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healthy eating for healthy life



Will an apple a day keep the doctor away? Is saturated fat really bad for you? How about those new breakfast cereal bars? They look pretty OK?

We are constantly bombarded with images and views of what we should be eating, overloading our already busy lives with more and more decisions to be made, until we're a quivering mess, unable to decide between an orange and a banana.

When did it all get so complicated?

My aim with this blog is to provide clear and easy to use healthy eating tips and recipes. If you'd like to be the first to receive the latest blog posts and recipes, straight to your inbox, sign up here. Otherwise, for these and other tips, follow me on facebook

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It's a Rainbow; smoothie that is.....tee, hee

Posted by food hugs on June 10, 2014 at 8:15 AM

An American friend of mine can't believe how many rainbows she gets to see living in Ireland.

The advantage, I guess, of all that soft rain and bright the same time!

This recipe is in honour of this priviledge but is also a snazzy way of encouraging kids, as well as adults, to 'Eat a Rainbow', incorporating a lovely array of colours; red, orange, yellow, green and purple.


I made this for the junior cycle at my son's primary school recently, and despite the 'ewwwssss' and 'urghhhh' whilst watching the grated carrot and creamy avocado leap into the blender, it went down an absolute treat. 

It’s pretty tasty and easy as it is, but feel free to play with flavours (e.g. you could switch pineapple for the banana, or spinach for the avocado). Serves 4 – 6. Just blitz and enjoy!




150g fresh/frozen raspberries

½ medium-large carrot, peeled and finely grated

1 medium banana, broken into pieces

½ ripe avocado

2-3 tablespoons of blackcurrants (tangy) or blueberries (sweeter)

500ml water





Layer all the fruit and vegetables up in a 1 litre blender/jug. Add up to 500ml of water, until the total load reaches the 800ml mark. Blend for about a minute until it’s nice and smooth. Pour and enjoy for breakfast with scrambled egg and toast!


Tip #1: instead of 500ml of water, you could use 200ml of orange juice and 300ml of water if you wanted to make it a little sweeter.


Tip #2: for extra nutrition, you could throw in 2 tablespoons of ground seeds. Look for the Linwoods range in any supermarket.



Healthy breakfast ideas for children...and adults...

Posted by food hugs on February 12, 2014 at 5:35 AM

It's the meal that starts your child off on it's daily adventures, so the most important thing is that provides a solid platform for their day.

Not a big sugar high that will lead to a mid morning slump (let's not mention those cereals), but something that will deliver a nice constant stream of energy, plenty of fuel for young brains and one of their five a day, just for an overall health boost!

The formula I use is:

Wholegrain carbohydrate + good fats/protein + fruit/vegetable = a boy bouncing out to school!

Some ideas along this formula are:


  • Porridge + 2 tbsp of Linwoods ground seeds (or 'sprinkles') + natural yogurt + berries
  • Flahavan's Hi 8 muesli + 2 tbsp chia seeds + chopped banana
  • McCambridges toasted brown bread + scrambled egg + green smoothie
  • Low sugar granola (e.g. Paddy O's) + natural yogurt + chopped nuts + berries
  • Wholemeal toast + mashed avocado with lemon + berry smoothie
  • Wholemeal toast + low sugar/low salt baked beans + green smoothie
  • Oatcakes + peanut butter + slices of apple + green smoothie
  • Grain free granola + natural yogurt + orange/apple fruit salad
  • Oatcakes + with cream cheese + boiled egg + cherry tomatoes
  • Weetabix + flaked almonds + sliced banana


I'd love to hear any other options to have along these lines. Email them to me, or leave a comment below and I'll add them to the list. Log onto Facebook for other ideas and hits and tips. 

Photo from: photo credit: Denna Jones via photopin cc

A twinkly, healthy snack: seedy, chocolate brownie

Posted by food hugs on November 4, 2013 at 7:45 PM

With its sprinkling of jewel like goji berries and tang of chocolate orange, these raw chocolate brownies always remind of Christmas.......though they are a great, healthy pick me up at any time of year, with a lovely cup of Pukka Vanilla Chai (in front of an open fire whilst having a foot massage *sighs*).

The recipe below is based on ‘Seed Soliders’ by Susan Jane Murray (, who writes every week for the Sunday Independent and has a load of lovely wheat free, and generally low sugar, recipes on her website.

This particular adaptation has no added sugar, but is sweet enough due to the dried fruit. The seeds and nuts, however, give it a nice balance.

Feel free to play around with some of the ingredients, depending on what you have and what you fancy…the proportion of nuts/seeds and dried fruit is the most important factor.


Seedy Chocolate Brownies


1 cup of milled seeds (mix of linseed, pumpkin, sunflower, I generally buy Linwoods from any supermarket, or you can also get in Lidl or Aldi)

½ cup of coconut flour (or ground almonds)

½ cup of almond butter

2 tablespoons of soya sauce, or tamari, for wheat free

30g (3 squares) of Lindt dark chocolate with orange and almond, melted

2 tbsp goji berries

1 cup of dates, chopped

½ cup of raisins (or chopped prunes)

150g > 70% dark chocolate

Goji berries to decorate



  • In a food processor, combine everything except the 150g of > 70% dark chocolate and the decorative goji berries.
  • Mix until smooth. When pinched between your thumb and finger, the mixture should stick together.
  • Spread it out over a parchment-lined tin (about 8inch by 8inch) and press down firmly with your fingers. Chill in the fridge.
  • Meanwhile, slowly melt the remaining 150g of chocolate in a pyrex bowl sitting over about 1 inch of boiling water (boil the water in the kettle, pour about an inch into a small pot, place on the hob at a low temperature and pop the bowl on top. Try to make sure that the bowl doesn’t sit in the water. It’s a lot easier than it sounds!).
  • Smother the base with the melted chocolate and sprinkle some goji berries on top for a splash of colour and decadence. Refridgerate overnight.
  • Perfect with a cup of herbal tea as a mid-morning snack – either at home, or bring into work to avoid succumbing to that 11 o’clock pain au chocolate!

If you have any comments, please leave them below, or drop by to say 'hi' on Facebook or email me with any queries. 



Top 3 tips to a 'relatively' healthy eating kids birthday party!

Posted by food hugs on September 3, 2013 at 9:30 AM

As sure as Christmas, your child's birthday party comes around once a year and is a major big deal, especially when you're 6!


While it's a time to celebrate, the food aspect can be a bit nerve wrecking - trying to meet your child's expectations, their friends, your time and also, budget.


So far, we haven't ventured out of home for the party and as a result, hosted a party for twenty two pals over the week-end, ranging in age from 4 to 6 years old. They came expecting fun, games and magic.


And also a bit of birthday cake.


All in all, it went very well. My son was delighted with it all, and I was happy with the balance of food and the fact that I didn't panic-buy a load of jellies at the last minute. So here are my top 3 tips to a 'relatively' healthy eating kids birthday party:


1. One treat: you don't need a whole load of different jellies, cakes, buns, sweets or crisps at a child's party. As long as there is one impressive 'treat', that's all they'll remember. You child will be happy and his/her friends definitely won't feel short changed.


2. No soft drinks: with fizzy drinks, you have a choice between full sugar or aspartame. Kind of like the choice between a bullet or a dagger - neither very appealing. We offered innocent fruit juice (a choice of orange or apple/raspberry), diluted 50:50 with water, topped up with sparkling water for a bit of fizz and served with loads of ice. Everyone seemed happy enough and relatively calm!


3. Focus your attention: we served 5 edibles - a couple before the entertainment and 3 after, all seperately. Every time food was served, silence descended. Maybe they were all starving....I like to think they were just savouring the food. Having a focus of just 5 things meant that the shopping list was relatively short, we had a focus point each time and the preparation was easy peasy. Here's what we had on our list.



  • Popcorn: 2 big bowls of it, plenty of handfuls for everyone
  • Fruit platter: strawberries, grapes, melon, blueberries and a couple of dark chocolate dipped strawberries
  • Pizza slice: 50% wholemeal yeast pizza base, fresh tomato sauce and mixed cheese - a slice each.
  • Innocent fruit tubes: frozen, so served as an ice pop - these went down a bomb.
  • Birthday cake: the recipe would not be appropriate for a healthy eating blog!



This really worked for us and I was delighted with how it all went. I'm always on the lookout for any ideas, so if something different has worked for you, drop me a line to [email protected], leave a comment below, or log onto my Facebook page.


Otherwise, if you fancy hearing more tips on tricks on how to make healthy eating easy, come along to my next Nutrition for Children event on Tuesday, 8th October. Spaces are limited, so book early!


#5: Sources of protein - helping to balance blood sugars

Posted by food hugs on July 3, 2013 at 8:45 AM

Ever feel hungry about an hour after eating? Or totally zonked out during the afternoon?

It may be that you need to have a look at balancing your blood sugar level - simply meaning that you eat a certain combination of foods at each meal to deliver an even flow of energy throughout the day, rather than sugar spikes and sugar crashes that we can sometimes experience as a result of eating sugary cereals, pastries and white breads in isolation.....or sometimes along with coffee!

Interestingly, while you mightn't notice these symptoms yourself, you might notice this about your child.....always hungry very soon after meals, or mood swings during the day.

Along with fibre and healthy fats, it's a good idea to have some sort of protein with every meal or deliver that even flow of energy and to help balance your blood sugar (and mood) during the day.

The good news is that this is easily done. Here are some examples of mixing protein and fibre during the day.


McCambridges brown bread with peanut butter and banana

Scrambled eggs with mushroom and tomato (with a green smoothie)

Hi 8 muesli from Flahavan's, with added chopped mixed nuts and ground seeds (Linwoods from Dunnes, Tesco and Spar, or Crownfield from Lidl)

Mix quinoa flakes (any health store) and porridge oats together and use to make a higher protein porridge. Serve with Glenisk natural yogurt and mixed berries (and even some toasted almond flakes - yum).

Make some Nut & Seed granola and serve with chopped fruit and natural yogurt.


Soup with added beans/lentils (blitz either into Avonmore soup), with McCambridges bread, home-made hummus and rocket leaves

Frittata with mixed leftover vegetables and a crunchy side salad (tomato, leaves, chopped nuts and cucumber). Try this with a lovely green zingy dressing

Nigella's Asian Chowder with rustic sourdough bread and guacamole. Seriously tasty and a super way to incorporate fish into your diet (can be blitzed to a smooth soup for 'bit-phobic' consumers!)

Lovely big mixed salad with leftover roast chicken (from the night before), or roast salmon (20 mins in the oven, 180C), topped with some toasted pumpkin seeds. 


Jamie Oliver's Perfect Roast Chicken (keep some for your lunch tomorrow!) with roast cauliflower, pumpkin and blue cheese salad.....yum....

Roast salmon and vegetables (onion, red pepper, potatoes and carrot), served with toasted wholewheat pitta breads and Glenisk Natural yogurt mixed with sweet chili sauce.

Add chickpeas to Jamie Oliver's Thai Green Vegetable Curry and serve with brown rice. Dial the chilli up or down as you see fit. If stuck for time, use a shop bought Thai Green Paste. 


Carrot sticks with home-made nutella

Berry surprise

Natural yogurt with mixed seeds and berries

Oatcakes with almond nut butter (health food stores and some Spars) and banana

By starting off the day with a well combined breakfast, you'll feel much better by mid morning and will be less likely to reach for that Danish...........the pastry, that is.....


Otherwise you may end up with blood sugar highs....and lows, throughout the day, going from full of zing, to wipe out 30 minutes later. A bit like a rollercoaster.


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