Tuscan Spelt Salad – a perfect recipe for a family with young children!

a perfect recipe for toddlers - Tuscan Spelt Salad
This recipe is from Renee Elliott in Me, You and the Kids Too

This Tuscan Spelt Salad recipe is perfect for a family with you children. The main spelt salad is a great summer meal for adults and older kids. And you can use the same ingredients to make meals for children aged 6 to 9 months, a nutritious Courgette Puree, and for children between 9 months and a year there’s a Courgette, Fennel and Red Onion Herb Mix. That way, the whole family can eat a healthy meal together!

I first tried spelt salad in Tuscany. Friends nearby invited us to a picnic on a roasting hot summer day near a freezing mountain stream. After we had all cooled off, we shared out the food we had brought. Our friend Susanna offered spelt salad for us to try, which is a classic dish in the region.

Tuscan Spelt Salad

Serves: 2 adults, 1 child and 1 baby

Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus at least 7 hours soaking (optional)

Cooking time: 35–45 minutes

Storage: Refrigerate for up to 3 days.
150g/5½oz/¾cup wholemeal spelt grain

¾ tbsp natural yogurt or kefir, for soaking (optional)

1 tsp fine sea salt

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

250g/9oz mozzarella cheese, diced

1 large tomato, chopped

1 courgette, quartered lengthways and sliced

1 fennel bulb, chopped

1 small red onion, finely chopped

1 small garlic clove, finely chopped

3 tbsp chopped parsley leaves

2 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves

1. If soaking the spelt grain, put the spelt grain and yogurt in a large saucepan and cover generously with warm water. Leave to soak, covered, for 7 hours or overnight at room temperature. Drain and rinse the grains, then return to the pan and add 375ml/13fl oz/1½ cups water.

2. Bring to the boil over a high heat. Turn the heat down to low and simmer, covered, for 30–35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the grains are tender but not mushy. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

(If cooking unsoaked spelt grain, put the spelt grain and 455ml/16fl oz/scant 2 cups water in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil over a high heat. Turn the heat down to low and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the grains are tender but not mushy. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.)

3. Add the salt, oil and white wine vinegar and mix well. Leave to cool slightly, then add all of the remaining ingredients and mix well.

6 to 9 months – Courgette Puree

Put ½ of the sliced courgette in a steamer and steam, covered, for 10 minutes until completely soft. Transfer to a blender and add 2 tablespoons water. Blend for 30 seconds, adding extra water 1 teaspoon at a time, until smooth. Mix in 1 teaspoon of the oil and serve warm.

9 to 12 months – Courgette, Fennel, Red Onion and Herb Mix

Put ½ of the sliced courgette, 1 tablespoon of the fennel and 1 teaspoon of the onion in a steamer and steam, covered, for 10 minutes until completely soft. Transfer to a blender and add a pinch each of the parsley and mint leaves and 2 tablespoons water. Pulse for 15 seconds, adding extra water 1 teaspoon at a time, until the mixture forms a lumpy purée. Mix in 1 teaspoon of the oil and serve warm.

Serve either warm or cold.

‘Renée Elliott’s cookbook is a kitchen essential for new moms and for those who need a little inspiration on how to feed the entire family.’

Gwyneth Paltrow

Me-you-and-kids-too-coverCooking for a family can be a huge challenge that leaves you feeling like you’re always making compromises. In Me, You and the Kids Too, Renée Elliott makes this do-able. She shows that you don’t have to cook different recipes to please everyone at the table – and that you never have to sacrifice flavour or nutrition to get meals made without stress.

Me, You and the Kids Too by Renée Elliott

Order the eBook for only £7.99


How to Smoke Food at Home – a Michelin Masterclass with Daniel Galmiche

smoking food at home? Daniel Galmiche lets you in on some professional secrets
Michelin-starred chef Daniel Galmiche shares his tips for smoking food at home from his new recipe book Revolutionary French Cooking

daniel-galmiche-author-of-revolutionary-french-cookingI am a big fan of smoked foods, particularly meat, as I just love those smoky flavours, and although smoking was developed as a way of preserving food, I think it is more about the wonderful flavours it creates. Originally – going back to ancient times – people used to hang their kill to dry in their caves. Since there was no way out for the smoke from the fire, they noticed that both the flavour and the preserving qualities were improved by the smoke … and so it began!

Since then, smoking foods, usually over wood smoke, has become popular in many regions of the world and has developed commercially. In particular, smokehouses were built on farms to preserve meat – well away from the farm buildings to avoid fire spreading if an accident happened – and on the coast, to be handy for the fishermen landing their catch.

Where I come from in Franche-Comté, smoking foods has always been a speciality and the technique is still very much alive today. On market day, I often used to go shopping with my mum or my sister, Dolores. They were both really good cooks – although that goes without saying in my family as we are all enthusiastic gourmands. Anyway, you will see in my new book Revolutionary French Cooking, I like to use products from my home area and one of those is Morteau, a rather delicious smoked sausage. We often bought this from the market, along with smoked pork shoulder, bacon or neck. To serve with it, Mum used to make a lovely sauerkraut with turnip instead of cabbage – that day was one we looked forward to.
At The Vineyard

At my restaurant The Vineyard, we serve some smoked dishes in my restaurant. My friend, John, has supplied our smoked salmon, haddock and mackerel for the last 20 years and, trust me, he is very good at it! I also love to use some smoked ingredients, like smoked paprika and, of course, Morteau sausage. But we also do some smoking ourselves; my particular favourites are smoked beetroot, which has a wonderful earthy flavour, to serve as a side dish or as part of a salad, and smoked duck, a meat that seems perfect to prepare in this way.
Best Foods for Smoking

All kinds of poultry and meat can be smoked, creating a range of products from spiced pastrami to smoked bacon. Smoked fish ranges from cod or haddock to salmon, herring or mackerel. Tofu and cheeses absorb fabulous flavours in the smoker, as do nuts, vegetables like peppers and beetroot, and fruit such as prunes, which are often smoked while drying. Then there are smoked teas, like lapsang souchong, and even whisky. It is important to remember, though, that there are various methods of smoking and not all act as a preservative.
Hot and Cold Smoking

Whatever their size, smokers create heat and smoke by burning wood chips or sawdust, or they may have gas burners. In the UK, oak or alder are the woods of choice in most smokehouses, as well as beech and fruit-tree woods, such as apple. In the US, corncobs are popular, while in New Zealand, they like to burn the wood from the manuka tree. Some smokers also have steam coils to create humidity and maintain the correct temperature, which is obviously crucial or the results will be dry and flavourless.

Hot smoking uses both smoke and heat in a wood-fired oven, a smoke-roaster or even a barbecue. The temperature reaches 52–80°C/125–176°F so, at the higher temperatures, the food is cooked as well as absorbing the smoky flavours.

Cold smoking does not cook the food as the temperature of 20–30°C/62–68°F only imparts the wood-smoke flavour, so many cold-smoked foods are cured in brine first. For our smoked recipes, I’m using a method based on a Chinese technique known as tea smoking, as a combination of rice, tea and sugar is used to create the smoke. We’ll then cook our smoke-flavoured foods afterwards. (I decided that the Icelandic tradition of smoking fish over dried sheep’s dung was perhaps not one to try at home!)

How to Smoke Food at Home

I hope you will try this method. You can buy smokers in pre-packed sets and there is a vast range of different wood chips available online for you to try. However, I would recommend you use my tea-smoking option first as you can simply adapt your steamer or wok.

Just one reminder. Do be careful of the heat and smoke, especially when disposing of the smoking ingredients as they’ll stay hot for a while even after you take them off the heat.

1. You need a steamer with a lid, or a wok with a lid and a metal rack, and some kitchen foil.

2. Your smoking mixture is 100g/3½oz/½ cup basmati rice, 2 tablespoons of green tea and 2 teaspoons of caster sugar.

3. Prepare the food as if you were going to cook it, so trimmed, stoned, left whole or sliced.

4. Put a large piece of kitchen foil, shiny-side down, in the bottom of a steamer or wok. Put the rice, tea and sugar on the foil, cover with a steamer insert or wire rack, then put on the lid. Put over a medium heat for about 5 minutes until the mixture starts smoking.

5. Quickly lift the lid and put the food onto the rack. Put the lid back on, turn the heat down to low and smoke for the time recommended in the recipe; that’s about 5 minutes for chicken or duck pieces.

6. Lift out the food and put on a plate to rest.

7. Wrap the smoking ingredients in the foil and discard them carefully.

Leave the food to cool, or continue to cook, following the recipe instructions, then savour those stunning flavours. Try smoking a cod fillet following the method below, or try the Smoked Duck and Lentils with Lavender or Smoked Chicken, Courgette, Garlic and Rosemary Casserole recipes in my book Revolutionary French Cooking.

Fennel-Smoked Cod with Warm Bean Salad

When you smoke fish with herbs such as fennel, the subtle scent permeates the fish to complement the lovely smoky flavour. Try this simple cod recipe.

Add a pinch of dried fennel to the smoking mixture (above) in the foil-lined wok, then put in the smoker 2 very fresh pieces of cod, skin-side down, season with salt and pepper, cover and smoke for 5 minutes. Remove them from the smoker and brush the skin with a little olive oil. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and pan-fry the cod, skin-side down, for about 5 minutes until the skin is wonderfully crisp and golden. Flip it on the other side and cook for
2 minutes to finish it off. Cool and discard the smoking ingredients.

The perfect partner would be a warm white bean salad. Gently warm 300g/10½oz cooked white beans in a pan with 1 or 2 diced oven-dried tomatoes and a chopped garlic clove. Take off the heat and stir in 2 teaspoons of chopped parsley leaves, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and top with your smoked cod fillet to serve. You are in paradise! Can I join you for dinner?



Continue to master contemporary French cuisine with Daniel Galmiche’s Sous-vide Masterclass, and show off some cheffy skills to your friends and family!


Revolutionary French Cooking 


Order now with free UK postage 



Cheap Eats – Cajun chicken with tomato salsa


Looking for something cheap to eat before payday? Try this delicious Cajun chicken with tomato salsa from The Top 100 Cheap Eats by Hilaire Walden – it serves 4 and keeps costs down!

Cajun Chicken with Tomato Salsa

2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
6 frozen boneless chicken breasts, with skin on, thawed
groundnut oil, for brushing
salt and freshly ground black pepper
lime quarters, to serve

For the Tomato Salsa

700g/1½lb firm but ripe plum tomatoes, diced
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 small red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
4½ tsp chopped coriander
4½ tsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
1. Mix together the herbs, spices and seasoning. Brush the chicken lightly with oil, then rub the spice mixture into the chicken. Cover and leave in a cool place for 2–3 hours to marinate.

2. Meanwhile, make the salsa by combining the ingredients. Add salt to taste. Cover and chill.

3. Thread the lime quarters onto skewers, if you would like them grilled. Preheat the grill to high.

4. Cook the chicken on an oiled grill rack under the preheated grill for about 15 minutes until browned and cooked through, turning once. If grilling the limes, cook the skewers alongside until caramelized. Serve the chicken with the lime quarters, either fresh or grilled as above, and accompanied by the salsa.


Top Tips for Managing Your Email at Work

If you dread launching your email programme because you receive so many emails, you are not alone. Studies show that we spend about two hours of each work day on emails – and this is likely to increase. Finding ways to manage work email can help to reduce stress and increase your productivity.

Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about how to manage email and save time doing so.

How often should I check my email?
This really depends on your work situation. For most of us, checking email three times per day is sufficient – perhaps first thing in the morning, halfway through the day, and at the end of the day. Do not respond to email as it comes in. Many email programmes have a message alert feature that will let you know when new mail has arrived. Unless your work requires you to answer emails as they arrive or you are expecting an urgent email, turn off the message alert and stick to a regular schedule to check email.
What is the best way to handle mail in the inbox?
Your inbox should contain only email that you are waiting to read or that requires action. Set up your email programme to sort mail automatically into pre-designated folders. The aim is to deal with each email message once only, by responding, filing, forwarding, or deleting it.
How can I save time when sending and receiving email?

  • Use the subject line to give the recipient an indication of what the email is about.

  • Change the subject heading to reflect the content of the new message when replying.

  • Be clear, concise, and to the point.

  • Stick to one major subject per email, especially if you are requesting the recipient to take action on a number of different items.

  • Be clear about what action you are expecting from the recipient.

  • Create a signature file (see your email programme) that automatically includes your contact information at the end of each email.

How can email folders save me time?
If you receive more than ten emails per day, folders can be a great time-saving feature. You can separate important email from less important by setting up your email to recognize key words and direct the messages straight into project or client folders. These will make it much easier for you to find crucial emails and make it less likely for them to get lost in the deluge.
When is it counterproductive to use email?
Email is not the best option if you are dealing with an urgent matter and don’t want to waste precious time. If you know the recipient is in their office or you can reach them on their cell phone, you have a better chance of resolving the issue quickly. If your response to an email would be long and involved, picking up the phone and having a conversation will save you time.

These email management tips are just one of the 25 exercises Lucy MacDonald has created in her latest book.

You Can Manage Your Time Better shows you how to maximize your time, eliminate stress and reclaim your life. Stress and anger management expert Lucy MacDonald shares her expert tips for coping with time pressured situations: from handling meetings at work to finding time to be creative.

And you can pre-order this book today!

Raspberry Marshmallow Muffins – perfect for half-term baking with the kids!

Jo Pratt's Raspberry Marshmallow Muffins - perfect for Half Term baking with the kids


Faced with bored children over the half-term holiday? Fear not! Jo Pratt’s raspberry marshmallow muffin recipe is a great way to keep little hands busy (with supervision and helpful tasting of course).

These muffins are fun, tasty (who doesn’t love a marshmallow?) and irresistible when still warm from the oven. And if you do happen to have any left over a day or so later, don’t throw them out as they can be used to make a delicious granola for breakfast – there’s a recipe for that below.


Raspberry Marshmallow Muffins

Makes 12 muffins
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes

300g/10½oz/2⅓ cups self-raising flour
115g/4oz/½ cup caster sugar
150g/5½oz/1 cup fresh or defrosted, frozen raspberries
35g/1¼oz mini marshmallows
170ml/5½fl oz/⅔ cup milk
125g/4¼oz butter, melted
1 egg, beaten

1. Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/gas 4 and line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper muffin cases or lightly crease a silicone muffin tray.

2. Put the flour, sugar, raspberries and marshmallows in a mixing bowl and lightly mix together so the raspberries are coated in flour. This will prevent the raspberries from sinking to the bottom of the muffins when they are cooking.

3. Mix together the milk, butter and egg, then gently mix into the flour mixture, creating a batter. Spoon into the muffin cases or tray and bake for 25 minutes until risen and golden.

4. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm or cold. (If they are not all eaten up right away, store in an airtight container for a couple of days.)


Leftovers for breakfast crunchy muffin granola

jo-pratt's-granola-recipeThis couldn’t be easier and makes a very yummy start to your day when eaten with milk or mixed with yogurt and fresh fruit for breakfast!

Crumble 1 leftover muffin into a bowl and then stir in 25g/1oz/. cup rolled oats, 1 tbsp sunflower seeds, 1 tbsp linseeds (optional), 1 tbsp desiccated coconut and 2 tbsp warmed clear honey. Stir to combine, then put in a single layer on a baking tray lined with baking paper.

Cook in a preheated oven at 200c/400f/gas 6 for 10 minutes. Stir in 2 tbsp raisins, sultanas, dried cranberries or dried cherries and return to the oven for 5–8 minutes until the granola is a deep gold. Leave to cool. Makes a generous adult portion or 2 smaller portions.


Find more inspiring quick and easy recipes in bestselling author Jo Pratt’s latest book, Madhouse Cookbook. A life-transforming collection of recipes for busy parents – for surviving the stressful week, coping with weekends and enabling you to cling onto your social life. Follow Jo on her inspiring website


Family recipes for busy parents “Home-cooked food that’s tasty and stress-free – this is Jo’s guide for busy parents” – Jamie Oliver

Madhouse Cookbook by Jo Pratt

224 pages • Illustrated • £20.00

AUS $35.00 NZ $42.00

Buy the book now with free UK postage!


Lomo a la Plancha – a Spanish pork chop sandwich that’s perfect for camping!

Tiff and Jim Easton from the Family Camping Cookbook

Celebrate the bank holiday and the beautiful warming weather with an adventure to the countryside (or even just the back garden) – while you’re there you can enjoy a tasty lunch from the camping stove.

Lomo a la Plancha is a Spanish classic, and the tomato, olive oil and garlic combination is a great summery alternative to butter or mayonnaise. Wild rocket adds a lovely, peppery touch, so a bit of foraging pays off enormously. Flattening the pork helps you get maximum crispiness combined with succulence.

Lomo a la Plancha

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 6 minutes

4 pork loin steaks or boneless pork chops
4 ciabatta rolls, cut in half horizontally or 2 baguettes, each cut in half horizontally then cut in half lengthways
1 garlic clove, peeled and halved
1 large tomato, cut in half horizontally
olive oil, for drizzling
salt and pepper
wild rocket, to serve (optional)

1. Put the pork steaks in a large plastic freezer bag. Using a camping mallet, flatten each one until very thin and doubled in size. Pat dry with kitchen paper and season both sides with salt and pepper.

2. Toast the cut side of the rolls over a medium heat on a barbecue or in a griddle pan until lightly golden. Remove from the heat and set aside.

3. Cook the pork steaks over a medium-high heat on a barbecue or in a frying pan for about 2–3 minutes on each side until charred and crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.

4. Meanwhile, rub the garlic onto the toasted side of the rolls. Add a good squeeze of tomato juice and drizzle with a little oil. Put a cooked pork steak on the bottom half of each roll and top with wild rocket, if you can find some. Cover with the top halves of the rolls and serve hot.

And if you’re planning a camping trip, take a look at this paella recipe, designed to be cooked on a camping stove!
The Family Camping Cookbook is packed with delicious recipes for camping adventures – whether you’re on a quick escape, by the beach, in the country, at a festival or camping with a crowd. Make the most of cooking in the great outdoors!

Family Camping Cookbook by Tiff & Jim Easton

Order now with free UK postage!


Dehydrating Food At Home – a Michelin Masterclass with Daniel Galmiche

Michelin-starred chef Daniel Galmiche shares tips and techniques from his new recipe book Revolutionary French Cooking, so you can create easy and delicious dehydrated foods in your own home – including some delicious pumpkin crisps.


‘Intensity of flavour has to be the number one reason for dehydrating foods. Although, of course, it originated in ancient times as a simple but effective means of preserving foods through the lean winter months, now it’s more about the fact that taking out the water not only means bacteria can’t grow, it also produces some radical transformations, concentrating both taste, texture and goodness. Plus, it still means you don’t have to waste any seasonal gluts but can instead easily transform all kinds of foods into handy storecupboard items, from fruit strips that make a great lunch-box snack to dried mushrooms to sprinkle into a risotto to intensify the flavour.

In the kitchen at my restaurant, The Vineyard, as in many professional kitchens, we often use dehydrators. A subtle, sweet celery leaf sprinkled with sugar can become as transparent and fragile as glass to finish a terrine. Slices of pancetta, gently oven-crisped, then finished in the dehydrator, are perfect crumbled over a pea velouté, roasted poultry, risotto or even roast pork. A few blanched, dried mushrooms can be blitzed to a dust to flavour soup or an oeuf en cocotte.

Dehydrating is easy, costs virtually nothing, needs no special equipment – and still gives you a huge range of flavoursome and densely textured treats to enjoy!

How to dehydrate food at home

You don’t need a commercial dehydrator to dehydrate food, and you don’t need to live in the land of eternal sunshine either – though wouldn’t that be nice! In our house back in France, drying ingredients was a seasonal affair. Every autumn, wooden boxes lined with newspaper would appear in the boiler room, perched on the top of the boiler, and gradually be filled with our harvest of mushrooms. The boiler room was always the warmest part of the house. Not surprisingly, our dogs soon realized this and selected it as their winter bedroom – sensible creatures!

Newspapers, by the way, are ideal for absorbing moisture from drying foods and I still use them today. I dry foods in my glass greenhouse – the sun’s heat on the enclosed space dries foods such as tomatoes perfectly. I also dry herbs, especially basil and tarragon, and use them to flavour oils, but I do that in the microwave. Just spread out the separate leaves on a sheet of kitchen paper, lay another sheet on top, then microwave on High for three or four 30-second bursts, watching carefully.

How to dehydrate food in your oven

Mostly, however, I dry foods in my ordinary oven on a very low setting. I usually make use of the time control, then I can just leave it alone to do its own thing for long periods without interruption. It’s quicker to dry food in an oven than by sun-drying or even using a dehydrator, and you only need a couple of oven trays and a thermometer. It’s true you can only make small quantities in an oven, but I think that can be an advantage. It means you can experiment with plenty of different foods and there’s no risk of making the effort to dry a large quantity of something you later decide you don’t like!
You can dry most foods, apart from those with a high water content, such as cucumbers, as they are likely to spoil before the process is finished. Fruits tend to go crisp more quickly than vegetables, but you can dry most things in 8–12 hours. Good vegetables to start with are onions, garlic and peppers. For fruits, try apples, peaches, apricots or pears.

1. Only fresh, good-quality food will give the best results. Wash it, then pat dry with kitchen paper.

2. Prepare the food as though you were cooking it, so you might peel and core an apple, remove the stone from a plum, trim the fat off meat. Then leave them whole, or cut into thin slices or strips.

3. For foods like apple that tend to go brown, add ½ tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to 250ml/9fl oz/1 cup of water, then dip the slices as you cut.

4. Blanch hard fruits or vegetables in a saucepan of boiling water for a few seconds, then refresh in iced water and pat dry.

5. Fruits like apples, peaches and rhubarb will keep their flavour if you poach them first in a light syrup.

6. You could marinate meats in olive oil and vinegar, then toss with seasonings before dehydrating.

7. Put food in a single layer, not overlapping, on a lined baking sheet or a wire rack in the oven (or the racks in your hydrator). Put a drip tray under meat. Items with similar drying times can be mixed on a rack.

8. Switch on the oven to 45–70°C/115–150°F/gas ¼ or less, depending on the recipe. If your oven doesn’t go below 70°C/150°F/gas ¼, don’t worry. Set it to its lowest temperature but leave the oven door slightly open, enough for the air to circulate and keep a constant temperature.

9. Turn the tray every 30 minutes or so if you can until the food is completely dry. That will be about 4–5 hours for beetroot, onions and peppers; 6–8 hours for garlic; 8–10 hours for apples, mushrooms and pears; 10–12 hours for apricots, peaches and potatoes.

Most dried foods will last well, so keep them in sterilized airtight jars in a cool, dark, dry place – then you can enjoy intriguing your friends at your next dinner party.

Dehydrated Pumpkin Crisp

This makes an easy introduction to drying so do have a go at making this delicious sprinkle for your next risotto.

Start by preheating the oven to 70°C/150°F/gas ¼ and lining a large baking sheet with baking paper. Then, simply grate the flesh of 100g/3½oz of peeled butternut squash or pumpkin into long spaghetti-like strips straight over the baking sheet. Bake for 4½ hours, turning halfway through. The strands will stick together in a net-like shape and go dry and crisp. Simply break them over the dish to serve. They’ll keep in an airtight container for up to a month.

Follow the same recipe using strips of grated carrot or parsnip for delicious versions of the crisp. Or why not try making a batch of each and breaking a colourful selection to finish off your dish.

Continue to master contemporary French cuisine with Daniel Galmiche’s Sous-vide Masterclass, and show off some cheffy skills to your friends and family!


Revolutionary French Cooking 


Order now with free UK postage 




The Weekend Detox Plan – 3 Steps to Feeling Great!

From Max Tomlinson’s book Clean Up Your Diet
Max Tomlinson's weekend detox planIf you’ve decided become cleaner and leaner, and purge modern toxins from your body, then a weekend detox is a great place to start (if you’re undecided, ask yourself Do I Need To Go On a Detox?)

Anyone should be able to do the weekend detox plan – it’s just 48 short hours out of your life; but the impact on your body is much longer lasting. You’ll feel incredible, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t you do this before! This 3 step plan will show you how to prepare, what to eat, and what to do on your weekend detox.
Why should I do the weekend plan?

The weekend detox gives your liver, bowels and kidneys a much-needed rest and allows these valuable organs to do two full days of house cleaning. Your increased intake of distilled or filtered water and of my detox herbal tea (see below) will initiate a deep cleanse by stimulating your lymphatic system to drain toxins away from your cells. The abundance of vitamins and minerals in pure foods will flood into the blood stream and wash over your cells, providing the nutrients you need to maintain health at a deep, cellular level. The increased intake of protective antioxidants will neutralize active free radicals and help to undo some of the damage done by your past free-radical load.
What benefits will I see and feel?

The most tangible overall benefit will be an improvement in your appearance, particularly in your skin tone and the sparkle in your eyes; but the very first benefit has to be a sense of calm anticipation that settles over your body as you take the first steps toward a weekend of detoxing.

By skipping your morning coffee or tea, you give yourself the chance to wake slowly, naturally, instead of your usual morning ritual of “stop” to “full-throttle” in a split, caffeine-fuelled second. By the second stimulant-free morning, you will start to feel your natural energy coming through. Supplement it with a good stretch and some breathing. Your bowels will start to quieten down as you remove the foods that normally bloat you – bread, pasta, sugar and so on.You may find that you have a full bowel motion for the first time in ages as the increased fibre and fluids in your fruits and vegetables takes effect.

To prepare the dried tea, mix together equal parts of these dried, organic herbs: pau d’arco, mullein, red clover, yellow dock, dandelion root (chopped), burdock root and milk thistle seed. When you are ready to make the tea, place a teaspoon of the dried herb mix per cup into a tea pot. Allow the tea to steep in boiling water for five minutes, then pour. Add fresh, grated lemon peel and ginger root to taste. Drink and enjoy!



Step 1: Preparation

A good cleanse needs a little planning. It would be a tragedy if you got all the way to Sunday afternoon only to succumb to that chocolate biscuit hiding in the cupboard. Solution? Clear your cupboards and your refrigerator of anything that you know in your heart is a poor food. Crisps, biscuits, cakes, oven chips, burger buns, and tinned custard have got to go. Remove all of the temptations so that you can focus on your detox.

Clean the house on Thursday night. Wash your sheets and air your bedroom so that you have a fabulous, clean bed to jump into on Friday. Make sure you have all your favourite clothes clean, especially some comfortable baggy pants and your favourite T-shirt. You are going to be a bit of a hermit this weekend so dress comfortably. The only time you’ll leave the house will be to have a brisk walk in the fresh air.

Make sure you have all the props you need for a weekend of peace. Get some magazines and a few movies and make sure you have some candles to set the mood in your bathroom and bedroom. Turn off your cellphone and put on your answerphone.

A SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT BREAKFAST It is vital during the detox to start your day on the right note. Your body has been cleaning and detoxing during the night and so breakfast should facilitate this process. A good, healthy breakfast of pure foods helps the body to continue to clean out.
Step 2: Menu Plan (full recipes can be found in Clean Up Your Diet)
Cleanse:aid smoothie (first thing in the morning) Cleansing cocktail

Breakfast Berry fruit salad

Lunch Persian rice with tomato saffron sauce

Dinner Roast salmon and beetroot salad; and for dessert a piece of fresh fruit eaten half an hour after your main course

Before bed Max’s detox herbal tea

Cleanse:aid juice Hot lemon and ginger

Breakfast Berry fruit salad

Lunch Ginger chicken skewers with quinoa tabbouleh

Dinner Three-bean chilli with avocado salsa; and for dessert a piece of fresh fruit eaten half an hour after your main course

Before bed Max’s detox herbal tea

Snacks are not banned on the detox, but restrict them to fresh fruit, raw vegetables, raw nuts, and seeds (such as sunflower and pumpkin seeds). Keep near you a small airtight container filled with vegetable crudités (such as cucumber, celery and apples), so that you always have something healthy to snack on. Try to drink at least one additional health-giving juice or smoothie each day.

Step 3: Action

Aim to do 15 to 20 minutes of Breathing, Relaxing, Stretching (BRS) each day during the detox.

BREATHING Oxygen energizes the mind and body and helps to burn off toxins, neutralizing them through a process called oxidation, and preparing them for elimination. Spend a few minutes each morning in front of an open window, inhaling air deeply into your lungs.

RELAXING Stress robs the nervous system of energy and this in turn retards its ability to oversee the elimination of toxins. There is a difference between true relaxation (yoga, a deep bath, meditation and so on) and “participation” (such as dinner with friends, or a movie show). True relaxation leaves you with a renewed sense of wellbeing, charged up for the detox. Schedule in some form of relaxation each day. I suggest a long bath or a walk in the park.

STRETCHING Prepare your mind and body for the day by gently practising the following stretch to wake up your body. In particular the stretch opens up the chest, helping you to breathe more effectively. Stand with your feet wide apart and breathe in. Raise your arms straight up and lock your fingers. Moving from your waist, bend the body first to the right and then to the left, exhaling as you bend and inhaling as you come back to the upright position. Repeat five times on each side.
Finishing the detox plans

Give yourself a little extra push and finish your detox on Monday morning, rather than Sunday night. When you’ve finished you will feel cleaner, leaner and fresher, but you might also feel a bit wobbly and will perhaps need to reintroduce yourself to the world gently. Bring back non-detox foods slowly, as this allows you to gauge if they do not agree with you (particularly, cow’s dairy and wheat). If you get bloated or tired after eating a particular food, just keep it out of your diet for a bit longer.

Try to avoid going back to refined white-flour products, such as white bread and pasta; simple sugars, such as those found in cakes and sweets; and fatty, fried foods. Were you surprised that you could survive without coffee and tea? Think hard before bringing back any stimulants. You do not need them – they give you a false sense of wellbeing and will exhaust you in the long term.

Finally, try to make a habit of some of the elements of the detox. Start your day with a cleansing smoothie, commit to regular exercise and say no to one naughty snack each day. Stretch to keep your spine, joints and muscles young. Then, plan to do a regular top-up detox every three months. Do just a quick weekend refresher to remind you how good it feels to be clean on the inside.



Do you need to go on a detox?

From Max Tomlinson – one of the UK’s leading naturopaths.

Are you:

  • Overweight and overfed?
  • Suffering from constipation or bad breath?
  • Smoking or drinking too much?
  • Craving chocolates and sweets all the time?
  • Taking a lot of prescribed conventional medicines?
  • Worried about acne and oily skin?
  • Tired of aches and pains in your joints?
  • Keen to feel cleaner and leaner?

If you answered yes to any these questions, you are most probably suffering from a build-up of toxins and are in need of a detox!

Detox, is a wonderful, genuinely naturopathic term, but it has become an overused “buzz word”, the darling of the glossy magazines and the icon of a new form of preventive medicine. It is a word most often used with no understanding of the real healing it offers. I want to give you a clear picture of what it means to be toxic and then show you how to clean up your act with pure foods.

And if you just want to get started with cleaning up your diet, here’s my Weekend Detox Plan.

The importance of detox

Naturopaths are clear that the elimination of toxins through detoxing is the key to good health. What goes into the body in the form of food, air and water, must be used by the body to promote health and vitality – otherwise the body must eliminate it. Anything that the body does not eliminate, accumulates. You then become toxic. Fact. From a naturopathic perspective this is one of the main causes of disease. If your food, air and water are polluted by chemicals, the need to eliminate effectively becomes a major priority in the maintenance of health. If we add to this the fact that your own body produces toxins as a by-product of metabolism, stress and exercise, you have a good case for needing a strong system of elimination.



How are we exposed to toxins?

We all live in a polluted world. Each day we take in a nasty array of chemicals with our food and drink and the air we breathe. The list is long and really quite scary: exhaust fumes; insecticides and pesticides; food preservatives, colourings, flavourings, thickeners and enhancers; and chemical pollution and industrial pollution are all major culprits. However, for millions of years, as our bodies developed, we were exposed to a fairly narrow range of natural chemicals. Our bodies knew how to deal with these and so very few of the natural chemicals actually accumulated in our tissues and caused damage to our health. The situation now is altogether different.

Most modern farm chemicals have side-effects and are a good example of the toxins we have to deal with in today’s world. For example, pesticides, such as organophosphates and organochlorines, can cause a whole range of side-effects including headaches, dizziness, weakness, shaking, nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea, sweating, rashes, loss of appetite, weight loss, disorientation, nervousness and a general feeling of illness. Another good example is instant coffee – most brands contain more than 1,000 chemicals, some of which scientists have shown to cause cancer in mice. If these damaging chemical toxins are not eliminated effectively from our bodies, we become toxic and suffer a greater chance of falling ill by one means or another.

The warning signs that it’s time to detox

If your body is toxic, you will experience a range of problems. These often present warning signs showing you that it’s time to detox.

TOXINS AND PUTTING ON WEIGHT The body stores uneliminated toxins in body fat, because the fat depot tends to be stable and so does not often break down and release its toxic load into the blood and other tissues (unless we lose a lot of weight). Our wonderful, clever bodies also hold on to excess water to dilute the toxins, creating water retention. So, the more toxic you are, the more weight you gain – and retain!

TOXINS AND HORMONE IMBALANCES Some insecticides and pesticides mimic the action of our own hormones, which are important natural body chemicals and include estrogen, progesterone and adrenaline (epinephrine). Hormones run essential functions, such as reproduction, energy production and mblood-sugar management. Farm chemicals are so close to our natural hormones in structure that they create hormone imbalances in us, leading to problems with the management of many of our essential body processes.
TOXINS AND DAMAGE TO YOUR BODY’S CELLS The most significant damage happens at an atomic level. The basic components of all matter are known as atoms and they consist of a nucleus of protons and neutrons surrounded by electrons. An atom that has lost an electron is known as a free radical. And a free radical will stop at nothing in its quest to steal an electron and complete itself. In the process it degrades natural body chemicals, disrupts internal biochemistry and creates disease. Scientists have directly linked free radicals with diseases ranging from cancer to arthritis and tell us that they are created by common factors such as stress, but also by toxins, such as environmental pollution and poor food. Heated oils, rancid oils and too much alcohol all create free radicals. The only protection you have against these little horrors is a group of natural chemicals found in abundance in pure foods – the free-radical killing antioxidants, such as vitamin C and the mineral selenium.

What are the obstacles to a detox?

Your lungs may be overloaded with cigarette smoke, air-borne pollution and a general lack of fresh air and exercise. Your liver may have to deal with fatty diets, manmade chemicals, high alcohol consumption and a vast array of prescription and recreational drugs. Your bowels are often constipated and thus accumulate waste instead of eliminating it. Your poor kidneys are often starved of water to flush out toxins and your skin does not see cleansing sunshine or regular exfoliation. Another major problem is what naturopaths call “enervation”, or low nervous energy. Simply put, your nervous system governs and controls the systems and organs of elimination and in many people it is tired and just not up to the job. Stress, busy schedules, late nights and myriad other commitments modern living throws at you have exhausted your poor nervous system. A tired you is a toxic you.

Detoxing is all about giving your body a rest from the strain that life puts on it – and that begins by cleaning up your diet. The idea is that by reducing the amount of sifting your body has to do before it begins the process of assimilating and digesting nutrients, you will have more energy for getting the most out of your food, which in turn means that your overall energy levels and your health improve. If you are overweight, you will also begin to lose weight.

So, if you think you need a detox, try Max’s Weekend Detox Plan – you’re just 3 steps and 48 hours away from feeling great!



Tagliatelle with Asparagus and Wild Garlic Pesto


Asparagus is in season this month! If you’re looking for something to do with those lovely spears of new season British asparagus, team them with foraged wild garlic for a light, fragrant spring pasta dish (foraging for wild garlic gives you the perfect excuse to bask in the best of Spring weather, if you needed one). This recipe for Tagliatelle with Asparagus and Wild Garlic Pesto is from the fantastic Veggienomics.

‘Homemade pesto takes a matter of minutes and is fresher and cheaper than shop-bought, especially with foraged ingredients. Pesto can be so much more than the classic Ligurian basil version, and adapted to suit seasonal ingredients. Wild garlic leaves have just enough garlicky flavour without being too overpowering, and if you do manage to discover a sizeable patch, make a double batch of pesto and freeze it. Pine nuts can vary in quality, so try almonds, cashews, walnuts or Brazils, for a sweet, nutty creaminess.

Wild garlic makes an excellent alternative to garlic or chives in dishes, and is best left raw or lightly cooked. You can find wild garlic (you’ll probably be able to smell it before you see it) with its broad, spear-like leaves in woody areas, hedge banks or wayside. The plant also has delicate white flowers on top of a thin stem – both leaves and flowers are edible’

Tagliatelle with Asparagus and Wild Garlic Pesto

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

400g/14oz dried tagliatelle
150g/5½oz asparagus tips, trimmed

Wild Garlic Pesto

2 large handfuls of wild garlic leaves, flowers (if any) reserved (or use chive flowers)
1 handful of blanched almonds
100ml/3½fl oz/scant ½ cup mild-flavoured extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for topping
1 handful of finely grated vegetarian Parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta following the pack instructions. Add the asparagus about 3 minutes before the pasta is ready. Drain, reserving 4 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water, and return the cooked pasta and asparagus to the pan.

2. Meanwhile, make the pesto. Put the wild garlic leaves and almonds in a mini food processor (or use a stick blender and a beaker) and process until finely chopped. Continue to blend, adding the oil in two batches, and the Parmesan, then season with salt and pepper. Spoon the pesto into a bowl or jar and drizzle some extra olive oil over the top. (It will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge.)

3. Add as much pesto and reserved cooking water as needed to coat the pasta and asparagus, then turn the pasta until it is evenly coated. Taste and add extra salt and pepper, if needed. Serve sprinkled with more Parmesan and wild garlic flowers, if you have them.
Though it may not look it, asparagus is actually wonderfully good for you. We’ve put together this post on the Amazing Health Benefits of Asparagus to convince you to make the most of it being in season!

Veggienomics by Nicola Graimes is available from June 1st, but available for pre-order today!



7 juicing mistakes you’re probably making


Amanda Hamilton from Eat, Fast, Slim

A juice diet stands head and shoulders above other fasting techniques in its self-healing effects, and it’s a great way to lose weight. But many people give up mind-way through a juice diet before they see results because they commit one of the 7 cardinal sins of juicing!

Luckily, nutritionist and fasting diet expert Amanda Hamilton is here to tell you the 7 juicing mistakes that can derail a juice diet.

1. You’re choosing the wrong ingredients – Forget about avocados and bananas which are only suitable for blending into smoothies. Make life easier for yourself by choosing fruits and vegetables that have a high water content as these give the most yield. The harder fruits and vegetables like apples, carrots, beetroot, oranges, melons, celery and some leafy greens all juice extremely well.

2. You’re too good at peeling – When juicing thick-skinned fruits such as oranges, lemons and grapefruits, remove the peel but retain as much as possible of the white, pithy part just below the skin as this contains valuable nutrients. Always remove large stones.

3. You’re adding too much fruit – Sweet juices are a nice treat but are too high in sugar for the duration of a juice fast. The best combination is vegetable juices sweetened with some fruit. Also vegetables grown underground, such as carrots, tend to be higher in sugar so balance these with some lower-sugar ingredients.

4. You don’t go with what you know – When you start juicing vegetables, use ones that you already enjoy and slowly introduce new ingredients. No great rocket science there, but if aversion kicks in because a celery juice churns your stomach, the juicing habit simply isn’t going to stick.

5. You’re adding too many greens – Make no more than a quarter of your juice with dark green vegetables, otherwise you’ll most likely find it unpalatable. Juicing leafy greens becomes much easier if you roll the leaves into a little ball and then feed this into the machine. Cucumber has a mild flavour and makes an excellent vegetable base.

If you want to enjoy the benefits of a nutrient-dense green juice, add a quarter to half a lemon or lime to the juice to counter any bitterness.

6. You need to experiment – I often find that the random “use-up-the-fruit-‘n’-veg leftovers” juice tastes amazing – in the world of juicing, experimentation is a good thing because you can keep things interesting. Try introducing herbs such as parsley and coriander when your creative juices are flowing!

7. You haven’t tried fresh ginger – Fresh root ginger is an excellent addition if you can tolerate it. Ginger not only gives your juice a little “kick” but researchers have found that it can lower blood pressure and improve blood lipids and blood sugar control.

Remember that all fruit and vegetables should be peeled or washed before juicing

Keeping juices

To maximize the benefits of fresh juices, drink them within 15 minutes or store very carefully. You can make your juice last longer by reducing the oxidation process. Put your juice in a glass jar with an airtight lid and fill it to the very top. Restrict the amount of air in the jar to the minimum as oxygen will oxidize and damage the juice.

If you’re going to integrate juice fasting regularly into your routine you might want to invest in a food vacuum pump with a jar attachment. The juice can be stored in the jar and the vacuum pump can suck out the air to reduce oxygen damage. If you’re storing juice, the maximum amount of time recommended is 24 hours.
Amanda Hamilton’s Eat, Fast, Slim has helped thousands lose weight through juicing diets and fasting. Follow her day-to-day diet plans, furnished with delicious recipes, and you’ll discover how easy it is to shift those stubborn pounds!

Find out more about the plan for amazing weight loss and optimum health>>>



Braised Beef in Red Wine with Jabugo Ham

raymond blanc's recipe for beef braised in red wine

Raymond Blanc’s recipe for Braised Beef in Red Wine from The Real Food Cookbook
Raymond-Blanc-form-the-Real-Food-CookbookAt my restaurant, Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, we grow as much of our own vegetables, salad leaves and fruit as we can, and we try hard to source as much of our produce locally as possible. As our name states, we are totally seasonal in our menus, and we take our ethical responsibilities seriously – we know our suppliers, and we know how they grow and raise the food we buy from them.

As a child my family was not well off, but even in post-war France we ate beautifully, because we were completely connected to our bit of earth. Maman Blanc’s vegetable garden provided a constant supply of fresh green vegetables, tomatoes and salad things in their seasons, and preserved vegetables in the cold months. Neighbouring farms supplied wonderful big chickens, we kept our own rabbits, and there were brown trout in the nearby streams. Like all red meat, beef was more of a treat. It had to be bought from the butcher, but it was honest, grass-fed beef that had never been near a feedlot. Saturday lunch was always beefsteak with chips made from our own potatoes and vegetables from the garden.

“I try hard to reconnect what I put on my guests’ tables with the land”

My home town was only 30 miles from Burgundy and my recipe for Braised Beef in Red Wine with Jabugo Ham is really a refinement of the classic boeuf bourguignon. Now that you can buy ox cheek at some supermarkets, you can make this dish using this wonderful moist cut, or indeed other economical cuts such as shin or blade. Blade of beef has an excellent flavour and there is no waste.

This hearty dish will do very well with a wonderful robust red wine, such as a shiraz, pinot noir or cabernet sauvignon, rather than a red burgundy. Real burgundy is far too expensive for this dish, and the flavour is actually improved by using a more full-bodied red. In any case, the real trick is to boil the wine for five minutes to evaporate the alcohol before marinating the beef in it. On the other hand,to accompany this dish, any great quality red burgundy will celebrate this dish very well.


Braised Beef in Red Wine with Jabugo Ham

“The tiny village of Jabugo lies in the heart of the Spanish Sierra de Aracena. Clean air and a perfect climate mean that this area produces the best cured ham in the world. The authentic hams of Jabugo are cured for between 18 and 30 months and have a delicious grey-yellow fat with a soft, melting consistency.”

Serves 4
Cooking time: 3 Hours 30 Minutes (with 24 hours marinating time)

1.2kg/2lb 10oz ox cheek, shin or blade, trimmed of sinew, cut into 2cm/¾in steaks
2 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp clarified butter
300ml/10½fl oz/1 cup plus
3 tbsp water
sea salt and freshly ground
black pepper

For the Marinade

750ml/26fl oz/3 cups full bodied red wine, such as Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon
2 carrots, cut into 2cm/¾in slices
1 celery stick, cut into 1cm/1/2in slices
2 baby onions, quartered, root left on
6 garlic cloves
8 whole peppercorns
1 bouquet garni (a few parsley stalks, 4 bay leaves, 6 sprigs of thyme, tied together)

For the Garnish

1 tbsp unsalted butter
320g/11¼oz button mushrooms, wiped and trimmed
100g/3 1/2 oz Jabugo ham, finely sliced
1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1. To make the marinade, first boil the red wine in a saucepan for 5 minutes to remove the alcohol. Then allow to cool. Pour into a large dish containing the carrots, celery, baby onions, garlic, peppercorns and bouquet garni. Add the beef and cover with clingfilm. Put in the fridge and leave to marinate for 24 hours.

2. Put the beef mixture in a colander over a bowl to drain. Leave for at least 1 hour. Separate the beef, vegetables and herbs and pat dry with kitchen paper. Reserve the marinade.

3. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Spread the flour on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 8–10 minutes, until pale brown. Reduce the oven temperature to 110°C/225°F/Gas.

4. Season the beef with 4 pinches of salt. Heat the clarified butter in a heavy-based casserole on a high heat, and colour the beef in it for 5–7 minutes. Transfer the beef to a plate. Add the vegetables and herbs to the casserole. Lower the heat to medium high and cook for 5 minutes until lightly coloured.

5. Spoon out the fat; add the toasted flour to the casserole and stir for a few seconds. Then add the wine from the marinade little by little, whisking constantly to incorporate it into the flour. The sauce should be smooth and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add the beef pieces, bring the sauce to the boil and skim. Cover and cook in the preheated oven for 3 hours, adding water if the meat seems to be drying out.

6. Place a colander over a large saucepan and drain the beef and vegetables through it. Put the saucepan on the heat and boil until the sauce has reduced by half. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning. Put the beef pieces back into the sauce.

7. Over a high heat in a non-stick frying pan, heat the butter and cook the mushrooms until lightly caramelized. Season with salt and pepper. Mix the Jabugo ham and mushrooms into the beef, sprinkle with the parsley and serve piping hot.

Giorgio-Locatelli-from-the-Real-Food-CookbookGiorgio Locatelli says that British produce is something to be proud of – read his article from the Real Food Cookbook and be inspired!

Giorgio Locatelli: Britain should be proud of its produce