Archives for posts with tag: healthy

The lovely girls in my shop have rather generously shared their lergy with me this week and whilst I am sure at their age it is easy to brush it off, I have to admit to finding it a little harder. Bring on the antioxidants.

Whilst I peruse with interest the books of Amelia Freer, Ella Woodward and Hemsley and Hemsley they are a bit too worthy for me. I do believe in cooking from scratch, avoiding processed food and a big chunk of fruit n veg. But my dishes are probably a bit more in the real world of eating. My weekly shop puts good food in the fridge, freezer and cupboard and ensures there are options throughout the week with a bit more time at weekends to experiment.

So when I opened the fridge this afternoon, pretty hungry after my massage and return power walk I was drawn to a slightly sad old cauliflower (OK – I realise how daft that looks now I have written it). Anyway. This brassica is a new revelation for me with my healthier hat on. Gone are the cauli cheese options and in come roasting, ricing and charring which all deliver flavour through the cooking  method before you do anything else at all.


Today was cauliflower steak day as I needed to feel meaty and full. But I took the opportunity to roast the rest of the florets so I have them this week for lunchtime salads. Cutting right down the middle is quite satisfying. Just pan fry in a bit of oil (I am using avocado oil at the mo) either side to brown and then chuck in the oven for 15 minutes or until cooked.


Meanwhile I knocked up a dressing from what I had. Tomatoes were a must given their health properties and for me where there are tomatoes, there is also garlic, chilli, olive oil and lemon (juice & rind). Add to that spring onion, capers and parsley and there you have it.


By the time I had chopped and mixed together the cauliflower was pretty much ready. Just a chance to clear away and then I could relax and take in the sunshine, not only on my plate but also in the garden. I must get better after that!

I have been on boot camp this week and believe me that is not something I normally say.

The Prestige Boot Camp programme was suggested to me by Mr Jones, who has attended twice with incredible results. As he is a pretty discerning kind of guy I knew that he would have made the right choices about where to go and it seemed that Prestige was the chosen one.


The Coastal Walk

My initial experience was a good one with very friendly helpful staff, a total lack of pretension and in the knowledge that 50% of the people going were returners. On arrival that tone remained. We arrived at our Portuguese villas with some nervousness just taking it all in and what struck me was just how mixed we all were: all ages, all sexes, all weights and all sorts of goals. Clearly we all wanted an element of weight loss and improved fitness but when asked up front what we wanted to achieve there were a whole host of additional reasons for making this journey and what a journey it turned out to be.

The heart and soul of Prestige hangs on founder Iain Reitze who is the visionary. He is ex Military with a degree in sports rehabilitation and the most incredible drive to learn all about the body and what makes it healthy. His approach is about fitness and quality of health to ensure long and healthy lives which is a much more rounded and reassuring way of looking at the camp. But the most compelling thing about Staff R (as we were told to address him) is his personality which drives you towards his mantra of self application. He is everything you need going through a week like this: tough, soft, approachable, demanding, charming, persuasive and above all hilarious and motivating.

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Some of our group of 22

Supported by Staff W, Jo and Chef, this quartet looked after everything we all needed throughout the week, adding in two massage therapists who could deal with any sports injury or simply do a manicure. They built this random group into a team and by the end we had supported each other, bonded well and made some really good friendships.


Morning warm up before sunrise

One expects a lot of exercise on something like this and we certainly did our fair share of that. Mornings began at 7am going down the steps and steep hill to the beach before the sun rose so chilly warm-ups before morning circuits and then breakfast. Every meal was followed by time to rest, recuperate or get in extra exercise for the really committed. Late mornings meant more intense sessions, a mid morning snack (think one strawberry or a rice cake with beetroot dip), a rest and then normally a pretty severe session in advance of lunch. After a good hour break, it was much the same in the afternoon: exercise, snack, break, exercise and dinner at 6. After a shower, a quick check on e mails and potentially another extra walk at night we were all in bed by 8.30/9.00 and asleep one minute later.


The morning session


A harder hitting sessions proving all it takes is 20 minutes

As someone who is knocking on the age of 50 with a catalogue of niggles the exercise was incredibly well managed. It accommodated all levels of fitness and pushed every single one of us to the core. Every day it was different with clever ideas for short bursts to address those who say they don’t have time, to intense focus on one area such as arms or the hardest ever… Glutes of Steel! We also managed some fun team warm ups, long runs and a mean rounders match on the beach (it’s not so easy to run a round in thick sand – that is for sure.) But all adding up to exercising that most important muscle of all – the heart…and who wouldn’t want a well honed heart?



Our last supper – and yes, the fork is to scale!

The bigger revelation for everyone and the thing that you hear before you get there are the portion sizes of the meals. Women are managed to 900-1200 calories per day and men between 1200 and 1500 calories and when you consider that we burn well over 4000 calories a day you know the results are going to be good but the journey a challenge. The opening dinner is stuffed peppers: half a small red pepper with a meat filling and this was only one of three meals with meat in it. By day 3, lunch was simply a skewer of three tiny bits of chicken, a couple of pieces of pepper and aubergine. The recommendation is to eat off a side plate going forward and that is a generous plate for the portions we had.

Nevertheless, the food was well balanced and personally I didn’t find it as hard as I thought proving that I clearly don’t need to eat as much as I usually do.


Staff R talking us through the next session

But the most interesting and life changing thing for me was the approach to health which Staff R took time to talk to us about. He rightly pointed out that our bodies naturally form free radicals which bombard our make up and at worst can ultimately kill our cells. Additionally, in this modern age, free radicals can be increased because of environmental factors such as pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke or herbicides and clearly in a city like London we have even more cellphones, car engines and microwaves than out in the sticks so it is more prevalent where I live.

The body’s defends itself from this with antioxidants which neutralise the free radicals thus preventing cell and tissue damage that can lead to diseases such as cancer, heart problems, strokes, ageing and diabetes. As the body cannot manufacture antioxidants, we need to supply them to ourselves through the diet and this is what Staff R is passionate about.

In his time at Prestige and indeed throughout his rehabilitation work, he has seen the power of healthy eating in tackling many issues and whilst it is clearly not the answer to some of those debilitating diseases, it is always better to give your body its best fighting chance to be as well as possible and that is what Prestige promote.

The final parting gift Staff R gave to us was a relaxation session by the pool just after the Wall of Doom (!) which had us lying in the sun, eyes closed listening to this Baz Luhrmann’s ditty: Sunscreen

Does it work? Well the average weight loss on this camp was 9.6 lbs and I lost 12.8 lbs this week and 11 inches from across my body and that was in 6 days of training. But more importantly to me, and I think to all those many many people who write about it being a life changing experience and who return year after year, it puts you on a different track and helps you review where you are with your life approach. I for one am making the changes that I learnt about and am sure that I will be once again paying to be destroyed on camp in the months to come.


We made it – time for one final beach walk before we leave



A few years ago when I was still in my old M&S job, we were contemplating the January marketing campaign and as ever I had a major disagreement with the Marketing Director. I had presented healthy eating, which was always peaking at this time of year. Great new soups, fruit salad, probiotic yogurts (they were new then, honest) soy glazed salmon etc. were tasted with him. Said Director literally threw them back at me saying that he ate pies & stews in January so that’s what we would be promoting. I never did have the guts to point out that he hardly represented our target customer and thanked my rounders teacher for making me a good catcher…as well as the yogurt manufacturer for his sturdy pots.

Six months later, the January TV campaign featured the fastest line that we ever did put on telly…. prepared fruit salad with fresh pomegranate seeds. It beat any erupting chocolate pudding or slices of roast chicken hands down. I tell you this not to be smug, but to emphasise that January is always a month when we do nod to health and that’s just the way it is.

But what exactly is healthy? Rosemary Conley’s low fat diet of the 80’s was usurped by the high protein Atkins approach in the 90’s. These days the 5:2 diet fights for top spot with the Paleo way of eating and now we all understand so much better that refined sugars are actually the devil and good natural fat helps with your body’s absorption of various vitamins. January is a time when every media outlet is promoting some opinion on what we should consume and frankly it is all a bit confusing.

Another old boss of mine, Jody Scheckter at Laverstoke Park Farm, kept it simple. No processed foods. And honestly I think he is onto something. His organic, biodynamic food comes from a great farm that starts with the soil and its nutrients before it progresses through the field or animal to our tables. He really walks the walk and seeing that every day for a year opened my eyes to the benefits.

These days I try to do as he says and January seems to be a great month to make even more of an effort to be good. I generally keep it natural, cook from scratch and keep the red meat to a minimum. In fact, I tend to eat veggie quite a lot of the time but want to find alternatives to my old stalwart: veggie stir fry.


Cauliflower steak


So imagine my surprise to find that the answer to this dilemma lies in the humble cauliflower. This unassuming vegetable has quite the following across the globe. From the USA to South Africa, I am reading about how it provides a great base to create clever vegetarian meals, disguised as your favourite indulgence. The lovely Campari and Sofa team shared this article showing how to make cauliflower ‘bagels’ amongst other things and it seems that cauliflower steaks are the way to take your ‘meat’ input these days. In fact if you haven’t tried ricing cauliflower and disguising it into some other meatfest dish then you really haven’t lived!!

My caulipizza

My caulipizza

The other week I came home and tried it all out for myself with a caulipizza recipe that I had saved from Crush online and it really did work. The lovely Nick at work told me about Anna Jones’ recipe in her great veggie book: A Modern Way to Eat. We are all hooked on that book at the mo and her addition of oats and ground almonds to the base mix apparently make all the difference so I will be going back to try that one soon. In the meantime, I would like to doff my cap to the humble brassica that is cauliflower and suggest you embrace it too. Cauli cheese anyone?