The Benefits of Plant-based Foods

– Extract from The Vegan Cookbook – 100 of the Best Vegan Recipes by Adele McConnell.

Each one of us is different, and for many people a diet based on plant foods is more suitable than one that is centered on animal produce. It addresses the moral and philosophical objections that many have to eating food from animals, and there are a number of health benefits when you eat only foods made from plants.

The Pleasures of A Plant-Based Diet

At the time of writing this book, I have followed a plant-based diet for four years and have never felt better. I sleep well, my digestion is in perfect working order, my skin is clear and my eyes are bright. My hair and nails grow super-fast and I always have tons of energy. Many people, through my blog and mentoring sessions, tell me that they have also enjoyed improved health after they have given up meat and animal produce. They are often surprised that a vegan diet can offer such a vast selection of foods and tastes, and they never miss eating meat. They have soon become completely comfortable with, and accustomed to, the fresh flavors of vegetables combined with the more sustaining vegetarian protein foods of legumes and nuts combined with grains.

As you change your diet, you will probably find that the amount of fiber you eat will increase, particularly if you had been following the standard diet of processed foods. Fiber is important for regular bowel movements and managing cholesterol levels. It also stops you from overeating. Processed foods, which are low in fiber, leave you feeling unsatisfied and prone to eating more.

Plants, nuts and seeds are high in vitamins and minerals, and when you eat a variety of them you will increase your body’s opportunities to benefit from nutrients and antioxidants that it may never have had in the past. A plant-based diet is low in the type of saturated fat that might be harmful to health, but it does include coconut oil, a saturated fat known as medium chain that your body recognizes as an energy source and uses accordingly. Coconut oil is not easily stored by the body as fat.

Numerous studies have shown that people who eat a plant-based diet have lower rates of heart disease and benefit from lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, a lower incidence of type-2 diabetes and lower rates of prostate and colon cancer, according to the American Dietetic Association.

Health benefits aside, a plant-based diet can widen your horizons for discovering a wealth of new flavors, textures, colors, tastes and culinary experiences.

Pan-fried sage & basil gnocchi

15 minutes, plus 10 minutes resting and making the cheese
Cooking: 45 minutes

500g/1lb 2oz floury potatoes, such as Desiree or King Edward, cut into dice; 180g/61⁄4oz/11⁄2 cups plain flour, plus extra if needed and for dusting; 1 tbsp finely chopped sage leaves; 1 tbsp finely chopped basil leaves; 1 tbsp safflower oil or sunflower oil; 150g/51⁄2oz/1 cup pitted mixed green and black olives, chopped; 1 red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced lengthways 100g/31⁄2oz baby spinach leaves; 80g/23⁄4oz/1⁄2 cup drained; sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped; 200g/7oz/1 cup bottled or tinned artichoke hearts
1 handful of basil leaves, torn 200g/7oz Herbed Almond; cheese;  crumbled sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the potatoes in a steamer set over a pan of boiling water and steam over a medium heat for 15–20 minutes until soft. Preheat the oven to 100°C/200°F/Gas 1⁄2 and put a baking tray inside to warm.

Pan-fried sage & basil gnocchi

Put the potatoes in a bowl, mash them and sift in 150g/51⁄2oz/ 11⁄4 cups flour, the herbs and add a good pinch of salt. Mix by hand until just combined, adding the remaining flour. Turn the dough on to a floured surface and knead for 1 minute. If the dough is sticky, add more flour, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the dough is soft and workable. Leave to rest for 10 minutes.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil over a high heat, then reduce to medium-high. Divide the dough into four pieces and roll them into long sausage shapes. Slice each piece into 2cm/3⁄4in pieces to make gnocchi. Lower the gnocchi in batches into the boiling water using a slotted spoon, and cook for 5 minutes, or until they float to the surface. Remove from the pan as they cook and lay them on the baking tray and keep them warm while you cook the remaining gnocchi.

Heat the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium- high heat and fry the gnocchi in batches, keeping the cooked gnocchi warm on the tray. Add the olives and chilli to the pan, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the spinach, tomatoes, artichokes and basil. Return the gnocchi to the pan and gently toss with the vegetables. Season with pepper and serve with the cheese.

Sweet potato cups with hummus & walnut pesto

30 minutes, plus cooling and making the hummus
Cooking: 1 hour

250g/9oz sweet potato, cut into small dice; 1 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil, plus extra for greasing;  ⁄2 courgette, cut into small dice; 3 flour tortillas; 
1 large handful of basil leaves; 1 small handful of parsley leaves
; 100g/31⁄2 oz baby spinach leaves; 
30g/1oz/1⁄4 cup walnuts; 60ml/2fl oz/1⁄4 cup good- quality extra virgin olive oil;  1 garlic clove; crushed
a squeeze of lemon juice, or to taste
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper; 220g/73⁄4oz/1 cup hummus, such as Roasted Garlic & Hazelnut Hummus.

feat image
Sweet potato cups with hummus & walnut pesto

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Put the sweet potato in a bowl and add the oil. Mix well to coat thoroughly and tip on to a baking tray. Roast for 30 minutes, then add the courgette to the tray. Roast for a further 15 minutes, or until tender.

While the vegetables are cooking, cut each tortilla into quarters and, using a small amount of oil, grease six muffin cups. Press
1 piece of tortilla inside a muffin cup and smooth into the edges to line the cup, then add a second piece at an angle and smooth in the same way. Leave the edges overhanging, to create a tortilla ‘cup’. Leave to one side.

Put the basil into a blender or food processor and add the parsley and spinach leaves, then process until they are well combined. Add the walnuts, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, and blend into a smooth paste to make a pesto.

When the sweet potato is cooked, leave the baking tray on one side to cool. When the vegetables are cool, tip them into a large mixing bowl, and combine with 2 tablespoons of walnut pesto. Spoon the sweet potato and courgette mixture into each tortilla cup and bake for 15 minutes, or until the tortillas are golden brown. Top with a large spoonful of hummus and serve with the remaining pesto. The pesto can be stored in a sterilized jar in the fridge for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 1 month.

About the Author: Vegan Cookbook author Adele McConnell is the founder of the highly successful vegan food blog,, imageand was hailed as the winner of the prestigious “Vegan Food Blogger Award” by The Vegan Woman 2012. Adele loves sharing her passion for vegan food. She has released several eBooks, runs cooking classes and has also set up the YouTube Vegie Head channel, where fellow foodies can watch her inspiring, easy-to-follow cookery demonstrations online.



Adele McConnell
The Vegan Cookbook – 100 of the Best Vegan Recipes
Available from Nourish Books

Getting Started on Making Your Own Preserves

– By Emma Macdonald

Preserving is a way of making sure that fresh foods can be kept for longer, making sure they do not go to waste. This was very important in years past when the vegetable plot outside the back door provided the food that you ate each day. Preserving was a way to keep food on the table in the winter months. Today, when food is grown in huge quantities and imported year-round and commercial preserves are easy to buy, there is less reason to make preserves, yet many of us still love to do it. There is something very special about cooking a batch of raspberry jam from fruit picked from the garden, or making something delicious from foraged blackberries and apples.

163- Balsamic Onions
Balsamic Onions

What is Preserving?
Storing food for a long time needs a little bit of science. There are lots of methods you can use, such as curing, salting, drying and covering with a layer of fat, as well as cooking using sugar, vinegar and alcohol. All these methods help to prevent your preserves from spoiling and to last as long as you want them to.

All raw foods contain enzymes that help to sustain
life as well as breaking them down, causing food to discolour and rot over time. Preserving halts the enzymes developing any further, keeping the food at its best. Preserving also works by drying up or killing off micro- organisms (for example, moulds, yeasts and bacteria) that might enter your preserves and spoil your hard work. A high concentration of sugar, vinegar or alcohol along with cooking at a high temperature will prevent the growth
of micro-organisms.

Mould is not actually harmful to eat but it tastes
and looks unpleasant and can indicate that bacteria are present. This is harmful as it can cause food poisoning. Yeasts cause foods to ferment, which is not wanted
in your jam but can be a good thing in cider and breadmaking. In jam or other preserves, fermenting could mean that unwanted bacteria are present. Hygiene plays an important part in keeping your preserves bacteria free, which is why sterilizing your jars and lids is so important. There are many ways to preserve fruit and vegetables as well as meat and fish:

A combination of fruit and sugar cooked until they set to a soft, spreading consistency. The fruits used must contain pectin, which helps them to set. If 
the fruit is low in pectin, such as strawberries, it can be combined with a fruit high in pectin, such as lemon, to help the jam to set.

Similar to jams but are usually a soft set. The best fruits to use are soft fruits such as strawberries and raspberries; these are usually left in sugar for 24 hours to extract their juice before cooking for a short time. Some conserves are made with dried fruits, such as mincemeats.

56-Lemon & Lavender Marmalade
Lemon & Lavender Marmalade

Again, similar to jams but are made from citrus fruits, peel and sugar. The peel must be cooked for a long time so that it softens before the sugar is added.

Made from the juice of fruit, which is allowed to drip, then the sugar is added and the jelly cooked until set. Jellies can be served in the same way as jam but they are most often served with meat, poultry and cheese.

Made from fruit juice, sugar and eggs. Eggs are added to thicken the mixture to a rich, soft spreading consistency. Curds are considered a preserve as traditionally they were made when there was a glut of fruit, but they are not preserves in the true sense as they will keep only for a few weeks in a refrigerator.

Made from fruits and sugar that are cooked slowly for a long time until their consistency resembles soft butter.

Choosing the best fruit and vegetables and the correct sugar and vinegar for your recipe will ensure you get the results you want. Finding excellent fresh produce has never been easier. You can forage, grow your own, shop at farm shops and farmers’ markets, visit pick-your- own and swap home-grown produce at neighbourhood swap schemes. Preserve-making is so popular that you can find unusual sugars and vinegars and other ingredients in most supermarkets, and readily online. It is easy to get started!

I am not a great one for adding equipment to my kitchen cupboard and you can make
a lot of the recipes without lots of specialist equipment. If you have a decent heavy-based saucepan you can get going, and improvise along the way. If you want to make lots of preserves, one or two purchases will make your life easier. A sugar or jam thermometer is probably the most useful implement to buy as it can help you to find setting points accurately.

Sterilizing Bottles & Jars
The importance of sterilizing cannot be emphasized enough; it is essential so that your preserves do not deteriorate during storage. Always sterilize an extra bottle or jar in case it is needed. Remove any labels if you are reusing bottles or jars, and wash all in very hot, soapy water.

To know more about preserves, equipment and methods to sterilize your bottles or jars take a look at The Bay Tree Preserving by Emma Macdonald.


  Emma Macdonald
  The Bay Tree Preserving
  Available from Watkins Publishing





Natural Remedies to Strengthen your Immune System to Prevent Ear, Nose and Throat Infections

– by Kirsten Hartvig

The ear, nose and throat are closely linked by a labyrinth of tubes and passages. This allows infection to spread quickly from one to another. Common ear, nose and throat disorders include middle ear and throat infections (including tonsillitis) and sinusitis.

The best way to prevent ear, nose and throat infections is to strengthen the immune system by eating lots of vegetables and fruit – particularly those high in vitamins A and C, bioflavonoids and zinc. Avoid common allergens, such as dairy foods (including cow’s milk in baby formulas), eggs, shellfish, wheat and peanut butter. If you do catch a cold or suffer a bout of flu, take plenty of time to convalesce after the symptoms subside and do not go out and about too early.

Shiitake mushroom soup
For ear infections

100g dried shiitake mushrooms (or 300g fresh/bottled); 2 tbsp olive oil
2 spring onions, finely chopped
; 1 garlic clove, finely chopped; 1 carrot, finely chopped
; 2.5-cm cube of fresh ginger root, finely chopped; 1 tbsp soya sauce; 
1 tsp maple syrup
; 11⁄2 litres water with 1 tsp miso
; sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

If using dried mushrooms, soak them in plenty of water for 20 minutes, then discard the stems. Heat the oil gently in a big saucepan and stir-fry the spring onions, garlic, carrot and ginger root for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add the soy sauce, maple syrup and stock one after the other. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Add the salt and pepper and serve.

Elderflower spritzer
For sinusitis

1 head of fresh elderflowers; 1 slice of lemon
100ml boiling water; 
1 tsp honey; 100ml fizzy water

Place the elderflowers and the lemon slice in a small bowl. Add the boiling water and the honey. Cover and leave to cool. Strain and pour into a tall glass filled with ice, add the fizzy water, and serve immediately.

Sage mix for sore throats
For throat infection

1 tsp sage; 
1⁄2 tsp cleavers; 
1⁄2 tsp fresh ginger root, finely chopped;  300ml boiling water

Place the sage, cleavers and ginger in a warmed teapot, add the water, and leave to infuse for 5 minutes.


Kirsten Hartvig
Eat to Boost Your Immunity
ISBN: 9781848990029


The Seasonal Kitchen: Spinach



Although it is available for most of the year, spinach is one of the highlights of spring. Then its tender young leaves make such a refreshing change after the sturdy greens and hearty roots of winter. First cultivated in Persia, but now a staple of cuisines worldwide, spinach is a versatile vegetable. The soft baby leaves can be used raw in salads or make a lovely addition to risottos, stir-fries and even mashed potato; larger leaves, sautéed with a little garlic, then seasoned and served with a squeeze of lemon, make a delicious accompaniment to grilled meats and fish.
Spinach has a natural affinity with butter, cheese, cream and eggs, but is also delicious matched with various herbs and spices. In India, a blend of spiced spinach and potato is often served with rice or flatbreads. In Spain, it is cooked with garlic, raisins and pinenuts to make a popular tapas dish, while in the Middle East it is added to stews and used in fillings for pies and pastries.
Choose fresh-looking leaves, and avoid any that are yellowing, wilting or becoming slimy. Cut off tough stems and always wash well in cold water to remove any soil or grit. Then shake off as much water as possible, patting the leaves dry on kitchen paper if necessary, before cooking in a dry, tightly covered pan for a few minutes, until they have wilted. Spinach gives off a lot of liquid while cooking, so always drain well before serving or using in a recipe.

from The Juice Diet by Christine Bailey

Light and refreshing, the burst of chlorophyll and protein in this juice is incredibly nourishing and helps cleanse your body and boost liver function. It’s a wonderful juice to keep you feeling light and vibrant.

1 large handful kale leaves
1 large handful spinach leaves
2 pears
1 lemon, peeled
150ml/5fl oz/scant 2⁄3 cup coconut water ice cubes, to serve

Juice the vegetables and fruits, then stir in the coconut water and serve over ice.

Health Benefits
Coconut water is often called the “Fluid of Life” containing a balanced proportion of the electrolytes potassium, calcium, magnesium and sodium, which help the body achieve correct fluid balance. Wonderfully revitalizing, it is the perfect isotonic drink for rehydration following exercise.


 Christine Bailey
 The Juice Diet
 ISBN: 9781844839483


A Delicious Afternoon Treat to Taste Beetroot’s Earthy and Rich Flavour

(Extract from Nicola Graimes’s book Veggienomics)

Out of the many vegetables to choose from it may seem strange to pick beetroot, but its earthy, sweet flavour and vibrant magenta colour means it lends itself to so many savoury – and even sweet – dishes. Beetroot is a close relative of chard and spinach, so be sure not to waste the leaves, as they can be prepared and cooked in the same way. Nicola Graimes invites you to try beetroot in the traditional cup-shaped cakes.

Beetroot and Goats’ Cheese MuffinsBeetroot Muffins

Makes: 12 | Preparation time: 15 minutes | Cooking time: 25 minutes

Ingredients: sunflower oil, for greasing; 280g/10oz/21⁄4 cups plain flour;  1⁄2 tsp sea salt
; 2 tsp baking powder; 
1⁄2 tsp bicarbonate of soda; 
2 large eggs, lightly beaten;  300ml/101⁄2fl oz/scant 11⁄4 cups natural yogurt;  85g/3oz butter, melted
; 115g/4oz goats’ cheese, crumbled
; 225g/8oz cooked beetroot, coarsely grated;  2 tbsp pumpkin seeds

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5. Lightly grease a 12-hole deep muffin tin with oil (or you could make 6 large muffins using large paper muffin cases).
  2. Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl.
  3. Mix together the eggs and yogurt and beat in the melted butter. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, then gently fold in the goats’ cheese and beetroot until just combined. Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin tin, sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds and bake for 20–25 minutes, or until risen and golden.

To experiment with more cooking techniques and ingredients, take a look at  Veggienomics: Thrifty Vegetarian Cooking by Nicola Graimes.


Nicola Graimes
Veggienomics: Thrifty Vegetarian Cooking

Bring Innovation and Style Into Your Kitchen



Daniel Galmiche eminently do-able versions of traditional recipes have won him thousands of fans throughout the world. Revolutionary French Cooking turns his experienced eye to something different: his own irresistible take on the new wave of modern French cooking.


Smoked Duck and Lentils with Lavender

You can hot-smoke your duck at home or use a cold-smoked, air-dried duck, sliced and served as a salad with the hot lentils. Either way, corn-fed, free-range birds will give the best results. I enjoy both and usually decide depending on the weather, but these flavour combinations always works well.

Serves 4
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 minutes
For the crystallized orange
1 large orange, washed and scrubbed
2 tbsp caster sugar
For the smoked duck
100g/31⁄2oz/1⁄2 cup basmati rice 3 tbsp green tea 1 tsp caster sugar 2 small lavender sprigs
1 tbsp rapeseed oil 2 duck breasts, about 200g/7oz
each 1 tbsp clear honey a few chervil leaves
For the lentils
200g/7oz/1 cup Puy lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 onion, finely chopped 2 cloves 1 bouquet garni, made with 1 thyme
sprig and 1 parsley sprig, tied
together with kitchen string 50g/13⁄4oz unsalted butter sea salt and freshly ground black
1 To crystallize the orange zest, pare the zest from the orange into fine strips using a vegetable peeler or small, sharp knife, cutting away the pith. Put the zest in a small saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Remove from the heat, drain, refresh under cold water, then drain again. Repeat this blanching process.2 Return the zest to the pan over a low heat and add the sugar and
3 tablespoons of water, stirring until dissolved. Raise the heat to medium and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer for
4–5 minutes, or until the zest becomes transparent. Remove from
the heat and leave the strips to cool in the syrup.

3 Put a large piece of kitchen foil, shiny-side down, in the bottom of a wok or steamer. Add the rice, tea, sugar and 1 lavender sprig, and drizzle with the rapeseed oil. Cover with a wire rack or steamer insert and lid, and put over a medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the mixture starts to smoke. Quickly put the duck breasts inside, cover with kitchen foil to help seal the duck, then put the lid on, turn the heat to low and smoke for 5 minutes.

4 Meanwhile, put the lentils in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Add the onion, cloves and bouquet garni, turn the heat down to low and simmer for 5–7 minutes until only just tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then strain, discarding the flavourings.

5 When the duck is almost ready, heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Turn off the heat under the smoker, lift out the duck and put the lid back on the smoker. Put the duck, skin-side down, in the hot frying pan and cook for 4–5 minutes. Flip the duck over, brush the skin with the honey and sprinkle over a little of the remaining lavender, then cook for a further 5 minutes. Lift out, cover with kitchen foil and leave to rest, quickly discarding the foil with the smoking ingredients.

6 Heat a non-stick frying pan until hot, add the butter and lentils and stir-fry for a few minutes until hot. Cut the duck into chunks and serve on top of the lentils, sprinkled with the orange zest strips with a little of the syrup, the chervil leaves and a pinch more lavender.



     Daniel Galmiche
     Revolutionary French Cooking
     ISBN: 9781848990678


Sleep Well with Foods Rich in Magnesium, Vitamin C and Vitamin B5

(by Max Tomlinson)

Insomnia is persistent sleeplessness. We all know the scenario of tossing and turning all through the night after a particularly stressful period at work. If this goes on for weeks and months, you may be an insomniac. Eating or working too late, drinking alcohol, taking too little exercise, adrenal exhaustion owing to stress, and yo-yoing blood-sugar levels can all cause insomnia.

Pure-food solutions
When you eat too late you lie in bed digesting and not resting. This can keep you awake. Ideally you should eat at least three hours before going to bed. In addition, you can speed up digestion by
food combining – separating your proteins and your carbs.

Foods rich in vitamins C and B5 and in magnesium feed your depleted adrenals (which produce adrenaline [epinephrine]), helping to restore sleep. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, citrus fruit, guava, kale, parsley and squash are all rich in vitamin C. Whole grains, dark green vegetables, avocadoes, fresh fish and apples are all magnesium-rich. Organic eggs, fresh fish, whole grains, nuts and all fresh fruit are rich in B5.

High-GI (glycemic index; see p.120) foods raise the amount of sugar in your blood quickly. When the blood-sugar levels fall during the night, you wake up slightly hungry. Eating low-GI foods for dinner helps to keep your blood sugars stable, ensuring a better night’s sleep.

Quinoa tart with avocado salad
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 Minutes (plus 10 minutes cooling)
55g/2oz/1⁄3 cup quinoa, rinsed thoroughly; 
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
; 250g/9oz/3⁄4 cup quark
; 2 large organic, free-range eggs, lightly beaten;  2 fat garlic cloves, peeled and crushed; 6 salad onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
; small bunch parsley, chopped
; 85g/3oz/3⁄4 cup hard goat’s cheese, finely grated; 
1 little gem lettuce or 1⁄2 cos (romaine) lettuce shredded;  1 small avocado, peeled, stoned and sliced; 2 tsp lemon juice
1 Cook the quinoa according to the packet instructions. Spread out on a plate and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
2 Preheat the oven to 180oC/fan 160oC/350oF/gas 4. Generously oil a 20cm/8in ovenproof pie dish or springform cake tin using half the olive oil.
3 Put the quark in a medium bowl and stir a couple of times to soften. Beat in the eggs using a wooden spoon – don’t worry if they look a bit curdled at first, just keep mixing and they will combine. Then stir in the garlic, onions, parsley and cheese.
4 Spoon the mixture into the prepared dish and smooth the top. Bake in the middle of the oven for 25–30 minutes until set. Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 10 minutes before loosening the edges with a spatula and removing the tart from the dish.
5 Meanwhile, put the lettuce and avocado in a medium bowl. Whisk the remaining olive oil and the lemon juice together in a small bowl, then pour over the salad and toss well. Serve with wedges of the tart.

Max Tomlinson is the UK’s top naturopath. In this book he reveals how you can harness the power of food to generate outstanding health, unfolding how foods in their pure form can protect you against pollution and disease and can help you to achieve long term health and vitality.


Max Tomlinson
Clean Up Your Diet

A Tasty and Quick Recipe to Make Time Your Best Friend

In days when we run fast from an appointment to another trying to make up time for an home-made tasteful lunch, what we really need is an easy to prepare and delicious recipe. Express Meals by Liz Franklin is a collection of inspiring recipes to impress in no time.
Even better, it is also downloadable as e-book.

Fig and mozzarella salad with warm vincotto dressing

Fresh figs and mozzarella make a sublime combination, especially if you use a wonderful buffalo mozzarella. You should find vincotto vinegar at good delis, but if you struggle, balsamic vinegar works well too.

6 ripe but firm figs, cut into quarters • 400g/14oz buffalo mozzarella cheese, drained and torn into pieces • 2 large handfuls of rocket leaves • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil • 1–2 tbsp vincotto or balsamic vinegar • 1 small handful of red basil and parsley sprigs • salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve: olive ciabatta bread

1 Arrange the figs on a serving platter and top with the mozzarella. Scatter the rocket over the salad.

2 Gently warm the olive oil and vincotto in a small saucepan. Season with salt and pepper.

3 Drizzle the warm dressing over the salad and scatter the basil and parsley on top. Serve with slices of olive ciabatta.



 Liz Franklin
 Express Meals
 ISBN: 9781848991088




How To Brain Train Your Way To New Year’s Resolution Success

(by Lowri Turner)

Are you struggling to stick to your New Year’s resolutions? Perhaps that cake is beginning to seem really quite tempting, a glass of wine is calling you or you were tempted to hit the snooze button on your alarm clock skip your morning run? Whatever promises you made to yourself (and others) on January 1st, it can be hard to follow through. However, by using a few top techniques from the world of sports psychology, you could dramatically increase your chance of success.

As the author of The Hunger Types Diet, which looks at how hidden hormonal imbalances can drive appetite, cravings and weight gain, I firmly believe that changing what you eat can solve all sorts of health problems, including excess weight. Still , as a practicing nutritionist and hypnotherapist, I also regularly use brain training skills to help my clients stick to their new healthier diets.

Many of the most effective psychological techniques from the world of sport, where athletes are now as likely to focus on their ‘mind’ game as their physical one. As cognitive hypnotherapist Hazel Gale ( says: ‘People are realising it’s scientific, not woo woo’. Gale is the current UK women’s welterweight boxing champion and former double world women’s kick boxing champion. Not a lady to argue with then.

Performance consultant Andy Barton ( is a sports psychologist who also uses fashionable new psychological approaches such as Non Linguistic Programming (NLP)and Neuro Feedback to help people. He says’65% of my clients are sports people, but the others are actors,musicians and just people who need to perform better’.

These therapists work with top flight athletes, but the strategies they (and I) use can be just as effective at helping you stick to your New Years Resolutions. Here are my favourite techniques and how you can use them:

1.Resource Anchor

What is it?
OK, the name’s not very catchy, but it works. The idea is that we ‘associate’ different states (happy, sad, excited etc.) with ‘anchors’ i.e. sights, sounds, smells, or tastes.   So, the smell of fish and chips may make you feel happy because it remind you of family seaside holidays as a child. The key is to anchor a sense to a frame of mind (a ‘resource state’) that will help you..

How do you do it?
The easiest and most effective Resource Anchor to create is a sound one. An experiment conducted at Brunel University in 2001 found that music combined with imagery was more effective than imagery alone at helping athletes complete an isometric endurance task. You can use the same trick to push you through a run, cycle or boring pounding of the treadmill.

Choose a song or songs that give you a feeling of energy and and power. ‘‘The only way is up’ by M People or ‘Roar’ by Katy Perry are good choices.
Now, close your eyes and imagine yourself really exercising well- running effortlessly, swimming strongly or whatever is the fitness regime you have decided to adopt as part of your New Year’s Resolution. Switch on your music and watch yourself in your minds eye exercising at your peak. Rewind the song and rewind your little movie of youself and play both again a couple of times ‘anchor’ this great feeling to the music. Then play the music whenever you train .

What Is It Best For?
Fitness regimes like running, swimming or cycling. Also good for slowing down eating if you’re trying to lose weight. Just choose a calming piece of music.

2. Power Pose

What is it?
Power Pose depends for its success on the theory that body language is infectious. If you are depressed, you slump your shoulders and this makes you feel even more depressed. Power pose reverses this process.

How Do You Do It?
Stand with your feet slightly apart, your head up and shoulders back. Lift your arms up and out as if you are running through a tape at the end of the race. Breathe deeply and hold that position for 1 – 2 minutes.

What is it best for?
Increasing energy and focus. If your New Year’s Resolution is to get a promotion or get another job, for example, you can do this before you have to make that tricky phone call or go in for an interview.

3. Mental Rehearsal

What is it?
This a visualisation technique in which you assume the identity of someone else in order to copy them and improve your own ‘game’.

How Do You Do It?
First think of someone your know who behaves as you would like to. If you want to give up alcohol, it maybe a teetotaller you know, If you want to lose weight, someone who is already slim. Choose a person whose behaviour you are familiar with. Now, close your eyes and imagine you’ve got a remote control and a TV. Press play and watch a film of your chosen person practising the skill you want to perfect. Perhaps they are putting down their knife and fork between bites, or leaving food on their plates. Or, they could be sipping elegantly at a glass of water, looking confident and relaxed.

Press pause and rewind. Play the movie again. This time keep your mentor’s head but put it on your body. Press pause, rewind and play again with your head and your body, but behaving exaclty as your chosen person did. Press pause, rewind and play again but step inside the movie so you’re actually feeling what it is like from the inside to behave as you’d like to.

Press pause, step out the movie, look at yourself performing so well, breathe in and relax.

What Is It Best For?
Trying out behaviour that you cannot imagine yourself doing. So, if you’ve never exercised,always been overweight, or never gone a week without drinking. Rehearsing the future helps create belief that you can change.

4. Change Internal Dialogue

What Is It?
Many of us fail at New Year’s Resolutions because we doubt ourselves. We have a little voice in our heads that tells us we can’t. This can be our own voice or more often is that of a parent. Change Internal Dialogue is a technique that takes the ‘sting’ out of that inner voice.

How Do You Do It?
Close your eyes and think about some of the negative beliefs you may have about your New Year’s Resolutions. Hear the voice in your head saying things like’ I always fall of diets… I join and gym and never go… I am a failure’. While listening to this litany of internal criticism, alter the voice in your head to that of Bugs Bunny or Homer Simpson or any other silly voice you fancy. Immediately, whatever they are saying sounds ridiculous rather than powerful.

What it’s best for?
Any New Year’s Resution that you have tried at and failed at before – smoking, giving up drinking, losing weight.

5. Flick It Out, Lock It In

What is it?
This is a technique that allows you to ‘own’ your successes and ‘throw away’ the failures.

How Do You Do It?
If you do something really well, whether it’s have a good session at the gym, say ‘no’ to a cigarette or manage a night out without a drink, you find a quiet place and ‘lock it in’. This means you lift one arm, bend it as if you are doing a classic bicep curl, then as you clench your fist andpull it in to your chest. This ‘locks in’ the success.

If you have a bad day on your diet, fitness regime or fall of the wagon wit smoking or drinking, you can ‘flick out’ this failure. Again find a quiet place and take the flat of one hand. Brush yourself down as if trying to brush crumbs off yourself’.

What Is It Good For?
Celebrating your successes and preventing ‘blips’ knocking you off track.

Lowri Turner is a hypnotherapist and nutritionist. She is the author of the new book The Hunger Types Diet.




 Lowri Turner
 The Hunger Type Diet
 ISBN: 9781848999770




Make Your Own Chicken Ravioli for a Saturday Night Dinner

Fresh pasta taste better if you prepare it yourself. Making fresh ravioli is a great technique to learn and can turn out to be a brilliant and enjoyable way to spend your Saturday afternoon with your family and friends. You can stuff your ravioli with all kind of fillings. In this case, Marcus Bean suggests a spinach and chicken one.


Fresh egg pasta

Makes 500g/1lb 2oz

Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus 30 minutes resting

400g/14oz/heaped 3  cups pasta flour, plus extra for dusting

4 eggs, beaten with a pinch of salt

1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing

  1. Put the flour in a bowl and make a well in the centre.
  2. Pour the eggs into the well. Gradually whisk the flour into the eggs, a little at a time, then add the oil and start to mix the ingredients together with your hands until you have
    a soft dough.
  3. Knead and pull the dough for about 3 minutes on a lightly floured surface. Lightly oil a bowl, add the dough, then cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for at least
    30 minutes.
  4. Roll out the dough to about 0.5mm on a floured surface or use a pasta machine.


Spinach & chicken ravioli with tomato sauce

Serves 4

Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus making the dough and sauce

Cooking time: 20 minutes

1 recipe quantity Fresh Egg Pasta

a little flour, for dusting

Tomato Sauce

For the stuffing

2 tbsp olive oil

400g/14oz minced chicken

100g/3 oz spinach leaves

40g/1 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 eggs

40g/1 oz strong cheese, grated

2 tbsp chopped chives

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Roll out the pasta on a lightly floured work surface to a thin rectangle about 0.5mm thick, or use a pasta machine.
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat.
  3. Add the chicken and fry for 4–5 minutes, stirring, until browned and cooked. Leave to one side to cool.
  4. Rinse and drain the spinach, then put it in a saucepan with just the water clinging to the leaves.
  5. Put over a medium heat until softened, then drain and tip into a bowl to cool slightly.
  6. Add the chicken and the remaining stuffing ingredients to the bowl and mix until combined.
  7. Spoon into a piping bag with a small, plain nozzle and pipe small round piles about the size of a cherry in lines over half the pasta, leaving about 4cm/1 in gap between each one.
  8. Dampen between the filling, then fold the other half of the pasta over to create a top sheet, carefully sealing between the ravioli and making sure you don’t create any air pockets.
  9. Press out the ravioli, using a 4cm/1 in pastry cutter, pressing together the edges to seal.
  10. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil over a high heat, add the ravioli, in batches if necessary, and return to the boil.
  11. Simmer for about 6 minutes until just tender. Drain well.
  12. Meanwhile, put the tomato sauce in a saucepan over a medium heat and bring just to the boil, stirring to make sure it is heated through. Add the ravioli and toss together to serve.

Chicken-The-New-Classics-by-Marcus-Bean To enjoy other tasty and delicious chicken recipes take a look at Marcus Bean’s Chicken



5 Healthy Food Tips To Beat Seasonal Depression

Some nutrients have a direct effect on our emotions helping us fighting seasonal distress and mood changes, which can appear during this time of the year. Adding to your diet foods that are reach in selenium, B vitamins and protein will help you to improve the way you feel and cheer you up from the seasonal downs.
Here some suggestions from Janet Wright from The Top 100 Health Tips:

A low-fat diet really can get you down! This creamy fruit provides healthy fats, which raise serotonin levels and keep you happy.
Scientists have found people are more relaxed after a higher-fat meal, and even feel less pain. Some fat is also necessary for the body to absorb nutrients that can improve your mood, such as vitamin E. No wonder people eat junk foods when they’re feeling low. Avocados are the healthier alternative: instead of saturated fat, they provide healthy monounsaturated fat. They are rich in tryptophan, along with vitamin B6 and folate, which helps the body turn tryptophan into the feel-good chemical serotonin.

Sea Vegetables
Sea vegetables, or seaweeds, best known for their use in Japanese cuisine, contain an unrivaled range of nutrients that promote emotional health and keep the brain alert. They contain a wide range of minerals: magnesium helps to relieve stress-related symptoms, such as heart palpitations; calcium helps to stabilize moods; and iron provides energy to the many people. The wide range of sea vegetables now available is rich in iodine, which supports thyroid function. A slightly underactive thyroid, which is fairly common, especially among women, often causes depression and lethargy before any other signs lead to diagnosis.

brazil nuts

Brazil Nuts
Can a few nuts really be the answer to depression, for some people?
This tasty snack contains a rare source of a mineral that can protect against depression and anxiety. In fact brazil nuts are the richest source of a mood-boosting mineral called selenium. People whose diets are deficient in this have been found to suffer depression, anxiety, and fatigue, and to feel better when they eat selenium-rich food. The harmless Brazil nut contains other mood-enhancing nutrients, too, such as magnesium, which soothes stress and anxiety. Just a couple of brazil nuts are enough to meet most people’s selenium levels.

Famed for putting a sparkle back in your sex life, these molluscs are also packed with omega-3. That’s partly because they’re so rich in zinc, along with practically all the other minerals we need for good health. Packed with nutrients, oysters act as a general health tonic, as well as enhancing sexual well-being. They are a very rich, low-fat source of omega-3 fatty acids, which make us feel happier and livelier by supporting the brain’s healthy functioning. They are also full of b vitamins, essential to mind and mood.

Many women become irritable, forgetful, or depressed before a period starts: the well-known symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (pms). A glass of milk can be the simplest answer, as it contains many nutrients that lift and stabilize mood. It is rich in calcium and vitamin d, which together have been found to reduce or even prevent pms symptoms. As with other animal foods, it’s best to buy organic because it contains up to 70 percent more omega-3 oils, which help the brain to function.

Janet Wright, The Top 100 Health Tips

Find out more health tips in Janet Wright, The Top 100 Health Tips



6 Super Foods To Fight Your Winter Cough

Age-old theories about the healing properties of food are now being proven by scientific research and winter is the perfect time to put them into practice. Here Paula Bartimeus suggests some effective home remedies to prevent and alleviate the symptoms of a nasty winter cough.

Paula Bartimeus, The Top 100 Healing Foods

Because they are the richest sources of beta-carotene that contribute a good level of Vitamin A, carrots make an excellent choice to help the body fighting cold infections.

Since the Middle Ages horseradish has been used as anti-bacterical, diuretic and stimulant. It is effective when cut or grated and its oils are released, being a rich source of vitamins, calcium, iron and magnesium, which have natural antibiotic properties that can help to overcome respiratory tract infections such as coughs and sinus congestion.

Being a good source of vitamin C and with their antiseptic properties, lemons are widely renown as by far the best natural remedy for alleviating sore throat and flu if squeezed in hot water with added honey.

Thanks to its nutritional properties, sage is ideal to relieve coughs and rheumatism, and strengthen the nervous system. This versatile herb is recommended in ancient theories for its healing properties and is indicated to mitigate sore throat and mouthwashes to combat gum inflammation.

Widely used in African, Chinese and Indian cuisines, ginger makes an excellent choice to include in food or made into medicinal tea. Stimulating circulation, it is excellent for alleviating coughs and fever caused by colds or flu.

Used everyday as a sweetener and natural replacement for sugar, honey is extremely rich of vitamins and substances that speed up wound healing and fight superbugs. Honey is a good source of vitamins, minerals and amino acid improving the blood system and being a powerful source of antibiotic properties. If you add hot water and lemon you can use it as a protective antioxidants to ease the symptoms of cold and cough.