Deck the tree with (healthy) cookies!

The festive season means many things, but to me, on the inevitable taste and sensory level that I seem to have as a default mode, December means spices. Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, oranges, all spice, and so much more. Jewelled colours, rich aromas, and warmth to counteract the wintry chill.

There are so many ways to incorporate this – strategically placed bowls of satsumas, a pot pourri made of dried orange slices, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and juniper berries, and of course, spiced biscuits!

I love making these gorgeous spiced biscuits that can be used as decorations for a few days before being eaten.

Although based around a gingerbread recipe, if you don’t like gingerbread, leave the ginger out and use other spices – all cooking should be adapted and a creative therapy in itself.

This is a lovely family activity, both creatively and food skills and health-wise. Spices are wonderful for health, as are herbs. Sprinkle around liberally, and add to everything!

Christmas Spiced Tree Cookies

175g dark muscovado sugar
85g golden syrup
100g butter
3 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
350g plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 egg, lightly beaten

Heat the sugar, golden syrup and butter until melted. Mix the spices and flour in a large bowl. Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in 1 tsp cold water. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, add the melted mixture, the egg and the bicarbonate of soda solution. Mix well. At this stage the mix will be soft but will become firmer as it cools in the fridge.

Cover the surface of the biscuit mix with cling film and leave to cool in the fridge for about 1 hr or until it is firm enough to roll out.

Heat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead to make a little more pliable. At this stage the dough can be wrapped and kept in the fridge for up to a week, or frozen. Roll out to around 2-3 mm thick. Cut into your favourite seasonal shapes, then transfer to baking trays, leaving room for them to spread. If you plan to hang the biscuits up as decorations, make a small hole in the top of each one using a skewer. Repeat until all the dough is used, or freeze any leftovers for later, to keep the decs going all Christmas – they will get eaten after all!

Bake for around 12-15 mins until they colour a little. If the holes you have made have closed over while baking, remake them while the biscuits are warm and soft using a skewer or knife. Cool for a few minutes on the baking tray, then transfer to a wire rack to cool and allow them harden up completely for decorating. Decorate with icing, edible glitter, or any other decorations you fancy.

If hung up on the tree or around the house, the biscuits will be edible for about a week, but will last a lot longer as decorations. Maybe make in the few days before Christmas for decs that last through the celebrations for some new year nibbles!

Make Your Own Vitamin C, It’s Easy!

This winter, decide to stay off the vitamin C supplements (often containing nasties that have a negative impact on our health) and make your own. Yes, it really is that easy! A great activity for kids, and such a great way to get immune boosting nutrients into their diets without fighting over pills and potions.

If you’re suffering with a cold, or just want to make sure you keep up your intake of vitamin C, use this simple way to make your own booster – grab a couple of lemons or oranges (unwaxed and organic) and either use a veg peeler to take off strips of the outer rind (refrigerate the rest for use later), or cut into strips after using the flesh. Do the same with satsuma peel after enjoying a Christmassy citrusy treat!

Allow these strips to dry somewhere warm for a day or two, then blitz in a coffee mill or blender. The powder can then be sprinkled into smoothies, on to yogurt, or taken in any number of ways.

This is a fabulous way to get not only a hefty dose of vitamin C, but all the other co-factors, flavonoids and antioxidants present in the whole food rather than a synthetic supplement. There’s also evidence that Vitamin C supplements are manufactured from GMO grain sources – not good! – and some contain aspartame!

Boosting nutrient intake always has to be better from natural sources, so that it’s properly assimilated. Of course, there’s the fact that nutrients work in synergy and interdependently to maintain health – vitamin c works with other nutrients like zinc, selenium, flavonoids and B vitamins to fight a cold or flu, for instance – so using whole foods provides the range needed in the most bioavailable form.

So, get some seasonal citrus into your body this winter, with your own booster powder to boot, and have a healthy winter!

P.S. We all know that the right probiotic balance in the gut is crucial to our immunity too – to give yours a boost with a high strength foundational formula, try my Go Pro blend here, and keep your gut happy!

Do you need eating plans for your clients?

Do you need professionally designed, nutritionist formulated eating plans or resources with a proven track record of success for you to use with your clients?

Health professionals can white label my tried and tested eating plans and resource packs to reflect their own brand or business. 

All my Easy Start Eating Plans are available for white labelling via two levels of package, whether you would like my designer to design, brand and present your chosen plan or plans or use your own design professional. The end result will suit your business and reflect your area of practise.

The packages also include a licence to use the content as you wish for a year, after which you can renew annually for the basic licence cost only.

Altogether this is an effective way to bring professional nutritionist-standard eating plans and resources to your clients as part of your business model, and as a extra element in your work, helping your clients to improve their holistic health with real food solutions that address their bodies and brains on a multi-system level, repairing and re-establishing a functional food foundation for optimal health.

If you would like to discuss the available plans and their suitability in depth, please contact me to set up a call – I’d be happy to help.

To check out the available plans, and for full details, click the link below.

Eating Pans and Resources For Health Professionals

Want to be able to talk to clients about nutrition?

The London Functional Food Coach course beginning in the autumn 2018 is now open for applications from medical, complementary, fitness and mental health professionals who want to add diet and lifestyle assessment and solutions to their practice for a truly holistic approach!
 
DATE TBC – October 27/28 with 3 further training weekends every 6 weeks or so, and subsequent assessment and certification day (dates tbc). Full details on case study requirements, assessment, and training via the syllabus – see the website link.
 
WHAT IS FUNCTIONAL FOOD COACHING FOR HEALTH PROFESSIONALS?
 
Health is holistic. As experts in our fields, we can go into all kinds of detail and great depth, supporting our clients in healing the particular issues that they have consulted us to address.
 
But what about the areas we know only a little about? The areas that we know they are struggling with, that are contributing to their problems, that would really help our clients to fast track their recovery, but that we are not qualified to deal with. Now the opportunity is here to add diet and lifestyle assessment and solutions to your own on boarding process.
 
My mission is to train mental health, complementary, medical and fitness professionals how to quickly and effectively assess their clients for food, specific nutrition and diet, encourage necessary changes in a nonintrusive way, and give clients the tools to easily make the changes they need to for optimal recovery and health.
 
WHAT WILL I LEARN?
 
You’ll learn how to assess how your client’s diet is contributing to their health issues, what other factors might be aggravating them, and how to suggest easily achievable changes. You’ll also learn how to recognise when a client does need further professional intervention to resolve root issues that will hold back their recovery or work with you.
 
You’ll train in physical and mental health targeted assessment and intervention to complement the arena that you practise in. Food, nutrition and diet are integral factors in both physical and mental health disruption, as evidenced in a growing body of research. It’s also common sense in its purest form – our bodies and brains, and all their processes and functions, are created and supported by what and how we eat.
 
HOW WILL IT HELP MY CLIENTS?
 
This is the future of effective healthcare – a holistic approach, with our bodies’ nutritional needs and functional mechanics as the foundation that everything else is built on. It helps the body and brain to work and heal optimally, supporting physical, mental and psychological therapies by alleviating symptoms and niggles that act as roadblocks to full healing.
 
Being able to offer Functional Food Coaching is something that sets you apart from your peers, and truly gives you the ability to offer services that support the whole person.
 
With nearly 25 years of practice experience, a range of training, and specialist knowledge in mental health nutrition, weight management, food addictions, gut disorders, auto-immune conditions and cancer recovery, as well as being a qualified, experienced teacher, I’m uniquely placed to be able to train YOU in how to do what I do initially with clients.
 
This training will encompass:
 
– the components and mechanics of ideal food, nutrition and diet from clinical and functional nutrition perspectives;
 
– what an ideal day and week look like, and how to point to immediate, small, but significant, changes dependent on your client’s age, and other crucial factors;
 
– how to work with clients’ assessment forms and food diaries;
 
– how to address issues and changes in a non-intrusive way, motivate and encourage;
 
– what extra tweaks are required for common conditions or issues, such as menopause, IBS, intolerances, hormonal disruption, chronic fatigue, and weight gain for physical health, and stress, anxiety, and depression for mental health;
 
– and recognising when more serious disruption requires referral.
 
I will be available for support or queries for the full 12 months after certification, and for every year you continue as a Functional Food Coach.
 
The training comprises personal training sessions as well as the group training days, plus case study reviews and assessment before certification. The opportunity to become a Functional Food Coach is limited to small numbers in any one cohort, and only a couple of intakes annually.
 
WHAT DO QUALIFIED FUNCTIONAL FOOD COACHES HAVE TO SAY?
 
Lauren, Life and Resilience Coach, Nutritional Therapist, Educator
 
“I was really keen to take this training due to my passion for a holistic approach to health. I wanted to know more about how what we ate could affect how we feel, sleep and act. I feel I’ve learnt so much about the crucial elements of nutrition in managing stress, anxiety and depression. The fact that we can control our hormones and neurotransmitters through the food we put in our body is absolutely mind-blowing, especially when you understand the science behind it all which Jane makes so easy.
 
The resources, yearly licence and Jane’s fantastic teaching skills have left me not only confident but EXCITED to start working with people and their diets. Knowing and, more importantly, understanding how nutrition affects our health, I can’t wait to get out and spread the word.
 
If you are looking for a more holistic approach that everyone can easily access I can not recommend this course enough.”
 
Annie, Psychotherapist, Counsellor, social prescribing advocate
 
“Jane’s passion as regards a holistic approach to mental health issues, together with her knowledge and experience around working with food and its benefits shone through in this really interesting and worthwhile course.. As a psychotherapist I will certainly be including what I have learned into my work with clients.”
 
HOW DO I JOIN?
 
To become a Functional Food Coach, you will need to apply via the website – this course does not qualify you as a nutritionist; it adds a certificated functional aspect to your own work and assessment processes, a postgraduate element.
 
The Functional Food Coach Academy is in the process of approved training school accreditation by the Complementary Medical Association.
 
Once the places are filled, entry closes until I choose to run it again. The future starts now!
 
QUESTIONS?
 
Click here to go to the website to apply, contact me or ask for a syllabus, or send me a message via the contact form in Enquiries.

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

Where?

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!