Follow Me on Pinterest March, 2013 |

Archive for March 21, 2013

How 1 Hour In The Kitchen Can Save You 10


roasted root vegetables

One of the biggest challenges my clients come to me with is this:

“I really want to eat healthier but I just don’t have the time”.

It’s especially challenging when cooking for one, as it’s so easy to just grab
the nearest hunger-filler rather than cooking from scratch for one serving.

But with a little forward planning, healthy and delicious food is not only
achievable but can actually save you time.

Here is an exercise I set for many of my clients and you can try it too.
The forward planning starts with getting a stock of great tasty vegetables
ready for a good ‘ole cookup.

Try this shopping list to get started:
8 sweet potatoes, 1 medium size squash, 2 courgette/zucchini, 2 carrots, 1 beetroot, 1 parsnip, 1 turnip, 2 cups quinoa.

You will also need several storage containers to store your cooked up goodies, and two baking sheets. Freezer bags or paper bags are really handy too.
Got all that covered? Let’s cook!

1.      Preheat oven to 200c 390f Gas Mark6

2.      Cut the squash in half, rub olive oil into the flesh and place both halves flesh side down on a baking sheet.

3.      Rub olive oil into the skins of all the sweet potatoes and place these onto the same sheet.

4.      Place the baking sheet on a shelf in the oven.

5.      Now peel all the root vegetables and chop into approx. 1inch chunks. Toss them in olive oil then transfer them to your second baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt and any herbs you like.

6.      Place these on another shelf in your oven.

7.      Leave all your oven ingredients to bake while you do the next step: cook your quinoa

8.      Thoroughly rinse quinoa in a sieve under fast running water then transfer to a cooking pot.
Add 3 cups of water and bring to a boil.

9.      Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes.

10.  While your quinoa simmers away, it’s time to do some real ninja veg prep: courgette/zucchini strips to use instead of pasta!

11.  Top and tail your courgette/zucchinis and cut lengthways at 1/2 inch intervals. Now take each ½inch slice and cut ¼inch slices lengthways until they all resemble tagliatelle strips.
Here’s an infographic 

12.  Place these strips in a paper/plastic bag or container and refrigerate to use within 3 days.

13.  Check your quinoa and remove from heat when cooked.

14.  Check your oven now to see how those roasted roots are doing. Go on, try a few. Softened but still some ‘bite’? Perfect. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

15.  Your sweet potatoes and squash should be done in about 45minutes, so check those too. The potatoes should be squashy and brown on the outside. Remove from the oven when cooked and set aside to cool.

So you have all this fabulous cooked food, now what do you do with it?


Sweet Potatoes
sweet potato pancakes








  • Use one or two as straight baked potatoes for dinner
  • Cut the rest in half and scoop most of the flesh from each half. Transfer this lovely flesh to storage containers to use later for mash, a base for healthy pancakes, potato cakes and even as a base for chocolate pudding.
  • You can freeze this flesh and defrost when required.
  • Don’t trash those skins! They make amazing loaded skins with toppings like salsa, guacamole, chilli, etc. You can freeze these for future use. They only take 30 minutes to defrost.

Recipes in my Free Recipe Series, so sign up if you haven’t already!

Roasted Squash
butternut squash soup









  • Scoop out flesh and transfer to storage containers to refrigerate or freeze.
  • Use to make satisfying soups or stir into quinoa for a healthy alternative to risotto.

Roasted Roots
roasted roots salad 







  • Transfer to storage containers and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
  • Use as a side to a meal, a base for veggie chilli or casserole, add to quinoa for a healthy warm or cold salad with herbs and pine nuts.

Recipes in my Free Recipe Series, so sign up if you haven’t already!

quinoa porridge 







  • Transfer to a storage container and refrigerate for up to 5 days
  • Use as a side to chilli or curries
  • Make a big ‘ole wholegrain salad with some of your roasted roots – perfect for packed lunches.
  • Make quinoa porridge for a protein-packed breakfast with almond milk and fresh or dried fruits.

Courgette/Zucchini Strips
pesto courgette








  • Saute lightly instead of cooking pasta/noodles

Recipes in my Free Recipe Series, so sign up if you haven’t already!


My math calculates that you will save about 10 hours of cooking time over cooking each of these options from scratch. Plus you’ll have great, healthy food choices on hand for every meal of the day.

For more recipes to use these great ingredients, sign up for my Take5 Series of healthy food inspiration.

Do you forward-plan and batch cook your food?
Have a fave time-saving food trick?
I would love to know your tips, so please leave a comment!


Getting Started with Exercise – 7 Tips to Start Right + Stay On Track


John Preston Personal Trainer

John Preston, Personal Trainer

Today’s post is brought to you by John Preston at Cheshire Personal Trainer.
I met John recently and was impressed by the open, inclusive and down-to-earth attitude toward health and fitness at his Gym in Stockport.
So, I asked him if he would write something that would encourage people who have been out of the exercise loop for a while (or perhaps never in it!) and give some advice on how to start.
A big thanks (and dips) to John for
his expert advice in his own words
and stay tuned for some exciting food and fitness collaborations in the near future

Getting Started With Exercise 

Ok, enough is enough…….time to make some changes to my diet and lifestyle!

I’m going to really try to eat the right things……….

I’m going to start exercising and get fitter…………

Sound familiar?

There are lots of reasons why people just like you struggle to get an effective exercise program in place and quite often it’s down to barriers such as:

I’m not fit enough to exercise

I don’t have time

I don’t want to join a gym

I don’t know how

As a full time personal trainer in Stockport and Manchester I hear plenty of barriers to exercise (commonly known as excuses)

The trick is finding the right type of exercise for you—one that you can easily fit into your schedule and that is something you actually enjoy. To help you make a start and get active, here are a few tips:

1.       Don’t Overdo It

It sounds cliché, but starting with the basics—walking before running, covering short distances before long distances is key for exercise newbies or even for more experienced exercisers who are trying to pick up some new moves.

Starting simple and perfecting form will also inspire confidence, avoid injury and allow an inexperienced exerciser to build one step at a time.

2.       Use the Buddy System

If you’re starting a fitness program for the first time, a good way to break in is by starting with a class or finding someone to start with you. For some people, training with a friend or within a group can be a great motivator.

Even if you don’t know anyone in a group fitness class on the first day, in time you’re bound to make friends. Knowing they will be at sessions and expecting you to be there is a great incentive to get to class.

3.       Challenge Yourself

While staying within bounds of what your body is capable of, working up to something and doing workouts that increase in difficulty is a great way to stay motivated.

People definitely seem to respond well to having the feeling of achieving something, so pick up the pace, add extra reps or try something tougher if rewards are what you crave.

4.       It’s not all about the cardio

If you’re looking to lose some body fat then endless hours on the treadmill or cross trainer aren’t going to help.

This type of exercise (apart from being a bit dull) will burn a few calories while you do it but not much else.

Try to get in plenty of resistance (free weights or body weights) to develop lean muscle and drive your metabolism through the roof.

Here’s a few links to some basic workouts I have suggested previously on my own website –
exercise for women

Lower Body Workout

Upper Body Workout For Women

If you are going to do cardio then it’s H.I.I.T.
all the way – High Intensity Interval Training
Ask at your local gym which classes are on and have
a go to see what suits you.

      Keep changing the exercise

Ever started an exercise regime and after a month it’s just not having the effect any more?

You have started to become conditioned to that group of exercises. It’s time to change your routine and shock your body with something new.

Try a different workout about every 3 weeks. If you go to a gym then the instructors should write you a different program at no cost.

Goal setting – This is REALLY important!

Long term – by summer / Xmas / when the divorce comes through  ;-)  I want to be……..

Medium term – by the end of next month I want to be

Short term – end of next week?

I will often say to my clients, choose an item of clothing that you can get into but if you lost a couple of pounds would fit perfectly. Hang that on the outside of your wardrobe where you can see it every day.

How good will you feel when that outfit looks amazing after a couple of weeks!

Last of all – Have fun!

If you hate what you are doing then change it.

Find an activity that you like and start with that.

If you are engaging in an activity that you find enjoyable then you will work harder. The more you put in, the better the results.

All the best!

John Preston
Director / Personal trainer at

Cheshire Personal Trainer
I have been involved within the fitness industry
 for over ten years now and have a passion for promoting a healthy lifestyle through diet and effective exercise.

My company’s motto has always been ‘fitness for everyone’ and over my years in the industry I have had the pleasure of working with children, adults, able bodied, additional needs, housewives, rock stars and captains of industry.
Follow me on Facebook and Twitter