sandwich shop or garage.

        The foods, meals and supplements we are working have all been carefully selected to support the liver and gut with their natural processes of removing waste matter and toxins from the body. If these aren’t efficiently removed they can cause all sorts of problems such as IBS, bloating, PMS and a range of other hormone-associated complaints; so this really is the basis of achieving good health.


        As for today; lunch will be an avocado salad (full of essential fats and Vitamin E) and tonight I’m aiming for something creative using chicken.

        Watch this space, and visit my Pinterest and Facebook pages to see what I come up with. (with apologies to any proper cooks out there!)

         If you have any detox recipes you would like to share, send them through and I will post my favourite on my recipe page.

        Fridge leftover salad rocket, spinach, watercress, avocado, slcied pear, bean sprouts and tomato. Sprinkled with pomegranate and walnuts, & drizzled with flax seed oil P.S. This is the avocado salad I came up with – from anything I could find in the fridge, which ended up comprising:

        A mix of spinach, rocket and watercress; sliced avocado, tomatoes, bean sprouts, sliced pear, walnuts and pomegranate seeds; all drizzled with flax seed oil.

        Slightly off-menu but it worked for me!

      • So..do ‘diets’ really work?



        There was a fascinating insight into the world of dieting this week with the start of a new series on BBC2 which reinforced all my beliefs that fad diets just don’t work. Whilst some of the failure statistics the presenter quoted may be under debate on today’s blogs and forums, the over-riding message that came across was that the concept of the modern day ‘diet’ is an industry fuelled by commercial enterprises with much charisma and a desire for large profit margins.

        Most honest of all was the former Financial Director of WeightWatchers who admitted that the reason the industry is so profitable is because, on the whole, the commercial diets tend to fail, so people return, spend more money and try again.

        It was also fascinating to hear that the industry effectively began back in the US when a statistician for a big insurance company re-defined the parameters of ‘healthy weight’, and in doing so, re-classified a huge proportion of possibly healthy Americans as being overweight. This was latched on to by the US Government and medical institutions, creating a perfect breeding ground for companies hoping to thrive on the guilt and worries of the population and create a solution to this new-found national neurosis.

        We undoubtedly have a growing obesity problem, not just in the UK, but worldwide, with the World Health Organisation now saying that obesity is a great problem than starvation globally.

        So is there a role for ‘diets’ or should we be looking for other solutions? iStock_000019276692XSmall

        Firstly, I prefer to use the term weight management. The words ‘diet’ and ‘weight loss’ imply deprivation, which automatically triggers a mindset of failure. Surely it’s better to embark on something positive and achievable which gives you lasting, healthy and sustainable results?

        Each person should be treated as a unique individual, recognising that weight issues can be caused by a variety of reasons, so it is too simplistic to say that merely eating less is the solution. If that were the case everyone would achieve their targets and we wouldn’t have a national crisis! For some it could be related to medical issues which need to be understood and addressed, such as adrenal insufficiency, thyroid problems, stress or prescription medication. For others, previous experiences and psychological issues can be the root cause.  How many of us were told as a child ‘Eat up – there are children starving in Ethiopia’? These childhood habits can stick and cause immense harm.

        Social factors also need to be looked at; in particular the way we now have constant access to convenience foods 24/7. We eat on the run, and eat mindlessly with little thought or understanding about what or how much we put in our mouths. Combine all these factors and you can see the problem.

        A lucky few might have the wherewithal to change their habits with little apparent effort and hit their goals on their own. However, there are many people who simply don’t have the know-how to unravel all these elements and get back on track.  For them, a structured plan can be useful and group programmes also have their benefits since peer support and encouragement will always help promote success. These things can be hard to achieve on your own!

        Rather than crazy fads, what we need are realistic and achievable ‘health’ programmes which offer long term re-programming of habits without doing anything extreme and harmful which will pile the pounds back on further down the line and leave a frustrating sense of failure.

        Ideally this should combine a medical overview to understand why weight might be increasing; education to learn how each food group is vital for health and wellbeing.

        For some, a group dynamic can help provide additional peer-group encouragement; also psychological support and motivational coaching can help explain habits and overcome barriers to success; but finally expert guidance is vital to develop new healthy habits which become a natural part of daily routine around real life which includes holidays, meals out, birthdays and festive meals. The secret is to learn a few healthy habits, relax around food, and most importantly discover how to enjoy it again.

        Poached salmon with avocado salsa

        So pack away those meal replacements, pills and extreme diet books and take a new approach. Focus on eating lots of the good and tasty stuff rather than obsessing about what you ‘can’t and ‘shouldn’t eat.

        Our practical and realistic weight management programme offers a unique approach combining my qualified nutritional support and advice, with motivational coaching and hypnotherapy provided by Marco from OpenMindz to offer the additional techniques which will help you reach your goals.

        The next 6 week Brighton and Hove Weight Management course starts on Tuesday 1 October in Preston Park, offering a small but supportive group environment. We know it works, so come and join us!

        Contact me for more information.

      • Enjoy a dairy free Easter

        hove nutrition Easter bunny Easter can present an enormous challenge for anyone who loves chocolate but is struggling with a dairy intolerance or allergy; and this can be particularly distressing when children are involved.

        Everywhere we look, chocolate is tempting us, and it can be hard to say no to a small child when faced with Easter egg hunts at nursery school, supermarket shelves laden with goodies, and well-meaning visitors bearing chocolaty gifts.

        The good news is that there are dairy free alternatives to be found in Brighton & Hove – you just need to know where to look.

        Moo Free do a fabulous range including a dairy free chocolate egg and also a bunny bar; both of which are also lactose free. Check their website for stockists but they are available in some branches of Waitrose. Montezuma’s have a mini egg range which is vegan and dairy free, and some Sainsbury’s and Holland and Barrett stores stock the Choices range of Celtic Chocolates which are egg and dairy free.

        So if you, or your child, are following a strict dairy or lactose free regime; there’s no need to miss out this Easter.Chocolate Egg (cracked)

        For everyone else, remember that dark chocolate is a better choice than lighter versions which are full of fat and sugar. Dark chocolate contains compounds called flavonoids which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties so can help prevent heart disease. Eating dark chocolate also helps stimulate endorphins, or feel good hormones, which can lift your mood. This is thought to be because cocoa contains serotonin which acts an anti-depressant.

        But remember that chocolate of any kind also contains a large number of calories – so everything in moderation if you are watching your weight! Far better to reach for the Green & Black’s mini bars than the large slabs on offer at the newsagent’s desk!

        Brighton nutrition daffodils


      • The delights and temptations of market shopping.

        I was reminded of the joys of fresh produce on a visit to Borough Market in London at the weekend. Having only ever walked past it when closed, curiosity got the better of me and we finally made the effort to make a trip, coming away with a bag full of treats – all healthy and delicious.

        Fresh vegetables Borough Market

        The sights and smells which hit you there remind me of the adage that we eat with our eyes; and having been seduced by a feast of colour, that was certainly the case. Digestion literally begins when we see foods and then smell them, and this stimulates the secretion of pancreatic enzymes to support the digestive process.

        As well as being great fun, market shopping can be a significantly cheaper way of buying your fresh fruit and vegetables, with the added bonus of no wasteful packaging. The produce is usually locally sourced and tastier than you are likely to find in most supermarkets, and it was noticeable that only seasonal produce seemed to be available, so it’s a great way of supporting your local farmers to survive against the multiples. The only downside to ‘budget’ market shopping is the temptation of the treats which weren’t on your list but the ever-persuasive traders draw you towards. The mushroom pate was divine and so far this week has adorned a jacket potato and stuffed a chicken breast; and the Vietnamese chicken curry was mouthwatering.

        Fresh spices were abundant offering an array of amazing ingredients for my next curry. Turmeric (or ‘poor man’s saffron’)  is one of the healthiest spices available, containing curcurmin – a powerful chemical which has anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties; great for supporting arthritis and allergies,and fantastic when added to basmati rice with pine nuts, onions and raisins to make fragrant rice. As for the  L’Ubracio  ‘Drunken Cheeses’ soaked in Italian merlot and cabernet wines, well – all in the cause of vital research! Indian spices Borough Market

        Local Sussex traders were well represented. Sussex Fish from Seaford had some beautiful fresh cod, sole and pollock – all caught sustainably off the south coast; but Flax Farm Linseed Whole Foods from Horsham won the day with their FlaxJacks ®; all wheat free and some even gluten free, using quinoa and millet instead of oats – a real treat for the Coeliacs amongst you.

        For their delicious recipes visit http://www.flaxfarm.co.uk/linseed_flaxjacks

        Next time you are in London with some time to spare, go and visit Borough Market to savour the sites and scents, and in the meantime try exploring your local farmers market to see what there is to tempt you.

        Purple sprouting broccoli Borough Market  Red chillis Borough Market apples Borough market Leeks Borough Market 2013-03-09 12.39.09

      • Healthy Jubilee party snacks

        If you are celebrating the Jubilee this weekend but worried about ruining your healthy eating regime, there are tasty snacks and nibbles you can make quickly and simply which will still grace a party table, contribute to your daily fruit and vegetable quota, and provide a great alternative to the fatal temptations of cakes, crisps and pastries.

        Chopped vegetables are packed with nutritious vitamins, and eaten raw can be a great fibre boost. Carrots, celery and sweet peppers make terrific dips and roasted vegetable kebabs go well with a barbecue. Try roasting chopped peppers, aubergine, tomato, mushrooms and courgettes and then skewer with some leafy  herbs (basil  leaves work well) to add colour to your plate.

        Instead of red meat, don’t forget  salmon is a great source of both protein and essential ‘good’ fats. Smoked salmon is very versatile and can be rolled and added to vegetable kebabs, or added to mini toasts or wholemeal bread squares to make a tasty canapé. Add some dill to dress.

        A good substitute for crisps and salted nuts is to nibble on toasted almonds or mixed seeds instead. Try flavouring with spices such as tamari or paprika to make them more interesting. You can also use walnuts and pine nuts as toppings on salads or to add flavour to celery boats stuffed with low fat cream cheese. Sprinkle with pomegranate for a burst of colour.

        Fruit can also be fun to combine with cheese and vegetables – and the children love them. Whilst we are in nostalgic mood, why not reconstruct the grapefruit hedgehogs so popular back in the 70’s. Halve a grapefruit, lay flat side on the plate and create a hedgehog effect using fruit and cheese kebabs on cocktail sticks. You can experiment with all sorts of combinations, alternating cheeses (try grilled haloumi cubes or cheddar) with pineapple cubes, halved strawberries, red and green grapes and blueberries. If you want to add vegetables, cherry tomatoes and sweet pepper cubes also work well. Mint and basil leaves also add colour, flavour and even more healthy nutrients.

        Don’t forget to add a non-alcoholic fruit punch to the party table. Another fantastic source of antioxidants and refreshing on a hot day. Let’s hope!

        Here are some suggestions below. Have a fun and healthy weekend!





        • Celery boats stuffed with blue cheese and toasted pine nuts
        • Cucumber rounds spread with goats cheese and walnuts
        • Chicory leaves filled with blue cheese and pine nuts
        • Mini Nairns biscuits with hummus or soft cheese spread, chives and pomegranate
        • Mini toasts with pesto, sun dried tomatoes and sprinkled with parmesan
        • Tamari or paprika toasted spicy roasted almonds
        • Skewers (or cocktail sticks) with cherry tomatoes, blueberries, strawberries and haloumi  or cheddar cubes
        • Celery boats stuffed with guacomole and pomegranate
        • Grilled haloumi kebabs with peppers, roasted peppers, cherry tomatoes and mint
        • Smoked salmon kebabs with cherry tomato and cucumber
        • Cucumber rounds with salmon and dill topping
        • Garlic free hummus  or guacamole dips with pepper, cucumber and celery crudités
        • Flat mushrooms grilled with teriyaki sesame seeds
        • Cherry tomatoes stuffed with soft cheese and chives
        • Asparagus spears wrapped in smoked salmon or prosciutto