Emma Nutrition

Simplifying the science through cooking and education. When I'm not on Mummy duties…


Raw Blueberry Cheesecake Recipe

I just love this blueberry cheesecake. Packed full of antioxidants, fibre, healthy fats as well as being wheat and dairy free. A nutritional thumbs up!

Crust ingredients: Blueberry cheesecake
1 ½ cups pre-soaked almonds
½ cup ground coconut
½ cup dates
pinch salt

Filling ingredients:
2½ cups cashews, soaked
1½ cup blueberries
3 tbsp lemon juice
6 tbsp coconut sugar, ground
1 tbsp maple syrup
¼ cup water
1 vanilla bean, scraped
Pinch salt
1 tbsp psyllium husks (optional) *
6 tbsp coconut oil

¬ Place all crust ingredients in a food processor and grind until mixture resembles biscuit crumbs;
¬ Press mixture into 7” tart pan and place in freezer to set;
¬ Blend all filling ingredients except coconut oil in a high powered blender until fairly smooth;
¬ Add coconut oil and blend again until very smooth;
¬ Garnish with ground coconut and crushed nuts or blueberries.

Nutrition notes:

Blueberries are thought to be one of the highest level antioxidant foods; meaning they can fight cardiovascular disease, free radicals and may even reduce cancer risks. Cashew nuts are used instead of cheese or cottage cheese in this recipe making it dairy free yet high in Calcium and fibre. The crust of this is dairy free and wheat free. Coconut is a healthy fat good for nerve, skin and brain function.

Recipe courtesy of Rich Havardi – Raw Food Chef found here.

For more baking alternatives go to this chart.

PDF or Print Blueberry Cheesecake Raw – Wheat & Dairy free


What are the best calorie counting and exercise trackers

Being a fitness gadget lover I get excited about a shiny new toy. It spurs me on to be a bit more healthy and to keep track of my diet and exercise. I’m more of a believer in a holistic approach than solely the simplistic principle of calories in versus calories out. I do however find it helpful to track my food intake. It makes me more mindful of what I’m eating, and gives me a little boost to see what exercise I’ve done that week. Not that its always recorded but its good to go back to it if I find myself slipping…so I’ve compiled this list of food and exercise resources that I have used or found helpful.

Food databases and calorie trackers:

Calorie King


Calorie Count

My Fitness Pal


Spark People

Smartphone Applications:

Lose It!


My Food Diary

My Fitness Pal


Spark People

Body Fitness Free


Go Meals

You are your own gym (a personal favourite of mine!)

Physical activity aids:

Google Maps

Map My Walk


Map My Run

Pedometers- New Lifestyles, Accusplit, Oregon

Accelerometers- Fitbit, Gruve, FitBug, Ki Fit

Heart rate monitors- Polar, Garmin

Any cool stuff missing? Let me know!

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Soft drink increases the risk of diabetes

Drinking one 12oz (336ml) serving of sugar-sweetened soft drink per day can be enough to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes by 22%.


It’s not possible to mitigate this risk by consuming artificially sweetened soft drinks either as these are also associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes!

Naturally sweetened drinks such as juices and nectars do affect blood sugar levels so its probably best to water these down or make flavoured water by using pieces if fruit. This method contains alot less sugar than drinking juice or nectar.

The InterAct consortium. Consumption of sweet beverages and type 2 diabetes incidence in European adults: results from EPIC-InterAct. Diabetologia, 2013 (in press) DOI: 10.1007/s00125-013-2899-8

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RECIPE: Healthy Brownies

I’m loving the look of these and hoping to make them very shortly!

RECIPE: Healthy Brownies.

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Field trip to Hill Farm Oils

I’ve been using Hill Farm Rapeseed Oil for a few months now. It’s as a result of a family outing that went skewy one day! We tried to find the Suffolk Food Hall, following signs for ‘Suffolk Food Show‘ and ended up at said show in Wherstead Park. I was delighted as I love rural food shows. I’m the person who will stop and buy anything, whether I need it or not, from roadside stalls or village shops just because I like the thought of buying something that has a story and a little bit of love injected into it. Knarly carrots from a hessian bag, meat from a local farm or eggs from hens that are roaming free in someones garden are my idea of heaven. I had bought some of the oil at the show and used it in my cooking, baking, frying, cakes, dressings etc instead of olive oil or standard vegetable oil – a recipe can be found here. The difference in taste and sizzle during cooking was quite noticeable so I contacted Sam at Hill Farm to find out why. He invited me to the farm to check it out….

When I say these guys are rural I mean it! Set amongst rolling green hills sits a farm, an office, a house or two and a food factory. All tucked away down a long driveway with the glow of bright yellow flowers in the background. This was different to the many food and supplement manufacturing plants I’ve been to that are mostly carparks amidst huge sterile looking sheds with very little character. They did still make me wear the standard food factory attire though – very unattractive net hat, shoe coverings and a disposable lab coat 😉


Emma & Graeme Hill Farm

Graeme and Alice gave me the grand tour. First off was the seed storage – harvested in July the seed is stored where it is grown then brought over to this side of the farm in batches to fill the 10tonne hoppers x 3 that pump seed through to the presses. These presses are gentle slow creatures that keep the temperature of the oil below 35C. This is called cold pressing. The room is warm not hot and not noisy at all. The rustic smell of oil and earth permeates the room. The seeds are pressed by rotational force by one of 6 machines separating the oil from the husk.

Rapeseed Meal Hill Farm

Rapeseed Meal Hill Farm

Artificial Firewood Hill Farm

Artificial Firewood Hill Farm

The oil drips down into tubes while the husk is pushed through and collected. This husk or waste matter is called ‘meal’ and is used for animal feed and to make artificial logs with. I found that fascinating! The oil then gets filtered through a plate and frame filter press (which i thought looked like a beehive).

Plate & Frame Filter Press Hill Farm

Plate & Frame Filter Press Hill Farm

The oil comes out looking much clearer and is a lovely golden colour. From here it travels via a tube to a room next door; the bottling plant. The bottles are imported as although Hill Farm looked they couldn’t find this type of bottle in the UK. It’s a long narrow bottle that is dark in colour. The bottling process is automated via a fancy machine that pumps the oil straight from the tube into the bottles, caps them, seals them, labels them and sends them on their way…to the ladies who were packing them in boxes the day I visited.

Bottled product Hill Farm Oil

Bottled product Hill Farm Oil

The boxes are then stored in a cool dark room for subsequent shipping to store.

Sam the owner then made me a cup of hot green tea which was most appreciated as it was a cold snowy day. We talked about the health benefits of Hill Farm rapeseed oil amongst other things such as glamping in nearby Norfolk.

I gathered the following points from our chat:

  • Buying UK oil uses ALOT less food miles
  • Dark bottles are better for storing oil as they reduce UV exposure
  • Vitamin E is not only an antioxidant acting as a preservative but it holds the oil together during cooking
  • Rapeseed oil is to the UK as Olive Oil is to Italy
  • Oil labelled Vegetable oil is rapeseed oil but goes through an additional process of heat pressing to extract more oil from the seeds. It’s this heat pressing that is thought to damage the nutrients in oil.
  • Rapeseed varieties have different flavours as do other oils. Most oils are blended to arrive at the required flavour. Hill Farm rapeseed oil may change in flavour however they do use the same variety to try to maintain the most velvety texture and nutty flavour. It tastes great in dressings.
  • Oil from a single estate ie harvested from the one farm is more premium than multiple estate oils.
  • Single estate oil is usually more expensive than multiple estate oil. The Hill Farm Oil is surprisingly affordable given it is a single estate oil
  • Rapeseed oil is used in some cosmetics.
  • Rapeseed oil is significantly lower in saturated fats than other oils and of course than butter. It has 6% saturated fat compared to 10% in sunflower oil, 14% lower than olive oil and 51% in butter.

The provenance of this oil really struck me. I grew up in Australia where it is culturally important to purchase Australian made. Many companies aimed to put the little ‘Australian Made’ logo on their products. We all know that buying locally helps the economy but it may also increase the nutritional value of your diet.

For example, if we buy tomatoes that are to travel far before reaching their sales point, they need to be picked earlier ie before they are ripe, then travel in humidity controlled transport and ‘ripened’ by nitrogen just before we buy them. Yet the important antioxidants such as lycopene are formed in tomatoes at the end of the ripening process ONLY when this occurs on the vine.

Heat and vibration of transport can damage chemicals in food – particularly heat sensitive items such as oil. Instinctively to me, the more variables in all parts of the growing, harvesting, processing (pressing in this case) and packaging (bottling) of any food item the more likely it is something will go wrong. I am more likely to trust a products health claims if they are bound to adhere to the local rules of where I live, if they consume their own product and if they know exactly what goes into it.

For those interested I was not paid to visit Hill Farm. I was supplied with some complimentary bottles of oil so watch out for some recipes. All opinions are my own.



Tasty Little Numbers – Review & Competition

Recently I received an exciting package with some very tasty little numbers indeed 🙂 As a Nutritionist and semi-recent mother trying to slim down (again!) I was intrigued when I came across Jo Beach’s products. Branded as ‘Tasty Little Numbers’ they are real food in smaller portions and in whole calorie numbers. Great, I thought! Jo was then kind enough to send me some samples to try.  Tasty Little Numbers delivery

I was kind enough to try them 🙂 These are better than any ‘diet’ food I’ve tried. The simple reason for this is that diet food almost exclusively has these characteristics:

  • Fat content removed – this removes the texture or ‘mouth feel’
  • Thickeners are added to improve texture. If you have ever eaten gluggy tomato pasta base or coconut milk for example then you know what this glugginess feels like – it is due to thickeners such as xantham gum or corn starch. It’s revolting and yet contained  within a lot of foods.
  • Sugar content is removed – this is then replaced with artificial sweeteners that are carcinogenic and taste…well nothing like sugar (there are exceptions to the health-cancer link such as Stevia).
  • Flavours are minimal – for some reason the theory is that if you are dieting/slimming/mindful of calories you don’t want flavour.

So you end up with reconstituted flavourless mash that is unsatisfying. While there is a place for meal replacements and diet ready-meals I don’t know many people who can sustain eating them, due to lack of flavour and ‘foodiness’, and hence fall off the diet-wagon. Instead the concept of a portion controlled meal or snack that can be eaten without having to think about the portion size or calculate the calories is appealing.

What exactly are they?

The range is made up of:

  • Chocolate = 100 kCal/bar
  • Crisps = 100kCal/bar
  • Snack pots = 200kCal/bar
  • Meal pots = 300kCal/bar

I tried the milk chocolate and white chocolate, cheese and onion crisps and chicken tikka masala. Tasty Little Numbers

The chocolate bars are a wafer (wheat and corn flours) coated in chocolate. They are a decent size so you have quite a few bites to realise you are eating something and to savour them. If I were being fussy I would prefer they were rice flour wafers however these aren’t low allergenic foods and the chocolate is Belgian after all. Lip-smackingly good!

Cheese and onion crisps are crunchy and full of flavour – melting and snapping at just the right moments. Exactly as crisps should be.

Chicken tikka masala snack pot was delicious. The chicken and rice are cooked well maintaining form, complemented by a delectable mix of intense spices.

Following my basic dietary rules of:

  • Keep it simple – adding your calories together is easy peasy
  • Make it tasty – full of flavour
  • Savour it – actual food you can enjoy…

…these tasty little numbers hit the spot. Have a snack or meal without stressing about the calorie counting. It’s all there in black and white added up for you.

Products contain no colourings or flavourings. Further nutritional information can be found here.

To win a month’s supply of Tasty Little Numbers Chocolate Bar’s for yourself please enter your details below and share on facebook or retweet:

*Products were supplied as samples but I was not paid for this review. My review is an honest opinion. Emma

* Entry open to UK residents only.

* Winner will be drawn by random web generator.


Tasty Beef Burger recipe

It doesn’t particularly surprise me that horse-meat and pig DNA have been found in frozen prepared burgers. Often there are many suppliers in the chain and quality checks can sometimes be hasty or incomplete along the way. I’ve had the pleasure of working with incredibly meticulous technical staff but there is only so much they can do if their provided paperwork is incorrect or inaccurate.

I spent 10 years as a vegetarian yet now eat meat and I personally don’t see the issue of what type of meat is eaten – how it is slaughtered and prepared is the key point to me. If I’m going to eat a burger I prefer to know exactly what’s in it!

How can you know exactly what is in your burger? Make it!

Tasty Beef Burger’s

450 gm lean Beef Mince  (the  more fat in the beef mince the easier the burger will bind together)

1 small Onion finely diced

1-2 Garlic cloves finely chopped

1-2 tsp Thyme or Italian herbs

Sea salt & Pepper

1 Egg lightly beaten

2 tspn Olive Oil or Rapeseed Oil

1 tbspn breadcrumbs – I don’t use these as I prefer to save my carb intake for other foods but they do help the burgers to bind

Baby spinach

Red onion


Sliced cooked beetroot


Heat the oil, fry the onion until soft. Add to the other ingredients and mix together – this is the fun part! Shape into burgers/patties. I make various sizes – man-size, woman-size and child-size to keep the whole family happy.  You can use a cookie cutter to shape them.

Cook on a BBQ for the best tasting burgers or on a griddle pan if you don’t fancy stepping outside to the BBQ. Usually they take around 5 mins each side, 3 mins for the smaller ones.

You can eat the burgers as they are with the salad ingredients above or stack them into a wholemeal bread bun with salad items. I highly recommend adding beetroot to your burger stack a la Australian style 🙂

Nutritional benefits:

Lean beef mince holds around 20 gm protein and 12 gm fat per 100 gm.  That’s 190 calories. 100 gm makes 1 man-size burger or 2 woman-size ones.

Beetroot is my favourite super-food! It is high in Potassium & Magnesium that can prevent muscle cramps. It can lower high blood pressure and also increase endurance in athletes

Avocado is one of the healthiest fats around. 85% of avocado’s calories come from fats that decrease inflammation and heart disease. They are also high in antioxidants but you must eat the dark green part near the skin. To do this slice the avocado in 2 lengthways, pop the seed out then peel the skin off like a banana.


Resetting your ‘food clock’

Ever had that satisfying feeling when you are in control of your eating; when you are able to say no to that extra food knowing you have eaten enough or just aren’t feeling particularly hungry that day? Chances are you’ve experienced this but the feeling comes and goes. Before you realise it your portion sizes have doubled and treats are common occurrence. You tell yourself that you should have more discipline and that you will have more control tomorrow or that this one piece of cake is ‘just a little treat’.

How would you feel if I told you this is not your ‘fault’? That it’s your ‘food clock’ playing tricks with you! What a relief! Sometimes just understanding ourselves eases the struggle  🙂

What is the ‘food clock’?

Food clock?!

Food clock?!

It’s a collection of genes and molecules known as the “food-entrainable oscillator”. The what-a-lator?! Put simply it’s like our ‘body clock’. Where our ‘body clock’ keeps track of events and activities and aims to maintain a 24 hr day and night rhythm, the ‘food clock’ aims to control the amount of food we eat as well as the time we eat. Genes start to turn on as we anticipate food and we then experience hunger pangs, digestive enzymes are released and our body prepares to absorb nutrients.

It is thought that the food clock is set to prime foraging and hunting hours of the day but it can be altered. So if you don’t eat during the day your body will wake you at night searching for food – to survive. Eating at night when the digestive system thinks it should be sleeping can cause overeating as the gut isn’t aware of when it is ‘full’. Likewise if we overeat and eat meals at the wrong times of day in the wrong circumstances our priming for food breakdown becomes less reactive until we feel a general sort of yearning and dissatisfied desire…which we fill with more food.

How can we overcome this?

Planning what we will eat, how much of it and when we will eat it prevents overeating! It is best to eat when we are mindful of our food. If we prepare a meal and sit down to eat it when we are hungry our body is primed to digest it. If we eat when we are busy doing other things our digestive system isn’t primed and the food sits undigested and unabsorbed – causing weight gain amongst other health problems. You may be interested to know that we can reset our ‘food clock’ quite quickly. It only takes a couple of days to reset satisfaction levels from portion sizes. Reducing portion sizes by a third or even half for 3 days (if you have been overeating) can reset your food clock and have you back on the path in no time.

What’s for breakfast tomorrow then 😉

Handy tip: Not eating for 16 hours can reset the body clock so if you are travelling long-haul this technique can reduce jetlag.



University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) (2012, December 21). How excess holiday eating disturbs your ‘food clock’. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 8, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­/releases/2012/12/121224113351.htm

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (2008, May 23). Food-related Clock In The Brain Identified. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 8, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­/releases/2008/05/080522145213.htm

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My 5 Best Detox Recipes – Number 1

Healthy Cottage Pie


  • 450g puy lentils
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 chopped carrots
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tspn paprika
  • 2 tbspn of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbspn of tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 400ml of stock made with low salt beef or vegetable stock or homemade stock
  • 1 cup of fresh or frozen peas

Brown the lentils (you can use red lentils but they tend to turn into mush and you will lose the separate layers in the pie), add onions, carrots, garlic, paprika and cook for 5-6 minutes until they start to soften.

Add Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, bay leaves and stock. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 20mins or until the stock has reduced. Add peas towards the end cooking these for just a couple of minutes but ensuring their water content doesn’t make the mixture too watery.

While the lentil mixture is simmering, cook one swede and one celeriac chopped in boiling water until soft. Drain and add parsley and black pepper, celery salt if desired. Mash until smooth.

Pour the lentil mixture into an ovenproof dish, spread the mash on top and bake at 200°C for 30mins.

Serves 4 or more.

Nutritional benefits:

Puy lentils are tasty little treats! If you’ve not had lentils before these are the ones you want to try. If you’ve had lentils and not enjoyed them its probably because you had red or green ones that have less flavour and don’t hold their form therefore have a mushy texture. They are 30% protein so lower than mince but they have a very low fat content and are high in fibre, vitamin B1, folic acid, and minerals.

Fibre is essential to get the bowels moving in a more regular and normal pattern, especially if you are ‘detoxing’ or clearing your system. Fibre increases transit time which is the time for food to be digested so this means it sits for less time in your digestive tract. It can also decrease cholesterol and increase metabolism too so if weight loss is your goal then fibre you need! Just make sure you drink lots of fluid with a high fibre diet as this will avoid constipation.

Using swede and celeriac instead of potato means you keep the sugar or GI index lower. Having a lower GI diet stops spikes in blood sugar levels which can lead to sugar cravings or lack of energy short term and hormonal imbalances long term.

I’m a big fan of using herbs and spices where possible as these all contain nutrients such as antioxidants. Paprika has 20% of your daily vitamin A requirements! Garlic is highly anti-inflammatory.

Let me know what you think 🙂