24 Dec

Advent Day 24 – Band of Merrymakers

Advent Day 24

A link to a catchy Christmas tune from The Band Of Merrymakers, a holiday supergroup that renews their performers every year, giving new and developing artists the chance to perform – nice idea!

I hope you have enjoyed my advent tips and I wish you a very merry, happy and healthy Christmas and all the best for 2016!

Natasha x

23 Dec

Healthy Digestion at Christmas

Healthy Digestion at Christmas

  • Chew food thoroughly and eat slowly – put your fork down after each mouthful
  • Eat foods rich in fibre – oats, flaxseeds, fruit and vegetables, beans, pulses and lentils however start slow on this especially if you have a low fibre diet and increase gradually
  • Eat foods rich in probiotics – plain natural yoghurt (dairy or non dairy), sourdough bread, sauerkraut, fermented vegetables, and olives
  • Eat foods rich in prebiotics, this is what feeds the good bacteria in your gut to keep them there: leeks, onions, asparagus, garlic, apples, bananas and other fruit and vegetables
  • Eat foods rich in digestive enzymes – enzymes help digest proteins. They can become low as we age or stressors on the body can also reduce them. Kick start them again by eating enzyme rich food – kiwi, pineapple, raw vegetables, – carrots, celery and peppers, ginger – ginger tea can be useful to drink first thing in the morning and vegetable juices
  • A teaspoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice in a little water before a meal may help digestion and it also may help with the feeling of heartburn
  • Herbal teas may be useful to aid digestion – ginger, fennel, chamomile, peppermint may have calming effects
  • Slippery elm is a useful herb to have in the cupboard – it can come in tablets or a powder. I have the powder and I add a tablespoon to a mug of warm water with a sprinkle of cinnamon and drink. Slippery elm has soothing and calming properties, perfect for an inflamed digestive tract. It may help with constipation or diarrhoea.
  • Aloe vera is a herb that may help soothe and calm the digestive system
  • Drink 6-8 glasses of water and or herbal teas a day
  • Increase exercise as this may help with constipation
  • Find ways to relax – reading, exercise, meditation, hot baths, colouring in or doing nothing!



20 Dec

Emergency Non Drug Cold Remedies

Cold Remedies

We all want to feel well at Christmas but at this time of year it can be difficult to achieve, with copious nights out involving alcohol, rich food, lot’s of sweet treats, late nights and busy days shopping, hurrying around trying to be prepared for the festivities. I have listed below my key winter cupboard supplements, they are always on hand over the winter if a cold virus starts  or takes hold.

Vitamin C 500-1000mg – I take this at the first sign of a niggly throat and I keep taking it for the first 24-48 hours at fairly high doses, the sign of too much is loose stools at that point I will cut back. Typically I will take 2000mg every 2-4 hours religiously.

Zinc Lozenges – 15mg, I take 3-4 of these a day, at the very first sign of a sore throat sucking on these may stop the virus in its tracks or shorten the duration. Once you are over a virus, stop taking and cut back to 15mg a day or have a multivitamin with this amount to build your zinc levels back up.

Black Elderberry – studies have shown that black elderberry may be effective at attacking a virus and so again at the start of feeling a little unwell take 10ml twice a day

CherryActive – high in antioxidants and vitamin C, again very supportive, soothing to take as a hot drink.

Echinacea – again studies have shown echinacea may help, the research is mixed however I do find it helpful at the start of a cold to take to reduce the duration. People who are allergic to the ragweed or daisy family should avoid. Can be taken as a tincture or in a tea.

Multivitamin and multi mineral supplement may be useful as it contains other essential nutrients for supporting immunity like Vitamin A, D, E, selenium and  B vitamins.

  • Stay warm, viruses do not like heat
  • Minimise sugar – viruses like sugar
  • Stay hydrated – drink water, vegetable or bone broths, herbal teas,hot lemon drinks – fresh lemon juice, rind of lemon juice, hot water, freshly grated ginger and 1 teaspoon of honey.
  • If you feel like eating – eat colourful fruits and vegetables, bone broths, simple foods like soups and  casseroles, so your body can spend time on getting better and not digesting food.
  • Try to rest.


19 Dec

Steam-fried Brussel Sprouts with Coconut oil and Tamari Sauce

Steam-fried Brussel Sprouts with Coconut oil and Tamari Sauce

400g Brussel Sprouts (peeled)

2 tablespoons of coconut butter

1 clove of garlic, crushed

1 2cm cube of fresh ginger, peddled and chopped finely

2 teaspoons of tamari or soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes

Saute oil in a sauce pan at a medium heat

Chop the Brussels into half

Add the garlic to the pan with the chilli flakes, sauté for a few minutes

Add the brussels and stir

Add the tamari sauce and stir then put the lid on pot for 10-15 minutes, bring temperature down to low-medium

Serve once cooked.


Good source of antioxidants, antioxidants support the immune system and needed to fight of any toxins, chemicals, harmful substances in the body

Good source of Vitamin C, may support the immune system, skin and energy

Good source of Vitamin K, Vitamin K is essential in the role of Vitamin D so if supplementing with D it is useful to have K in your diet. K like D is essential in bone health and may also support brain health.

Good source of B vitamins especially B6 and B5, B5 is useful for digestive health and important for adrenal health. B6 is needed for many functions in the body particularly the reproductive system and needed to make vital brain chemicals that help mood, sleep and appetite.

Rich in minerals such as Iron, Potassium, Manganese and Copper. Manganese may be helpful for sore joints, I was taught at College, ‘sore knees, manganese’


IMG_3997 IMG_3998 IMG_3999

18 Dec

Day 18 – Get outside

There have been some studies to suggest walking in nature may help mood.

On Christmas Day:

First thing get outside and experience the peacefulness of Christmas before it starts to become a bit hectic. Notice the sky, trees, smells and sounds of birds, this will help ground you for the rest of the day.

In between main course and desert, have a family walk, this will waken everybody up, ready for desert, a family game or a Christmas movie on your return.

17 Dec

Tips to reach 7 a day!

Here are some top tips to increase your vegetables and fruit intake and reach 7 a day:


  • Make kale chips (see recipe below)
  • Beans, chickpeas and lentils are also part of your 7 a day, so increase pulses, add to soups, pasta sauces, curries and cottage pies
Bone broths

Bone broths

  • Half you plate  should be vegetables at mealtimes – make vegetables the star of the show at every meal!
Sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables and beetroot

Sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables and beetroot

  • Stewed apples and pears with cinnamon and raisins makes an easy delicious desert and is also good for digestion
  • Make big salads with mixed lettuces, cherry tomatoes, peppers, celery, carrots, beetroot, add a sprinkle some seeds and a handful of raisins for a bit of sweetness.


  • Keep a bowl of cut up vegetables i.e. carrots, celery, peppers in the fridge visible, serve with humus, avocado dip or a bean pate.
  • Bake cakes with veg or fruit – pumpkin, beetroot and courgette go well in cakes
  • Add extra veg to pasta sauces, soups, curries and casseroles
  • Have one day a week meat free and replace with vegetables
  • Keep fruits and vegetables in sight, the more you see them the more chance of eating them
  • Roast vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli in spices like turmeric and cumin, make extra for snacks the following day
  • Eat olives, sun dried tomatoes and artichokes in olive oil


Recipe for Kale chips – 7 a day

Bag of washed organic kale on a baking tray 2 tbsp. of olive or coconut oil and rub into kale, sprinkle with chilli flakes and bake in the oven at 100 degrees Celsius for 45 mins. They should come out crispy and delicious. Enjoy!




16 Dec

Healthy Mincemeat Recipe

Mincemeat was originally made with meat and fruit and put into a pie with a flaky, wafer thin pastry. Spices have been traditionally used as a way to preserve the meat in the pies over the winter. Over the years the meat has been eliminated has been replaced with fruit and dried fruit mainly. I have developed a healthy mincemeat recipe and used raspberries and it worked well. The colours are amazing and using apples, CherryActive, raisins and sultanas it really added up the antioxidant content, this can be especially useful for the immune system at this time of year.  I added no sugar to this recipe at all because the fruits made it sweet enough. You could add to mince pies, use as a jam or add to your porridge, muesli or granola.

200g frozen raspberries

1 apple, chopped and leave skin on

1/2 cup of raisins

5 dates, chopped

5-8 sliced of chopped dried mango

100 ml of water with 20ml of CherryActive (optional just use water if you prefer)

1 teaspoon of coconut oil

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 teaspoon of mixed spice

2 drops of almond oil

1 tbsp. desiccated coconut

  • Heat the coconut oil up in a medium saucepan
  • Add the apple, raspberries, raisins, dates, dried mango, water with CherryActive, cinnamon and mixed spice
  • Cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes with lid on
  • Reduce heat to low-medium and cook for a further 45-60 minutes
  • Once cooled add the desiccated coconut and almond oil.
  • Store in a sterilised jar.


I had a day off advent yesterday but other advent days that are not on the blog can be found on my Facebook page.

12 Dec

Advent Day 12 – Mediterranean Stuffing – gluten free and dairy free

Video on ingredients and method to make a Mediterranean stuffing

Ingredients for Mediterranean stuffing – gluten and dairy free

500g grass fed beef or pork mince (ground beef) I like Drovers or Hugh Grierson

1 onion, chopped

1 leek, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 red chilli pepper, deseeded and chopped

2 tbsp. tomato paste

250 g chestnuts

2tbsp of raisins or cranberries

half cup pf chopped parsley

1 teaspoon of dried oregano

1 egg whisked

1 cup of oats

Grated orange rind of half an orange

olive oil or coconut oil

Method for Mediterranean Stuffing – Gluten and Dairy Free

  • Sauté the onions, garlic, leeks and red pepper and add the tomato paste in a pan for 10 minus until soft, turn off heat and leave to cool.
  • Add the chestnuts to a food processor with parsley and oregano and blend.
  • Add the onion mixture  and pulse for 1 minute.
  • Break the meat up into a large bow, add the egg, add the chestnut mixture and add the oats, orange rind and raisins, mix with a spoon and your hands combining all the ingredients.
  • Transfer to a freezer and oven proof dish and freeze mixture greased with some coconut or olive oil. Take out on Christmas Eve to give it plenty of time to defrost.
  • If you don’t have a food processor, chop onions etc. more finely and chop chestnuts and then mix in with the mince.
  • You can use breadcrumbs instead of oats if you don’t want/need it to be gluten free


Natasha x

11 Dec

Advent Day 11 – Dehydrating Orange Peel

Did any one watch The Apprentice on Wednesday? It was right up my street, the teams were asked to design a health product, one team went for dehydrating vegetables. It was a good idea, just poorly  executed. One of the main benefits of doing this is that the food is still in it’s raw state, meaning dehydrating preserves all the nutrients and enzymes in the food.  A bit too much oil was used as well making the product greasy and inedible. You don’t always need oil to do this at home, if making crispy kale then a drizzling to coat leaves is enough. Use olive or coconut oil. They also failed to mention the food was raw, the key health benefits of the product.

I have an oven with a dehydrating function in mind but you can purchase dehydrators and they are relatively cheap, so a good Christmas Present idea for someone interested in food and cooking. I think as long as you have fan assisted oven it may work. They are great for making snacks to take to work, put in lunch boxes, have after exercise and add to breakfast, lunches and dinners.

I recently discovered a great tip that not only is nutritious it cut backs on food waste, win win.

Orange peel powder

After peeling an orange or clementine, wash the skin and break up into little pieces and dehydrate it. Once dehydrated you can ground into a fine powder and use whenever you need it, add it to porridge, granola or muesli, or even a hot fresh lemon drink when you have a cold.

I was recommended to dehydrate at 40 degrees Celsius, but found it did not crisp up much after being in the oven for a long time and there are some issues around bacteria if you dehydrate at to low a temperature, so I put the temp up to 80 degrees Celsius and this did the trick. Time will vary depending on what you are cooking. It is essentially taking the water out, apples at 140 degrees Celsius will be about 3-4 hours, Dehydrator machines will have settings and are probably more cost and energy efficient. As I said dehydrating at lower temperatures may increase the risk of bacteria building on the food, so whilst it is a great idea to keep it as low as possible it may be safer to have a temperature at about between 100-140 degrees Celsius. I would love to hear comments on this as I am experimenting with this myself, as you can tell!

You can make your own apple crisps, kale chips, beetroot chips and it is a great way of getting vegetables and fruit into your diet.

So Team Conexus had a good concept but unfortunately the grease on the suppliers hands was just too much to handle – Your Fired!

09 Dec

Advent Day 9 – Winter Salads for Immunity and Energy

Today’s Advent is all about winter salads, yes they can still be eaten at this time of year, to warm them up, add spices like ginger or root vegetables like turnips or radish, they give it a warm spiciness help wake up the digestive system.

At this time of year, the food can be sugary, Elf was not too far off the mark when he added maple syrup to his spaghetti. Ok we do not do that but sugar and unhealthy foods add up: lunches out, mince pies being brought into work for people to eat all day, Christmas nights out, more alcohol than usual and less sleep contribute to feeling tired, sluggish and a compromised immune system. Support yourself with upping your vegetables and even though it is cold, eating more raw foods for optimal nutrients. Here are two immune-boosting, energy giving recipes:

Tomato and Raw baby turnip, Sprouted seeds, Clementine with a Tamari, Tahini, Olive oil Dressing

Serves 3-4

1 bag of rocket or mixed salad

6 tomatoes

5 baby white turnips

1 clementine, use the rind as well

Sprouted sunflower seeds

Sprouted beans

Sprouted alfafa

1 2cm cube of ginger – finely chopped

chop the tomatoes and turnips into small pieces

chop the clementine and grate the rind into the salad

add a handful each of sprouted, sunflower seeds, beans and alfalfa

For the dressing

2 tbsp of olive oil

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon tamari sauce

1 clove of garlic finely chopped

1 tsp of tahini

Mix together


Cabbage slaw (Serves 4)

Chop half a large cabbage finely

Add sprouted seeds and beans

Add 1 chopped apple

1 2cm cube of finely chopped ginger

half a cup of chopped corriander

handful of raisins

For the dressing

2 tbsp flaxseed oil

1/2 juice of lemon and use the rind

1 tbsp of soy or plain natural yoghurt

slat and black pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together


For more recipes to make it through the Christmas season follow this link.