Clean Florentines – the perfect Christmas cookie!

We might not be in December’s Christmas madness yet, but Bonfire Night is over, it’s nearly Thanksgiving across the pond, and I’m being booked for events with kids around healthy eating next year. What does that have to do with Christmas cookies, you might ask! Working with organisations and charities that support children and families is something that I love doing, demystifying healthy eating, and how delicious and achievable real food is. The opportunity to be introduced to them via a Christmas Cookie workshop is ideal!

So, what cookie will last well as a gift, be easy to make, and is a Christmas crowd-pleaser? Florentines are perfect, with their scope for adapting and their healthy ingredient swaps. You can make them as ‘clean’ as you please, depending on your budget and what is in your cupboard already. The jewelled nuggets of apricot, blueberry and cranberry makes the biscuits like beautiful seasonal stained-glass feasts for the eyes as well as the taste buds with the chocolate hiding on the bottom of the biscuits. Lovely!

This is the healthiest version, and what I use most often, but there are plenty of swaps you can make:

  • coconut sugar can be swapped for golden caster,
  • coconut oil can be swapped for butter,
  • buckwheat flour can be swapped for ordinary flour,
  • coconut milk can be swapped for ordinary whole milk,
  • almonds can be swapped for whatever nuts or combo you prefer,
  • the fruit can be whatever you choose.

Here’s the full recipe:

Makes about 20

100g almonds, roughly chopped

100g oats

40g dried apricots, chopped small

40g dried blueberries

40g dried cranberries

30g coconut oil

50g coconut sugar

1 1/2 tbsp honey

20g buckwheat flour

150 ml coconut milk

200g dark chocolate

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees, and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Mix the almonds and oats with the fruit, ensuring there are no clumps of fruit sticking together. Melt the oil with the sugar and honey gently in a saucepan until combined, then add the flour, whisking briskly for a couple of minutes until it thickens up. Quickly add the milk, whisking briskly again for a minute until you have a smooth, thick mixture.

Remove from the heat and stir in the fruit and oat mixture. Measure out spoonfuls of mixture onto the baking tray, leaving a bit of spreading room between spoonfuls. Even out and flatten slightly, then bake for around 15 minutes, turning the tray around half way through to ensure an even bake. Leave to cool, and when ready to decorate, melt the chocolate in a bain marie. Place the cookies on another sheet of baking parchment, face down, then drizzle and spread melted chocolate over the bottom of the cookies, and leave to cool and harden. You can also dip the cookies into the chocolate so that you have half and half versions. the choice is yours!

Enjoy your clean cookies with a cuppa before, during or after the seasonal madness!


Seaweed sandwich, anyone?

If your consumption of sea vegetables thus far on your culinary journey has been limited to a bit of sushi from the supermarket, then you’re missing out. Whether it’s for flavour or health, seaweed is a fantastic food to add to your diet, and best of all, it doesn’t have to be from imported sources at the health food shop or oriental market. Our shores are teeming with varieties of seaweed that are not just edible, but absolutely delicious too.

Even more surprisingly, those of you who are currently thinking that seaweed is the last thing that you would want to eat may change your minds when you taste dulse, one of our most commonly found varieties – it tastes like bacon when it’s cooked. Maybe not as convincing as a bacon sandwich, but still, not exactly what you might expect.

So, what is it, and how do we make the most of this natural harvest right on our doorstep? Dulse is part of a large family of edible saltwater plants and algae that also include more readily known varieties like nori and kelp. Like all edible seaweed, dulse provides a wealth of nutrients, fibre and protein, rich in vitamins, trace minerals, healthy fatty acids, and antioxidants.

It’s easy to buy dried dulse, and as its nutritional value doesn’t degrade after it’s converted into powder or flakes, having some on hand to sprinkle into salads, soups and stews is convenient. Store it in a dry and dark place and it’ll last for at least two years, making it truly a go-to health booster to use in all kinds of ways.

The assumption that seaweed will taste a bit too, well, seaweedy, has doubtless put many people off trying it at all, but with the accessibility, sustainability, and variety of uses, surely it’s something that we need to consider as conscious consumers. The big bonus is in the health benefits – while all natural foods have distinct and purposeful nutrient profiles, seaweed is a truly exceptional all rounder. Just some of the health benefits of dulse include its ability to protect vision, boost the immune system, build bone health, optimise the function of the thyroid gland, increase growth and repair, support the gastrointestinal tract, lower blood pressure, strengthen the brain and nervous system, and boost circulation.

A fantastic food, and a great focus for your next beach visit! To achieve that bacon-like effect, pan-fry some dried whole-leaf dulse with oil over medium-high heat until crisp, then make up your dish or sandwich. Delicious!

Another way to use dulse, or any other seaweed that you have chosen, is to cut strips from a sheet, or take some larger flakes, and allow them to float gently in this lovely broth. Health in a bowl!

Miso Broth

miso paste (authentic paste from an oriental market)
pak choi, each leaf sliced in half lengthwise
sliced greens or cabbage
red pepper, thinly sliced
garlic, very thinly slivered
ginger, very thinly slivered
good quality bone broth or stock of your choice
seaweed strips
chicken, fish, beef or tofu pieces

Pour the required amount of bone broth or stock into a pan, bring to a gentle simmer, and add a teaspoon or two of miso paste, stirring to dissolve. Add the garlic, ginger, meat/fish/tofu, and sliced veg and simmer very gently for a few minutes until the veg is just tender and the meat is cooked through. Add the seaweed and turn off the heat, allowing the seaweed to steep for a couple of minutes. Serve up in big bowls and enjoy!

The Walnut has landed!

After a few days of strange, unusual, and if I’m honest, chaotic events (culminating in nearly running over a suicidal seagull focused only on the lollipop clamped jealously in its beak, proving how dangerous junk food is!), I was thrilled to receive the inaugural copy of Walnut magazine – I was approached to write foodie health articles for it a while ago and completely forgot about it, so this is my first view of the finished mag and my mental health nutrition article.

If you’re in the Bristol area, you’ll be lucky enough to be able to grab a copy – beautifully designed and produced, and packed with wonderful information, advice and recipes. If you don’t live in the distribution area, you can purchase a copy of this hefty quarterly gem here: Walnut Magazine

Welcome to Walnut! Great stuff, Dermot!

Boost mood with food for better mental health…..

Great news! I was first switched on to the impact of food on mental health at an international conference nearly 15 years ago, and haven’t stopped studying it since. Evidence of those early pioneering theories has gradually grown as research was commissioned. The more research emerges, the more is commissioned, and so we begin to really join up the dots.

It’s really hard work making progress without a body of major scientific evidence, but it does look like a corner has been turned and the food-mental health link is now accepted enough for a real food for the brain message to be listened to. With mental health statistics and the numbers suffering reaching crisis point, it’s not a moment too soon.

See the full article here.

‘Director of Deakin’s Food and Mood Centre Professor Felice Jacka said the results of her team’s new study offered a possible new treatment approach to depression, one of the world’s most prevalent and costly medical disorders.

“We’ve known for some time that there is a clear association between the quality of people’s diets and their risk for depression,” Professor Jacka said.

“This is the case across countries, cultures and age groups, with healthy diets associated with reduced risk, and unhealthy diets associated with increased risk for depression.

“However, this is the first randomised controlled trial to directly test whether improving diet quality can actually treat clinical depression.” ‘

Want healthy meals, but no time to cook?

As a businesswoman and mum, I understand that life is busy. As a total foodie, I know that good food is a lovely part of every day, especially the end of a manic day. As a functional nutritionist, I know what healthy meals should be, and why we need to prioritise our health – for our families, for our work, for our play, and for a long, happy life.

No worries! The Functional Foodie’s Done Dinners service is here! My Done Dinners provide 3 freshly prepared, nutritionally balanced, delicious evening meals a week for busy people in Plymouth, so that you can concentrate on what you need to do, while knowing that you’re getting some very healthy food to nourish body and mind.

The meals are in generous portions, and will be designed to be eaten alone, or could be added to (pasta, rice, etc) for making a meal for two (or two meals for separate nights).

Space is limited as I prepare and cook all the meals myself, and deliver over the next 24 hours for maximum freshness and nutrient availability (and just so you know, I’m fully Food Hygiene and Safety qualified).

Book by the end of the week (spaces allowing) to lock in meals for the next week. No contract or continued sign up required – just reserve one of the slots each week, while availability lasts, via the Book Now tab at the top of the Facebook page, or email me and I’ll send you the link.

The menus for each week of the month will be posted in advance too (check them out in the Facebook page post feed or the photo album). Not all meals contain meat, but this is not a vegetarian, vegan or gluten free service. Just good, wholesome, scrumptious, nourishing food. Some will be freezable too.

Want me to cater your dinner party or prepare meals for you to freeze as a one off for a busy or challenging time? Just message me and I’ll get back to you to discuss what you need – while the regular meal service is for Plymouth, parties and emergency supplies can be for further out of Plymouth.

For more information, to ask a question, or to book in June for the July 4th launch, check out the menu posts on the Facebook page, or drop me a message. I’m so looking forward to doing your dinners!

See menus and book on Facebook here.

Email me to book or enquire here.

4 Weeks to Fabulous!

Feeling in need of a boost as the seasons change? Improve your health and lose weight in time for the holidays in the 4 Weeks to Fabulous group mastermind for serious results and high accountability!

The summer is here, and we’re half way through the year! As we head towards the holidays, plan to feel your best with my mid-year mini-bootcamp. Join the 4 Weeks to Fabulous review and reboot mastermind group for a fast track to boosting health all round as well as positively impacting weight, water retention, hormones, stress levels, and mood, and all over a period of 4 weeks.

I’ll give you a sample eating plan, shopping list and store cupboard staples rundown, plus recipes, advice, daily motivation, support, and weekly live Q+A sessions within the group on its Facebook page.

You give me daily feedback on the motivation thread, pictures of your delicious, healthier, happier meals, and your wins, challenges and questions.

The cost? £28/$41 (that’s only £1/$1.50 a day!)

The result?

Less weight & water retention
Increased energy
Improved stress resilience
Balanced hormones
Boosted mood & motivation


The 4 Weeks to Fabulous secret Facebook group.

No fuss, no emails, just the tools, advice, professional support, and likeminded community you need to boost your health!

We start on July 2nd. So what are you waiting for?

Join here!

Take your foodie health to a new level with The Functional Foodie hub!

You love good food and great health. You live life to the full, and want the energy and joie de vivre to squeeze everything out of every day. So, how do you do that, with all the demands of modern living? Keeping up to date with the latest news, information and advice on health and food is an essential part of protecting yourself and your loved ones.

Recipes, health information, wellbeing motivation, and the most accurate advice – that is what the hub is all about.

We all have health concerns, or have loved ones who do. What would it be like to be able to access the professional input of an experienced functional nutritionist without having to spends hours, and a fortune, in consultations? Get the latest, researched knowledge and advice every month, with a different issue, condition or niggle under the spotlight each time.

Members can access my advice round up on the focus issue, a targeted recipe and demo video for that issue. Our private Functional Foodies closed Facebook group is yet another benefit of joining us.

Food is the ultimate healer – it’s our fuel, our nourishment, our daily foundation for energy and existence. What could be better than knowing exactly what foods can do to heal and protect, with recipes right there for you to use?

Each month members have access to recipes targeted at healing the health focus for that month. As the months go by, the scope of professional advice and healing recipes broadens and builds. Your personal health library and cooking bible, all in one place.

Get the inside track on foodie health from me every month, with videos, targeted recipes, your questions answered, and a private Facebook community, plus an extra recipe hub and exclusive resources. Daily healthcare made easy!


Here’s a peek at the Foodie Focuses for the next few months:

In January we had Real Food for Real Life: What IS the ideal diet?

In February I talked about The Omega Question: The essentials about fats.

In March I gave members the inside track on Supercharging: Easily boost the nutrients in your daily diet.

In April I’ll let Foodies in on Beating the Bloat: The causes and how to beat it.

May will be about Gluten: Hard to stomach?

In June we’ll examine The S Word: Conquering the sugar monster.

And so it continues every month!

There is so much confusing information out there, often contradictory, and it can be hard to know who and what to trust. This is a place where my members’ questions and concerns are addressed, where information can be relied upon, and where you’ll get the inside track on health and how to use food as daily healthcare. The professional input of an experienced functional nutritionist at your fingertips – what’s not to like?

The price for full annual Foodie membership will rise monthly this year as the content keeps on going and keeps on growing, so joining earlier locks in a year of amazing value for an incredible price – in April it’s only £55 (approx $78 USD). Awesome value!

Check out this blog post on how to influence your mood with food – it’s the essence of functional food. Check out the hub and membership here.

Keep calm with duck….

The best of functional food….

We’ve made it to February, with spring hopefully just around the corner. I, for one, will be very happy to see more sunshine after an incredibly dreary, rainy winter. It makes me want to hibernate and reach for comfort food, so it’s lucky comfort food can still be very healthy!

To me, all good food is comfort food, so there isn’t one particular recipe I go to. There’s nothing better than poring over a luscious collection of lovely dishes to see what takes your fancy. I’ve often been asked how big my recipe collection is, and whether I’ll be compiling a cookbook to gather together my years of healthy food work.

Well, yes, a cookbook is definitely under way, but for those who’ve been asking for a way to have them in one easy-to-see place, I’m now very excited to announce that the Functional Foodie recipe hub has launched!

More than a recipe hub, the site offers health resources, targeted advice, and specialist courses to tackle the big stuff. With a free or an annual membership, there’s plenty of valuable content to help you achieve the level of health and happiness you want to enjoy.

Hop over to get a taste, without having to sign up for anything. Instead of a monthly recipe here, choose from the 12 available on the recipes page without a membership: The Functional Foodie

And here’s another gift for you – to celebrate the launch I created a free download of an ideal day’s eating (complete with recipes and shopping list) for healthy, happy deliciousness as a free gift for anyone joining the Functional Foodie family – you receive it when you subscribe or join as a member.

I’d love your feedback on the site, whether you just take a look around or join as a subscriber, as a Freebie member, or as a Foodie member. What would you like to see, either in the recipes, the resources, the Foodie advice section, or available as a course?

With a free membership option, and the full Foodie membership for even more targeted advice, monthly health bundles, resources and recipes, plus a building choice of dedicated courses and programmes to put your health back in your hands, my aim is to make this a one stop shop for delicious, actionable health and happiness!

Check it out here: The Functional Foodie

Are you feeling SAD?

SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, is more common in the UK than we might think. Weak, watery winter sunshine, if we get any at all, doesn’t exactly encourage us to get out and about, leaving us at risk of low vitamin D and serotonin levels. So if you, or someone you know, seems to retreat into their shell in the darker months, feel down or lacking in energy, suffer mood swings or find their appetite significantly increases or decreases, they could be suffering from SAD.

Luckily,there are some easy remedies. Getting enough daylight is the most important; at least 15 minutes, preferably with forearms uncovered, but if you’re wrapped up, stay out longer. This will keep vitamin D production going, allowing your brain to keep up the levels of serotonin (a brain chemical essential for mood regulation). Eating vitamin D fortified foods, and supplementing will also help – vitamin D is fat soluble, which means you need to eat fat to absorb it. It is naturally found in oily fish (and fish oils like cod liver oil), beef liver, cheese, milk, egg yolks, button mushrooms, and oysters.

Eat foods rich in trytophan, which the body uses to make serotonin (such as chicken, turkey, fish, beans, milk, and bananas), but ensure a nutritious, fresh, unprocessed diet to optimise all the nutrients your body needs to keep mood and motivation high. Choosing complex carbs and avoiding caffeine, sugar, white flour products and saturated fat will help blood sugar levels stay stable. Exercise will stimulate the release of endorphins, promoting a positive mood, doubling your reasons to get out for a stroll in the daylight during the winter.

For those who find these steps are not relieving their symptoms quite enough, a lightbox may be the answer. Reasonably priced ones can easily be found on the internet, and they only need to be used for around 30 minutes daily to be effective. Make sure the one you buy has a strength of at least 10,000 lux units.

There are vitamin D sprays for a quick boost, but don’t overdo it – total supplementation should be no more than 5-10 micrograms (mcg). As with all nutrients, they rely on each other to be used by the body so a balanced, varied daily intake of nutrients from unprocessed, natural sources is essential. Natural nutrients from natural sources are always better utilised, so check out my recipe posts, and get cooking this winter to stay merry and bright!

Have a happy and healthy road to spring!

Introducing the Insider Secrets with The Functional Foodie™ healthy food radio show!

Feel fitter, healthier and happier with this healthy food focused show on the tips and tricks you really need to know! Simple strategies to tackle your most pressing health problems, from sugar addiction and cravings to low energy.and grumbling guts, with gorgeous recipes to make healthcare a breeze.

With nearly 20 years of experience behind me, and three determined recoveries of my own, helping people reach, and maintain, vibrant all round health, on all levels, is my ultimate aim, using nutritious, delicious food as a daily habit as natural as brushing your teeth – the essence of Functional Food.

Each show will have a topical health focus, and a recipe targeted to sorting that issue. To start, let’s look at the kind of niggles many people deal with every day, and the equally common answers. Food is daily healthcare, and one of life’s great pleasures. It’s not just possible to make daily eating tasty, enjoyable, and achievable, it’s essential. Your health depends on it!

Exhausted? Stressed? Join me for the first Functional Foodie show on Wednesday January 27th. In this launch show I’ll tell you the small (but crucial) mistakes in your everyday food choices that are keeping you sick and tired, plus the simple changes that will skyrocket energy and create calm, deliciously!.

Mistake #1

The breakfast mistake that’s ruining your energy and your waistline (it’s not what you think) and what to do about it.

Mistake #2

Why fads aren’t the answer, even if they seem really healthy. I’ll clear up the confusion on the good, the bad and the yucky.

Mistake #3

What everyday emotion is a killer, and why dealing with it is essential to avoiding serious illness, not just right now, but in the future too.

Make friends with your body; join me to find out my Insider Secrets – listen here!