All Posts By

Kate Taylor


By Recipes No Comments

Serves 4 with extra toppings

Quite frequently baked beans get a bad wrap for being high in salt and sugar and whilst product re-formulation has brought these values down to more adequate levels there is sometimes nothing better than making your own. Beans are a powerhouse in the world of fibre, something we all need more of. The base recipe for these beans is vegan, and there is quite a lot of seasoning in here, beans and pulses do need a little bit of help in this area, especially if you aren’t used to eating them. But for me, it’s all about the toppings! So, serve for breakfast with some toasted sourdough and a poached egg, or make a lunch bowl with anything and everything from chopped parsley, avocado, feta, toasted pumpkin seeds, baked tofu…the list is endless.

TIP 1: I prefer using whole tinned tomatoes, they have more flavour and you can break them up whilst they are in the pan into smaller chunks.

TIP 2: Buy a jar of minced garlic from the world foods section of your supermarket, it keeps in the fridge for months and you never need to bother peeling and chopping again. The one I use also has no added sugar or salt for preserving so just take a quick look at the label before putting it into your trolley.

1 brown onion, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tin butter beans
½ tin green lentils
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons harissa
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon dried oregano
Parsley stalks, finely chopped
1 tin of plum tomatoes
½ tin of water
1 teaspoon rapeseed oil
Salt and pepper

Add the oil to a large saucepan and place over a medium heat. Ensure you only use a teaspoon as it’s so easy to go overboard when adding oils and they can add unnecessary calories.
Add the onion and garlic and lightly fry until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes
Add everything else, stir
Bring to the boil and then simmer for 45 minutes with a lid on, stirring every 15 minutes.
Add extra water if the beans become to dry
Serve, freeze or keep in the fridge for 3 days

The Deal With Vitamin D

By Food for thought, Guidelines, Vitamins No Comments

Personally and professionally, I’m not one for supplements and believe that an adequate balanced diet incorporating all the major food groups with lots of fruit and veg should do it. That being said, it’s come to that point in time, when for the general population in the UK, it just isn’t enough. (1)

So listen up, I’m aiming to keep these blog posts short and sweet, with ample levels of evidence, but that you can get through in max 5 minutes, because quite frankly everyone is so busy they don’t have time to read lengthy posts.

Vitamin D comes in two forms, D2 and D3. We obtain D2 from plant food sources and D3 from animal sources such as red meat, oily fish, egg yolks as well as sunlight. But D3, and that’s where it’s a bit more complicated as in addition to the diet, the majority of it comes from being synthesized in the skin with the presence of sunlight. (4) However in the UK, from October to March the sun just isn’t strong enough to work with the skin and generate vitamin D3. (1)

So we need to supplement. What’s the deal? It’s a minefield I know…

Most of the general population only require a vitamin D supplement of 10micrograms. This applies to all over the age of one, my tips are:

  • Health food stores tend to have good deals on supplement tablets but be careful on which tablets they are promoting, online might be more suitable just make sure it’s a credible store.
  • You only need 10micrograms, not 20, not 25, not 50, so only buy a tablet that contains 10micrograms, your bank account will thank you and your body won’t use the extra vitamin D from a higher dose as it simply doesn’t need it.
  • It shouldn’t cost you more than £4.00 for a bottle of 100 tablets – if it does shop elsewhere or check to make sure you are buying the right dose.
  • Read the label – make sure it’s D3, make sure it’s only 10mcg and that you aren’t getting ripped off.
  • You can also get vitamin D supplements through the Healthy Start programme (3)
  • Babies under the age of one consuming infant formula are fine as it already contains adequate vitamin D levels. Those over the age of one should have the same supplement level as adults however vitamin D drops may be more palatable.
  • Those with dark skin should consume a vitmain D supplement all year round.

The likelihood of having too much vitamin D in your system is low and generally the risk only builds up with an intake of more than 100mcg per day so you are generally pretty safe. (5) And why do we need it? It promotes calcium absorption in the gut, it’s needed for bone growth as well as healthy teeth, it’s really important in immune health and for cell growth and metabolism. (2)

If you have a medical condition which is affected by vitamin D, speak to your GP before taking any supplements, however for the majority a daily dose is absolutely good for your health.

So go now, on your way home from work, on your way to the shops or jump online. Make it a habit, your body will thankyou until the sun consistency brightens up our days from April onwards!


  1. Public Health England,
  2. Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) Vitamin D and health report, 21st July 2016
  3. Healthy Start – 2017
  4. Tripkovic, L. et al. Health benefits of vitamin D dependent on type taken. Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, May 2012
  5. NHS choices, vitamins and minerals. March 2017



Is Meat So Mighty After All?

By Food for thought No Comments

Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently you’ll know that meat has been making headlines on both the health, animal welfare and sustainability fronts. With new research being released weekly, apps available for download encouraging plant based eating and documentaries being aired on Netflix claiming meat to be a group one carcinogen – are we in danger of meat the general public being left completely confused?

The Evidence

There’s truckloads of research on the benefits of reducing meat consumption for human health. One of the main nutrients likely to the rise with a reduction in meat and increase in plants is fibre. This means your digestive system reaps the benefits and your body loads up on essential vitamins and minerals.

There are also potential environmental benefits, with beef and lamb topping the UK list of food related greenhouse gas emissions. Beef comes in at 35kg of CO2 per kilo, versus vegetables at 2.5kg (1). In 2012, WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) reported that categorised by cost, meat and fish is the largest group of avoidable food waste, totalling to a whopping £2.1billion (2). These are numbers that we can clearly improve on.

Technology may pose some answers to the above, helping us gather statistics to ensure we know exactly what’s going on, but sadly that is not always enough. Knowledge is one thing, but it is not always sufficient to create real behaviour change. At a recent nutrition conference Professor James Stubbs drew me into his thought provoking conversation about the psychological barriers of decreasing our meat consumption. I was intrigued, mainly because it was so true.

Global meat consumption has almost doubled in the last 50 years from 63g per person per day in 1961 to 115g per person per day in 2009 (3). Even today, meat is still linked with wealth, status and luxury and a massive cultural shift is needed before we will witness large scale reduction. For us, changing non-food related behaviours is preferred, more acceptable and seen as a greater priority for climate change (4). We’d rather recycle and use eco-friendly plastic forks than sacrifice our Sunday roast. Behaviour change is complicated and takes long term investment to see a real difference, but the rewards can be hugely positive, especially when it comes to food.

Within the UK, 60% of men and 40% of women exceed government advice to consume no more than 70g red & processed meat per day (5). 70 grams is the equivalent of 2 slices of roast beef or 1 large lamb chop daily, and yet we are over consuming. At the same time, we have other important nutrients such as fibre, where we are way off the mark. If we could only decrease consumption of some of the food groups we have a little too much of and replace them with those that we struggle to get enough, we may just be on the way to achieving a more rounded picture of health.

The argument should not be about a few of us completely cutting meat out – I would never advocate removing food groups from the human diet – but about everyone making a few small changes. After all, if we don’t start making some soon, there won’t be a planet left for the generations after us to enjoy.

So maybe swap the beef burger for a veggie pattie occasionally, enjoy the parmigiana with aubergine now and again and perhaps try a lentil dahl instead of your chicken tikka.

And on a side note, for all those ‘High Fat Low Carb’ advocates out there, I believe the contribution to our planet may be something that’s not been heavily discussed yet? Might be worth adding to the agenda at Ketofest….


  1. Green R, Milner J, Dangour A, et al. The potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the UK through healthy and realistic dietary change. Climatic change. 2015; 129:253-265
  2. WRAP, Household food and drink waste in the United Kingdom, 2012
  3. FAOSTAT, 2013
  4. Macdiarmid J, Douglas F, Campbell J. Eating like there’s no tomorrow: Public awareness of the environmental impact of food and reluctance to eat less meat as part of a sustainable diet. Appetite. 2016; 96:487-93
  5. Westland & Crawley, Healthy & Sustainable Diets in the Early Years 2012

Pushing The Limit With Protein

By Food for thought No Comments

Working not only as a nutritionist, but also as a fitness coach means my exposure to the misinformed is way above average. And protein ranks high on the agenda.

The challenge that has faced us for some time now is how to ensure that fitness professionals approach nutrition with their clients in the right way. Currently exercise professionals have the choice to complete additional training in the area of nutrition, which in the majority of cases is a course run face to face or via e learning. With nutrition being a constantly changing area of scientific research, this is barely enough time to cover the basics, and even with a three-year degree under my belt, endless learning is still part and parcel of keeping up to date. But with the fitness world being ultimately responsible for building beautiful bodies, surely this is ample qualifications and knowledge to advise clients on how to eat well…isn’t it?

No….it’s not, and I question whether we are putting consumers at risk by not having enough nutrition support within the fitness bubble?

Walk into any exercise establishment and you’ll spot a protein shake in someone’s hands within seconds, followed by a vending machine stocking more of the same and a selection of brightly coloured, poorly branded protein bars. The new circuit of boutique gyms (particularly in London) all sell protein shakes post workout at anywhere between £5 and £8 a go. Many contain protein powder, nut milk and some form of nut butter, and it’s likely that your protein intake from this alone is well up there with the total daily recommendations (55g for men and 45g for women for the average person). And then there’s the huge number of calories that these contain, with many people then going on to eat breakfast straight after.

The fact of the matter is that most people who consume a balanced diet don’t need protein supplementation, or any additional protein intake. The problem lies in a lack of understanding as to what a balanced diet actually is. With restriction of some foods (especially carbohydrates) being so common, there is a tendency to over compensate by increasing our consumption of others. Add to this our innate nature and want for something new, and the protein market has had the opportunity to boom in recent years. After all it doesn’t look or sound as good to go home and mix up a post workout shake, than order one at the gym to have in your hand as you finish you final set or bicep curls.

And when it comes to marketing protein, the use of elite athletes for promotion may be impacting the general public’s perception of its effects. I am still constantly advising clients of mine that after their 45-minute gym session they don’t need a “sports drink”, even though some of their favourite athletes, footballers, runners and F1 drivers can be seen drinking them on television. This is years after the sugar content in sports drinks has been high on the agenda, so how long will it be until the true effects of protein supplementation will be experienced by the general public?

The main thing to remember is about protein is that it simply cannot be stored, so what your body doesn’t use for cell building and repair will be lost the next time you go to the loo. If you want to find out if you are consuming adequate protein, then speak to a qualified nutritionist or dietitian, they’ll give you the low down. And as for your personal trainer, general eating healthy eating advice is within their remit, but anything further is not. After all you wouldn’t get legal advice from your mechanic would you?

Want a simple alternative to your gyms £8 protein shake? A smoothie made up of the ingredients below will provide you with a perfectly adequate 20g of protein, as well as being a good source of fibre, carbs and one of your 5 a day. And more than that, it also makes a great breakfast.

2 tsp flax seeds, 200ml semi skimmed milk, 100g of Greek yoghurt, 1 x medium banana, 2 tsp of chia seeds and 2 tsp of desiccated coconut and a handful of spinach.


By Recipes No Comments

Makes 10

Muma Oz is a bit of a legend when it comes to old school classics, I’ll be sure to post some more of her favourites over the coming months. She actually used to make this one as one big savoury quiche but I’ve broken them down into bit sized pieces which makes storage easier and perfect for snacking. They can easily be made veggie by just removing the ham. And if you are looking for a bit of spice, a drop of Tabasco would e my recommendation!

Knob of butter
10 slices of ham
3 cups of grated carrot & courgette
6 eggs
1 cup of milk
Pinch of dried chilli flakes
Salt & pepper
1 quiche dish or individual muffin tin

Preheat the oven to 170C
Grease the muffin tins with butter
Lay the ham slices in each of the muffin tins, 1 slice per tin
Whisk together the eggs, milk, chilli flakes and veg. Season with salt and pepper
Bake for around half an hour until golden brown
Re heat and have warm for breakfast or eat cold as a snack

So You Quit Sugar?

By Food for thought No Comments

Sugar – the demon? Well not really…

“I’m off sugar” – my bestie said to me one day on the phone. I sarcastically rolled my eyes and thought here we go……So she’s only living off meat, fish, water and not much else. And here lies the problem.

It’s currently fashionable not to consume sugar. Apparently everyone is doing it, yet not understanding that it’s physically impossible for us, as humans, to live without. While most people are aware of the dangers of the “white stuff” (coined media term), headlines such as it being as addictive as cocaine aren’t doing us any favours (see the link there, white stuff, cocaine, addiction…….sigh)

Let’s get the sciency bit done and dusted first shall we. I’ll make it as simple as possible. The human body uses the food and beverages we consume as energy for us to live. The food we eat is made up of three macro nutrients known as carbohydrates, fats and protein, (there is also alcohol but let’s leave that to the side for now) and the body uses them as energy in that order. Carbs are energy source number one. Carbs come in two forms – starches and sugars and the body is only able to store a very small amount of them in the form of glycogen, so they are used up straight away. Unlike fat and protein, sugars can readily be used as energy, almost as soon as we consume them. During intense exercise like running, we usually have enough sugar to keep us going for about 90 minutes before we need to re-fuel, or our body will start trying to convert stored fat into energy.

It’s kind of complicated, as sugar has many different forms and therefore many different names – sucrose (table sugar), fructose (found in fruit), lactose (found in dairy). There is also glucose, which is sugar in its simplest form and all of the aforementioned sugars break down into it. Starches are also broken down into glucose to be used immediately, or if they are to be stored they will be converted into glycogen. Once the body has used up all its glucose, and converted the small amount of glycogen back into glucose to be used, it will then start using fat as an energy source. This usually happens at very low intensity and over long periods of time. Once that’s been used, it will then do the same thing with protein, although this is a very last resort. I’m hoping by now you are all still with me? Point in question, we need sugar, fact!

Let’s be frank here, too much “white stuff” is likely to rot your teeth. The NHS report just under 43,000 UK tooth removals in those under 18 in the last year alone, up from 37,000 in 2012. It’s just like too many cigarettes may impact your breathing capacity and too much sitting on your arse will impact your mobility. But teetotal isn’t the answer. In fact it’s physically impossible and will result in far more health problems than teeth removal alone. So how about rather than focusing on sugar alone, we look at the overall quality of the food the sugar is found in. As an example – fruit, whilst high in sugar has many other benefits, fibre, vitamins and minerals as well as a decent water content. Sweets or cake are a brilliant energy source and often provide social and emotional happiness but nutritionally there tends not to be too many other benefits. Now, I am not for a second here insinuating you should swap cake for fruit. Never in a million years. It’s more about how often you consume the cake and the size of the portion. It’s about educating yourself to know this. The age old moderation stance just doesn’t sell as well as “sugar is addictive”, however that’s the point I’m trying to make here. Mostly, try to consume foods which provide you lots of nutritional benefit, and some which you simply enjoy (and may not be that nutritious). That’s life, that’s how it works.

Oh and another thing, I hate to break it to you, but sugar is sugar, whether it’s white table sugar, demerara, coconut sugar, honey etc etc your body processes it in the same way. From a taste perspective however, there is definitely a difference.

And back to my bestie. What she really means is, she trying to adopt a more nutritious lifestyle and educate herself about food. It just doesn’t have the same ring to it though, shame.


By Recipes No Comments

Makes 1 loaf/10 slices

Not your standard banana loaf this is a great way to get added veggies into you and your families diets. The banana flavour comes through and the added sweetness of the honey and raisins is just enough, you won’t even taste the spinach although it will add a slightly greenness to your loaf! Enjoy warm with some Greek yoghurt for breakfast or as a snack

100g raisins or sultanas
200g flour (plain, wholemeal, spelt, rye, buckwheat)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 large handfuls of spinach
100g honey
2 ripe bananas
120ml sunflower oil
50g nuts (your choice, I used pecans, crushed)
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon bicarb soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 loaf tin

Preheat your oven to 150C
Line your loaf tin with baking paper. Sift the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and bicarb into a large bowl. Mix the sunflower oil, eggs and honey in another bowl
Blitz the bananas and spinach in a blender until smooth, then add them to the oil mixture
Mix the wet and dry ingredients together and stir until combined
Mix in the raisins and nuts. Pour the mixture into the tin and top the loaf with some additional nuts, raisins and slices of banana. Sometimes I use desiccated coconut too. Bake for around 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave in the tin to cool for around half an hour, then remove the baking paper.