Month: September 2014

Foodie Pen Pals – delivered a lovely surprise!

I don’t normally like surprises but my ‘foodie pen pals parcel’ is definitely the exception. I recently signed up via the blog ‘’, and when my very first parcel arrived this month I was over the moon.

IMG_1703.JPGDawn my pen pal this month sent me a lovely card outlining what she had sent which included:

Barenaked Gluten Free noodles – which were featured on Dragons Den and only have 8 calories per 100g serving.

Green and Black’s chocolate bar – when, like Dawn said, anything other than chocolate just won’t do!

Graze Popping Corn – a gluten free treat ready in 40 seconds.

Itsu – pack of three chocolate covered rice cakes, yummy!

Mini caramel syrup – this made a great addition to my camomile tea.

Thespicery – jamaicanmethirsty – a cute little pack of spices to make a refreshing Caribbean cocktail.

Thespicery – ‘Brown Down’ chicken a world kitchen recipe kit. This was my absolute favourite item and my families too. It has a shopping list on the back and an easy to follow recipe inside.

This gorgeous array of food + the delicious spices = a chicken and mash dinner with a difference.

The sweet, spicy chicken, sweet potato mash and herby salsa made a great combination.

IMG_1795.JPGWill be making this again….

IMG_1777.JPGAnd again…….
IMG_1801-1.JPGI also enjoyed buying the contents of the parcel that I sent to my pen pal Nikki and I hope she enjoys the goodies (Mallorcan almonds covered in gold leaf, Tabasco and popcorn flavoured jelly beans from Selfridges, Carob for baking, dried physalis berries and gluten free stars) as much as I enjoyed choosing them.

If you are in Europe and you want to join, click on the link below.

I for one can’t wait for next months foodiepenpals surprise!
Thanks again Dawn for my first parcel it was a delight.

Grow your own and reap the benefits!

Had a fabulous day volunteering this week with work colleagues at the Walton Lea Project a charity providing supported employment for adults with learning disabilities, mental health problems, mobility issues and early onset Alzheimers.

There is said to be compelling evidence that there are major health benefits to growing your own fruit and vegetables, as it leads to increased fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity and outdoor interaction with green space. There are estimated to be over 300,000 allotments and urban gardens in the UK. A 2009 study concluded that growing your own food in urban areas could positively improve psychological and physical health of participants. The study also weighed up the risks of growing food in urban areas but concluded that the benefits outweighed the risks. IMG_1704.JPG

We had a great time working outdoors with the beneficiaries and enjoyed a lovely lunch that they prepared supported by a team from ASDA who do a weekly healthy eating session. The sense of achievement was great we worked together as a team to clear a patch of land for planting and everyone we met were lovely and so enthusiastic about the project which was infectious. IMG_1705.JPG

We all left smiling and exhausted!

Leake, J.R., Adam-Bradford, a., & Rigby, J.E. (2009) Health benefits of ‘grow your own’ food in urban areas: implications for contaminated land risk assessment and risk management. ‘Environmental Health’.

Honey and herbs a wonderful combination!

I love honey and I love herbs, but adding them to cocktails and serving them in an art gallery made me love them even more! The healing properties of honey have been talked about since ancient times and herbs not only add flavour but have been found to have a wide range of health benefits.
The event at the Manchester Art Gallery was a perfect way to unwind after work.

What made it even more special was that the honey and herbs used were all from the Manchester Art Gallery rooftop garden.

We enjoyed the Rosemary Lemonade and both the Whisky and Citrus Buzz made from honey, lime, grapefruit and ginger ale. The Honey Gin Jam was delicious served with mint and so was the Vodka, Lemon, Sage Martini.

There was a gentle buzz of chatter as people sat and shared their stories, and the music added to the lovely atmosphere. The little bar area looked stylish with pots of fragrant herbs, fruity tasters and a citrus bowl display.

We managed to fit in a relaxing wonder around the gallery and a visit to the gift shop before heading back for a final cocktail and the train home.

The Gallery opens late on a Thursday but this was the first time they had hosted the ‘Honey & Herb’ night. I for one hope they do it again very soon!



A festival in a day!

I’ve always loved the idea of going to a festival but for one reason or another never managed to get to one. On Sunday however that all changed when I got a little taste of festival life and joined 50,000 other Radio 2 listeners at the ‘Festival in a Day’ The sun shone, the atmosphere was amazing and for 10 hours we owned a patch of grass 4msq in London’s Hyde Park!

20140917-215343.jpgThe line up included Paloma Faith, Bellowhead, Kacey Musgrave, Blondie, Chrissie Hyde, Billy Ocean and ELO’s Jeff Lynne who was on stage for his first gig in 28 years. It was great seeing inhibitions disappear and everyone going back to their youth and dancing ‘like nobody was watching’ including me!

20140917-220023.jpgAs a student nutritionist I was interested to see what the quality of the food would be like and it’s fair to say I was expecting a small selection of food outlets with poor quality food. But that wasn’t the case. There were noodle and deli bars, freshly made fish and chips, delicious smelling Churros, but what I didn’t expect was to find a great little gem of a stall called ‘The Honest Carrot‘ selling lovely vegetarian, vegan and gluten free food.

I went for the halloumi, falafel wrap with chilli sauce which was absolutely delicious! Fiona the owner of ‘The Honest Carrot‘ said they had been trading at all the major festival with their biggest success being the Reading festival.

20140917-125959.jpgIt was great to see tasty, nutritious food on sale, and I’m glad I don’t need to wait for my next festival to enjoy what The Honest Carrot had to offer because I can order online for delivery to my door. That said, I don’t think you can beat picnicking on a sunny day, glass of wine in hand, accompanied by great company and great music.
Happy memories.😀



I’m an artist!……….

I’ve been on holiday this week in the Balearic Island of Mallorca. It was sunny, there was a lovely relaxed atmosphere, the sea was crystal clear and the food superb.


Now I don’t know whether it’s this combination that makes your skin glow or if it’s purely the Mediterranean diet, but either way I loved it. Here’s a selection of what we ate, with special thanks to my sister Pam, who when she isn’t taking pictures of cats, takes a mean foodie pic.20140913-120154.jpg
Photographing food is the norm in my house, as I don’t think you can beat an original image to sit along side your nutritional musings. Generally my family and close friends accept that they are not allowed to eat or drink until I’ve got the right shot, which usually takes a few attempts. I thought I may attract attention in the beautiful surroundings of the Hotel I’ll a Dor and restaurants in and around Puerto Pollensa, but nobody batted an eyelid, I guess that’s the Tw-insta-book’ phenomenon!

Come to think of it, the only place anyone has ever commented on this unusual hobby / obsession, is the
Manchester Art Gallery, when I whipped out my iPad to take a couple of pictures of a sugar bowl with a lovely array of sugar cubes, (no it wasn’t a display it was an actual sugar bowl on the refreshments table) and a member of the catering team said with a look of pure disdain “you’re taking a picture of sugar”. I replied “I’m an artist” and flounced off. One of my colleagues had commented earlier, that I was looking very bohemian that day, so I think I might just have got away with it!
To see a real food artist click on the following link to look at some amazing foodscapes by Carl Warner :

I’m no Carl Warner, but I hope you enjoy the images, we certainly enjoyed what’s in them.





Life’s a peach!

Peaches are a great source of vitamin C and one medium peach (with skin) contains 1.36 grams of protein, 58 calories and 2.2 grams dietary fibre. Early research now suggests adding peaches to you diet can have protective benefits.

20140906-212523.jpgA Washington State University (WSU) food scientist published findings in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry outlining results from an animal study that found compounds in peaches can inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells and their ability to spread.

Researchers say the compounds could be a novel addition to therapies that reduce the risk of metastasis, the primary killer in breast and many other cancers. In the western hemisphere, breast cancer is the most common malignant disease for women. In the USA last year, the American Cancer Society estimated about 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer among women. The article says that the compounds could be given as peach polyphenol extract powder or be sourced from two to three fresh peaches a day.

Giuliana Noratto, WSU assistant professor of food science says that having enough fruits and vegetables in our diet can provide these compounds, and might have a similar preventive effects. She is now looking at other compounds such as wheat, barley, quinoa, apples and dairy products that could also have a role in preventing obesity-related diseases.

The WSU assistant professor is said to have been drawn to the research after doing work on the antioxidant activity of root plants in her native Peru where they have a huge tradition of medicinal plants. Noratto said. “We are great believers that you can cure yourself by having a good diet and a good supply of medicinal Plants”

How great would this be if the benefits could be replicated in human trials. To achieve this however, further in vitro and in vivo studies are needed to understand the molecular mechanisms involved.


Giuliana Noratto, Weston Porter, David Byrne, Luis Cisneros-Zevallos. Polyphenolics from peach (Prunus persica var. Rich Lady) inhibit tumor growth and metastasis of MDA-MB-435 breast cancer cells in vivo. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2014.03.001

MediterrAsian Diet and Flavanoids – all new to me!

I’ve had the library to myself today! I decided to come in to Uni for a couple of hours to do some research for my dissertation and it was so quiet with no distractions I’ve stayed all day. I’ve got loads of research done and have found some fascinating journal articles on the subject of diet and
Here are a few of my new discoveries that I will be researching further:

  • The ‘MediterrAsian‘ Diet combines the Japanese diet with the Mediterranean diet, which may be a promising dietary strategy in chronic disease prevention.
  • There is some evidence that flavanoids may enhance health and prevent chronic disease.
  • Although flavanoids don’t appear to be necessary for growth and development they are thought to be a ‘life span essential’ (which means they may help prevent disease from conception in to older adulthood)
  • Flavanoids of nutritional interest are the flavanols or catechins, these inclue:
    • epigallocatechin 3-gallate fron green tea
    • apigenin from celery
    • quercetin  from red onions and apples
    • naringen from citrus fruit
    • cyanidin from berries
    • genistein and daidzein from soya beans
  • More studies are needed to establish a link between nutrition and cognitive decline .
  • The DO-HEALTH research programme is looking into the role of vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids and a simple home exercise programme and whether this combination can extend healthy life expectancy and improve quality of life in European seniors.

There is so much information and research focusing on the links between diet and disease that I’ve certainly got my work cut out. The beauty of being a mature student with grown up children, is that you can spend time doing what you love.  For me that’s researching all of the above.



Gillette-Guyonnet, S., et al (2012) Nutrition and neurodegeneration:epidemiological evidence and challneges for future research.

American Society for Nutrition (2013) Flavanoids

Pallaug, K., et al (2013) Nutrition and healthy ageing:caorie restriction or polyphenol-rich MediterrAsian diet?