Spicy Buckwheat Pancakes


I used Orgran Buckwheat Pancake mix to make some spicy pancakes.  Buckwheat is not a grain but a fruit seed and part of the rhubarb family of plants.  This link  gives you more information about Buckwheat.

Ingredients for 5 pancakes:
½ cup buckwheat pancake mix
1 small onion -grated
1 fresh green chilly chopped into small pieces
small bunch of freshly chopped coriander
small piece of grated ginger
2 gloves of garlic minced using a garlic press
½ tsp. salt
pinch of turmeric
2-3 tbls oil
1.  Transfer the pancake mix into a mixing bowl.  Add the onions, ginger, garlic, green chillies, coriander, salt, turmeric to the pancake mix.

2. Add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil to the mixture and mix it all using a spoon.

3.  Add half a cup of water to the mixture and stir.

4. This water should be enough but if you feel that the mixture is thick and you can a couple of tablespoons of water.

5. Grease and heat a non stick frying pan with oil.  Rub off the excess oil using a kitchen paper.  Pour in a small ladle of the pancake mix and using a tablespoon, spread it into a circle.

6. Once the little air bubbles start to appear, it should be easy to turn the pancake over.  If the pancakes feel dry, you can add a couple of drops of oil to allow them to brown.

7.  Cook until golden brown on both sides. Finish making all the pancakes in the same manner. I didn’t need to add much oil to the pancakes and they cooked fine and tasted great too.

8.  Serve them hot with your favourite sauce.

Skincare: The Ten Commandments

1. Thou shalt not go to bed with the night before’s make-up on

OK, I admit there has been occasion where I have broken this one, but not very often I might add, and that’s because I fully appreciate the importance of letting my skin breath overnight (after all this is the time when it repairs itself). Plus, nobody wants mucky foundation stains all over their pillowcase, do they? Exactly.

2. Thou shalt take a skin-loving supplement

My particular favourite is Selenium which is rich in antioxidants and works miracles on fine lines. So powerful is selenium that if ever my lines are looking a little more pronounced I switch from my regular multi-vitamin to a selenium (with vitamins A,C & E) supplement and after a couple months it is literally like you’ve turned back the hands of time! Wonderful stuff.

3. Honour thy skincare routine      

This should involve cleansing and moisturizing as a minimum, but you can also try serums, face masks and treatments designed specifically for your skin type. Whatever you decide to do though, do it regularly. Your skin will thank you for it.

4. Thou shalt not squeeze spots

Squeezing a spot can leave a scar; it is much better to leave it be than take the risk. If you have a big event coming up and need to speed up the process you could always try a (small) dab of toothpaste on the little blighter to dry it out.

5. Thou shalt not tolerate dry, flaky lips

Gently buff flaky lips with an old toothbrush before saturating them with a creamy lip balm. Eh voilà – kissable, super-soft lips are yours.

6. Thou shalt have eight hours sleep every night     

Or failing that you can always cover up any tell-tale signs of a late night with a good foundation. Many modern formulas have built in skin goodies such as serums and vitamins for a flawless face which is 100% guilt free.

7. Thou shalt keep hydrated

It’s difficult to drink as much water as our bodies would like us to consume, but flavoured teas and well diluted cordial are good substitutes if you find it a struggle to get your eight glasses in.

8. Thou shalt keep squeaky clean

I used to wonder why I got blackheads until I read an article that said you should cleanse your skin until your cleansing pads come away clean. It seems obvious but I’d never thought to do this before (I wrongly assumed one pad would be fine) and now I hardly ever get blackheads. Result.

9. Thou shalt not rub your eyes

Because broken off eyelashes and premature crow’s feet are not a good look.

10. And on the seventh day, they rested   

We all need a day off every now and again and our skin is no exception. If you have a day of household chores lined up how about foregoing the foundation and letting it breathe a little, remember… healthy skin is happy skin!

Image reproduced from beautyeditor.ca

Hook Kick: 5 Good Reasons to Hit with the Ball of the Foot

Different schools and styles of martial arts teach the hook kick (also called reversed round kick) in different ways. Main differences manifest essentially in the way the movement originates, how the kicking leg is moving during the kick and what part of the foot hits the target that can be the hill or the sole/ball of the foot.

When I teach how to perform a hook kick, I first clarify that to maximise performance the leg should follow a whipping movement to ensure maximum acceleration of the foot toward the target.

I also suggest to always hit with the ball of the foot. Here are for 3 good reasons both physiological and in terms of pure performance for doing that rather than the (side of the) hill, keeping the foot at 90° to the ankle:

  1. better reach: having the foot extended it increases your range by nearly the full length of your foot ensuring you will hit, from the same position, targets that would not be reachable if you bend your foot.
  2. stronger impact: if the angular speed of the leg moving is constant having a longer weapon (by the length of the foot) increases the speed of the foot itself, build up a higher momentum and delivers a stronger kick..
  3. safer for you: the Achilles’ tendon is a weak point and if you squash it against a skull it will hurt your foot to the point you might not be able of walking for some time. Even if the impact is not straight on the Achilles’ tendon it can still hit the many nerves that are exposed both on the internal and external part of the hill, moving toward the ankle. The ball of the foot is very well padded and can bear much stronger impact than the edge of the hill.
  4. improve flexibility: with the full fully extended the natual flexibility of the leg is highly helped; to the contrary trying to extend a leg while the tibial (shin) muscles are tensed in order to keep the ankle at 90° will have some groups of muscles that are fighting against the direction of your kick getting the muscles behind the leg less prone to extend
  5. faster: if all muscles involved in the movement are pushing in the same direction and the others are simply relaxed the overall speed will be improved.

In terms of pure power the hook kick is not to be considered at the top of the scale where round kick and other forward kicks can develop much stronger impact. Things change when spinning backward where the whole spinning momentum adds up to the actual mechanical movement of the kick itself.

Picture: Curtesy and Copyright @ Duncan Grisby 2006

Time for a Wardrobe Audit?

A clear wardrobe equals a clear mind. A messy wardrobe makes you lose visibility of what you actually own, causing you to buy more of what you have and reaching for favourite items that are on high rotation. And then getting stuck in a style rut!

When looking at a wardrobe, gaining clarity is everything. An effective wardrobe should reflect who you are currently – not you five or ten years ago. So many wardrobes I see contain items which are: shapeless, dated or just simply unflattering. And the fact that we only wear 20% of our wardrobe means we as a nation who are holding ourselves back massively from getting a wardrobe we do actually wear and even more importantly LOVE to wear!

Here are some startling facts to consider:-

– British women hoard clothes worth £285 that they will never wear but refuse to throw out the equivalent of 22 outfits each, according to research

– More than half, 54 per cent said guilt over wasting money made them keep the clothes while 41 per cent were planning to lose weight. And Impulse buys are being blamed by 45 per cent of shoppers for their bulging wardrobe.

– Jeans are a significant problem, with 88 percent owning at least one pair they would never wear, while 22 per cent hoard up to six pairs of shoes and 95 per cent of tops will never be worn.

– Men hoard 19 items worth on average £248, according to the poll of 1,200 adults for the shopping channel QVC.

Getting a wardrobe that works for you is just amazing and gives you a new lease of life. If you feel you could do with getting the wardrobe you have always wanted but didn’t think you could get. And want to know where the key gaps are in your wardrobe and where you should be investing your money wisely, then contact Personal Stylist, Katie Bowen via: www.styko-stylist.co.uk or mobile: 07855 754487.

The Importance of Speed in Martial Arts

In order to be a good martial artist you must aim at excelling in a number of different skills and having at the same time:

  • Strength
  • Agility
  • Coordination
  • Reflexes
  • Balance
  • Endurance
  • Speed

The last but definitely not least one in the list, speed, is to be considered of extreme importance because it affects most of your performance when practicing any martial art and the techniques you are performing in a combat situation. Certain applications of internal martial arts that are practiced for healing, meditation and relaxation purposes are usually performed really slowly and obviously have not connection with the content of this post.

Speed affects the kinetic energy you produce by a quadratic factor: if you double your speed the kinetic energy grows by 4.  Therefore if you are interested in increasing the damage produced by your punches or kicks you should train for increased speed.  Higher speed can come from higher physical fitness by also by learning how to best coordinating all muscles involved in a technique so they all push with precise timing in a well coordinated direction.

By increasing your speed you are not only ensuring that you can hit your target faster and producing more damage; the technique arrives to its destination in a shorter time therefore it’s ready to go back to its original position much faster, making it ready for the next strike.

Being able to perform a technique or combination at a high speed will allow you to surprise even a very well prepared and skilled opponent.  If you could move one arm or leg 10 or 20 times faster that the average martial artist you would not need very complicated combinations and attacking from many different angles; you could just attack your opponent with that single strike and score, every time.

Training for speed should be a mental as well as physical exercise; muscles are trained to become stronger and therefore release more power but, at the same time, speed should be thought as the main goal when training for it.  For instance keeping your muscles relaxed while training and program yourself to tense just the right ones that are involved in a specific movement will offer maximum efficiency for the muscles involved and minimum dissipation of energy in unnecessary movements.

A training scheme I suggest when coaching somebody with the intent of improving their speed is usually represented by the following list of activities:

  • Relax physically and mentally
  • Think and see the movement you are about to perform
  • Concentrate just on the muscles strictly involved in the movement
  • Consciously relax the remain part of the body
  • Try to tense the muscles in the most explosive movement you can possibly imagine
  • Repeat a few times until it becomes second nature

I am a big fan of speed and, while it can be a function of your fitness, speed can be trained and deliver amazing results.  When can you start?

What is Considered Cheating?

The definition of infidelity (according to Wikipedia) Infidelity (colloquially known as cheating, adultery, or having an affair) most commonly refers to a breach of an expectation of sexual and or emotional exclusivity expressed or implied in an intimate relationship.

So the definition states that to cheat is to have an affair whether it be emotional or sexual within an intimate relationship.  I agree with that definition that to cheat is to become involved in an intimate relationship.  I also agree that this can be classed as sexual or emotional.  We all know what sexual infidelity is; making out with the local playboy after one too many Jagerbombs.  However what constitutes as emotional infidelity.  Is it being in love with someone, a little flirting with a work colleague or few flirty texts to a friend of yours?

We all know that a full on rendezvous back to his place is classed as cheating well unless you people are in open relationships (that’s another article).  Also that full blown affairs of the heart are normally classed as a big no no.  Sleeping with another man or woman who isn’t your partner is the ultimate in cheating behaviour.  We’ve all been drunk and in situations we’d rather forget with people we’d rather of never met!  Going out with the girls and getting so drunk that you claim you didn’t know what you were doing is one way of looking at kissing someone you shouldn’t have.  You did something that you shouldn’t do and most probably feel really bad for it.  Snogging someone is one thing, but is a kiss on the lips the same as kissing someone with tongues? A kiss on the lips can either be a quick peck or it can be long and lingering and can be just as damaging to your relationship as the proverbial peck.  I think many people would justify a kiss with no tongues as it’s not intimate right?  I kiss my mum and my best friend on the lips, I don’t use my tongues so surely its not cheating?  I think it all boils down to how you feel afterwards, if there is a pang of guilt attacking your heart then it is probably something you should speak to your partner about.

What about girls kissing girls?  Is that still cheating?  Or a bit of fun that your boyfriend wouldn’t mind being involved with, (and possibly sorry that he actually missed it).  Not very long ago I was chatting to a girl in a club and she clearly took my compliments about her tattoos as an opening to come and checkout what I’d had for breakfast because she full on lunged at me and kissed me.  I was in total shock, that’s not to say I didn’t kiss her back!  It was fun but not something I had initiated and would probably never initiate.  But afterwards I felt so guilty I had to tell my boyfriend as soon as I got in that night and then again the next day to make sure he had remembered!  Luckily he was fine with it and just thought it was funny, but I’m sure we would be having a very different conversation if it was a drum and bass wannabe shoving his tongue down my throat!

What about texting and flirting with people?  Is this classed as cheating?  Flirting is one thing, laughing a bit too much at some guys jokes and flicking your hair at every pun (intended).  Some people are just born flirts and flirt with everyone they know and claim they don’t know there doing it (hmm).  Flirting is one thing but exchanging numbers with someone (other than your boyfriend) is another thing.  Sexting is something that everyone is all too familiar of, especially those kids off of TOWIE, it’s all they every do is sent flirty texts to each other’s boyfriends and girlfriends, then consequently spend days rowing about it for days afterwards.  It’s a sneaky way of cheating really as nothing physical goes on, nobody is kissing or making out outside cheeky chicken.  However it is flirty, sexy and can be worse than kissing someone in my eyes.  These are premeditated sexy messages to another person who isn’t your boyfriend or girlfriend.  I think I would rather have my boyfriend kiss another girl drunkenly that get involved in sexting.  At least the kiss is over and done with and he can feel guilty about it for weeks afterwards.  Texting or even calling another person in secret can be just as damaging as the physical infidelity.

Everyone’s perceptions of cheating are going to be different, depending on the type of relationship you have, or what kind of relationship you are in.  However if you are cheating then you probably shouldn’t be in the relationship at all.  If you haven’t told your partner about you kiss, text etc, then it’s probably classed as cheating.  If you feel guilty about it then you probably shouldn’t be doing it at all….so step away from the instant message.

Images reproduced from twirlit.com and articlesabout men

Opposites Attract

Struck by the way his dark mocha skin complimented her porcelain complexion,
Her conservative image creatively disturbed by his sinuous dreadlocks and loose-fitting jeans,
Struck by their contagious smiles, magnetised by their togetherness,
I come to a halt, caught myself staring and wondered.

beyonce-jay-zMost of us can summon up a time when we have sighted a couple and stopped in amazement due to the randomness of their pairing. Whilst the little angel perched on your shoulder might have invoked a smile; that mischievous devil probably challenged you to do a double take to satisfy either your inquisitiveness, or sheer ignorance. The celebrity world is beleaguered with examples of what the world may consider to be inequitable couples, ranging from Dita Von Teese and Marilyn Manson, to Beyonce and Jay Z. Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley shocked the world with their partnership, whilst Paula Abdul aptly used her song to emphasise the fact that ‘opposites attract.’ The success of any such partnership is testament to the fact that whilst outwardly they may appear incompatible, there is clearly a secret ingredient, spiritual connection, or trait that they both share to make their relationship work.

Ticking the Perfect Box

We all have a surreptitious idealistic checklist of the characteristics that we would like in a partner; whether it be smouldering eyes, the innate ability to communicate, or an incredible sense of humour. Most dream of the ‘butterfly-in-the belly moment’ when they meet that individual with whom they share mutual physical attraction, core values and an undeniable connection on a spiritual level. However, whilst we seem humanly programmed to flock towards those who share similarities, often enough it is the qualities we do not possess that provide the magnetism. But what keeps you together when you are poles apart?

Opening the Pandora box

We may be conditioned to live by the rules of compatibility, but even the media throws unexpected curveballs when the popular school boy falls for his geeky counterpart, or an unpredictable casual relationship turns into more. The reason to take the leap into the unknown varies for each individual and their situation. Some may take the plunge simply out of curiosity, whilst for others, (despite that fact that the physical attraction has always existed), the fear of disapproval or rejection has prevented them from pursuing the object of their desire.

Opposite characteristics may fuel initial attraction, but it is debateable as to whether they can provide the solid grounding needed for a long term relationship. Magnetism to someone different can contribute to the chemistry, invoke fascination and introduce one to a whole new perspective.  The unanticipated arrival of a tactile and spontaneous partner can fill a new relationship with allure and enthralment to the organised individual who lives by routine. The highly-strung person may seek solace in the passive individual and the party girl may hang up her high heels to spend a quiet evening with her more reserved counterpart. However, it can also increase the likelihood of a tumultuous relationship, if you have two different people who are pulled in two different directions.

Weighing up the scales

This scenario is even addressed in literature by authors such as Shakespeare with his witty characters Benedict and Beatrice, notwithstanding the notorious rollercoaster that brought Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele together in E.L James’s saucy novel ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.’ However, in reality, what do you do when your opinions and values differ so much that you cannot even agree on your choice of a TV programme, let alone decide on what religion your child should follow? It is easy to lose sight of the reasons you fell in love with your partner, as they might later become the very things that infuriate and frustrate you. For instance, whilst you may initially have found his respectful and cherished relationship with his mother endearing, the fact that he is a classic ‘mummy’s boy’ may be the source of many arguments.

The Secret Ingredient?

In order to ensure longevity in any relationship, it is important to communicate and learn to compromise. When you are different, it is important to be open to possibilities, focus on surmounting difficulties together and refrain from trying to change the other person. Counsellors, psychotherapist and psychologist all have their theories of what constitutes the perfect relationship, but as every individual is unique, it is impossible to provide one set recipe to success. Accept that you are attracted to your partner for their flaws, as well as their attributes and that you are with that person through personal choice. They say familiarity breeds contempt, but life would be extremely mundane if everyone dated themselves, so with that in mind embrace the unknown and celebrate your differences.

 “Our greatest strength as a human race is our ability to acknowledge our differences, our greatest weakness is our failure to embrace them” (Judith Henderson)

Image reproduced from behindthetalent.com

The Dilemma Between Technique and Toughness in Fighting Sports

We define combat sport a sport application or expression of a martial art where we set and impose rules to limit and control the amount of damage that can be inflicted to the opponent.

Ranging from contactless Karate tournament, via Boxing and all the way to MMA fighting sports usually assign points to each technique that scores and in many cases contemplate the eventuality of one of the opponent being knocked out (KO) or giving up the fight before the end and accepting defeat.

I am a strong fan of good technique and properly applied guard at all times: high quality technique will be more efficient in terms of using your energy as well as minimising your change of running out of it.  The guard will ensure you won’t be hit as often or as hard, reducing the chances for a KO from your opponent as well as minimising the points scored on you.  Most people I am teaching to are buying into this concept and accept that good technique must be there as a foundation to build on the remaining attributes of a winner.  A minority of others, being naturally aggressive and perhaps with a higher pain threshold, they assume they can just get in the ring let the opponent coming forward and aiming at knocking them down before the end of the fight.

From my point of view this is a strategy that is meant to be short lived and not guaranteeing a long career for a winner.  Here are my reasons for it:

  • Knocking somebody down, in a fight where both opponent are well trained and fit sports fighter is a small chance of hitting the right spot at the right time: it doesn’t happen often, particularly if your opponent has proper technique and guard;
  • Regardless how tough you are is just going to be time before you meet somebody tougher, somebody who has higher pain threshold, more adrenaline in their body and don’t go down as you expect;
  • If you are just aiming at the KO strike without a point based strategy two things can happen: you don’t succeed at your KO and the opponent wins because scoring more points or you become victim of your own strategy and get hit hard where it really hurts and get knocked down yourself;
  • Repeated hard strikes in the head cause long term disabilities and injuries so even if it doesn’t hurt now it will cause problems later.

Muhammad Ali was the first boxer that demonstrated that a fight could be won by playing by the rules, not looking for a fast KO but keep scoring on the opponent throughout the fight.  That doesn’t mean being a lower quality fighter but simply someone who is there to win, repeatedly, aiming at the top title.  Another demonstration of what I am stating here was the recent boxing fight of David Haye v Nikolai Valuev: the quality of the show was somehow not there as it can be seen in these videos.  Haye kept moving backward and away from his massive opponent Valuev but as he kept scoring with many, many points at the body, he won the world title.  That was a very well managed fight played strategically from beginning to end with the victory in mind.

I would like to conclude with a simple clarification: good technique is not just meant to look good, it’s meant to be very powerful, fast efficient and effective for the person using it.  At the same time when training for sport fighting you should always bear in mind what the rules are and understanding how you can win by scoring more points.  If the KO is allowed in your discipline and you can finish the fight before it may be a bonus but a good fighter is more likely to win more often than a tough one.

Is Ageing A Disease?

ageingWith mice being genetically engineered to live 26% longer than average, age-incidence of a broad spectrum of age-related disease being reduced in the lab and dietary restriction significantly increasing lifespan across species, research seeking treatment for ageing is in action. Telomere modification, free radical level reduction and human growth hormone replacement, all dawn as promising avenues, which may not only decelerate, but may one day reverse the changes associated with ageing. Whilst, current knowledge of the biology of ageing remains too incomplete to assess whether interventions, such as the above, will one day extend average and maximum lifespan, one must the core question: Is ageing even a disease?

Diseases should be cured, it is accepted that this includes age-related diseases. From cancer to neurodegenerative diseases, age is the major risk factor for the majority of these serious illnesses. Treating each individual disease, has a relatively small effect on life expectancy, compared to tackling the process of ageing itself was treated. The definition of disease is historically ambiguous and sensitive to cultural perspectives, homosexuality used to be thought of as a mental illness and late-onset Alzheimer’s disease was only defined as a pathology in 1977. Disease is regarded clinically as the state in which the limits of the normal have been transgressed, health is considered in terms of the absence of disease and expected level of function, at a given gender and age. As ageing is universal, it would seem it is natural, but this does not alter the reality that ageing is a deterioration of normal function. If chronological devices exist, all bodies that exist can be said to age relative to the measurements provided by this, in this way physicians are interested in a set of biological changes over time, such as a higher frequency of cells with chromosomal aberrations in the elderly to decreased melanin formation and white hairs (Hayflick 1974), these changes are universal and inevitable. However, universality and inevitability do not disproof ageing as a disease, rather a special type of disease which everyone inevitably endures.

As one ages, a number of pathologies are gained, to include loss of homeostasis and molecular damage accumulation, which result in the same outcome as severe disease states – death. The perspective of modern biogerontology concludes there is little to distinguish ageing from  a disease state, yet there is a reluctance to view ageing itself as a disease. These unremarkable natural processes in the aged, are confidently viewed as disease where they occur in the young, for example consider the premature ageing disease, progeria. Weismann (1891) argued that ageing and debilitation must be seen as the organism’s new mutational and adaptive responses to fluctuating environments, so ageing benefits the population by removing the superannuated and allowing evolutionary change to take place, which implies ageing to be a very natural part of life. Paradoxically, the evolutionary theory of ageing (ageing being a consequence of a reduction in the force of selection against mutations with deleterious effects later in life, leads to accumulation within population alleles with deleterious effects) potentially illustrates ageing as a lethal genetic disease, with no purpose in terms of fitness. It has been put forward, that evolutionary selection rarely act on entire species or population, rather on individuals and their phenotypic traits which may confer an advantage in certain environments, increasing the likelihood of passing on genes. In this way it is more likely that ageing can be seen as a lethal genetic disease, rather than an evolutionary process under selection. So should ageing be redefined? It seems appropriate, furthermore, a clinical redefinition of ageing as a disease state may lead to added benefits, such as proper safety and efficiency testing of anti-ageing treatments.

Obvious personal, social, economic and environmental problems spring to mind when considering life extension, although a similar change occurred since ancient times (e.g. compare Ancient Assyrians Hebrews and Romans to Syrians, israelis greeks and italians today there has been an increase from 35 to 75 years) and human nature has been able to cope, granted this is no proof that it will be able to do it again given a much greater scale of change. Nevertheless, this does not hold as a compelling argument against the research; with a clever enough government, policies can be put in place when the time comes.

Image reproduced from scmnewused.blogspot.com

Sports & Homeopathy

Using homeopathy in professional sports? Why would they do that?

The sports calendars are now around the clock. Some professional footballers have very little opportunity to rest and repair from an injury While medical drugs have their place, most players would try and stay away from them for the following reasons:

– some painkillers or other medications can make you test positive to doping.
– taking painkillers regularly is not a long-term option. Many players have reported that drugs’ injections have triggered recurrent injuries and even wrecked their careers.
– painkillers are toxic and one of the most leading cause of acute poisoning: for example, Paracetamol toxicity is the foremost cause of acute liver failure in the Western world and liver failure death in the UK.

While this topic rarely makes the news, it is important to understand that professional sportsmen and women had to develop techniques that did not rely on chemical drugs, and this includes homeopathy.

So who uses homeopathy in sports?

A few sports team in the UK have embraced homeopathy. Nelsons, a provider of homeopathic products in the UK will support several English Olympics Teams, such as the women’s beach volleyball. Also, it is claimed that half of Premier League clubs are customers of Welleda, another provider of Homeopathic products.

Doctor Jean-Marcel Ferret, doctor to the French soccer team that won one World Cup and one European Cup has this to say about homeopathy: “I am a doctor that uses homeopathy and not a homeopath. When using homeopathy directly on the soccer field, I find that the results are almost immediate”.

And finally, the Germans teams are also of course big fans as this articles shows – and who would not trust Germans in terms of efficient ways to treat injuries?

Simple advice that you can follow when you play sports

To reduce the risk of injury, there are 3 golden rules:

– stretch as much and as often as you can, and especially every morning when you wake up – cats and children do that first thing, and adults should do as well!
– drink plenty of water on a regular basis and follow a diet specific to your genetic & metabolic type. Please contact me if you want more information.
– whatever your level, follow a practice plan that will keep you away from injury. It can also be good to have a personal trainer. If you are unsure, contact me.

Finally, if injury hits, have a homeopathic first-aid kit. Arnica 30C is a good homeopathic remedy for any kind of injury, and the first to take whatever happens as it will trigger a healing process. Rhus Tox and Ruta are very helpful for muscular and tendon sprains. I recommend people to have some in their cabinet, and take a few pills whenever needed. No side-effects, safe for childen and you will still test negative in anti-doping tests.

However, since discovering the German Traumeel Cream, I now do not bother and suggest people to just use Traumeel. It has all the necessary homeopathic remedies and nourishing nutrients to generate healing at muscular and skin levels… it event helps people with bruise and mosquito bites. Heel’s Traumeel Cream is made by a German pharmaceutical company specialising in homeopathic products, and their product is by far the best on the market. I have seen competitive players coming back to routine training after just a few days of a bad injury, and a lot of customers in my practice now swear by it. Please contact me if you want more information. For any serious injury, it is better to consult a health practitioner.

Images reproduced from homeopathictreatmentonline.com and acuneeds.com

Silk Please

I thought I’d try to show you a dinner suit that we’ve just made. The reason is that everyone who’s looking for a dinner suit asks me what style I prefer. I can describe it easy enough but people always want a picture. So before I put this in the box I took a couple of snaps.

silk1Here at English Cut we try to give you the most honest insight as possible about about the world of bespoke Savile Row tailoring. Therefore we write the in’s and out’s of this craft as it is. When we take photographs we don’t stage them or pay a professional photographer to tale beautiful photographs of our clothes. This can sometimes be a problem because with my limited resources and time a picture of a dinner suit never really shows up any more than a black silhouette.

Alas, if you can forgive my slightly slanted pics you can see that my favourite style is a one button peak lapel with straight jetted pockets (God knows why but some people make them with flaps:() This is matched with a dress waistcoat with rolls or in other words a type of shawl collar. It’s actually quite silly that I complain that it’s hard to capture the details of a dinner suit on film because that is exactly what I try to create with such a garment. It’s not about details, in fact they should be as unobtrusive as possible. It is about the silhouette and a clean dark finish. I always try to squeeze as much shape as possible out of a dinner suit. I try to discourage use of pockets all together. As they say “If you’ve got it, flaunt it.”

silk2The picture above is also quite interesting because if you look closely the you can see that the silk facings are slightly lifted off the body. This because we use pure silk facings which you shape and steam very lightly. As they’re worn they settle and fall into the coat with a beautiful look. Again, another example of how you need to wear and let settle down any hand made Savile Row suit. The silk we use would retail (if our suppliers would sell you it) for about £110-20 per meter. Now there are some naughty people that don’t use silk but instead something that looks and dare I say it feels almost identical. The alternative has many attractions in that you can tailor it very easily and it’s very easy to press. Also it retails for about £20.00 per meter which makes it a very attractive alternative. Its proper name is polyester bonded facing. Hmmm,,, it looks as good and a lot easier to look after but do you really want polyester as part of your wardrobe?

Making Sense of Grocery-store Eggs

Grocery stores have lots of different kinds of eggs. All
come from chickens, but some are labeled “all natural”, others
“organic”, and still others “free-range”. Some are even “organic
free range”. So what are the differences and which are best? All
Natural: This term is generally meaningless. This is what the
conventional egg industry calls its eggs in order to make them
sound healthy and wholesome when they really aren’t. It is almost
the same as having no designation at all on the label. “All
Natural” is code for “We have nothing good to say about our eggs
because they come from hens that spend their whole lives in the
dark in crowded cages eating nothing but chemical-laced grain.”
Unless you are suffering from actual starvation, these eggs are
best left alone.

Free-Range: Hmmm. What does this mean? Sounds like chickens living
wild, roaming out on the range, free. This is a joke. Nothing could
be less true. While “free range” eggs are certainly better than
”all natural” eggs, they are not what they sound like. “Free range”
usually means “Our chickens are not confined in cages, but they
spend their entire lives in a huge chicken house the size of a
football field crowded wall-to-wall with tens of thousands of their
feathery friends with little room to move.” There is nothing “free”
or “rangey” about the lives of these birds. Their situation is
better than that of chickens stuck in tiny cages, but their living
conditions are still unhealthy and unnatural. Cage Free: This term
means the same thing as “free range”.

Organic: This is
a good thing. In the conventional system, non-organic eggs almost
always come from chickens that are fed a meal of
genetically-modified corn or soybean that had been sprayed with
pesticides and herbicides and that is now laced with various
antibiotics and other harmful chemicals. “Organic” eggs, on the
other hand, come from chickens that are fed grain that is at least
not genetically modified, that lacks antibiotics, and that has not
been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. The eggs of such
chickens are healthier as a result because they lack residues of
such chemicals. In addition, organic eggs are required to come from
chickens that are cage-free and have “outdoor access.” In reality,
however, such access usually consists of only a teeny-tiny door on
the side of a monstrous chicken house, which the birds hardly know
exists, which they have little chance of reaching, and which leads
merely to a small cement porch with no grass. Vegetarian Diet: Many
eggs have labels that brag that the chickens were fed a “vegetarian
diet”. Whoopee!! Although it is good that their feed does not
contain animal bi-products, a vegetarian diet is not a healthy diet
for a chicken, which is a carnivore. In addition to grain and
forage, chickens naturally eat and derive protein from bugs, grubs,
larvae, worms, and even small rodents. Without access to such
foods, their eggs will be far less nutritious. Pastured: “Pastured
eggs” are the antithesis of eggs produced in the conventional
system–whether “all natural” or “free range”. It is what you want
if you are looking for maximum nutrition and sustainable
production. These eggs are rarely found in grocery stores, and you
usually have to go directly to a farm to buy them. Unlike “all
natural” and “free range” eggs, pastured eggs are exactly as they
sound–they are from chickens raised on pasture. Because they are
raised on pasture, they have access to grass, and lots of it. They
also have access to bugs, grubs, larvae, and worms, delicious bits
that chickens always relish. Because these chickens have ample
access to foods found in their natural diet and they are able to
exhibit their natural behavior, their eggs are A LOT more
nutritious than conventionally produced eggs–organic or not–as
exhibited by their darker-colored yolks. Pastured eggs can be
”organic”, but often they are not. One reason is that the
organically raised animals require a controlled environment in
order to guarantee that the animals receive nothing but organic
feed. Pasture is outside, therefore, it is often not a controlled
environment. Unless the entire farm is certified organic, it is
difficult to claim that the chickens eat only organic food. A
second reason is that farmers who raise animals on pasture often
want to avoid the substantial costs of getting an organic
certification, and they and their customers already know that their
pastured eggs are just as good without it. Eggs from pasture raised
chickens are always the best by far, especially when they are from
a farmer that you know and trust. Nothing can substitute for a
personal relationship between consumer and farmer. With that, I
would rank eggs as follows, with the 1 being the best:

  1. Pastured
  2. Organic
  3. Free-range or cage-free
  4. All

Now, I think it’s time to make an
omelet. Photo source: http://www.bujaboutique.com

Spaghetti with Chicken and Peppers

As I said in a previous post I am in Dubai for two months and am currently sitting in my very spacious hotel room/apartment. I have a big bedroom with en suite bathroom, the lounge/diner is twice the size than my own in London, as is the kitchen in fact I think it’s about four times bigger. The BIG problems with the kitchen is, it’s seriously lacking in everything. I have two electric hobs that quickly throw out a lot of heat, but I have only one saucepan, one frying pan and a kettle that takes ages to boil. In fact it’s quicker for me to call room service for hot water than to wait for the kettle. But we adapt and make changes to the way we do things and work with what we have. I also have no oven, but it looks like my microwave can be used as a grill, but have yet to “play” with it. As a microwave it is slow but it works.


Being someone who loves to cook it’s going to be interesting creating food with such little equipment. This is the first dish that I have attempted to cook since I’ve been here. I used chicken thighs, as they have more flavour than chicken breasts and they don’t dry out whilst cooking. It was fun de-boning them with a small serrated knife, but I managed and didn’t cut myself. It wasn’t the best recipe and it’s won’t set the world alight, but it was a healthy and light dish that could become a typical meal whilst I’m in here as it was very quick and easy.

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 chicken thighs, skin removed, de-boned and roughly chopped
  • 2 peppers, de seeded and sliced
  • 400g tinned tomatoes
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to season

Place the oil into a pan and turn on the hob. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 5-10 minutes stirring occasionally.

Add the chicken and cook until all the outside edge of the chicken is white about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the peppers and mix into the chicken mixture. Add the tinned tomatoes, dried thyme and season

Cook for about 15 minutes or until the chicken is done. Serve with pasta or rice.

Seesaw Your Way to Super Fast Fat Loss

Fiona Kirk_Fat in the City_HeaderYou may have tried one or two (or more) ‘low carb’ diets and if you have, you likely saw a good few pounds gratifyingly drop off in reasonably quick time. However, one of the most common complaints I hear from dieters is that after a while, cravings for bread, pasta, potatoes and pastries start to invade and they start dreaming of hot buttered toast and Krispy Kreme doughnuts!

I decided the time had come to see if I could devise a nutritious and delicious fat loss plan that satisfies our hard-wired desire for the comfort of starchy foods whilst at the same time accelerating fat loss. Much research and copious hours of recipe testing have gone into this project but I am rather pleased with the result! Take a minute to have a quick look at my gallery to see visuals of some of the dishes involved.

The diet focuses on what I call my ‘seesaw strategy’ where you have 3 days with no starch other than the small amounts provided by fruits and vegetables followed by a day where a little starch is included in the form of oats, potatoes, rice etc. The reason this strategy works is because studies show that when we know that some of our ‘favourites’ are not totally off limits, cravings (the dieters nemesis) are greatly reduced and after a short time, can disappear altogether.

Another important aspect of the diet is the recommendation to have a really good feed at each meal to keep hunger at bay and negate the need for ‘between meal’ snacks and leave 5 hours between meals to allow the fat burning hormone, glucagon to work its magic and encourage stored fat to be released from those ‘way too comfortable’ fat cells on hips, bums and bellies, provide energy and in the process, shrink on a daily basis!

There are however, a couple of snack options that I do endorse and one of them is chocolate. Far from being the enemy to fat loss, a little dark chocolate each day encourages a few very helpful actions. The ‘reward’ chemical, dopamine and the ‘happy and relaxed’ chemical, serotonin are released, magnesium levels which help to calm the nervous system are increased and last but not least, we don’t feel deprived and miserable which makes super fast fat loss a breeze!

The ‘seesaw strategy’ can be followed for as little as 4 days if time is tight and an event or holiday is looming or for as long as you wish without fear of going hungry or running short on essential nutrients and the need to obsessively count every calorie or step on the scales every morning doesn’t feature (super busy people simply don’t have time!)

Since the publication of the 2 Weeks in the Super Fast Lane diet in eBook format through Kindle (RRP £2.99) at the end of last month, I have already received a great many very encouraging emails from dieters across the globe. Here’s just one from a reader in Singapore: “8 days in, hooked on the Parsley Soup on no starch days and the Crispy Topped Baked Fish on starch days, savouring my daily chocolate moments and I wore a skirt to work today that I haven’t been able to get past my hips in months!”

To find out more about the diet, click here to have a ‘Look Inside’ the book, head to my website, join me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Massor Lentils and Sweetcorn Daal

Did you remember the recent hose pipe ban in the United Kingdom? It was rather strange that our country faced one of the driest periods on record. So the government issued a ban that effected almost 20 million people, introducing fines of up to £1000 if used. The government urged householders to be “smarter about how we use water”.

However, after some praying we were blessed with quite a rainy period lifting the ban and that made me so happy. However, the rain also brought a traffic chaos and I did not leave the house to go shopping much. We didn’t have any Indian vegetables in the house and my daughter seemed to be rather delighted.

So I thought I would soak some lentils and cook them for dinner. Then at the same time I saw that in my freezer we had two open bags of sweet corn and I thought I could make corn curry, too. But then contemplating again I didn’t want to prepare two dishes at the same time. So why not use lentils and sweet corn in the same dish? Here is the recipe I came up with:

You will need:

  • 1 bowl whole Masoor (I used green Masoor) you can use red kidney beans too
  • 1 bowl sweetcorn (I used frozen but tinned should work equally well)
  • 2-3 tbp green chillies, ginger and garlic crushed
  • 2-3 tbp roasted peanuts powder (optional)
  • 2-3 medium tomatoes, crushed
  • few fresh curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp kasoori methi (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tsp dhana jeera powder
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbp oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds


Rinse Masoor 2-3 times, soak for an hour and pressure cook with 2-3 cups of water. I cook mine on a medium heat with 6-7 whistles or until soft.

Grind chillies, garlic and ginger in a grinder with tomatoes. Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan, add mustard seeds, and then add curry leaves and kasoori methi, fry for few seconds and add tomato pulp with garlic and ginger paste. Lower the heat, add red chilli ,tumeric, garam masala, dhana jeera powder and salt. Cook masala until oil is appears on the side of the pan.

Now add frozen sweetcorn and peanut powder. Let everything cook for 3-4 minutes. Add boiled Masoor and mix very well. Add 1/2 – 1 cups of water. Cook everything for 10-12 minutes and stir in between. Add a little water if massor dal is too thick. Then cook for another 1-2 minutes. Turn off the heat. This dish is now ready to serve with hot roti and mixed salad.

Trick or Treat?

Halloween is my favourite time of year and always has been.  The thing with Halloween is why us girls love it so much because, let’s be honest it’s the one day of the year we can dress up in next to nothing and have nobody pass judgement on us.  It’s not even about dressing up to scare people anymore; it’s more a case of snaring people come the 31st.  I think what attracts us to the whole dressing up idea is that we can be an alter ego for the night.  We put on a false façade and pretend to be someone else for the next 8 hours.

It can give us a sense of empowerment I think when we dress up.  We can hide behind our real self for the night or take on our new found persona.  I think being dressed up and chatting up guys is such a great combination.  It’s a definite conversation starter and you can get in character a bit with the outfit you have taken on.  If you have a great outfit on, men want to come and talk to you and women well wish they had chosen that outfit for themselves.  It’s a win, win!

The fun thing about meeting guys in costume is that you can’t always be too sure what they look like underneath if they’re wearing a mask or lots of war paint.  So it’s a great time for personalities to shine through!  Its exhilarating to not quite know what they look like or who they might really be under the outfit.  If you find yourself getting into character for Halloween then I find it can be a real confidence booster when talking to your prospective dates for that evening.

When I met my boyfriend I’d organised a Halloween party at my house.  Of course there were boys there who were Uncle Fester, ghosts and Donnie Darko’s for the night but the girls went for a more imaginative look.  We had pirates, an Amy Winehouse look alike and then me, a Moulin Rouge impersonator.  I was going for sultry and leggy for the evening.  I was single and looking to embark on a more lewd outfit the course of play.  I thought that hot pants, fishnets, a corset complete with feather headdress and long gloves would do the trick, as I attempted to woo my prospective boy for the evening.

A few hours in and a few vodkas in I began to have second thoughts.  It’s not something I would attempt again, because what with the 5inch heels and giant hair feathers I was about 10 feet tall, unable to cruise under doors without the aid of Miss Winehouse to help me.  I looked like a drunken old drag queen by the end of the night!  I was just glad I was in the safety of my own home and not in some club, having to drag myself home minus a glove and feathers at 3am.

Gone are the days of ugly pointy nosed witches and scary looking ghosts, it’s all about sexy pirates and cheerleaders to fantasise about.  However, I did don a Mummy outfit last year.  Head to toe in bandages and white face paint with black eye rims and a bloody face.  Complete with actual first aid bag.  Not sexy, not seductive and not sultry.   Just bandages unravelling come 1am and birds nest hair where my makeshift ‘mummy’ headband had come loose.  However the first aid bag was a real talking point and I proceeded to put on my best ‘dead’ pose when I was trying to avoid drunken ghouls.

However my first attempt at a Halloween ensemble did not scare my prospective man (too much).  Even when he did have to peel feathers out of my hair come the early hours.  I’m told I am the best looking drag queen this side of Kemp Town.  We have made it through 4 happy Halloween’s together complete with Mummy outfits and all, I just haven’t broken the feathers out since.

Images reproduced from data.whicdn.com and vampires.com

Birthday Expectations

Today is my birthday but what is it about a birthday that brings out the diva in us girls? It’s all about me, me, me for 24 hours, the world is mine and I shall do with it whatever I choose (or tell you to do). It’s like our inner Veruca Salt (the dreadful spoilt one in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) has finally found a voice for one day of the year. Daddy I want a pony and I want it now! Replace daddy with ‘baby’ and pony with the word ‘Louboutins’ and you have your very own rendition of super sweet sixteen in the middle of your twenties.

I’m a big birthday girl myself, love my birthday and I love celebrating other peoples especially my boyfriends. I love to spoil him, take my time choosing the prefect gift and take him somewhere fancy for the night and get dressed up. Plus drinking in the middle of the day is expected on birthdays, (anyone’s birthday I find).

Of course we want a little bit of pampering and to be spoilt for the day from our loved ones (it’s the only day of the year that you can’t shout at us or tell us no). OK so we know the Louboutins aren’t coming (sign) but we have a day of fun to look forward to right? Maybe a nice lunch or a bit of sight-seeing or shopping, followed by a martini at happy hour. Well not for a dear friend of mine who shall remain nameless for today. Her boyfriend did the exact opposite to her, with a big build up to the day and how excited she was going to be on her birthday. He told her that he had a fabulous day planned and that she was going to love what she’d done for her. So you can imagine the thoughts swimming round in her head. Oh a puppy maybe, a new car, or a trip to London shopping with unlimited access to the platinum, topped off with a trip to Gordon Ramsey’s. How exciting. So they get up and travel up to London all going swimmingly so far yes this could be Oxford Street and a boozy lunch in store, wonderful. Realising they had not got off at Oxford Street, wonders what they could be doing. Slowly, slowly more and more signs for London Zoo appear. OK that’s fine it must be past the zoo whatever where doing? Surely her boyfriend cannot be taking her to London Zoo for her 30th birthday. Surprise! Well that could be a deal breaker for some people, especially when she gets home to a surprise party to find that there is no actual present from her man to be opened at the end of the night. Just a bit of left over zoo food and a guide map.

The fact that there was some thought put into the day is very sweet, but sometimes things can be built up too much from you man and you wish they hadn’t said a word. We love a guy who puts imagination into the day, If thoughts gone into it then we play along and tell you that we love it. However on the other hand some men think it is acceptable to do nothing on their girlfriend’s special day. Another girl I know has been with her partner for many years and every year it’s the same thing. No present, she’s booking the restaurant herself and normally paying for it too. Now there’s a birthday treat you’d rather not get excited for.

Personally I found that going to Las Vegas stopped all of that birthday expectations build up! I was in Vegas seeing a show and having a fancy dinner with my man. I had a wonderful day because I was in Vegas baby! I refused to celebrate my 30th birthday in England, I decided this would be depressing enough as it is without visiting the local hang outs and someone being sick on my shoes come midnight. I advise anyone who has a birthday coming up and does not have faith in their partner to do the right thing, then to book a holiday immediately! He won’t have to put as much effort into it as you will already be happy enough to be on holiday and the chances are you won’t be expecting too much either. Just stay away from the local zoos.

Nut Brittle


Mixed Nuts (Almonds, Pistachios, Cashew nuts) – 1 Cup
Poppy Seeds / Khus Khus – 2 tbsp
Cardamoms – 4 -5
Sugar – 1 Cup
Ghee Clarified Butter ( ghee)- 1 tbsp


1. Slice all mixed nuts. Powder the Cardamom seeds.
2. In a heavy bottomed pan, add ghee and sugar. On low heat melt the sugar.
3. When the sugar is melted and caramelized to a light brown color add the sliced mixed nuts, Khus Khus, and powdered cardamoms. Mix till nuts are coated well with the caramelized sugar.
4. Pour this mixture onto the back of a thali/ greased plate or on a rolling board.
5. Using the back side (flat side) of a cup, flatten the mixture like a thick chapatti or disc. You can use a rolling pin to roll the mixture. This has to be done very quickly as the mixture begins to harden as soon as it is removed from heat.
6. Before mixture begins to set score lines where you want to break the varo as this will make it easier to get uniform size pieces when set as Varo will break on the scored lines .
7. Leave the rolled Varo to set for some time.

Break into pieces and store in air tight containers

The Diet “Experts” – Are They Having a Laugh?

Fiona Kirk_Fat in the City_Header

Move aside veganism, there are a few new kids on the block in 2013 and boy do these ‘diet gurus’ know how to charge for their pearls of wisdom!

I have to confess that I do keep an eagle eye on the New York Bestsellers list – any writer that tells you they don’t want to see their book featured is either lying or has a very well-paid job doing something else and doesn’t need to depend on book sales to pay the bills!

When it comes to diet books, it is impossible to keep up and my sympathy goes out to all those who have no sooner got to grips with one particular diet before another one hits the headlines. What do you do? Bin the one you are currently working with in favour of the new one that now promises faster fat loss or stick to your guns? It’s a dilemma!

Personally, I am all in favour of quick fix diets (oops, I can hear my contemporaries groaning, loudly!) Why? Because, research continues to reveal that when we see results in the early stages we are motivated to keep going – it’s not rocket science! Yes, there are some diets out there which are a bit crazy and restrictive and if we stick with them for longer than the prescribed time we are likely to suffer from nutritional deficiencies which then see our metabolism slowing down to a snails pace to keep us thriving BUT in all the years I have been working in the fat loss game I have rarely come across anyone who say “I am looking for a diet that results in slow and steady weight loss”. Of course, this is the healthier route but let’s get real – we are all in a rush!

I digress. Back to the current crop of diets that seem to be keeping my diets off the New York Bestsellers list – hard not to get grumpy but I won’t wallow in that place! 2012 was all about ‘going vegan‘ and almost every time I stepped on stage to discuss diets, dieting, fat loss and the rest there were questions from the floor about the perceived success of such diets which I happily addressed but usually with the warning that a complete change to your whole way of shopping, cooking and eating can be a mighty big hill to climb (and it’s rare that the rest of the family embrace such change which makes life tricky to say the least).

This month (new year, new you and all that) it’s portion control, meal spacing, whole foods (what, again?), more gluten-free stuff AND intermittent fasting. Not so long ago, everything to do with fasting was slammed, principally because most of us lead very busy lives, require lots of energy which we get from food and if we don’t get it, we get tired, miserable, irritable and ultimately sick. We lose weight but at what cost? Fasting has been part and parcel of many faiths over many centuries but it is not something that should be undertaken without expert guidance. Intermittent fasting, however is something quite different and if managed properly results in fast and lasting fat loss for many but there is nothing new about it, despite what the media might have you believe.

Anyone who has read any of my books or articles knows I have been a fan of intermittent fasting for years. Where the confusion possibly lies is that it has gained a new name (oh, the power of marketing). It used to be called ‘calorie cycling’ or ‘zig-zag dieting’ and professional athletes and natural bodybuilders have been employing the principles successfully before competition for years.  Animal studies indicating the health benefits of this type of diet started appearing in the 1970’s and 80s, human studies followed when I was studying nutritional therapy back in the 1990’s and if I remember rightly, I first started scribbling about it around 2000. But hey ho, it’s way too easy to get cynical! As mentioned, the scaremongers don’t like it much, their argument being that it encourages disordered eating patterns and you can’t expect to nourish your body properly on a daily basis when you adopt a pattern where you seriously restrict calories for two or three days a week – what rubbish! If you stick with seriously low calorie diets for days/weeks on end of course your body will start to struggle BUT if your diet is currently a bit of a road accident and you are carrying excess flab it will say a mighty big ‘thank you’ if you give it a break every few days and allow it to focus on badgering your fat stores into giving up their energy stores and shrinking in the process – trust me, it is not news!

Before I go, I need to get back to my first point and have a quick rant about how much some of the ‘experts’ are charging for their pearls of wisdom. The number one bestseller as I write, by that scary military guy who belittles every contestant on TV progs like Celebrity Fat Club, Ian K Smith wants to relieve you of $25 of your hard-earned cash to ‘lose 2 sizes and 4 inches in 6 weeks’ and that Wheat Belly fellow, William Davis M.D is charging  the same to help you ‘find your path back to health’. I have read both books (I really do read every diet book that hits the shelves) and I applaud a lot of what they say but come on, don’t hit those who desperately want/need to lose weight where it hurts – their wallets!

So, what’s my advice for January 2013 and the route to a new ‘leaner, meaner you’? Employ a degree of skepticism, don’t believe everything you read, email me through my website, www.fatbustforever.com if you want a pretty unbiased view of any diet you are thinking of embarking on – oh and make soup a major part of your day (sorry, a blatant push of my Soup Can Make You Thin diet)!

Don’t Let Poor Sleep Ruin Your Life

Sleep is such an important subject for health, because repair for the body and the mind occur primarily during sleep. Because of this, long-term sleep issues can make physical and emotional issues worse. They can also contribute in an increase in irritability, fatigue and low performance. For example, statistics show that people who are short of sleep are more likely to suffer from an accident in the workplace.

Let’s go straight into the subject by clarifying what is a healthy sleep. Individual requirements for sleep actually vary widely, from as few as 4 hours to 9 hours of sleep every night. It can be OK to sleep as little as 4 hours if this is complemented by a nap during the day (to accommodate work schedules or through customs).

What manages sleep in the body?

Medically, sleeping patterns are considered to be driven by the hormonal system: the levels of the cortisone hormones in the blood tend to rise just before waking up, and fall before going to bed. In parallel, the pineal gland secretes the melatonin hormone when it gets dark around us. Melatonin is indeed sometimes referred to as the “sleep hormone”. However, as in general for health, it is not as simple as that: many people can sleep in full light, or during daytime, and with practice most people can achieve “power naps” (a 15/20 minute sleep).

Sleep issues are actually not a disease but a symptom that can have many causes. Insomnia is defined as a partial or full lack of sleep during the night. It is the most critical sleep problem.

Disturbed sleep, excessive perspiration, difficulty to get to sleep or a feeling of being un-refreshed and tired when getting out of bed, are however equally damaging on the long run, and can also lead to problems.

How can I manage my sleep naturally?

Lifestyle has a big part to play in poor sleep patterns, and simple steps can have huge effects. The main approach is to be as relaxed as possible when going to bed. Follow this simple advice:

1. Do not to watch any TV, computers or play video-games one to 2 hours before going to bed. These are big exciters for our brain, and will definitely disturb the levels of cortisone and melatonin just before sleep. Try and replace this with a relaxing or a social activity.

2. Ensure that your diet is low in refined carbohydrate, soft drinks, coffee or tea. You may have sleep issues because of what you eat: foods that keep your brain active are likely to disrupt your hormonal system.

3. If you think that you are sensitive to electromagnetic frequencies (WiFi, mobile phones, DECT phones), then try and not use them one hour before sleep, at night put the DECT phones on their bases and switch off your WiFi and mobile phone. See if it improves over 2 weeks. Electromagnetic Field Sensitivity is not really accepted by the conventional medical sector in France and in the UK but it has been recognised by the World Health Organisation in 2005, and is also recognised among other countries in Germany, Russia and Switzerland. Its main symptoms are headache, insomnia and minor edemas. This can be improved with holistic approaches.

4. Also, strong spices or artificial additives like glutamate (MSG) have been linked to sleep issues. So if you suspect this to be an issue, try and stay off them for a couple of weeks to see if it makes a difference. – Drink at least 1.5 to 2 litres of water a day. Many people are not good at spotting that their body is not hydrated. A poorly hydrated body is usually under stress, and this can lead to anxiety and sleep issues.

5. Practice some form of relaxation or meditation to train your mind to “calm down”.

6. Finally, herbal tea like chamomile, passiflora, valerian or hops can help you find sleep. However, especially for valerian and hops, I have seen people being sensitive to these herbs.

Click here for more tips on a healthy lifestyle and nutritional advice for the nervous system, that will both help sleep in the long run.

What happens if the issue is so deep that the above advice does not help?

Since starting about 7 years ago, I have been seeing many people with sleep issues in my practice. This is definitely a 21st Century issue!

"sleep", "insomnia"The most common cause is emotional (anxiety, depression or linked to a trauma). Homeopathy can help a lot here. Finding a remedy fitting the cause and the symptoms can bring amazing results. If you feel you know the cause, get a first-aid kit and see if you can find the relevant remedy (feel free to contact me for guidance).

The second type of issue is linked to a disturbance to the hormonal system/brain’s built-in clock. This is common after taking some conventional medications, or a long period of poor lifestyle. It can also be linked to a medical condition, like sleep apnoea, nasal polyps Alzheimer’s or even a stroke. In these cases, a consultation is required.

The other big cause is related to life patterns, such as for air pilots/air hostesses or after having to tend a dying relative or a young child. If the issue does not go by itself after a change of lifestyle or diet, then a consultation can help.

What happens if I am taking medications to sleep, and I want to stop?

If you have been a long term user of conventional sleep medications, and find you cannot stop them, then it is because the actual cause of the sleep issues has not been addressed. In most cases, it is best to consult Your health practitioner will have to first help you with any underlying issue impacting sleep and then work in cooperation with your GP so that the latter can reduce your medications slowly and gently.

We hope that your found this article helpful. Please share your experiences or advice on sleep issues by leaving a comment below.

Have a good month and a restful sleep!

Images reproduced from nutritiondietnews.com & sijo.hu

Mirrors, Shakers and Manhattans

It’s been quiet on the invite side. I would put this down to the busy holiday season. Saying that I’ve still been invited to a couple of shindigs this week.

The week started with a couple of drinks at the Landmark Hotel in Marylebone. I usually frequent the Mirror Bar with the charming Bar Manager Salvatore. I have taken many a friend here to impress, to date or even to meet new friends!

Mirror Bar at Landmark Hotel

The bar is very small but adequate.  The list includes classics such as Negroni’s, Manhattans, Martini’s and of course Salvatore will prepare a bespoke cocktail to your needs and desires at the time. I usually swear by the Landmark martini with a lemon twist which never fails to deliver. If you prefer something a little sweeter this can be accommodated with a fruit twist or maybe a passionfruit martini (another favourite) I also like to be offered bar snacks and there is always a decent selection of nuts/crackers/snacky bits.

The sushi platter is also excellent: a plate of salmon and tuna sashimi rolled beautifully, chicken satay and delicious tapas.

Salvatore also offers cocktail masterclasses which need to be booked in advance. They are for a complete beginner and usually include background to cocktails, theory and actual practise. These are becoming very popular for alternative birthday bashes, hen do’s or just generally for something different. You can almost pretend you are an expert mixologist.

Mixologist at Shaker & Company

My other favourite place in town is a wonderful bar called Shaker & Company just off the Euston Road. This is in the style of a speakeasy/Saloon bar and these bars are becoming increasingly popular. The Nightjar is another example of a speakeasy (Old Street roundabout).  Shaker & Company was originally a training school for bartenders and has reared some well known cocktail shakers and makers in the industry.  It continues with the bar school but also has the bar and what a fine bar it is. Just downstairs is a small function room which has been known to host “pop ups” such as Four Roses Bourbon, Ketel One featuring an Amsterdam exhibition and more to come.

The drinks are excellent with all the modern classics again but specialities are whiskies and bourbons. Ask the bartenders for recommendations as they know their stuff and take a nice group of friends.

I was invited to an event hosted by a quirky whisky company called Monkey Shoulder.  Cool name too.  It is part of a monthly event whereby you have a different theme each month such as Manhattan followed by Old Fashioned, Whiskey Punch and others.   This week featured “Manhattan” and featured cardboard cutouts of Manhattan strangely enough  with a makeshift Statue of Liberty as you entered, cardboard cutout taxis to wear (yes very unusual)   As we entered a Monkey signed us in…

We were then given a handful of American dollars to spend at the four bars that were dotted around the room. Once at the bar we were given a brief description of the whisky, cocktails such as a Manhattan – the one with the maraschino twist was delicious and option to even double up for more cocktails with a “banker” who was walking around.

I am quite a whisky fan so this was most enjoyable.  After sampling a few of the cocktails it was then time for the Monkey Shoulder organisers to usher us out of the warehouse by being chased out by their monkey King Kong and they did this with an extinguisher and out we were again.  This event will be running monthly in secret locations so have a look at the website for Monkey Shoulder.

Images reproduced from landmarklondon.co.uk, designmynight.com and Alexandra Abrahams

How to Catch Wild Pigs

I recently came across the following story about how to catch wild pigs that serves as a commentary on the state of freedom in modern America.

A chemistry professor at a large college had some exchange students in the class. One day while the class was in the lab the Professor noticed one young man (exchange student) who kept rubbing his back, and stretching as if his back hurt. The professor asked the young man what was the matter. The student told him he had a bullet lodged in his back. He had been shot while fighting communists in his native country who were trying to overthrow his country’s government and install a new communist government.

In the midst of his story he looked at the professor and asked a strange question. He asked, ‘Do you know how to catch wild pigs?’ The professor thought it was a joke and asked for the punch line. The young man said this was no joke. ‘You catch wild pigs by finding a suitable place in the woods and putting corn on the ground. The pigs find it and begin to come every day to eat the free corn. When they are used to coming every day, you put a fence down one side of the place where they are used to coming. When they get used to the fence, they begin to eat the corn again and you put up another side of the fence. They get used to that and start to eat again.

You continue until you have all four sides of the fence up with a gate in the last side. The pigs, who are used to the free corn, start to come through the gate to eat; you slam the gate on them and catch the whole herd. Suddenly the wild pigs have lost their freedom. They run around and around inside the fence, but they are caught.

Soon they go back to eating the free corn. They are so used to it that they have forgotten how to forage in the woods for themselves, so they accept their captivity. The young man then told the professor that is exactly what he sees happening to America. The government keeps pushing us toward socialism and keeps spreading the free corn out in the form of programs such as supplemental income, tax credit for unearned income, tobacco subsidies, dairy subsidies, payments not to plant crops (CRP), welfare, medicine, drugs, etc. while we continually lose our freedoms—just a little at a time.

This story is illustrates how freedom can be taken little by little without the victims even realizing it and in a way that leads the victims to even consent to their freedom being taken.

Focusing on the issue of food freedom, Americans today have nearly lost their ability to feed themselves. Absent fast food, grocery store chains, and media pronouncements about what to eat and the latest health “discovery”, most people would lack either a source of food or knowledge of what foods to eat. In this way, Americans today are like the corralled wild pigs in the story. They retain the appearance of freedom because they are are free to drive to the grocery store. But their freedom is only a facade because they lack the means and knowledge to truly obtain food for themselves. They are dependent on the industrial food system to provide them with their food selection and information about what to eat.

Only by struggling to retain the traditions of centuries past that governed the selection and preparation of foods, and only by struggling to support local and diverse food sources, can we break through the fences that now confine us and exercise the food freedom that is justly ours.

This material has been published with the kind permission of Alzheimer Research UK.

Common River: Connecting Communities

Common River

Common River

Deep in the Ethiopian Rift Valley, inside a bamboo hut, the air is cool and sweet. Fresh beans snap and whistle in the heat of the fire, sending out rich plumes of coffee-scented smoke. The process is peaceful, methodical. The mortar grinds the beans and water boils. Soon, from the elegant black coffee pot, lush chocolaty coffee spills into cups. Welcome to Common River, Aleta Wondo.

The collaboration of Tsegaye Bekele and Donna Sillan, Common River is a multi-faceted project that improves the lives of Aleta Wondo’s inhabitants. This once stable range has been hit hard by the falling price of coffee and the impacts of global warming. The wide range of projects reflects the diversity of Aleta Wondo’s volunteers and participants. From education to agriculture to cultural exchange, this is a place where futures are secured.

Aleto Wondo

Aleto Wondo

The school on the Common River site provides the young inhabitants to one of the most vital tools for a happy and successful life: an education. Four classrooms hold children of all ages: polite, eager to learn, attentive and dedicated, this is a teacher’s dream. A large field extends the learning space into the Ethiopian sunshine. Art, music, and sports complete a well-rounded education. Volunteers visit from all over the world, sharing their skills. The school lunch programme keeps the young learners at their best. Fresh milk from the school’s cows and produce from the fields ensures a healthy, balanced meal. The classrooms are picturesque, including a brightly painted traditional Sidama hut. When the bell rings for home time, the school doesn’t rest. Trickling from the village and fields, all bright skirts and happy laughter, come the women. The Common River Female Literacy programme is a wonder. It is said that to educate a woman is to educate a family and here educated women are formed. For two years, they return to school, receiving the basic education so many of us take for granted. When class is finished, they will go back to being mothers and wives with the dinner to cook and the children to put to bed, but for a few hours a day, they are something they thought they might never be- a pupil with their hand and head held high.

Ethiopia is well known as the birthplace of coffee. Common River and the coffee growers of Aleta Wondo have worked together to produce a single-origin coffee that is available worldwide. As small-scale producers, the amount of coffee produced each year is limited. Profits return directly to the community and it makes a wonderful – and socially conscious- souvenir. Less portable, but no less amazing, is the traditional bamboo huts that dot the sight. The locally based collective can make and design bespoke bamboo huts. Fragrantly cool, sustainable and beautiful; it’s a pity these won’t fit in a suitcase home!

School at Common River

School at Common River

Common River’s projects also include a new irrigation system, bring water to more members of the community than ever before. Having easy access to water will mean fewer trips to the communal springs. Their sanitation centres improve the health of community members, as does their provision of medical checkups, nutrition classes and first aid training. Annually, medical volunteers visit and provide care and information to the townspeople. Other projects include a bio-diversity garden that supports and showcases the area’s rich bio-diversity, rain catchment and wells, reforestation and improvement to local infrastructure.

Common River welcomes guests and volunteers to visit and assist with their range of projects. Tours, school groups, and volunteer placements are all available. Coffee can also be purchased via their website. Visit their website at www.commonriver.org to find out how you can experience this wonderful place or enjoy a taste from the comfort of your own living room.

Irritating Things About Hotels

angry hotel roomThe weather at home has been diabolical. You’ve saved hard all year for your two weeks of sun, sea and sand, you want to chill and relax, but how likely is this? I suspect most of us think flying is the most difficult, stressful part of our holiday, but what about the hotel you’ve so carefully chosen? How likely is it to raise your blood pressure?

Having recently spent three months travelling, many of the places I stayed in failed to get the basics right. Here is my personal list of irritations.

The welcome – you arrive at your hotel reception hot, sticky and tired only to be faced with so many simultaneous issues even the most proficient multi-tasker is challenged. The form you need to complete requires your passport to be retrieved from the bottom of your bag, you’re asked to produce a credit card for extras whilst trying to listen to the fast patter about meal times and location of the pool. If you’re lucky, you’ll be juggling a cold flannel and welcome drink.

Lighting – why is there always a sequence for switching on and off the huge number of lights? If you don’t suss it quickly, you end up recreating the sound and light show at Egypt’s Karnak temple every night before you go to bed. There’s always one light bulb that doesn’t work and lighting levels are generally insufficient for reading anything but a large print book.

The safe key – having got to your room, you find the safe and a sign saying, “key available at reception for a deposit”. So, you traipse all the way back to reception when you’re invariably in the room furthest away. One safe I encountered required my fingerprint to open it, or not as was generally the case.

The safe location – why is the safe always in the most difficult location at the bottom of a dark wardrobe requiring you to get on hands and knees to open it?

Wi-fi – once everything is safely stowed, you try to connect your lap-top but realise you need a password, which after looking at the information sheet, is “available from reception”. Why don’t hotels automatically provide safe keys and passwords without being prompted? And why is it, that the more expensive the hotel, the more they charge for wi-fi?

Double rooms for one – when you’ve paid for a double room, which usually means that two people will spend the night in it, why is there only one chair even when there’s ample space? And why only one suitcase rack – how many couples travel with one suitcase between them?

Bathrooms – a constant source of irritation. I cannot count the number of times when I’ve started the week with three face-flannels only to find they disappear one by one. My towels will be replaced, but not my flannels. When I hang up my towels to be kind to the environment by saying I’ll use them again, why do they ignore me and replace them anyway? And having being let down so many times, one of my “must pack” items is a universal sink plug.

The loo – I appear to be very unlucky, as invariably during a week-long holiday, my partner end up with his hand in the cistern to either stop the constant dribble of water or get the thing flushing properly.

Well, having got that off my chest and feeling much better, what about your thoughts on the most irritating things about hotels? It could be something general (I’ve not even mentioned ‘the lift’, ‘fixed coat hangers’ and ‘towel sculptures’), or a splendid one-off irritating experience.  The winner might even win a one night stay at my least favourite hotel at their own expense.

Image reproduced from theage.com.au

There is No Such Things as Completely Safe Food

The goal of government regulation in the area of food and agriculture, at least according to rhetoric, is to ensure that food is safe.  Complete safety is the stated top priority.  But is such a goal possible?

Yes, but only by severely compromising nutrition.

All of nature is mixture of things that are both beneficial and harmful to the human body, and this includes food.  Beneficial elements of food include things like healthy bacteria, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, proteins, fatty acids, and some carbohydrates.  Harmful elements of food obviously include harmful bacteria and pollutants.  All food possibly contains elements that are both helpful and harmful to our health.  Current means to render food safe, such as pasteurization, ultra-pasteurization, irradiation, and even simple cooking, do not distinguish between the good and any bad elements.  Any attempt to guarantee safety by destroying any possible elements of food that are unhealthy will inevitably also destroy much, if not all, of that part of food that is beneficial.

There is risk in all worthwhile activities, even getting out of bed in the morning.  Without risk, there is no reward.  Eating nutritious food is no different.  In order to obtain nutrition, one must be willing to accept some degree of risk of contamination.  Conversely, in order to obtain complete sterility and lack of contamination, he must sacrifice nutrition.  There is no other alternative.

Those who make the proper decision to accept some risk of contamination should nevertheless minimize such risk by ensuring that their food is produced in a way that protects against contamination.  The good news is that nature itself provides several layers of such protection, and methods of raising food that mimic nature will provide similar protections.  First and foremost, animals raised in their natural environment and on their natural diet will avoid much of the contamination that plagues our modern food system.  For example, cows evolved to eat grass, not grain.  Feeding cows grain and forcing them to spend their lives wallowing in mud and feces, as the meat industry does, causes harmful E. coli bacteria to accumulate in the cow’s gut, and such bacteria often finds its way into the milk and meat.  Raising cows on pasture, by contrast, is consistent with how cows would live in nature, and this practice minimizes the proliferation of harmful bacteria in the cow.  Grass-fed cows are healthy and free of contamination, and so is their milk and meat.

Furthermore, healthy animal products like milk, when raw, contain beneficial bacteria that will assist to destroy harmful bacteria within them.  Pasteurized, ultra-pasteurized and irradiated foods, in addition to having lost much of their nutrition, have also lost the ability to destroy any bacteria that may subsequently contaminate them.

Finally, naturally produced food that has avoided the sterlizing techniques like pasteurization and irradiation retains the entire wealth of health-giving nutrients with which nature has provided it.  People who consume such nutrient-dense foods are much better equipped to defend themselves against contaminants because their healthier diets ensure a much stronger immune system.  And, for those with a strong immune system, any minimal pathogenic bacteria that may still exist in their food will almost certainly not harm them but, rather, will actually benefit them by serving to exercise and further strengthen their immune system.

Consuming only conventionally “safe” food–that is, food that has been subject to pasteurization, irradiation, overcooking, and other sterilizing techniques–may indeed eliminate one’s exposure to food contamination.  However, such practice will likely also cause numerous health problems of varying degrees, including a weakened immune system, resulting from a lack of proper nutrition.

In this sense, “safe” food is actually very dangerous.

Image reproduced from http://img.webmd.boots.com

High Protein Chocolate Chip Cookies

I was making some basic recipe chocolate chip cookies with oats and my son comes in the kitchen and said “Can you put some of my protein powder  in the cookies?”  Just to explain the protein powder is a supplement people  generally consume immediately before and after exercising and my son is really into his sports and exercise.   Well I am always open to new ideas so I took up his challenge and made these cookies which I think should be called high protein chocolate chip cookies.   I still followed the basic cookie recipe so the results will be good even without the addition of the protein powder.

Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes

Ingredients for 20 medium sized cookies

125g salted butter at room temperature
90g brown sugar
1 organic egg
90g self raising flour
100g choc chips
20g rolled oats
100g protein shake powder

Method :

1. Using a coffee grinder – grind the oats for 2-3 spins.

2. In a food processor, mix the butter and sugar until creamy.

3. Add the egg and mix again.

4. Add the self raising flour, oats, protein powder and chocolate chips and mix well.

5. Remove the dough and shape it into a roll; wrap it in foil and put it in the freezer for 30 minutes.

6. After 30 minutes, heat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and prepare the baking tray by lining it with greaseproof paper.

7. Remove the cookie dough and cut into slices 1 cm thick.

8. Slightly shape them round and put them on the baking tray.

9. If you have a fan oven – cook for only 6 minutes. Convention oven will take 10 minutes. I suggest that you keep checking so that the cookies don’t burn.

10. The cookies turned out lovely and soft and had a creamy taste because of the protein powder added to the cookies.

11. Enjoy them with a glass of cold milk like we did.

Tip: You can make the cookie dough in advance and keep it in the freezer for a few weeks.