Sunday, 23 December 2012

A few tips for Happy Healthy Eating over the Christmas Period

The Bird - Most of the fat is held just under the skin of your bird. If you remove the skin before cooking you could save yourself 50kcals per portion. Pricking your bird and cooking it upside down on a trivet will also help excess fat drain away. Dark meat does contain more calories (as well as nutrients) over white meat. I personally prefer the white meat so would go for breast or crown.

Don't be tempted to coat your vegetables with butter, you could be adding another 25kcals per portion. Instead use a sprinkle of chopped herbs, chives, dill, marjoram, parsley, thyme and rosemary all go really well with hot, just out of the steamer vegetables.

Of course our Christmas lunch wouldn't be the same without the obligatory roast potatoes and roast parsnips. But did you know that by adding some sweet potato and butternut squash you'll reduce the overall GI of the meal.

Try and forget the sausages in blankets, they are a classic addition to your meal, but if you added just two to your meal, you could be taking in an additional 120 plus calories! My alternative to this is the following Sausage meat stuffing recipe that takes less than 15 minutes to prepare and serves 5 - 6 people.



·         1 tsp butter

·         1 small onion, diced

·         1 eating apple, peeled, cored and chopped into small pieces

·         225g pork sausage meat

·         100g fresh whole meal breadcrumbs (or half white, half brown)

·         1 sprig thyme, leaves removed

·         1 pinch cinnamon

·         2 tbsp chopped parsley

·         Juice from half a lemon


Method  -  Cook the onions in the butter and soften over a low heat without colouring. Stir in the apples and continue cooking until they are just beginning to lose their shape. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool. Combine the sausage meat, breadcrumbs, thyme, cinnamon and parsley. Squeeze in the lemon juice and beat well for about a minute to blend everything together.

Use this stuffing to fill your turkey before roasting, or bake separately in an ovenproof dish, or roll into balls/ patties and cook on a greaseproof sheet. Bake at 180C/gas 4 for about 25 minutes and serve hot, but equally nice served cold on Boxing Day with salad and cold meats.

Lastly Christmas Pud, traditionally served with custard or double cream, instead why not serve it with a couple of tablespoons of Greek yogurt and save up to 50kcals.

Now just a few words on alcohol consumption, as strangely enough it increases during the Christmas period. A recent study showed Britons drink 41% more than the annual average in December. I'm not going to preach too much on this subject, apart from the following;

·        Alcohol is high in sugar - 7 calories per gram, nearly as much as fat which is 9 calories per gram. These calories are 'empty' calories and offer no nutritional value whatsoever.

·        Alcohol cannot be stored; in fact your body sees alcohol as poison. For this reason your body's priority is to get rid of it. While your body is dealing with the alcohol all other processes will be put on hold.

·         Potentially this means anything you eat for the next 8 hours will be stored in your 'fat deposit banks' to be dealt with later.

It's not all doom and gloom, moderation is key. Clear spirits such as vodka, gin and tonic, Bacardi have the least calories. Other options include wine spritzers or shandies. Or why not go mad and a have a 'mock-tail' all the benefits of a 'cock-tail' but without the alcohol. There are some gorgeous ones at I would also suggest for every alcoholic drink also have a glass of water to keep you hydrated and help flush out nasty toxins.


All that is left is to say have a Very Happy Christmas and A Sensible New Year!
Amanda :)


No Gym, no fear here's a home workout for over the Christmas period.....

Can't get to the gym, well that's not a problem, all you need is a deck of cards and away we go!  Haven't got a deck of cards I hear you say, still no problem, got paper and pen then make some! No excuses!

Allocate an exercise to each suit, for example;

Diamonds - press up's
Hearts - squats
Spades - Ab Cycling
Clubs - lunges

Shuffle your deck and pick a card, say the first card you pick is the 10 of diamonds, then bully for you that's 10 press up's.  If someone picked the 7 of Clubs do 7 lunges each leg.  Or the person that picks a card everyone would go with the same number, up to you, experiment.  As long as your working and getting a sweat on that's the object of the game.

You could also bring the Joker and the Aces in.  For example;

Joker - high intensity cardio - 1 minute mountain climbers
Ace - high intensity strength - 30 seconds each side side plank with arm held overhead

There are endless variations for the 'Deck of Cards Workout' just use your imagination when it comes to the exercises.  If you have some exercise equipment at home then by all means use them, if not body weight is the way to go. 

Imagine how you'll feel if you are able to get through the whole deck, that's 54 cards.  So what you waiting for, grab that deck and away you go!

Happy holidays!

Recipe - Prawn, Mango & Avocado Salad

A perfect light lunch or dinner that is high in essential fatty acid Omega 3, low in saturated fats but high in heart healthy cholesterol lowering monunsaturated fats and is also low in carbs, sugar and dairy free.  This would even make a lovely healthy starter before your Christmas dinner and a change from prawn cocktail!  Serves 4 to 6


2 x 175g packs of Peeled King Prawns
1 x pack of Smoked Salmon slices (optional)
Juice of 1 lime
1 large mango, cut into cubes
2 medium avocados, sliced
1 red onion, finely chopped
A selection of green leaves such as rocket, spinach and watercress
1 small red or green chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
A handful of fresh chopped coriander leaves
Black Pepper and a dash of olive oil to taste


Prepare the prawns by de-shelling and de-veining if needed. Rinse them under the tap, dry then place in a bowl and sprinkle the juice of half the lime over them.  Leave to stand while you prepare the salsa. 

Combine in a mixing bowl the mango, red onion, chilli, coriander and juice from the remaining lime.
Arrange your plates with several slices of smoked salmon (if using), top with a hanful of leaves then add a spoonful or two of the salsa.

Top this with the slices of avocado and king prawns.  A twist of black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil and your plates are ready to serve.

An addition especially if you love fish, would be to cook, cool then flake a salmon fillet into the salsa mix, delicious!

Enjoy, and a Very Happy Christmas to you all!

I did try and get a little arty with the balsamic glaze, you can tell I was never that good at art!  Also went a little over on the prawns and avocado, but what the heck their good for you!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Workout Tools - Resistance Bands

An essential bit of resistance kit that can be easily used at home or packed away in your suitcase for your holidays is the resistance band.  There are different varieties, some may just be a length of elastic (often latex) and some are tubing made from rubber or a synthetic material that can also have handles.  Some also come with a door attachment and wrist and ankle attachments.  So there really is no excuse for not being able to do some resistance exercise.

I have bought an assortment of bands over the years, but I have probably got the most use out of my 12 piece tubing kit from  Click the link to check out their product range.
66fit Safety TPR Exercise Tubes & DVD - 12pc Set
It has 5 different strengths of band from easy yellow, through to red, green, blue to black being the strongest.  It comes with two detachable soft grip handles and two wrist or ankle straps.  Along with the door attachment and a DVD. 

There are lots of ideas on the DVD and you can easily progress the resistance of the bands by going up a level if you feel you aren't being challenged enough.

Here's a workout routine to do at home or in the gym, making sure the band is secured around something secure of course.  Before commencing do 5 - 10 minutes mobility and warm up to prepare your joints and increase your body temperature.  Your aiming for 4 circuits of 12 - 16 reps of each exercise.  Remember to stretch afterwards. 

For the first two exercises use the door attachment on the side of your door.  For the next two exercises have the door attachment at the bottom of your door, and the last one you don't need it.

Chest Press (face away from your band)
Row (face towards your band, do the reverse of the above exercise)
Low to High Woodchop (face side on to your band, hold one handle in both of your hands and pull it diagonally across towards your outside shoulder)
Reverse Lunge to High Knee Drive (attach one of the ankle straps, strap this around your ankle.  You should be facing away from your band.  You may need to walk out a little so you have some resistance.  Start with a reverse lunge then maintain your balance and drive your knee forwards).
Shoulder Press (door attachment not needed.  Place the band under one foot, take the handles behind you, your palms should be facing forward.  Action, push both arms upwards and slightly inwards overhead.  Come back down to ears/chin level then repeat).

Sounds relatively easy, but bands can be quite deceptive, give this a shot and let me know your thoughts.

Till next time, all the best


Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Legs & Lungs Workout in the Gym (2)

When the weather is cold and miserable you may not feel like heading to the gym, but if you could get in and out in the shortest time possible, hit all your major muscle groups, and get out of your comfort zone so the trip was worth it, you'd go wouldn't you?  Well I'm hoping you would anyway! 

That's where my 'Legs & Lungs' workouts come in.  My first one utilised both the kettlebell (you'll need instruction if  you haven't used them before) and the rower.  Click on the link  to view this one.

This workout, again utilises just two exercises, one is a Farmers Walk and the other is 20 - 45 second sprint intervals on the treadmill.  Let's explain them both in a little more detail.

The Farmers Walk is a very simple yet challenging exercise.  It consists of you carrying a heavy weight in the form of dumbbells or kettlebells for a set distance.  Traditionally the weight you were carrying would be equal to your weight, but if you have never done this exercise before, I'd go with a light to moderate weight.  And as we are doing multiple sets I'd definitely pace myself!

This is not your typical gym exercise, and apart from me and sometimes my clients I very rarely see it used sadly. You'll use numerous muscles during the Farmers Walk, namely your shoulders, traps and lats in your upper body.  Quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves in your lower body, as well as your core muscles.  By using the Farmers Walk you'll also improve your strength especially in your forearms and grip, just in time for lugging around numerous heavy bags of Christmas shopping!

How to Farmers Walk
  • Deadlift the dumbbells or kettlebells from the floor or off the weights rack safely.
  • Hold the weights at arms length by your sides.
  • Stand up nice and tall.  Make sure your not hunched up around your shoulders, pull your shoulder blades back and down.  Brace your abdominals, chest slightly elevated and off you go. 
  • If you can walk for a set distance around the perimeter of your gym for example while counting out the paces with a warm up weight this will give you an idea of your distance for the proper workout.  To give you an idea I do 4 circuits of 35 paces with the 20kg weights (which is around 16kg short of my weight).
Complement the Farmers Walk with sprint intervals on the treadmill.  Now anyone that knows me knows I'm not really a fan of long slow distances on the treadmill (unless marathon training for example).  For that metabolic after burn conditioning effect and shear accomplishment, short sharpe bursts is what is needed.  I've suggested 20 - 45 seconds as a guide.  You'll know your limitations and fitness levels.  All I ask is that you are out of your comfort zone, you should be breathing a little harder during these bursts.  You can try using an RPE scale here, this is you rating your effort of work.  If 1 out of 10 is a walk in the park, dead easy and 10 out of 10 is your maximum effort and can't give anymore.  You'd be looking around 7 and a half to 8 and a half to 9 out of 10 for an advanced user.  Experiment and adjust your speed to get you around these numbers during these intervals. 

So for this workout your aiming for 5 circuits of each alternating exercise.  You may want to time yourself for this workout and try to better it on your next visit.  You can also progress your weights with the Farmers Walk and speeds on the Treadmill to increase intensity and keep motivated and challenged!

Of course goes without saying, but before you begin do a minimum of 5 minutes warm up and mobility, then finish with some static stretches on the muscles you've used.

Give it a go and let me know your results :)
Till next time, all the best


Sunday, 2 December 2012

Warm & Hearty Home Made Very Easy Tomato Soup

As the weather is cold and miserable, what's better than to tuck into a warm and hearty bowl of soup that you made yourself.  I've also made the soup a little more filling by adding couscous, which is a medium GI grain.  This soup would work any time, but this time I had it post workout so I allowed myself a tear of Olive Bread and a tomato and mixed leaves salad as my sides.

The soup was dead easy, my ingredients were as follows:

1 medium onion, chopped roughly
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 packet (390g) of Tomato & Basil Passata
5 fresh plum tomatoes, chopped roughly
1 beef stock cube
dash of Worcestershire Sauce (optional)
450ml water
1 portion of couscous
Seasoning to taste


Cook the garlic and onion until just starting to colour. Add the fresh tomatoes and cook for a further 2 minutes.  Add the Passata, stock cube, water a little at a time, seasoning and dash of Worcestershire Sauce if using.  Turn down the heat and cook on low for a further 10 - 15 minutes, stirring periodically.  Make up the couscous as per the manufacturers instructions until fluffy then add to the soup.  Cook through for another 5 minutes, taste and add more seasoning if needed.

After cooking, either put in a food processor and blend or use a hand held blender (carefully, don't get it up your kitchen tiles, like I initially did!) Continue blending until you are happy with your consistency.

The above amounts made loads, got 5 bowls of soup out plus two portions that went in the freezer.

Enjoy, till next time.