Wishing you a very Happy Christmas!


There is only a day or so to go until the big festive feast.

If this instills you with panic about what will happen to your waist band over the period, have a look at my festive survival tips here.

I wish you all a very Happy Christmas,

Enjoy your feast!



Beetroot and tomato salad

Beetroot and tomato salad

Around this time of year our fridge is full of beetroot, courtesy of my Dad’s allotment. If you don’t grow it yourself, beetroot is available pre-cooked in supermarkets and now is a great time to eat it. Often called a superfood, beetroot is rich in nutrients including calcium, B-carotene (which is converted into vitamin A), folate (naturally occurring folic acid) as well as some vitamin C, iron and zinc and several other nutrients. It is fairly high in sugars giving it a sweet taste but it also contains a good amount of fibre.

Eating beetroot has been associated with many health benefits such as antioxidant and immune-boosting properties, helping to maintain a healthy gut, supporting the liver and helping to reducing blood pressure.

As far as taste goes, beetroot tends to be a bit like marmite, you either love it or hate it, but given that it is packed full of nutrients and it grows well in this country, it is well worth adding it to your diet in the summer.

Excellent in salads (but best kept in a separate pot if you are taking a salad to work as it will turn everything pink!), it also works well in chocolate cake and brownies. The leaves are nutritious and can be used in salads.

Beetroot goes really well with tomato which is what goes into this really simple salad.


One medium beetroot per person

2-3 tomatoes per person

Handful of fresh parsley (optional)

Olive oil

White wine vinegar


Slice the beetroot.

Slice the tomato.

Arrange on a plate.

Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar (to taste).

Sprinkle with parsley.

Serve with some protein and some carbs, such as bread and cheese, grilled mackerel and boiled new potatoes, or grilled chicken and jacket potato.

What do you want from this year?

Last week was a reflective time for me. I was looking back on the year that has been and what I want from the coming year and beyond.

Why is it that when we start a new year, we feel the need to do this? For me it is to check that my life is going in the right direction to reach my goals. Sometimes it can feel like we are not getting any closer to our goals, or maybe the goals we have set are not what we really want but what we feel we should be doing? So it is important to check periodically that your goals still reflect what you want and to mark off any progress. It is also good to refresh your goals. If you do still want to go in a certain direction, you may have a clearer idea of how to get there, or some new ideas.

Of course, this applies to health goals such as weight loss, fitness and healthy eating as well. Whilst these may be shorter term goals to reach a larger goal such as ‘having the energy to enjoy the time you spend with your kids’ or ‘building a career you enjoy’, they can form important milestones to achieving your bigger goals, for example ‘losing a stone by June’, or ‘exercising twice per week by March’. It is important to remember that short-term goals need to be realistic and in tune with longer-term goals for them to be achievable.

Making New Year’s Resolutions is another way that we lay down our goals, although often with these we don’t make them realistic such as ‘have a bikini body by March’, ‘go to the gym four times a week’. So if you have made any resolutions check they are achievable for you, compatible with your longer-term goals and what you really want. If not adjust them.

Some of my goals for this year are:

  1. Get more readers to my blog.
  2. Do at least half an hour’s exercise every day (includes housework and walking).
  3. Plan my lunches and try one new recipe per month.

What are yours?

If you need help setting your health goals and achieving them, contact me today on zoehorsepool@commonsensenutrition.co.uk. You can apply for one of my free Common Sense Nutrition Strategy Sessions to help you find out what you can do to achieve your health goals this year.

Happy New Year!

Phone Nov 15 to Jan 16 077

How to feel good about everything you eat (and drink) this Christmas: 5 festive tips


The average person consumes 6000 kcal on Christmas Day and puts on 5 lb in weight over Christmas.

I don’t know if this is accurate (who records how much they eat on Christmas Day?) but I know the average person consumes a lot, me included.

My Christmas dinner starts with smoked salmon blinis and includes a turkey dinner, Christmas pudding, black forest gateaux, plus lots of champagne. In the evening there is always a bit of room for turkey sandwiches, followed by Christmas cake and Christmas chocolates and probably a few more drinks.

Generally over the Christmas break we eat more than we would normally. There are lots of tempting snacks around and the drinks cabinet is usually full. This is of course part of celebrating Christmas. It is a celebratory feast after all!

To someone who is wanting to lose weight this time of year can be worrying, because you know you are likely to put on weight, and this makes you feel bad about yourself.

You may not be able to avoid putting on weight, but you can avoid feeling bad about yourself by following these five festive tips:

  1. Christmas doesn’t last forever

If the thought of putting on weight over Christmas sends you into a panic one thing that can help is to remind yourself of the bigger picture.

Everyone puts on weight over Christmas, but remember it is only for a short period.

When you adjust to your normal eating, the weight will naturally come off.

  1. Enjoy what you eat!

This may sound obvious, but Christmas is a time when you can slow down your usual pace of activity, take time to eat, and really enjoy some delicious meals and snacks.

We spend so much time rushing around the rest of the year and may not take time to fully appreciate or enjoy our meals.

Now you have a little more time to eat and to listen to your body.

With practice this can become a natural control over what you eat and form the basis of good eating habits.

You can read more about this in my post on mindful eating here.

  1. Avoid the scales

Don’t be tempted to weigh yourself over Christmas.  Give yourself a break from the scales.

Salty foods and alcohol can affect weight dramatically and temporarily. It is best to weigh yourself no more than once a week, preferably at the same time each week, e.g. Sunday morning.

  1. Sensible snacking

Perhaps the biggest source of extra calories at this time is snacks.

Chocolates, canapés, nuts, crisps, biscuits, cheese and biscuits, mince pies etc. Everywhere you look it seems there is something inviting to eat.

It is no surprise that we put more food in our mouths, simply because it is there.

This is part of Christmas and I wouldn’t suggest avoiding the treats and snacks, but I would encourage you to still have meals and keep your snacking to one or two times a day, instead of eating snacks all through the day.

Also tell yourself there is plenty of time to eat all this food. Chocolate has a long shelf life so you can spread the eating out throughout January!

Feeling that you have to eat everything before the end of 31st December is an example of black and white thinking that may not be the best way to help you lose weight.

So allow yourself a more flexible approach to healthy eating and allow yourself some ‘bad’ foods in January (meaning you don’t have to eat them all in December!)

You can read more about this approach to dieting in a blog I wrote about this here.

  1. Keep eating the healthy foods

If you are eating more snacks and treats these foods can push the healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables out of your diet.

It is important to still keep the basics of healthy eating up during this time such as: eating  your fruit and vegetables, ensuring you have some fibre in your diet, e.g. wholemeal bread, drinking plenty of water, eating three recognisable meals a day, and getting some exercise (Boxing Day walk?).

One practice I like to follow is to start the day with a mug of hot water and slice of lemon and have some fruit on my cereal.

These together will help you to resist snacks, keep you healthy (to fight infections), and help keep your blood sugar regular.

I wish you all a very Happy Christmas!

This blog was first published in December 2015 and updated in December 2016.

Raw Brownies

These raw brownies are a great energy-fix to see you through Christmas shopping. They are full of nutrients, quick to prepare, and don’t need to be cooked. All you need to do is toast the nuts, boil the kettle and use a food blender. They make a nice alternative to the usual ones made with flour and eggs. They are made with store-cupboard rather than fancy ingredients, so you don’t have to go to the shops to get the ingredients.

Make 6

160g mixed nuts (keep 20g of walnuts aside)

120g raisins

4 tablespoons of cocoa powder

2 tablespoons of oil (I used olive oil)

¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract

2 tsp of instant coffee dissolved in 2 tsp of boiled water

4 tablespoons of granulated sugar (keep 2 tablespoons to sprinkle on top)

pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Place the nuts on a baking sheet and heat in the oven for 5 minutes. Meanwhile measure out the raisins, place them in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to soak for 15 minutes. Take the nuts out of the oven and put 20g of the walnuts to one side. Add the nuts to a blender. Drain the raisins and add these also. Add all other ingredients to the blender and 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Blend everything up until you have a paste. If it seems quite dry add a tablespoon of hot water. Then chop the walnuts up and add these, mix them in with a spoon. Spoon the mixture into a small baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper and smooth it out with a spoon. Sprinkle the sugar on top and place in the fridge for a couple of hours. Cut into 6 slices. Keep in the fridge in an air tight box or on a plate covered with cling film so that they don’t dry out.Food Nov & Dec 2015 053