Monday, 7 October 2013

Seasonal squash and blue cheese risotto

Squash and blue cheese risotto

Ideal for a quick dinner and to make use of all the seasonal anti oxidant packed squashes around at the moment.  

Serves 4

1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 red onion, peeled and cut into wedges
12 cherry tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 litre vegetable stock
12oz pearl barley
2tbs dried sage
100g Gorgonzola, cubed
2oz chopped almonds

Toss the butternut squash and onion in the olive oil and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes.  Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for a further 10 to 15 minutes.  Meanwhile cook the garlic in a frying pan over a low heat and then add the barley, stirring until all the grains are coated.  Slowly add half of the stock, stir and when most of the liquid has been absorbed add the remainder and the dried sage and cook until barley is tender  (approx 35/40 minutes.

Stir in the squash, onions and tomatoes and top with the cheese and sprinkle with almonds.

Blackberry compote

So many blackberries picked this weekend, this was delicious on pancakes!

Simmer 8oz blackberries in a pan with 3floz apple juice and a good pinch of cinnamon in a pan for a couple of minutes.  Enjoy with porridge/ muesli for a healthy start to the day.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Berry frozen yoghurt

It's blackberry time again, yippee!

I love crumbles but sometimes a change is as good as a rest. This super simple recipe keeps the kids happy, firstly picking the berries, then mixing and freezing before enjoying the "fruits" of their efforts!


500g natural yoghurt
50g chopped toasted almonds
50g chopped nuts of your choice
50g  chopped strawberries/raspberries
50g chopped blackberries
50g dessicated coconut

Firstly mix everything together in a bowl
Pour into  freezer proof containers and pop in overnight or until solid.
Before serving, remove container for about 20 minutes and then enjoy!!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Fats - the good, the bad and the ugly!!

So fat is not so bad after all!  I just wish it was known by another name as we instantly assosiate it with the wobbly stuff around our hips, bums and tums that we work so hard at to shift!

The thing is, just as we have seen with carbohydrates, not all fats are created equal. Good fats  help keep you slim, keep your skin healthy, fill you up and carry the essential fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K into your body.  These types of fat are known as the  unsaturated fats and contain a group, essential fatty acids, which as their name suggests, the body cannot do without!

You've probably heard of omega 3 and omega 6 and these are essential  for practically every  system in your body, amongst other things they help

  • control blood cholesterol and fat levels
  • improve immune function
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Maintain water balance
  • Good eye health
  • Proper brain and nerve function

They are found in  nuts, seeds, oils, meat, fish, seafood and avocados, many of the foods which have traditionally been avoided when trying to drop a few pounds.

Next we have the saturated fat, usually solid at room temperature and from animal source - apart from coconut and palm oil. Coconut oil is now seen as a health food due to the make up of the fatty acids but more about that next time!

Our bodies have no real need for saturated fat and it is too much of this that is linked with a higher risk of heart disease, a rise in bad cholesterol levels and obesity.  Found in biscuits, cake, ice cream, full fat dairy, meat, meat products, cheese etc. It's a case of moderation and choosing the good natural stuff, lean cuts of meat, no skin on poultry etc etc.

By far the worst kind of fat is the dreaded Trans Fat or hydrogenated oils.  This is a cheap oil which has hydrogen pumped through it to produce a firmer end product. Often found in margarines,  ready meals, biscuits, cakes , in fact most processed foods that have a long shelf life. If you see anything that has hydrogenated vegetable/partially hydrogenated vegetable oil or fat as a listed ingredient, best to leave it on the shelf.

So remember good fats do not make us fat, its the high sugar or highly processed trans fats that do that.  Eat Simple natural, unrefined foods for all round good health.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

The Glycaemic index explained

Lots of confusion surrounds the G.I which is simply a ranking of carbohydrate foods based on their overall effect on blood sugar levels.


As we know it is important to keep our blood sugar (glucose) levels steady throughout the day and choosing meals and snacks based on lower G.I foods can help us do this.

Foods are based on a scale of 1 - 100 according to the extent at which they raise blood sugar levels after eating.  Foods with a high G.I are those which are rapidly absorbed and result in exaggerated swings in blood sugar.  Low G.I foods produce gradual rises in blood sugar and insulin levels, are slowly digested and keep you feeling full longer.  The reference foods are glucose or white bread which have a score of 100 (a reason why that white bread jam sandwich is a no no)!

Low ranges are 0-55
Medium            56-59
High                  70+

Find out more by clicking here

The Glycemic Index of Foods - American Diabetes Association 

The trouble is you can't rely on the G.I alone to tell you if a food is healthy or not.  For example an ice - cream or mars bar will have a lower G.I rating than a baked potato because they release their sugar more slowly BUT this is because fat or protein slows down the release of sugar from food, so unhealthy high fat foods often score low on G.I.  So if you are thinking of using the G.I you need to think of the whole meal you are eating, not just one food.  A high G.I baked potato becomes healthier with the addition of some protein, healthy fat or fibre such as chicken breast and steamed vegetables with a drizzle of olive oil.

Another quick way to work out possible effects on your blood sugar is to think how refined a food is.  If it contains lots of sugar, salt, preservatives or additives it will upset your blood sugar levels and cause symptoms such as headaches, weight gain, tiredness and mood swings. Real  food is not meant to keep for a long time, is usually either full of protein, fibre/bulk to satisfy our hunger and keep us feeling full for longer. Think about eating a large plate of vegetables with say a chicken breast.  Once you have eaten it you will feel full and wouldn't want to be constantly eating more and more of it.  Now consider say, pizzas, crisps, "low fat but high sugar" snacks and meals, you can keep overeating these types of food without ever really feeling satisfied because of the effect on your blood sugar that they create.

The more simple the make up of food the better so sticking to lean protein, vegetables and fruits, nuts, seeds and wholegrain such as oats, quinoa and rye will keep you on the right track to achieving steady blood sugar levels, weight management and good health.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Shape up for summer - motivation guaranteed!

Exercise doesn’t have to be boring and you don’t have to go it alone!
Trying to lose a few pounds can seem like an uphill struggle but when you join a class of like - minded ladies your chances of success are greatly improved.  Let me help motivate you at any of the classes below.

10.00 – 11.00am

Pushy Mothers
Buggy Workout

Meet at
Tarka Tennis Centre

6.45 – 7.30pm

Shape Shifter  HIIT

Kings acre school hall

9.30 – 10.30am

Shape Shifter circuits

St Brannock’s
Rooms, Braunton

6.30 – 7.15pm

Shape Shifter HIIT

Kings acre school hall

9.30 – 10.30pm

Shape Shifter  outdoors

Meet at
Braunton Parish Hall

Pushy Mothers
 Fun, safe and functional fitness with a post-natal qualified instructor. No childcare needed, baby sleeps or enjoys the ride!

Shape Shifter H.I.I.T
Fitness & strength training workout designed to burn maximum amount of fat in minimum amount of time.  No complicated choreography, just simple effective exercises with rest and recovery periods.

Shape Shifter Circuits
Total body workout using a variety of equipment and exercises to blast stubborn body fat.  Shape up, slim down to look fit and toned.

 Shape Shifter Outdoors
Hop, skip, run and jump your way to fitness and fat loss with a fun mix of exercises and drills performed in the great outdoors.

Unlimited classes 5 week membership       £40.00
Block 6 sessions                                              24.00

Pay As You Go                                                   4.50

Apple and raspberry crumble

Even when you are trying to lose a few pounds, sometimes you just really fancy a pudding.  You know that cheesecakes and cream teas aren't the best option and now the "low fat but high sugar pavlovas" are a no no what do you choose?  Try this fruit crumble, I knocked this one up this evening using coconut oil (more about the benefits of this versatile oil in another blog) which completely removed the need for any sugar. The addition of the oats add some extra fibre and it tastes really yummy!  I always cook extra and spoon it into individual containers and the children take it to school for their packed lunch.

2oz coconut oil                                                      3 small cooking apples
4oz oats                                                                 350g fresh/ frozen raspberries
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Place apples and raspberries in the bottom of a greased dish.  Melt coconut oil in pan until liquid.  Turn off heat and stir in oats and cinnamon.  Spoon over fruit mixture and cook for about 20 minutes at 180c.  Tastes great on its own or serve with a dollop of Greek yoghurt.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Super Simple Beef Burgers

Super Simple Beef-Burgers

Even if it’s a last minute BBQ (as most tend to be due to our good old weather) there is no excuse for grabbing more than you bargained for with any old box of burgers.  You can knock these up in less than 5 minutes, know exactly what’s in them and pretty much all the ingredients are usually to hand or can be improvised (we do a lot of that in my kitchen).  No worcester sauce, use tomato puree, add in a few herbs, just experiment, and watch the kids munch through them!


1lb extra lean mince steak                   ½ onion finely chopped
1 crushed clove garlic                             1 egg
1oz whole wheat breadcrumbs              2 tsps Worcestershire sauce

Simply mix the whole lot together and then mould into the amount of burger shapes that you need.  Grill, turning frequently and enjoy – bring on the BBQ!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Top 3 Tips for finding your motivation

My Top 3 Tips For Getting Back Your Motivation

 We've all been there at some time.  You know when you've decided that those favourite jeans are way too tight, or worse still slung to the back of the wardrobe until you've lost a few pounds. You finally decide it's time to do something about it and start the day vowing to eat sensibly and do some regular exercise.  Then by 11am you find yourself tucking into a packet of crisps and arranging to meet a friend for a few drinks later rather than do the exercise session you had planned!

From my own experience and also that of many of my clients whom I have worked with, I have listed below 3 of the most common reasons why we often fall at the first hurdle in our battle to shift the weight.

  1. Not having a goal.   How much weight do you want to lose?  What dress size do you want to be?   With no tangible goal in sight it can seem at best too much of an effort and when the going seems really tough, just down right pointless!   If you don't know where you want to be, how will you know when you get there?
  2. Aiming for perfection.  In an ideal world to achieve our weight loss goals  we would 

  •  Avoid alcohol and caffeine
  • Cut out refined sugar and processed foods
  • Enjoy exercise as part of our daily lifestyle
However life is not perfect and we are not robots.  You need to find a plan that allows you to not become too obsessive so that all is not ruined when you allow yourself to have a drink or give in to the temptation of that chocolate bar.  I  don't know about you but  as soon as someone tells me that I can't have something I want it all the more!   It's what you do most of the time that counts and if you want to shape up now and still have a trim figure in 10 years time it's what you do over the whole 10 years not just the next few months/weeks that will make the difference.  Unless your plan is something you can realistically see yourself sticking to long term, find yourself a more flexible one!

    3.   Being stuck in a rut.  This can be in either your exercise routine or your weekly food plan.
Shake it up a bit and do something different, especially if you aren't getting the results that you want.  Doing the same thing over and over if it doesn't work is the definition of insanity!  

What helps or motivates you?  Let me know!

Have a healthy, active weekend

Marie :-)

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