Tag Archives: london

Healthy eating – the imperative read on the matter!

Whether you are training for the London Marathon, putting an end to Dec/Jan excesses or just keen to stay in shape, Healthy Eating is for you!

Here I have compiled a list of the important tips and food lists to keep in mind and of the sort of meals you should be eating to feel great throughout winter and look even better when summer arrives! I get quite evangelical about all this, as my long suffering kids and husband know only too well…

The best place to start is with the Harvard Healthy eating plate:

The Harvard eating plate

The Harvard eating plate

Basically, half of your plate should be covered in vegetable, fruit and plant -based food and the other half divided between whole grains (carbs, cereals, wholewheat flours) and lean, healthy protein – some of which can again come from plant, and some from animal sources. If you stick to these ratios, you can pretty much add anything to your plate and eat a variety of food – so long as you respect the general ratios on this mock plate you will be fine!

Food is generally what makes us ill as research shows all cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and even most cancers have their roots in unbalanced eating habits; so by the same token, food can become our medicine and should be treated as such.

Make sure you eat plenty of raw and cooked vegetable and that your intake of fibre is at least 15 to 30g per day: This means eating two slices of wholegrain bread, a helping of cooked sweet potato and a handful of nuts every day as a minimum.

Smoothies are great for vitamins but juicing and blending breaks up the fibre so it is important to have enough of the whole plant as well as the juice! Meat and animal based food contain no fibre so make sure you eat fibre with it in order to help digestion and to clean the fat deposits off.

Protein should come in the shape of fish and especially fatty fish because you need the good omegas and the real thing is always better absorbed than the supplement. Try sardines, salmon, haddock and more. You can also find essential oils in nuts  and olive oil. Lean protein include tofu, chicken, fish, eggs. Liver is a good source of amino acids and some important vitamins and minerals.

Avoid white flour and white bread for the “fibre” reason again: wholegrain and brown grains contain more! So use brown rice, bulgur, oats, brown couscous.

Choose fibrous vegetable such as kale, chard, cabbage, parsnip, celery, sweet potato, spinach and green beans. There are plenty of recipes on this blog!

Try to avoid eating animal protein and carbohydrates at the same meal and rather combine veg with meat or carbs with veg. It is also one way to make sure you will be eating enough plant based food at every meal. There is only so much greens you can add to a plate full of steak and fries!

Try and limit cheese and dairy, reserve red meat to special occasions, limit alcohol and sugar.

To give you plenty of energy, make your own healthy flapjacks and nut balls, bake cakes rather than buy them, try using honey or agave in yogurt or no sugar at all and drink pure and filtered water. Swap black tea for green or white and use herbal tea in the evening. I love an infusion of rosemary or lavender…

The advice seems to be that unless you are exercising a lot, 6 glasses of water is enough – beyond that you might just use it for water retention!

Embrace good fats such as olive oil, ghee, goose fat, rapeseed oil, linseed and avoid low-fat products which tend to be full of sugar and/or preservatives and seem to encourage an enlarged waistline, according to some recent studies.

If you exercise, drink as soon as you are thirsty, eat bananas to recover and make sure you eat enough carbs (in the form of pasta, rice, quinoa etc…) on the days that you train. Remember also that the rest days are as important for your overall fitness as the exercise days and do not overdo it,  that is the best way to avoid injury.

Also, give your pancreas a proper eight to nine hours rest by eating early in the evening and nothing until the morning. Something I am definitely working on…

At the moment I am gearing up for a big personal challenge and training for the London Marathon so as I learn more I might be able to let this new found wisdom trickle into this blog! I will keep you up to speed with what I will be gleaning on this journey: I still have 10 weeks before the big day…

So that my efforts might benefit a good cause, I am raising funds to fight abuse and child cruelty so if you want to help, please donate on this page to the NSPCC or click the link below. Anything you can give will go towards helping a vulnerable child and there is no better cause, I think. Thanks for visiting.

I hope you enjoyed this post. And if you have, please sponsor me!


By the serpentine, at the week end - love this bird!

By the serpentine, at the week end – love this bird!


>Visit of Poilâne Bakery in Elizabeth Street


The children are now off school and I ring the Poilâne bakery in Elizabeth Street, between Sloane Square and Victoria tube stations, for a guided tour of the premises. On the said day, we turn up in this lovely shopping street and get down to the basement where resides the enormous bread oven: all 5 metres of furnace beyond the studded metal doors!

Two lovely French bakers explain to us in Moliere’s tongue why Poilâne bread is so unique. All the flour comes from France where it is milled using the old mill-stone technique and still contains wheatgerm and bran so the final dough is very tasty and healthy. The bread is always started from the “chef”, a little quantity of dough reserved from the last batch: no other raising agent. The dough is mixed in a gigantic trough with huge kneading hooks that can work up to 500 kg of flour. All of us could easily fit around a tea-tray in there! But the most impressive is the wood-burning oven, that is left on all day and night, 6 and a half days a week. It is only turned off on Saturday afternoon because no bread will be made for the sunday.

 There are huge wooden spatulas hanging in rafters on the ceiling to put the breads in the furnace. It takes 6 hours for a batch, from start to shop. Alain talk us through the process and my children are mesmerised. Bread comes alive under the strong kneading hands of the younger of the two bakers while he shapes the raisin loaves and then lay them to rest in their pans. For the round bread, the dough is laid inside straw “banetons” to raise for 1 and a half hour. Then they are baked for a whole hour at 280°.
The oven has a special bucket for water so the bread takes on a lovely golden colour. I try to remember that next time I bake my own… The shifts are very long and the heat down there is quite oppressing but our bakers are passionate about what they do.

Once back in the shop, we taste their delicious cookies and go home with half a kilo of the sourdough bread. For dinner, I offer a Poilane tartine party and each of us spread long slices of bread with anything they like: tuna mayo, salad, ham, cheese, onion chutney etc…. Great day out and in!

>Fancy an elephant in your garden?


This one’s got my name on it! But if you want any of the other elephants that have been roaming London this month, you can go to the auction site when they are going to be sold for charity, in aid of the asian elephants.
Would be quite cool to have one in one’s garden, would it not be?

>War-time recipe from The Ministry of Food


Today we visited the Ministry of Food exhibition at the Imperial War Museum and had a great time learning about the war waged in allotments, kitchens  and even public gardens! And how was food grown and prepared in London under the Blitz… Here is one of the recipes of the times.

Kippers scramble

Take one fillet of smoked kipper (or mackerel) per person and one egg for two people. Flake the fish flesh, beat the eggs lightly, mix both and season.
Put some rapeseed oil in a frying pan and scramble the mix over medium heat for a few minutes, being careful not to overcook the eggs so they remain creamy. Turn off the gas and add a dollop of crème fraîche and a pinch of dill before serving warm.
Note that the original war-time recipe did not include these last two ingredients!

Tonight, I made it with smoked mackerel and served it with a salad of chopped cucumber, avocado and mango seasoned with olive oil and soya sauce. But it would also make a delicious alternative to kedgeree for a nice sunday brunch.

>A few of my favourite things…

>Cooking is the art of choosing the right ingredients.
I have some favorites that I rarely depart from and always enjoy cooking with.
 Here is my desert island list:

Spices: Sea salt (“fleur de sel” is the delicate top layer that dries in the sun and carries the most fragrance so it is a bit like cooking with the true essence of the sea…)
Sweet smoked paprika or Pimenton – brilliant for anything spanish!
Quatre-epices (a moroccan mix that warms up any dish…)
Pink peppercorns- so pretty!
Cinnamon (good for its fragrance and speeding up your metabolism)

Herbs: Oregano, mint, thyme (again: the flower is best!)

Others: Olive oil, Goose fat (the best unsaturated fat ever), crème fraîche, buttermilk (can’t do without this : I put it in most of my baking instead of milk because of its tangy taste and digestability!).
Last but not least: lemons! I have the hot juice first thing every morning to help my clock ticking and uses it everywhere I can. I love its zest in cakes and stews and the juice is so nice in a jug of cold water – It makes it easier to drink my one and a half litre a day…