Five seasonal fruit and veg stars to add to your diet this Spring


Close up of a woman holding a bunch of fresh asparagus

Eating seasonally means eating foods, especially fruits and vegetables, when in season, just as nature intended.  Nature is of course extremely clever, and it knows what the body needs at what times of the year. 

It also makes sense to eat seasonally from an economic and environmental perspective too.

So, what’s in season right now?

Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her five favourite fruits and vegetables to enjoy.



shutterstock_552099742 rhubarb Apr17

Interestingly, whilst we might think of rhubarb as being a fruit, it’s actually a vegetable!  Obviously, that doesn’t change its nutritional offerings which are certainly worth exploring.

As with all fruits and vegetables, rhubarb is packed with immune-boosting vitamin C, also needed for energy production.  Vitamin C is also one of our most powerful antioxidants which helps protect the body from free radical damage and in turn, the ageing process.

shutterstock_577640623 strawberry and rhubarb crumble July17

Rhubarb is a great source of fibre which is essential for keeping the digestive system running smoothly.  It’s quite sharp in taste so if it’s going to be used in sweet dishes, it might need a lot of sugar.  A rhubarb and apple crumble is great as a treat, but it might be worth thinking of using rhubarb in savoury dishes, perhaps as a tart sauce with duck.

If you’ve not tried rhubarb before then it’s health and taste benefits are well worth exploring.


shutterstock_192761054 bowl of kale Apr15

A member of the cabbage family, kale is often referred to as a superfood for this reason.  This super healthy family of foods contain a compound called sulphoraphane, which is very beneficial for liver detoxification.  Research also shows sulphoraphane is very protective against some of our nasty degenerative diseases.

Kale can be slightly tough if not treated kindly during cooking! The younger leaves tend to be more tender and then it can be steamed, boiled, or stir fried and used in a myriad of dishes. 

Home made kale chips in a dish

Kale makes a great snack as kale chips, grilled in a little olive oil and sea salt, or made into a soup with any vegetable of choice.   Additionally, it’s great in a stir fry or cooked on its own with garlic and toasted pine nuts.


A bowl of fresh spinach leaves

Whilst we often think of spinach as being the best source of iron, it’s probably better for its calcium content.  Either way, spinach remains a rich source of these key minerals, essential for energy and the bones, and are best absorbed when spinach is cooked.

The good news, therefore, is that spinach is so easy to add to almost anything, as it reduces down massively when cooked.  This makes it a great vegetable to add to dishes when you’ve got vegetable ‘avoiders’ in the family!  Spinach can even be added to a spaghetti bolognaise and won’t be noticed too much.  It’s also great added to soups, stir fries, omelettes or vegetable curries.

Spinach omelette in pan on breakfast table

Spinach is also a great source of vitamin A and vitamin C which work together as antioxidants, as well as folate, essential for energy and healthy DNA.  From a cook’s perspective, it’s very versatile too.

Passion Fruit

Passion fruits

Passion fruit doesn’t exactly meet the criteria for being a local fruit but it is in season in the southern hemisphere.  Plus, it’s great for the soul to be eating foods that remind us of warmth and sunshine at this time of year. And these summer fruits are also packed with antioxidants which naturally help protect the skin from sun damage, so you’ll be getting all those health benefits too.

Passion fruit is just sweet enough to be eaten on its own, as a delicious snack or dessert treat.  However, it can be made into a coulis with other fruits, especially mango (mango chunks are easy from the freezer) or simply pureed and poured over your favourite chocolate cake as a lovely sweet treat!


Close up of a woman holding a bunch of fresh asparagus

As we come into April, so we come into English asparagus season.  Eating asparagus out of season you may find a lack of taste and often tough texture.  So, grab some quick because the season is short!

Asparagus is a nutritional highlight, containing more folate than any other vegetable.  Folate is essential for energy production, the nervous system, healthy red blood cell production and DNA repair.  Furthermore, asparagus, is packed with glutathione, which is essential for powering our key antioxidant enzyme system.


Even better, asparagus doesn’t need to be complicated in terms of preparation; simply steam and toss in olive oil and salt, roast the same way, or serve as an impressive starter with hollandaise sauce.

Enjoy exploring seasonal fruit and veg this Spring!



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Five dietary tips to increase your energy this spring

A happy woman in from of a blossom tree showing spring time

As we come into spring, there’s generally a sigh of relief that winter is over, there’s more light and generally more warmth too.  Hopefully, this also encourages energy levels but with many people suffering from ‘tired all the time’ (TATT) and still lots of nasty bugs floating around, many of us are not feeling our best. 

However, there are many dietary changes that you can make to help get your energy levels back on track.

Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her five top nutritional tips for getting ready for spring.


Keep it clean

There’s much written about ‘clean eating’, but what does that actually mean?  Essentially, it means eating foods as close to their natural state as possible. The body needs nutrients to fuel its biochemistry which all come from the food we eat.  Food is not just about fuelling us: the individual micronutrients – vitamins and minerals – each play an essential role in keeping us well.  It makes sense, therefore, that the more nutrients we take in, the better we will feel.

A range of wholegrains in heart shaped dishes to show they are good for the heart

Eating cleanly can take a little more planning, but it’s important to think about each meal as an opportunity to take nutrients on board. If you think about grains, those that haven’t been processed are going to yield far more nutrients than those that have, especially the all-important B-vitamins which provide essential energy. Therefore, avoid anything processed and white such as white rice, white pasta, white bread, and white sugar.

Stay well hydrated

It’s such a simple thing, but it’s one that we often miss.  If you’re dehydrated at a cellular level, you’re likely to feel sluggish, plus the brain will not be firing as it should.

Aim to drink around 1.5 – 2 litres of water daily if possible.  It’s great to drink fruit and herbal teas but water, perhaps with fresh lemon or ginger, tends to hydrate us better.  If you’re doing lots of exercise, then it is even more important to keep well hydrated.

A close up of a woman holding a glass of water to represent staying hydrated

Try to get into the habit of having a glass of water on your desk or taking bottled water with you wherever you go.  If you keep sipping throughout the day, it’s amazing how quickly you’ll meet the target.

Cut down on caffeine

Whilst caffeine gives us a quick boost of energy, the rate that energy levels drop afterwards is surprisingly quick, which is why we then reach for another caffeine hit and the cycle continues throughout the day.  Essentially, caffeine upsets blood sugar levels which ideally need to be stable throughout the day, rather than rocking and rolling. Over time, if we’re constantly challenging this mechanism, the body tends to feel more and more exhausted. 


Try to keep a lid on the caffeinated drinks and limit them to one in the morning and then change to decaf or other drinks through the rest of the day.  As your body regulates, you’ll find less reliance on caffeine.  Plus, if the body is better nourished generally, energy levels should improve as well.

Feed the inner you

We obviously can’t see what’s going on inside, but we can see and feel the effects of poor nutrition on the outside.  The body produces energy in the mitochondria of the cells – think of them as a spark plugs in a car! Clearly our cells need a wide range of nutrients to work efficiently, but one key nutrient is CoQ10 which we can obtain from foods.


Whole grains, organ meats and oily fish are especially rich in C0Q10 so try to include them in your diet regularly.  Obviously, energy production is not just about one nutrient which is why it’s important to keep the diet as varied as possible.

Keep it colourful

As a nutritionist, I’m always talking about eating a colourful and varied diet.  This is because when there’s more colour on the plate, there are also more nutrients and nutrients mean energy!


Fruits and vegetables are especially rich in nutrients, so do try to include as many different ones as possible throughout the day.  They are rich in those all-important B-vitamins which we need for energy, but also vitamin C, also used for energy and keeping the immune system in good shape.  How about including some dark berries for breakfast, carrots, peppers and celery at lunchtime and broccoli and sweet potatoes for dinner?

So, get fired up and ready for Spring with some of these energy-giving dietary tips.


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Can changing my diet and lifestyle help my sleep?

Woman asleep in bed

The short answer is yes! Getting a good nights’ sleep is an omnipresent problem for far too many people. 

There’s much research to suggest the importance of getting between seven to nine hours sleep per night which, for many, is difficult.  However, sleep patterns can be improved by making some diet and lifestyle tweaks.

Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her five top sleep hacks.


Cut the caffeine

We all know that caffeine is a stimulant and for many of us, it’s something that helps us get through the day.  However, it’s all too easy to get stuck in a cycle of having a poor nights’ sleep, and then using more and more caffeinated drinks the next day to get you through.

If you’re struggling with sleep, then caffeine is not going to help.  And we can often become more sensitive to caffeine as we get older.  Women going through menopause can certainly suffer more by having caffeine. So how can you consume less?


Over a period of a couple of weeks, gradually cut down and then cut out caffeinated drinks.  Switch to decaf tea and coffee, which does still have a small amount of caffeine but is greatly reduced.  The coffee shop shots often contain vast amounts too! Even though you may not have been drinking caffeinated drinks before bedtime, having them at any time of the day influences the nervous system and consequently sleep.

shutterstock_391949488 green tea Nov16

Ideally, try and go for herbal teas. Green tea can help with sleep as it contains an amino acid called theanine which has a calming effect.

Avoid cardio exercise in the evening

Exercise is a very important part of daily life but it’s often difficult to fit in during the day with work and other schedules to juggle. However, heavy cardio exercise stimulates cortisol which can then take a while to settle, which may mean you’re counting sheep into the wee small hour afterwards.

shutterstock_249902236 woman running and smiling Sept15If possible, try to do exercise in the morning.  There is another very good reason for this: exercising outside in the bright morning light stimulates the production of melatonin, our sleep hormone, later in the day.


Eat to support your sleep

The body essentially produces the sleep hormone, melatonin, from the amino acid tryptophan found in foods.  When planning your evening meal think about including some chicken, eggs, oats, fish, pumpkin seeds, almonds, or eggs.

Chicken breast with side salad representing balanced mealHowever, it’s also important to have foods throughout the day that keep blood sugar levels in balance.  When blood sugar is out of whack then it can trigger the release of cortisol. This is our stress hormone, which can create more anxiety, restlessness, and irritability, none of which are conducive to a good night’s sleep! 


Bowl of porridge topped with blueberries and raspberriesSo, think about having an oat-based breakfast, such as overnight oats which is quick and easy to prepare the night before. Go for a salmon or tuna salad for lunch and grilled chicken breast with veggies for dinner.  If you’re vegan, soy is also a good source of tryptophan, so a tofu stir fry would be a great option.

Get into a routine

The body loves a routine.  It has a natural circadian rhythm, and all body processes happen in a routine too.  For example, the liver carries out most of its detoxification processes at around 2 am whether you’re asleep or not. Therefore, having a bedtime routine is important too. 

CLose up of a woman relaxing in the bath reading a book, surrounded by candlesTurn off and don’t look at electronic devices at least two hours before bedtime.  Decide what works for you in terms of having a warm bath with some lavender oil, reading a book, meditating or other relaxation techniques.  The important point is to stick to a routine and try to keep regular bed and waking times too. And whilst alcohol might seem like a sedative, it is known to disrupt sleep patterns and is often the cause of early morning waking.

Practice deep breathing


Of all the relaxation practices, deep breathing is probably one of the most effective.  Plus, it costs nothing, and it doesn’t take much time either!

Woman with legs crossed sitting on bed meditatingDeep breaths need to start from the belly.  You might want to lie down and put your hand on your belly to ensure this is happening until you get used to the feeling.  Initially, just try breathing in for four seconds and breathing out to the same intensity for four seconds. In essence, you are regulating your breathing in and out.  As you get more practice, then try to do this for 6 seconds each way.  The important point here is not to over think it – just concentrate on the breath.  After a couple of minutes, you’ll certainly start to feel calmer.  Try doing this for five minutes every day before settling down to sleep – you’ll be amazed by the results!

Try these tips and hopefully you will sleep well tonight.


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The importance of eating more vegetables this National Nutrition Month

shutterstock_583532458 nutrition word cloud heart Mar21

It’s National Nutrition Month which highlights the importance of good nutrition and is a great time for us all to take stock of our daily diets.

It’s sometimes easier said than done to eat a varied, healthy diet every day, but there are ways we can make it simpler for ourselves, especially when it comes to eating more vegetables. 

Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her insights on the topic and why eating more vegetables is so important.


Why vegetables?

In our time-poor, budget-stretched busy lives, it’s often easier to adopt the ‘grab and go’ way of eating.  Unfortunately, any kind of processed food is going to be lacking in nutrients.  And whilst us nutritionists bang on about eating more vegetables, there are some very good reasons why.

A range of vegetables to represent fibre in the diet

The body needs around 45 different nutrients every day to work at its best.  Every single vitamin and mineral fulfils a range of functions in the body, without which our intricate body biochemistry just wouldn’t work. 

Vegetables (and many other plants too) contain so many of these micronutrients which are essential for life. Importantly, their bright and varied colours means they are loaded with antioxidants which protect the body from free radical damage, a major driver of the ageing process. 

If we can just get them into the diet on a more regular basis, we could take some bigger steps to becoming healthier. So how can we include more?

Super spinach

A bowl of fresh spinach leaves

Spinach is rich in energising B-vitamins, iron, and antioxidants and whilst a bag of spinach might look like a lot, it reduces massively when cooked.  Spinach can be added to pasta dishes, stews, soups or bolognaise without affecting the taste or texture of the meal but would significantly uprate its nutrient content.

Stir fries

FResh vegetable stir fry in a wok

Stir-fries are really quick and easy and are a great way of including more vegetables.  A stir fry meal is always going to look more appealing if it has loads of colour, and the more colour, the greater and wider variety of nutrients.

Go for the wonky vegetables


Many shops are now selling ‘wonky’ vegetables which are slightly cheaper.  Why not boil them all up with some stock and seasoning to create a delicious, filling soup?  The soup can then be liquidised or hand-blended to create a smooth texture and can be stored if the fridge to eat over a few days.

Try frozen

shutterstock_295634081 frozen veg Nov15

Getting to the shops regularly can be difficult for many time-stretched people.  This Is when frozen vegetables can be a great and convenient option. They are often richer in nutrients than fresh as they’ve been picked and frozen quickly, which retains those all-important nutrients.  Plus, they’re generally a bit cheaper. 

What are the key nutrients and where can you find them?

Vegetables are packed full of nutrients including B-vitamins (needed for energy and brain function), iron (essential for energy and healthy blood), potassium (great for a healthy heart) and calcium (essential for strong bones), to name but a few. But here I am calling our vitamin C and magnesium:

Vitamin C

A selection of fruit and vegetables high in Vitamin C

Vitamin C is the most widely available nutrient in fruits and vegetables. It’s essential for the immune system, brain function, collagen production and keeping blood vessels strong and free flowing. Plus, it’s one of our most powerful antioxidant vitamins which means it’s going to help protect us against the ageing process and everything that comes with it. 


A range of foods containing magnesium

Magnesium we know is widely deficient in the UK population.  This is potentially problematic because magnesium has many key roles in the body but is important for regulating mood, blood pressure, the nervous system, producing energy, bone health and muscle function.  It’s also great for helping us to sleep. 

It’s widely available in leafy green vegetables including broccoli, sprouts, kale, cauliflower, and cabbage, all of which can be ‘disguised’ in many different dishes. 

How to make vegetables more appealing


If you or your family members push back from eating leafy greens, it may be something to do with how they are served.  No-one likes overcooked mushy sprouts or cabbage, but instead why not try them stir fried with some garlic and bacon; they become a whole lot more attractive.  Or perhaps try some broccoli tossed in sesame seeds? 

Why not resolve this month to try adding at least one new vegetable to your weekly diet and see where the journey takes you!



Sign up to receive our blog and get a weekly dose of the latest nutrition, health and wellness advice direct to your inbox.

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For everything you need to know about vitamins, minerals and herbs visit our sister site Herbfacts

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