Deciphering Food Labelling

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

You are standing in the supermarket with two_63685888_food_labels_464 similar products, how do you tell which is healthiest?                           Food labels are not only hard to decipher   but they can also be very misleading.


Most companies either use the traffic light system or GDA – Guided daily allowance, although this will soon be changing to Reference Intake (similar to GDA). It is important to be aware that these are based on an average person who needs 2000kcal per day so use these as a reference only as most people are not average! If you are trying to lose weight it is likely you need to consume less than this per day.

Also check if the information is given as per 100g or per portion. Per 100g can help you compare across products but per serving gives you a better idea of what you are actually eating. Also be mindful of the portion size they quote, often they use quite a small portion size so it makes the nutritional information appear better.

Be aware of food claims products make, although any claims made has to meet a certain criteria they still can be very misleading. For example something claiming to be low fat will be low in fat but often the fat will be replaced by sugar making it no healthier and often more expensive! And don’t make the mistake of thinking because you are eating a low fat biscuit you can have two! Check the calorie content of a low fat biscuit and a standard one; you may be surprised to find they are actually not that different!

Ingredients are listed in descending order of weight in the ingredient list, so this can help you see what the main ingredients are.

How to know a food is high in fat, saturated fat, sugar or salt

There are guidelines to help you decide if a product is healthy or not

Total fat
High: more than 17.5g of fat per 100g
Low: 3g of fat or less per 100g

Saturated fat
High: more than 5g of saturated fat per 100g
Low: 1.5g of saturated fat or less per 100g

High: more than 22.5g of total sugars per 100g
Low: 5g of total sugars or less per 100g

High: more than 1.5g of salt per 100g (or 0.6g sodium)
Low: 0.3g of salt or less per 100g (or 0.1g sodium)

In summary when reading food labels try to look at the both the ingredients and the nutritional information to help you make an informed choice and don’t be lead astray by misleading health claims.

Super Healthy Quinoa Salad

Monday, April 28th, 2014

This is a great salad for lunch, packed full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Quinoa is not only a slow releasing carbohydrate but is also high in protein and a number of minerals. It will help keep you full and keep your energy levels up for the afternoon ahead.

Serves 4

Preparation time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 10 mins


  • 150g cooked beetroot
  • 80g cooked broccoli
  • 50g cooked quinoa
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 4 tbsp pomegranate seeds
  • 1 lemon
  • Splash red wine vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • 50g rapeseed oil
  • Salad leaves (ideally sweet and bitter)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sugar


  • Warm the beetroot slightly and drizzle with olive oil, red wine vinegar, sugar and salt to taste. You’re aiming for a ‘sweet and sour’ effect.
  • Lightly colour the pumpkin and sunflower seeds in the rapeseed oil until golden brown.
  • Roll the cooked broccoli and quinoa along with the pomegranate in the seeds and oil. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
  • Place the beetroot on the plate and spoon over the broccoli and quinoa mix. Scatter over the sweet and bitter salad leaves, and then serve.

Spelt Flour Hot Cross Buns

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Serves 12

These hot cross buns are great if you avoid or what to limit wheat flour. Spelt is related to wheat however some people find they can digest it more easily. It does contain gluten however therefore is not suitable for anyone with coeliac disease or a gluten allergy/ intolerance.

Cooking time: 12-15 mins

Cooking temperature: 200°C/Fan180°C


  • 300 g   White Spelt Flour
  • 1 tsp    Quick Yeast
  • ½ tsp    Salt
  • 1 tsp    Sugar, 1 tsp Mixed Spice
  • 50 g     Currants, 50g Chopped Mixed Peel
  • 150 ml Milk
  • Egg
  • 25 g     Butter
  • 1 tbsp  Boiling Water
  • 1 tsp    Sugar
  • 2 tbsps Flour
  • 1 tbsp  Milk


  1. Mix together the flour, quick yeast, salt, sugar, mixed spice, currants and mixed peel.
  2. Stir in the milk and egg.
  3. Melt the butter, add this to the bowl and mix well.
  4. Leave the dough covered with a tea towel, in a draught free place, for it to double in size. (This should take about an hour)
  5. Knead the dough then cut it into 12 equal pieces.
  6. Roll each piece of dough into a ball and place on an oiled baking tray.
  7. To make the topping, dissolve the sugar in the boiling water.
  8. Brush the sugar water over the top of each ball of dough.
  9. In a bowl mix together the flour and milk to form a soft pastry dough.
  10. Roll out the pastry dough on a floured surface.
  11. Cut it into very thin strips and lay these across the balls of dough to form a cross.
  12. Leave to rise for 20/25 minutes.
  13. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 12/15 minutes.


Carbohydrate loading – Snack Ideas

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

As the London marathon is looming, and many other marathons, runners will be getting ready to carb load. Does this daunt you? You need to aim for 8-10g carbohydrate per kg body weight. To achieve this you will need to reduce your fat and protein intake to a very low level and include plenty of high carb snacks.

See below some great ideas to help ensure your energy reserves are fully stocked for race day!

Snack Ideas and their carbohydrate content;

  • Banana – 23g
  • Orange – 14g
  • 150ml glass orange juice – 13g
  • 2 tbsp. (60g raisins) – 42g
  • 3 scotch pancakes – 40g
  • Small fruit scone – 22g
  • 1 slice Malt Loaf – 22g
  • Hot cross bun – 37g
  • 25g Plain popcorn – 15g
  • English muffin with honey – 45g
  • Cereal bar – 20g
  • 2 Weetabix with skimmed milk – 37g
  • Honey sandwich (2 slices bread) – 53g
  • 150g low fat yoghurt – 27g
  • 200ml skimmed milk – 10g
  • 500ml Isotonic sports drink – 30g

St Patrick’s Day Colcannon

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Fancy trying a traditional Irish dish for St Patrick ’s Day? Colcannon is a great side dish and good for using up left over potatoes. Serve with an Irish stew or Beef and Guinness pie, for a full Irish experience!


Serves 4

Preparation time 10 mins

Cooking time: 30mins



  • 1.5 kg (3lb) potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 450g (1lb) green cabbage, shredded
  • 100g (4oz) butter / margarine
  • Splash of milk or soya milk (optional)
  • 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste



  1. Boil the potatoes until cooked. Drain and mash well, incorporating half of the butter / margarine and a little milk if liked
  2. Steam the cabbage until tender and mix into the mashed potatoes.
  3. Melt a knob of the remaining butter in a small frying pan and fry the onion until starting to colour. Stir into the mashed potato mixture
  4. Season the mixture well and serve in mounds on individual plates. Make a well in the centre of each mound and add a knob of butter.


Gluten Free Banana Bread

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

This gluten free banana bread is great for using up those black bananas, it makes a great mid-afternoon or pre exercise snack, and is quick to make.

Serves 8

Preparation time 10 mins

Cooking time 50 mins

Temperature: 180°C/Fan160°C/Gas 4


1 Large Banana

1 Egg

½ tsp Vanilla Extract

100g Butter

100g Brown Sugar

120g Self Raising Gluten Free Flour

1 Icing Sugar to Dust



  • Mash the banana, egg and vanilla extract together.
  • In another bowl, beat together the butter and sugar then add the banana mixture.
  • Mix in the self-raising flour.
  • Turn mixture into a greased and lined 500g/1lb loaf tin.
  • Bake in a pre-heated oven for 45/50 minutes.
  • Leave in the tin to cool for 20 minutes before turning out.
  • When cool dust with sieved icing sugar.


Salmon Burgers

Monday, February 17th, 2014

These burgers make a great healthier alternative to beef burgers. The salmon is packed with Omega 3 to keep your heart healthy and boost your brain whilst the parsley contains flavonoids, which can fight cancer. Add a green salad and some sweet potato to make it a complete dinner.

Serves 4

Preparation time 10 mins

Cooking time 15 mins



 ¾ 1lb (350g) salmon fillet, skin removed

2 eggs, beaten lightly

2 tsp Gourmet Garden parsley (or 2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped)

½ cup (30g) panko breadcrumbs

¼ small red onion, finely chopped

½ tsp black pepper and ½ tsp salt

1 tsp lemon juice

2 tbsp oil

Miso dressing

1 tsp ginger

3 tbsp miso

2 tbsp vinegar

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp canola oil

1 tbsp sugar



Preheat the oven to 425F (220C).

Mix the burger ingredients together and shape into round balls. Flatten into round burger about ½ inch thickness.

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan/frying pan over a high heat.  Place the burgers onto the oil and cook for a few minutes until the underside is browned. Flip over and cook the other side until brown.

Place in the oven for 5 minutes, until the burgers are cooked through.

Meanwhile, whisk together the miso dressing ingredients until smooth.

Serve the salmon burgers in a crusty bun with lettuce/kale and a thin layer of mayonnaise. Add the miso dressing on top, and enjoy with sweet potato fries.


332 calories, 20g fat, ,13g carbohydrates, 1g fibre, 21g protein


Recipe from: The Running Bug Online.

Gluten free Chocolate Fudge Pudding

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Looking for a Valentine’s Day dessert for Friday? Need a gluten free dessert? This chocolate fudge pudding is perfect for those with a gluten allergy or intolerance and tastes delicious.

Serves 8

• 5 oz (150 g) best-quality gluten-free dark chocolate (70-75% cocoa solids)
• 5 oz (150 g) butter
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 4 oz (110 g) caster sugar
• 4 large eggs, preferably free range, separated
• 1 oz (25 g) rice flour
• 1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
• icing sugar, for dusting
• softly whipped cream, to serve

You will also need a 2 pint (1.2 litre) pie dish or 8 ramekins, well greased with butter.

1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 6, 400°F, 200°C. Cut the chocolate into small pieces and melt with the butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. As soon as the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and add the vanilla extract, then stir in ¼ pint (150 ml) of warm water and the sugar. Continue to mix until smooth. Lightly beat the egg yolks and whisk them into the chocolate mixture. Fold in the sifted rice flour and the gluten-free baking powder, making sure there are no lumps.

2. Whisk the egg whites in a large, scrupulously clean bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold gently into the chocolate mixture and pour into the greased pie dish or ramekins. Put the pie dish into a bain marie of hot water and bake for 10 minutes (for the single dish), then reduce the temperature to gas mark 3, 325°F, 170°C, for a further 20-30 minutes. If you are using ramekins, the puddings will be cooked in about 15 minutes at gas mark 6, 400F, 200C. The pudding should be firm on top but still soft and fudgy underneath. Dust with icing sugar and serve hot, warm or cold with softly whipped cream.
Taken from Darina Allen’s book, Healthy Gluten-free Eating

Quinoa, squash & broccoli salad

Monday, January 27th, 2014

This quick meal is packed full of beneficial nutrients. Quinoa is not only a slow releasing carbohydrate but is also high in protein and a number of minerals, while the broccoli is full of fibre, antioxidants and vitamins. Make in bulk to use for a healthy lunch for a few days.

Serves 2

Preparation time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 10 mins


  • 2 tsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 red onion, halved and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 175g frozen butternut squash chunks
  • 140g broccoli, stalks sliced, top cut into small florets
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaf
  • 250g pack ready-to-eat red & white quinoa
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 25g dried cranberries
  • handful pumpkin seeds (optional)
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 50g feta cheese, crumbled


  1. Heat the oil in a wok with a lid, add the onion and garlic, and fry for 5 mins until softened, then lift from the wok with a slotted spoon. Add the squash, stir round the wok until it starts to colour, then add the broccoli. Sprinkle in 3 tbsp water and the thyme, cover the pan and steam for about 5 mins until the veg is tender.
  2. Meanwhile, tip quinoa into a bowl and fluff it up. Add the parsley, cranberries, seeds (if using), cooked onion and garlic, and balsamic vinegar, and mix well. Toss through the vegetables with the feta. Will keep in the fridge for 2 days.

Taken from bbc online:

Chickpea patties with carrot & raisin salad

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Need a few ideas for your lunches? These chickpea patties make a great healthy change. Chickepeas are a great source of fibre, protein, folate and are low in fat. These patties served with the mixed salad will provide you with an excellent range of vitamins and minerals and is quick to make.

Serves 2

Preparation time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 10 mins


  • 400g can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp ground almond
  • 2 tsp harissa
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 tsp rapeseed oil, for frying

For the salad

  • 1 tbsp raisins
  • 1 carrot, shaved into ribbons with a peeler
  • 1 courgette, shaved into ribbons with a peeler
  • 5 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 2 handfuls from a bag of watercress, rocket & spinach
  • 1 tsp each hemp or rapeseed oil and white wine vinegar, or lemon wedges (optional)


  1. Tip the chickpeas, garlic, egg, almonds, harissa and cumin into a bowl and blitz with a hand blender until smooth. Stir in the parsley. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan and dollop in the mixture in 8 big spoonfuls, spaced apart. Cook for 5 mins on each side.
  2. For the salad, toss the raisins and all the veg together, but don’t dress with the oil and vinegar until you are about to eat. If taking to work, add a wedge of lemon to squeeze over instead of the dressing.


Take from bbc online;