Teens and drugs: 5 tips for talking with your kids


Parents of adolescents face a tough dilemma about substance use: we may want our children to be abstinent, but what do we do if they are not? The risks are high, as we’ve discussed in our blog about adolescent substance use and the developing brain. While parents can and should communicate clearly that non-use is the best decision for health, we simply can’t control every aspect of young people’s lives. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to successful dialogue with teens about substance use, but these principles may be helpful.

1.   Make your values and your rules clear

Parents sometimes use phrases like “be smart” or “make good decisions,” though these terms may have very different meanings to different people. For example, a parent who says, “Be smart!” may think he is asking his child not to drink, while the child may interpret the instructions as, “Don’t drink enough to black out.” So, be specific. If you mean, “You can go out with your friends as long as you can assure me you will not use marijuana,” then say it that way.

2.   Ask and listen, but resist the urge to lecture

As adults we very much want to impart as much wisdom as we can to help young people avoid the same mistakes that we made. But, it is probably more useful to draw out their innate curiosity and encourage them to seek out answers on their own. Consider beginning by asking a question like, “Tell me, what do you know about marijuana?” Teens who feel like their point of view is valued may be more willing to engage in a conversation. In response to what your child says, use nonjudgmental reflective statements to make sure she feels listened to, then follow up with a question. For example: “So you’ve heard that marijuana is pretty safe because it is natural. Do you think that is correct?” You don’t need to agree with everything your teen says; you just need to make it clear you are listening. For more guidance on active listening skills, see this resource from The Center for Parenting Education.

3.   If your child has used substances, try to explore the reasons

Teens may use substances to help manage anxiety, relieve stress, distract from unpleasant emotions, or connect socially with peers. Being curious about those reasons can help him feel less judged. It may also give you a window into your teen’s underlying struggles, help him develop insight into his own behavior, and point to problems that may need professional support. On the other hand, these conversations may be challenging for a parent to have with a child, and some young people have limited understanding as to why they use substances. For adolescents who are using substances regularly, we recommend an assessment by a professional who can support them in behavior change.

4.   Know when (and how) to intervene

Engaging with adolescents on the topic of substance use can be a delicate dance. We want to encourage openness and honesty, and we also want them to get clear messages that help to keep them safe. Teens who use substances recurrently and/or who have had a problem associated with substance use may be on a trajectory for developing a substance use disorder. It is a good idea for them to have a professional assessment. You can find a detailed list of signs and symptoms, as well as information about specific substances, on the website for the Adolescent Substance Use and Addiction Program at Boston Children’s Hospital. If an assessment is warranted, you can start with your pediatrician, who can help refer you to a specialist as necessary.

5.   Be mindful of any family history of substance use disorders

Much of the underlying vulnerability to developing substance use disorders is passed down genetically. Exposure to substance use in the home is also a major risk factor. Both may affect children with a first- or second-degree relative (like a parent, grandparent, aunt, or uncle) with a substance use disorder. While we know from studies that the genetic heritability of addiction is strong, it is also complex, passed on through a series of genes and generally not limited to a single substance. In other words, children who have a relative with an opioid use disorder may themselves develop a cannabis or sedative use disorder. Honest conversations about unhealthy substance use, addiction, and the family risk of substance use disorders can help provide teens a good, solid reason for making the smart decision not to start using in the first place.

Heat related illness: How to keep your cool


The summer season is waning but we’re not done with the heat. Hot and humid weather can bring a host of heat-related problems: heat cramps, heat rash, heat exhaustion, heat stroke…. It’s helpful to be aware of these issues, especially as we experience changes in the climate with humidity or rising temperatures. There have been several studies which have documented an uptick in emergency department visits and hospital admissions for conditions like dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and other types of heat related illness during times of high heat. Persons who are particularly at risk are the very young and old, those who do prolonged exertional work outdoors, and intense athletes.

Getting overheated: The cause of heat related illness

Our bodies are not well-equipped to withstand large increases in our core body temperature, which is usually around 98.6 ˚ F (37˚ C). With heat stroke, core body temperatures may rise dangerously to around 103˚ to 104˚ F (39.4˚ to 40˚ C). If you have a concern about overheating, be sure to check a rectal temperature, as other methods like oral, axillary, or tympanic measurements can be inaccurate in these situations.

Our bodies have a number of mechanisms to help us cool down. One of the most important is evaporation through sweat, but this mechanism becomes less efficient in high humidity. Also, when we are dehydrated or when we are not accustomed to exertion in the heat, cooling off through evaporation becomes more challenging.

Furthermore, there are a number of medications that impair our bodies’ mechanisms for cooling off, like antihistamines, anticholinergics, decongestants, diuretics, stimulants, and some blood pressure pills, to name a few.

Signs and symptoms of heat-related illness vary. Dehydration may cause feelings of thirst, dizziness, and fatigue. Heat stroke, which needs urgent medical attention, may include hot or flushed skin, a fast heart rate, headache, nausea, dizziness, confusion, or loss of consciousness.

3 key questions about hydration

1.   How much should you hydrate? If you know you are going to be exerting yourself in the heat, start your hydration beforehand, so you start with a “full tank.”

2.  Is it possible to “overhydrate”? Yes. Best to speak with your doctor if you have a medical condition that requires you to be on diuretics or a fluid restriction. Also, though not common, drinking too much water can cause hyponatremia, or a low sodium concentration in the blood. This can be quite serious when it does happen, leading to symptoms like nausea, vomiting, headache, muscle cramps, confusion, and seizures. Hyponatremia is more likely to happen with athletes who sweat a lot, losing salt and water, but then replace the sweat by drinking only water, causing a diluting effect. Sport electrolyte drinks (which can be high in sugar and calories) are an option, but usually not necessary if you hydrate with water while having regular meals or salt-containing snacks.

3.  How do you know if you are getting enough fluids? Well, if you feel thirsty, you may already be dehydrated. Another telltale sign of dehydration is making less and darker urine, as opposed to normal amounts of light yellow urine.

10 tips for avoiding heat related illness

  • Plan to take it easy, especially if you are not used to exerting yourself in the heat and humidity.
  • Seek shade or cool areas and avoid prolonged exposure to the heat.
  • Protect yourself from sunburns.
  • Wear light, loose, reflective clothing.
  • Stay hydrated and avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks.
  • Cool down with a cold bath or shower.
  • Dampen your clothes or apply wet towels while cooling off with an electric fan.
  • Use ice packs, especially on the neck, underarms, or groin near the main blood vessels.
  • If you feel ill and your symptoms are severe, seek prompt medical attention.
  • And remember, check in on anyone you think is at risk and might be more vulnerable!

Small study suggests benefits of computer-guided CBT for substance abuse


There is no way to meet the need for substance abuse treatment through the current healthcare system. The number of people who need treatment for drug and alcohol abuse is far greater than the number of clinicians available to treat them. In more rural areas, patients might have to spend a lot of time traveling great distances to appointments, which can be difficult to do while working or taking care of a family. And, the cost and stigma of treatment can get in the way of getting help. Moreover, even if people do get to substance abuse treatment, they often do not receive the most effective ones. As illicit drug use increases in the United States, new ways to deliver treatment are urgently needed.

Computer-guided treatments are one way to overcome the hurdles of access to evidence-based treatments, including travel and scheduling, cost, and stigma. Additionally, using computers to treat one’s own substance abuse can be empowering, giving a sense of “I did it on my own.”

How well do computer-guided treatments work compared to live counseling?

Researchers from Yale University recently developed and studied the “Computer-based Training for Cognitive-behavioral Therapy” (or “CBT4CBT”) web-based substance abuse treatment as a fully standalone intervention. CBT4CBT provides cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) — an evidence-based treatment for substance abuse. The treatment is completely computer-guided, and does not involve interacting with a counselor or other healthcare professional. It combines online games and video vignettes with actors to teach how to manage one’s own substance use. Specifically, CBT4CBT covers: how to understand and change patterns of substance use; dealing with cravings; refusing offers of alcohol and drugs; problem-solving; noticing thoughts about drugs and alcohol and how to change them; and strengthening decision-making abilities.

Earlier research has shown that CBT4CBT can be an excellent complement to make live treatment with a counselor more effective and efficient. Recently, the research team conducted the first comparison of any standalone web-based treatment for substance abuse to “treatment as usual” — and data suggest that it may be better.

The study on CBT4CBT

The Yale team recruited 137 people seeking substance use treatment from the Connecticut Mental Health Center in New Haven; 49% African American, 34% Caucasian, and 8% Latino or Latina. Substances used were marijuana, cocaine, alcohol, opioids, and PCP. It was a real-world sample in that most participants used more than one illicit drug and most also used alcohol.

One-third of the participants were randomized to use CBT4CBT, with 10-minute in-person weekly checkups to evaluate their overall functioning, their safety, and their use of the online program. One-third of participants were enrolled in “treatment as usual,” which was either group or individual therapy, and covered topics including motivational interviewing, life skills, relapse prevention, harm reduction, mindfulness, and others. The other third were assigned to in-person CBT with a therapist who delivered the same type of content as the CBT4CBT online program.

The researchers found that drug use (measured by urine tests — which corresponded closely with self-reported use) in the CBT4CBT group was significantly less than treatment as usual, and remained lower over six months of follow-up. Persons who received live CBT had the same level of drug use as the treatment as usual group after six months. They also found that participants in the online treatment learned the CBT concepts the best, and had the highest level of satisfaction and lowest dropout rate of any of the three study conditions. Overall, after treatment the percentage of days abstinent from any drug use was 75% for the CBT4CBT group, vs. 67% of days abstinent for the treatment as usual group and 61% for the live CBT group. The study did not enroll a large enough number of participants to conduct a head-to-head comparison of CBT4CBT and live CBT. That may come later, and the results could inform how to conduct live CBT more effectively.

Getting access to computer-guided CBT

Computer-guided CBT for substance abuse should be studied further should be studied further, with different populations and in different settings, the next real challenge is to disseminate it widely across the US and beyond. According to its website, the CBT4CBT program is not yet available to the public, outside of clinical trials.

Building computer-guided treatment programs is often easier than building companies to deliver them. Barriers include acceptance by institutions, payment by insurance companies, liability, FDA approval, and resistance from healthcare providers — as well as coming up with viable business models. But if these obstacles can be overcome, the world could benefit from a highly effective and accessible treatment for drug and alcohol abuse.


Randomized Clinical Trial of Computerized and Clinician-Delivered CBT in Comparison With Standard Outpatient Treatment for Substance Use Disorders: Primary Within-Treatment and Follow-Up OutcomesAmerican Journal of Psychiatry, May 2018.

Home cooking: Healthy family meals


Family meals are beneficial for so many reasons. People who prepare meals at home tend to consume significantly more fruits and vegetables, and less sugar and fat. People who enjoy meals at home with others, sitting together and conversing, also have reduced stress and higher life satisfaction. The more frequently families with children have meals together, the more likely the children are to eat a high-quality diet, and the less likely to be overweight or obese. There are also other benefits: these children tend to have higher self-esteem and better academic performance, as well as lower risk of engaging in risky behaviors (like drug use) or developing an eating disorder.

Family meals without distraction

All those benefits go out the window if dinner is eaten in front of the television or other devices. This makes sense if we think about why the family meal has such powerful positive effects: it’s about closeness and connection. Sitting down to eat together is often the only time families can reconnect and communicate. Given our busy, technology-driven lives, the family meal is a rare (and critical) opportunity to unplug and check in. What’s even better is getting the kids involved in making dinner, which is also significantly associated with their eating a higher-quality diet.

One of my favorite family meals: Make-your-own soft tacos

The kids can get involved in preparing this simple and healthy meal, which is incredibly rich in protein and fiber, as well as calcium, iron, and potassium. Beans provide plenty of heart-healthy fiber, protein, and are associated with a lower risk of diabetes. Corn and masa (the tortilla flour made from corn) are considered whole grains and are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Avocados and olives provide heart-healthy fats, and the veggies are risk in fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. All these easy-to-find ingredients, plus healthy veggies, the option of dairy, and protein from the pumpkin seeds, make this nutritious and fun to prepare with the family — and everyone will love that they can build their own taco!

Make-Your-Own Soft Tacos

This recipe will serve six people if some of those people are young children. For hungry teens and adults, expect it to feed three or four.

  • 1
    15-ounce can of unsalted black beans
  • 1
    can corn niblets, unsalted
  • 2
  • 1
    red bell pepper sliced thin
  • 1
    tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1
    cup of salsa (fresh or jarred)
  • 1
    cup shredded cheddar or Monterey jack cheese
  • 1/2
    cup of plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2
    cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds), unsalted (optional)
  • 1/2
    cup green olives (optional)
  • 8-12
    corn tortillas (made without lard)
  1. Dice the avocado and gently mix with the lemon juice.

  2. Heat the beans in the microwave or the stovetop; stir.

  3. Heat the tortillas (I wrap them in a clean towel and zap them in the microwave on high for 30 seconds).

  4. Set out all ingredients on the counter (or table) and let everyone put together their own healthy tacos.

Selected sources

Is cooking at home associated with better diet quality or weight-loss intention? Public Health Nutrition, June 2015.

Health and social determinants and outcomes of home cooking: A systematic review of observational studies. Appetite, April 1, 2017.

The relation between family meals and health of infants and toddlers: A review. Appetite, August 1, 2018.

Systematic review of the effects of family meal frequency on psychosocial outcomes in youth. Canadian Family Physician, February 2015.

A Review of Associations Between Family or Shared Meal Frequency and Dietary and Weight Status Outcomes Across the Lifespan. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, January 2014.

Involvement in Meal Preparation at Home Is Associated With Better Diet Quality Among Canadian Children. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, July-August 2014.

Smokey Creamy BBQ Aubergine Pasta

It’s been a bit of a crazy couple of weeks between two days of funeral services for my dear guardian, then a weekend away for a wedding a day later, then the next day flying over to Portugal early in the morning. We arrived home on Tuesday, after an awfully long and uncomfortable journey full of delays and still don’t feel rested.

Smoky Creamy BBQ Aubergine Pasta #vegan

But, to keep things feeling as normal as possible I’m going to share with you an amazing recipe for a Smoky Creamy BBQ Aubergine Pasta, inspired by August’s Degustabox. Each month I receive a box chock full of goodies, from ingredients to convenient sauces and beverages to try, all for a bargain price.

Smoky Creamy BBQ Aubergine Pasta #vegan

This month had a fine balance of all, here’s the vegan friendly products it included;

Degusta August

OLOVES Chili & Oregano Olives

GET MORE VITAMIN DRINKS Sparkling Lemon & Lime

TABASCO Sweet & Sticky Barbecue Sauce & Marinade

FENTIMANS LTD Sparkling Lime & Jasmine

CLIPPER Lime & Ginger Green Tea

GEETA’S FOODS LTD Premium Mango Chutney

GEETA’S FOODS LTD Tikka Curry Paste & Rogan Josh Curry Paste

MAHOU SAN MIGUEL Mahou Cinco Estrellas

DORSET CEREALS Dorset Cereals Bircher Muesli Mix raspberry & blackcurrant

RAKUSEN’S Plain & Gluten Free Snackers

Tabasco BBQ

The star of the month and of this recipe was the Tabasco Sweet & Sticky Barbecue Sauce & Marinade. It adds richness, smokiness, subtle sweetness and gentle spice that makes this comforting pasta, out-of-this world delicious! Plus, the sauce comes together in a flash using a high speed blender. You could also try using a food processor.

Smoky Creamy BBQ Aubergine Pasta #vegan Smoky Creamy BBQ Aubergine Pasta #vegan

Make this gluten free by using gluten free pasta and BBQ sauce!

Smoky Creamy BBQ Aubergine Pasta #vegan #healthy #dairyfree


Serves 4

  • 1 large white or purple aubergine/eggplant
  • 2 large flat mushrooms
  • 500g pasta
  • 1 400g tin tomatoes
  • 1 tin full unsweetened soya milk
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Italian mixed herbs
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup Tabasco BBQ Sauce
  • 14 cashews


  1. Take a large saucepan and a large frying pan or wok. Place the large saucepan filled with salted water on to boil whilst you prepare the vegetables and place the frying pan onto a medium heat.
  2. Cube the aubergine and slice the mushrooms, add to the hot frying pan with a little cooking spray or a couple of tablespoons of water and stir fry until softened and golden.
  3. Meanwhile, add the sauce ingredients from tomatoes to cashews into a blender jar and blend on high until smooth and creamy. Add to the pan with the vegetables and leave to simmer on a low-medium heat while you cook the pasta.
  4. Drain the pasta and mix with the sauce. Serve with your desired toppings – vegan cheese, herbs or, my favourite, pumpkin seeds.


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Proper Baked Beans


Baked beans are a staple in most, if not all, British households. And why not? They’re so versatile, nutritious, easy to grab and heat in a flash. Where there is a tin of baked beans, there is a meal.

Proper Baked Beans - Vegan & Gluten Free.

Easy though they are, they are far from perfect when it comes to sugar and salt. With even the lighter ranges still containing a pretty startling amount, usually 30% of the RDA in salt and 20% in sugar per single can!


The UK is the biggest bean eating nation in the world.

More than 1.5 million cans of Heinz Beanz are sold each day.

There were 897 million Heinz Baked Bean consumption occasions over the last year.

It would take 5000 Boeing 747’s to hold the 2 million people who eat baked beans each day.

The UK gets through two thousand tonnes of baked beans every year.

The 54 acre factory in Wigan, is the largest food processing plant in Europe, and they make an average of three million cans of Baked Beans in 24 hours.

One can of Heinz baked beans is sold in the UK every 17 seconds.

Sales of baked beans run at £250million a year.

Now thats just the Heinz figures! I never buy Heinz, and I buy a lot of beans – supermarket own brand, my favourite actually being Tesco Value! So those figures are just a small snippet of the reality of the Brit love for tinned Baked Beans.

Proper Baked Beans - Vegan & Gluten Free.

Baked beans in cans are not actually baked at all, nor are they laden with molasses and bacon which is the traditional American style of baked beans. They are steamed both before and after canning at high pressure with a secret blend of spices. My recipe is inspired by the American baked beans which are actually baked, and the subtly spiced, tomatoey concoction which we know and love in those cans.

Proper Baked Beans - Vegan & Gluten Free.

Homemade beans might take a little longer, but they are jam packed with extra nutrients and delicious flavours. Plus, they only take 10 minutes to prepare and the rest is simply waiting for them to bake in the oven. Simple, fast and scrumptious – the Bunny Kitchen way!

Proper Baked Beans - Vegan & Gluten Free.

One of the time saving secrets to this recipe is the use of a food processor so there is no chopping in sight. I was sent a Ninja Complete Kitchen System with Nutri Ninja to sample and it made light work of this dish indeed!

Proper Baked Beans - Vegan & Gluten Free.

It’s an impressive all in one system with one base that houses and operates a High Performance Blender, a Precision Processor plus the Nutri Ninja nutrient extractor.

I have a fantastic blender and a fairly decent food processor already but have been intrigued by nutrient extractors for a long time after many a night waking to the sound of sales adverts on the TV!

For the price, around £219.99, the blender is good, but it will never replace my trusty Froothie for blending super smooth to perfection every time. However, if I had paid for it, I would have been happy with it. I used it over a couple of months and it performs just as well today as the first use – one issue I’ve experienced with umpteen brands of blender, they are amazing for a week and then start to slowly die and struggle. Not this one.

It will take on nuts and seeds to make smooth sauces and milks but it just takes a bit longer and isn’t quite as smooth as a more expensive super powered blender. But that is to be expected. For it’s price range, it is impressive without a doubt. The highlight must be the 6 Blade Assembly which makes the need for scraping the sides of the jug disappear and it helps to break down all those solid ingredients that can so often get jammed at the top of the jug, just begging for the blades to catch it. For me, this is usually onions which I lazily chuck in whole or maybe halved if I’m feeling energetic. My tomato sauce will be beautifully smooth in the blender but with this lump of onion that just didn’t allow the centripetal force to swallow it into the vortex. Not with the Nutri Ninja blender, as the high positioned blades grab everything in their path. So, I guess I now have my new favourite pasta and curry sauce machine sorted then…

The design is modern, classy and sturdy.

The processor alone makes the kit worth the money. The unique blade formation with an impressive 4 Blade Assembly makes the machine a real buddy in the kitchen. It just gets the job done. No standing over the machine which is starting to burn up from needing to run so long to get the desired result, constant side scraping and catching it just in time before it jumps to it’s death from vibrating across the worktop.

Proper Baked Beans - Vegan & Gluten Free.

Just set it using one of the perfectly tuned Auto-iQ programmes and leave it alone. Precision Processing chops vegetables quickly and evenly without turning them to mush or chopping unevenly. The handy interchangeable dough blade makes kneading bread a breeze without bringing out the ‘heavy machinery’, as Nigella would say.

Proper Baked Beans - Vegan & Gluten Free.

Interestingly, one of my favourite things about this kit is that it doesn’t come with tens of accessories which ultimately get stuffed in the back of a cupboard to fester. The grater attachment comes in handy but the whippers and others which I have never identified a use for, are just a waste of plastic. Hands up whose still got accessories from multiple no longer existing appliances?

Image result for hand up emoji

Finally, the Nutri Ninja nutrient extractor. This was the most exciting function for me to try, having heard so much about these little machines. Now, I’m a little confused by them if I’m honest. They’re called Nutrient Extractors and product descriptions talk of the power to create ‘Nutrient and Vitamin drinks in seconds’. But isn’t it just a mini blender? What is different? If you put the same ingredients in a full size blender, is that not using the same nutrient extraction to create Nutrient and Vitamin drinks? Is there a difference, nutritionally or otherwise between a smoothie made in a blender and one made in a nutrient extractor? If anyone can help me here, please do! I’m dying to know!

Strawberry smoothie

Regardless, it was certainly fabulous for making a smoothie for one and the Sip and Seal cups are so convenient. Frozen strawberries, almond milk and vanilla…. Deeelicious!

Strawberry smoothie

Now for some fibre, potassium and iron rich, proper baked beans.

Love baked beans? Try making your own delicious, #healthy, nutrient packed baked beans. So easy, no chopping, 10 minute prep! #vegan #glutenfree

Ingredients: Serves 4

  • 2 cans cannellini beans
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce (or Tamari for Gluten Free version)
  • 1.5 tbsp unrefined brown sugar (or alternative)
  • 1/4 tsp salt and ground black pepper


  1. Drain and rinse the beans and add to a medium saucepan.
  2. Add all the remaining ingredients to a food processor or blender and blend until completely smooth.
  3. Add the sauce to the beans in the pan and place over a medium heat.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200’C/400’F and have a baking dish ready.
  5. Bring the beans to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes.
  6. Pour into the baking dish and place in the oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the beans are golden and bubbling.




I love to hear from you and connect with new bloggers and readers! Why not leave a comment below or connect with me on social media?



The World’s Healthiest Apple Crumble – Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Oil Free!

The World's Healthiest Apple Crumble - Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Oil Free!

Is it too soon to talk about Christmas?

The World's Healthiest Apple Crumble - Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Oil Free!

It kind of is for me too… I haven’t actually thought about Christmas up until writing this post. When I was editing these photos, it dawned on me how soon it is and how this recipe would make a great Christmas or Thanksgiving dessert!

The World's Healthiest Apple Crumble - Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Oil Free!The World's Healthiest Apple Crumble - Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Oil Free!The World's Healthiest Apple Crumble - Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Oil Free!

I was reading through one of my favourite vegan mags, Vegan Food & Living magazine, (a brand new British publication via magazine.co.uk) and was inspired by their pages of Autumnal puddings, to bake up a comforting yet healthy dessert.

By replacing the fat, sugar and refined flour for healthier, nutritious alternatives, this pudding is balanced enough for #breakfast yet deliciously satisfying enough for #dessert. #vegan #healthy By replacing the fat, sugar and refined flour for healthier, nutritious alternatives, this pudding is balanced enough for #breakfast yet deliciously satisfying enough for #dessert. #vegan #healthy By replacing the fat, sugar and refined flour for healthier, nutritious alternatives, this pudding is balanced enough for #breakfast yet deliciously satisfying enough for #dessert. #vegan #healthy

I’ve been making a lot of healthy treats lately, using the natural sweetness of fruit in clever ways to maximise flavour yet keep calories low. This is the time of year when my waistband gradually starts to feel tighter!

By replacing the fat, sugar and refined flour for healthier, nutritious alternatives, this pudding is balanced enough for #breakfast yet deliciously satisfying enough for #dessert. #vegan #healthyCold nights calling for comfort food and of course, Christmas! Not just the day itself, but all the delicious food baked and created in the lead up, be it to find the perfect recipe for the big day or large batches of cookies and truffles for gifts that always end up with a few missing!

The World's Healthiest Apple Crumble - Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Oil Free! The World's Healthiest Apple Crumble - Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Oil Free! The World's Healthiest Apple Crumble - Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Oil Free!

So by making a few adjustments to drastically cut calories, fat and increase the good stuff, I can feel great about tucking in to dessert, even for breakfast! And now you can too!

The World's Healthiest Apple Crumble - Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Oil Free!The World's Healthiest Apple Crumble - Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Oil Free!

I grind my own buckwheat flour from organic unroasted buckwheat in a high power blender. It’s so much cheaper, so easy and as fresh as it can get! You really do need a proper high speed blender to get a fine flour though, I tried this in my ninja blender and processor but it didn’t go. Twenty seconds in the Froothie and bam, we have flour! I store any extras in the fridge to keep it fresh.

The World's Healthiest Apple Crumble - Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Oil Free!


I just love the snowy fairy dust from sifting flour…

The World's Healthiest Apple Crumble - Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Oil Free!

Now is definitely the time of year when I start bookmarking and pinning Christmas recipes, homemade gifts and decoration ideas. I can’t quite remember what Christmas was like before Pinterest or mobile internet which meant I could fall asleep to reading recipes and looking at beautiful Bolo Rei and Panettone…

The World's Healthiest Apple Crumble - Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Oil Free!

Apple crumble, a proper old fashioned comfort pudding which is perfect at this time of year when apples are abundant and the nights chilly and in need of a warming, cosy dessert.

The World's Healthiest Apple Crumble - Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Oil Free!

But it doesn’t have to be resigned to a monthly sinful treat. By replacing the fat, sugar and refined flour for healthier, nutritious alternatives, this pudding is balanced enough for breakfast yet deliciously satisfying enough for dessert. This recipe can be ‘baked’ in the microwave to save time and oven space, it won’t be golden but it will be delicious!

A single serving boasts:

  • Dietary Fiber 35%
  • Protein 5.5g
  • Vitamin C 31%
  • Iron 14%
  • No saturated fat
  • No cholesterol
  • Low in sodium

The World's Healthiest Apple Crumble - Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Oil Free!



Serves 8

For the filling;

  • 6 apples, washed and cored
  • 1 large orange
  • 1/2 dropper vanilla stevia
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder or extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch sea salt

For the topping;

  • 300g buckwheat flour
  • 165g medjool dates, stones removed
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder
  • 1/4-1/2 cup almond milk


  1. Chop the apples into small pieces by hand or in a food processor. Add to a pan with the zest of the orange.
  2. Cut the peel away from the orange and add the fruit to a food processor with the remaining filling ingredients and a couple of tablespoons of water. Blend until completely puréed.
  3. Add to the apples and place the pan over a medium heat.
  4. While the apples are simmering, pulse the topping ingredients, except the milk until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add milk a little at a time whilst pulsing just until the mixture starts to clump together and sticks together when pinched.
  5. When the apples are cooked into a chunky apple sauce, taste and adjust sweetness and spice then tip into a deep 9 inch baking dish. Scatter over the crumble.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven at 180’C/350’F for 30-40 minutes or microwave on high for 10-15 minutes, checking at 5 minute intervals until the crumble is crisp and fragrant.

The World's Healthiest Apple Crumble - Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Oil Free! By replacing the fat, sugar and refined flour for healthier, nutritious alternatives, this pudding is balanced enough for #breakfast yet deliciously satisfying enough for #dessert. #vegan #healthy


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Creamy Country Vegetable Chowder


Soup is a certain ally of Autumn. As those nights draw in and the temperature drops, we need that soothing bowl of warming soup to ease us into the colder days ahead. We need comfort from our food.

Creamy Vegetable Chowder #vegan #soup #comfortfood #autumn

Sometimes, just a simple classic dish can be extra special. Vegetable soup exists in some form in most, if not all, cultures. So adaptable, balanced, deeply flavoured and rich with hearty nutrition. The recipe here is no exception. It not only offers the soothing hug of a bowl of steaming soup, but the luxurious comfort of a creamy, gently herb seasoned broth with healthy chunks of nourishing mixed sweet vegetables.

Creamy Vegetable Chowder #vegan #soup #comfortfood #autumn

This soup is simple enough for family weeknight meals, yet pretty and delicious enough for a dinner party starter. Christmas menu, anyone?

Creamy Vegetable Chowder #vegan #soup #comfortfood #autumn

I was inspired to make this soup after reading all the delicious winter comfort recipes in the latest Cook Vegan magazine. Check out magazine.com for amazing subscription offers on a range of magazines – a great Christmas gift idea that will keep on giving!

Creamy Vegetable Chowder #vegan #soup #comfortfood #autumn

Don’t forget – this soup is so versatile, use any seasonal vegetables you have to hand or simply use all frozen veg, mix up the herbs and even add a little spice. I love a chopped fresh red chilli running through this, for a little extra soul warming!

Creamy Vegetable Chowder #vegan #soup #comfortfood #autumn

This delicious soup is so healthy, each serving boasts:

  • No saturated fat
  • No cholesterol
  • Very high calcium
  • High dietary fibre
  • High potassium
  • High riboflavin
  • Very high thiamin
  • Very high vitamin A
  • High vitamin B6
  • Very high vitamin B12
  • Very high vitamin C
  • Very high vitamin E

Creamy Vegetable Chowder #vegan #soup #comfortfood #autumn #slimmingworld


Serves 6

  • 1 onion
  • 1 small pumpkin or squash (about 400g)
  • 2 parsnips
  • 3 small potatoes
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 stock cubes dissolved in 3 1/4 cups (800 ml) boiling water (ensure GF Certified if needed)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp garlic salt (or 1 tsp garlic granules and 2 tsp sea salt)
  • 1 tsp dried chives
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 5 cups (1.2 litres) unsweetened cashew or soy milk
  • 2 tbsp corn flour
  • 2 cups frozen mixed veg
  • Optional – up to 1/4 cup nutritional yeast for a slightly cheesy flavour


  1. Take a large pot and place over a medium heat. Chop the onion and add to the pan with a dash of cooking spray/oil/water and a pinch of salt. Let them cook gently while you prepare the remaining veg.
  2. Chop the peeled squash, parsnips, potatoes and courgette into roughly 1 inch chunks and add to the pan with the onion powder and bay leaves. Stir well, allowing the onion powder to get toasty in the pan and coat the vegetables.
  3. Add the stock, thyme, garlic salt, chives and pepper. Stir well, then bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are just soft.
  4. Meanwhile, dissolve the corn flour in a couple of tablespoons of the milk. Add the remaining milk to the pan, followed by the frozen mixed vegetables, nutritional yeast, if using and then finally stir in the corn flour mixture.
  5. Stir well, until thickened and just coming to the boil. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to preference and then ladle into bowls and sprinkle with fresh or dried herbs of choice.


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How to Handle Imposter Syndrome

Here’s something we haven’t discussed recently: how to handle imposter syndrome. If you’re not familiar with imposter syndrome, it’s that lovely feeling that you’re successful because you’re tricking everyone about your intelligence or insights, that you’re the recipient of incredible luck to have come this far, and that any day now someone will figure you out and have you booted out of the office or classroom. *Cough.* Not to be too specific or anything. Imposter syndrome has been on my mind lately because I read this great anecdote in Forbes about a lobster at a court party:

[Elizabeth] Gilbert writes [in Big Magic*] about an American striving to break into the French art world when he finds himself invited to a costume party at a castle filled with French aristocrats.

He spends a week meticulously assembling an elaborate ensemble, only to drive three hours to the party and realize he had missed a key detail: the theme of the party was “a medieval court”, and he was dressed as a lobster.

Much like the beloved protagonist in Legally Blonde, instead of running away in embarrassment, he rocked his costume, complete with red tights, face paint and giant foam claws. With all the confidence and charm he could muster, he bowed deeply to the assembled royalty and introduced himself as the court lobster. They loved him. He quickly became a celebrated guest of the event, ultimately dancing with the Queen of Belgium.

(* Affiliate link. Pictured at top: lobster costume for your office Halloween party, anyone? This one is $60 at Amazon (affiliate link). There’s also this fetching lobster hat (affiliate link).)

The Forbes article goes on to recommend that we apply “Court Lobster Strategy” in our own lives, building our confidence and feeling empowered “through a sense of playfulness and courageous action in spite of our moments of doubt.”

I love this attitude! As I’ve gotten older I definitely find myself aligning with Tina Fey’s quote about realizing that “almost everyone is a fraud, so I try not to feel too bad about it.” I also tend to be of the “bluster through as best you can” mentality — which we’ve talked about before with the idea about saying yes to work you’re not ready for. (Another great Tina Fey quote here: “Say yes and figure it out later.”)

I’d love to hear from you guys: What are your best tips for how to handle imposter syndrome? Some other common tips for imposter syndrome that I’ve read before are below…

  1. Recognize it in yourself and others. Dr. Valerie Young has identified five different kinds of people who suffer from imposter syndrome, and this Muse article suggests ways to deal with each flavor. As Gill Corkindale has written for the Harvard Business Review, imposter syndrome may be linked with perfectionism — feeling as if you “must not fail,” feeling like a fake or undeserving of success because somehow “others have been deceived into thinking otherwise.” New York even has a test to find out how bad you’re suffering from imposter syndrome.
  2. Remind yourself it’s normal to not know everything, and that if you’re new at something or doing something for the first time, it’s ok to have a learning curve.
  3. Focus on how much you’re learning — not how you’re “performing.” As professor Andy Molinsky writes in Harvard Business Review, working to cultivate a learning mindset helps you experience your limitations “quite differently. Your mistakes are seen as an inevitable part of the learning process rather than as more evidence of your underlying failings.” Another tip here: Remind yourself how far you’ve come and what you’ve already learned.
  4. Focus on what problems you solve or skills you bring. This tip comes to us from Kate White via Natalie Dormer (as reported in Forbes): Focus on what you can bring to the situation or how you can solve a problem, instead of how you’ll look and sound and what people might think.

How about you, ladies: What are your best tips on how to handle imposter syndrome? Do you feel like you’ve been able to move through your issues dealing with imposter syndrome, or do you feel like it’s a work in progress? What tricks for handling imposter syndrome work the best for you? 

Psst: you may want to check out our previous articles about executive presence for women, applying for jobs when you meet less than 100% of the listed job requirements, and how to move past career hiccups and mistakes you’ve made.


Now that’s a cut and colour! I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that I haven’t engaged with a proper hairdressing session since the beginning of September last year. I’ve had two cuts in the interim -not enough – at local Camden chain salons which weren’t great, (walking in at the last minute and taking an appointment because a stylist is free and you’ve got a big event the next day probably isn’t the best way to get a haircut) and it grew out badly both times.

(The recent experiences of my sister and me make very good arguments for doing your research, building a relationship with, and investing in, a good hairdresser. I know I usually hop off to the shiny of the shiniest, but good hair doesn’t have to cost the earth; my sister used a Camden national chain salon last time which gave her a seriously bad colour job, and charged her more than the Mayfair salon I love – woah, was I FURIOUS on her behalf. So she went to the Toni & Guy Academy on Monday for a cut and colour by a stylist with four years of experience, and overseen by a director; it cost her £35 and she looks incredible.)

Anyway, there’s no real reason why I didn’t get round to getting my highlights done apart from the usual – time and inclination, and, now that I’ve seen these before and after images I am resolved not to leave it ten months until my next session. I wear my hair every day – it’s one of the first things people notice about you, and it’s such a simple thing to get right.

And so it was that when I finally pitched up at the Daniel Galvin hair palace on George Street (a few blocks from Marble Arch, and just west of Marylebone High Street), the lovely Chelsey actually looked aghast when I said the last time I had my highlights done was last September.

I’m a natural blonde  – I have the pale eyelashes and brows of a bunny rabbit, but our northern climate and my insistence on wearing a hat anywhere near a sunbeam means that the top of my head starts to look decidedly murky without a little helping hand. A half head of highlights to be precise.

I had an actual line where the old highlights had grown out six inches down from the tip of my head.

And let’s draw a veil over the greys lurking on my temple. (Fun fact: both my mother and sister have the same swoosh of grey on their temples too.)

So here are my highlights baking:

So hurrah for my lovely new summer hair, thanks to Chelsey who has restored me to my happy blonde place. And a big shout out too to the lovely Lauren Greene for the perfect blunt cut and softening layers at the front: she took all the time to check in with me about my hair and meticulously – and rapidly made it look wonderful, taking off just enough to get rid of the frizz, but not so much that I felt scalped. I’ve washed it twice since, and it fell just perfectly each time when I air dried it.

And HELL-O perfect, super rapid, blow dry.

This was a complimentary press appointment for a cut and colour in June 2018


For more information call on 0207 486 9661 or to book online click here

58-60 George Street
London W1U 7ET

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