food, Health and Wellbeing, nutritional therapy, Wellness

Kitchenzest & True To Your Health – same ethos approached from two different angles.

The logo of Kitchenzest is written with 'kitchen' in green  and 'zest' in yellow, with an image of half a lemon slice suspended slightly above it.  It represents health and vitality.
Kitchenzest is the brainchild of Rochdalian ex-community nurse, Alison Maughan. She co-founded the healthy ready-meal company with her son one year ago, after giving up 20 years of nursing. Her view was to start something she believed in – to provide good value and uncompromisingly nutritious meals to the people of the local area.

Yesterday afternoon I had a meeting with Alison Maughan from Kitchenzest. Like me, she has a passion for health, eating foods for vitality, and improving people’s lives. We’re just approaching it from different angles, that’s all.

Alison makes uncompromisingly healthy ready meals (for individual requirements if necessary) which she decided to do after recognising a gap in the market, and her business has taken off locally. This tells me that people want to eat healthy food – they just don’t always have the time or energy to prepare and cook it.

From communications by text prior to our meet-up, I already knew Alison was a lovely person. In real life, however, she exceeded my expectations. She’s completely sincere and passionate about what she does, which always works for me.

We chatted like we’d known each other for years, and came up with some great ideas about how we can potentially work together.

I can’t wait for the next step.

The future’s exciting… so watch this space!!! 🤩 #kitchenzest#collaborate#healthyeating#innovate#youarewhatyoueat#eatwellfeelgreat#rochdale#localbusiness#inspire#nutrition#nutritionaltherapy#nutritionaltherapypractitioner

If you would like to learn more about Alison and her company, please click the hyperlink on her name/company name above.

Children, Health and Wellbeing, Uncategorised

Kids and New Foods

I just thought I’d share this fabulous image from the Wellness Festival I attended on Sunday. A mum and her son came to try my healthy snack tasters and became really interested in the ingredients in the recipe sheets. The foods weren’t something the little boy had tried before, and the blondies contained chickpeas, which were a foreign thing in a sweet snack to both adults and kids.

It was lovely to see them together talking about food, which is important for a child to develop an interest in food and a willingness to try new things.

It’s important to have an open attitude to food and your children will follow your lead.

Sometimes it can be difficult to get children to try foods which fall outside their familiar meals and snacks. You may have tried to introduce more of a variety, but you keep hitting a brick wall, which can be extremely frustrating, when you’ve spent a long time cooking.

I always found with my own children that if they didn’t like a particular food, I’d put a very small amount on the plate – alongside their much loved meals – which I’d ask them to at least try. They didn’t have to eat much of it – just taste it and leave the rest. Even if they didn’t like it, I’d keep reintroducing that same food (never in large amounts) at meal times. Often they’d develop a liking for it but sometimes they wouldn’t (sweet potatoes and tomatoes are two examples of this with my youngest).

What we have to remember (which is difficult in our busy modern lives) is that it takes around 10 tastes of a food for a child to be able to accept it. Just because they say they don’t like it the first time doesn’t mean they can’t ever like it.

However, it’s important not to make too much of an issue of it. If you come to realise that it’s a food they aren’t ready for, praise them for trying it, and move on. Children’s tastebuds are far more sensitive than an adult’s – maybe they don’t like that food right now, but when they’re older, it may just be their favourite (as olives are with me!)

Health and Wellbeing, Nutrition, nutritional therapy, Uncategorised, Wellness

Littleborough Wellness Festival

Yesterday was a fantastic day. It was the first Littleborough Wellness Festival at Littleborough Cricket Club, organised by Littleborough and Area Ladies Circle, with all proceeds going to Rochdale & District Mind. I met some great people, both the stallholders and people who came to visit.

I was blown away by how many people were looking for more natural ways to deal with their ill health or improve their health. There’s a lot of interest out there for changes to the way we eat and live our lives. What I was hearing, however, was that there is so much conflicting information out there that people often get confused and don’t know where to start.

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated. A good starting point is with the BANT Wellness Plate and their 7-a-day Eat a Rainbow handouts. I was explaining to the people who came to chat with me that half their daily intake of food should be focused on fruits and vegetables, but also, that it’s important to eat a wide range of colours and types of plant-based foods. Our gut bacteria thrives on different varieties of fibres and polyphenols within plant-based foods, so diversity is key. The spectrum of colours available in fruits and vegetables offer different benefits – helping immunity, mood, energy, hormones, digestion, cardiovascular and skeletal health etc.

The healthy snacks tasters I made – energy balls and chickpea & cashew blondies – went down a treat

Although eating like this is beneficial to everyone, sometimes it doesn’t improve the symptoms we may be experiencing. Depending on what’s going on in our bodies, it may even make things worse. At this point it’s advisable to see a professional who, during their consultation, will try to identify the potential root cause of your issues. We are all individuals, so a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. The triggers and drivers for our illnesses differ from person-to-person, even if they are suffering with the same condition.

Just before the doors open. Everyone’s just finishing setting up!

One of my favourite parts of the day was talking to representatives from MIND and the University of the Third Age who expressed interest in me participating in workshops and talks with the general public. This is very exciting, as it means I can spread the word about the benefits of dietary and lifestyle interventions to a greater audience. Nutrition has an important role in mental health and healthy ageing, but it’s not always so easy to be able to implement dietary advice when you might be living alone or struggling with mental health issues. It would be great to offer support and strategies to these groups in ways that suit their individual needs.

Finally, I’d like to thank my friends Natasha Sophia Sarak (of Prestwich Health Heroes) and Pauline Holt, who turned up yesterday to support me. Cheerleaders help us move forward, and feel positive and focused! I really appreciate them taking precious time out of their day and I certainly felt the love. Thanks guys!

Really appreciate the support I got from my fellow nutritional therapy buddy
anxiety, blood pressure, Health and Wellbeing, insomnia, memory and concentration, nutritional therapy, Wellness

Does Nature Make Us Happy?

An early spring in Littleborough in February

Yesterday, my husband, daughter and I went on a 3 hour walk in the hills around Littleborough where we live.

My last post, ‘Naturally Speaking’, was about the science behind why nature makes us feel better, both mentally and physically.

Here, in these photographs, you can actually SEE why it has such a huge impact on us. There’s something about all the blue and the green that is calming and serene. You can almost feel the breeze on your face, the sun on your skin, the crunch of the grass beneath your feet, the birds singing in the trees.

I don’t know about you, but right now, just looking at these pictures makes me feel happy!

anxiety, blood pressure, Health and Wellbeing, stress, Wellness

Naturally Speaking

Yesterday I took my daughter for a chilly but beautiful walk in Tandle Hill Country Park in Oldham. It was just what we needed after being cooped up earlier in the day. We both felt brilliant. 

For those who love nature, it will be no surprise to learn that studies have found nature-based therapy dramatically improves mental wellbeing, so if you regularly feel under par, get yourself out there into nature more often. Many of us live in urban areas and rarely see a forest, mountain or waterfall, and it’s having detrimental effects on our health. Giving yourself a hefty dose of vitamin “green” has potent effects on:

  • how our cells function
  • our immunity
  • our brain and nervous system

It’s even been found that post-surgical patients have improved recovery if exposed to a natural scene from the window of their room.

As for forest walking, studies find it has beneficial effects on:

  • heart and lung health
  • blood pressure
  • immunity and inflammation
  • blood sugar balance
  • stress
  • cognitive function
  • balancing emotions

So even though it may be cold, drag yourself away from that screen.

Your body and mind will thank you for it. 

#foresttherapy#health#wellbeing#mentalwellbeing#nature#vitaming#nutritionaltherapy#nutritionaltherapypractitioner

anxiety, blood pressure, Health and Wellbeing, insomnia, meditation, memory and concentration, mindfulness, nutritional therapy, pain management, pain perception, sleep, stress, teenagers, Wellness

Have Yourself a Little Meditation

Linking on from my stress post yesterday.


I love this…


My younger daughter, who sometimes suffers with anxieties (as do we all from time-to-time) has discovered mindfulness as a way to calm her mind. It’s not the first time lately I’ve caught her lying on the rug in front of the fire, listening to a guided meditation on her laptop. She also has a favourite CD – ‘Rays of Calm’ by Christiane Kerr – that she listens to every night. It’s a series of visualisations that gently guide you into sleep.

A series of 10 visualisations for teenagers to calm the mind and help you drift into sleep.


The benefits of meditation are multiple:


– reduction of stress/anxiety, and even possibly depression.


– helps to improve self-image and promotes positivity.


– aids in developing a stronger understanding of yourself.


– helps improve memory and concentration, and may reduce age-related memory loss.


– aids with pain management by diminishing the perception of pain in the brain.


– may decrease blood pressure in older participants.


– increases speed of going to sleep and staying asleep.

Making meditation part of your day has so many benefits, we should all give it a go. It only takes a few minutes, and anyway, who says you don’t deserve some time to yourself, just to sit and be?


As for my daughter, judging by her very heavy breathing, it seems that meditation for the purpose of sleep improvement is definitely working, not just at night but at ANY time of the day!!

Health and Wellbeing, Nutrition, nutritional therapy, stress, Wellness

Stress and Negative Health Effects


I’m currently reading ‘When the Body Says No’ by Gabor Mate. It’s an interesting and readable book about the effects of stress on our health outcomes. It describes not just the stresses we feel on a day-to-day basis, but also how our responses to stress might become hyper-reactive due to certain childhood experiences. Many people don’t even recognise their stress because it becomes part of who they are. This doesn’t mean it’s any less damaging however. He connects chronic stress (and our responses to it) as an underlying factor in every disease, including Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, Motor Neurone Disease, Heart Disease, Cancer, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Diabetes and Arthritis.

Gabor Mate's book "When the Body Says No" describes the detrimental effects stress has on our health outcomes - from heart disease to Motor Neurone Disease - stress is at the foundations of every health issue.

The problem with chronic stress is that over time it starts to negatively affect the body. Constant cortisol release puts the body in ‘fight or flight’ mode. This means the body is in a state where it is ready to escape, so the focus is taken away from important systems such as:

– the immune system
– the digestive system
– the reproductive system

As a result, our body is:

– unable to digest food and absorb nutrients as efficiently as it should; 

You might begin to suffer from more

– colds, allergies, food intolerances and other immune-related issues; 

Or you might experience symptoms connected with hormone imbalances.

In high levels, cortisol becomes inflammatory, and chronic inflammation is linked with poor health outcomes. 

Cortisol is also linked with energy and the sleep cycle. When it becomes dysregulated through stress you may start to experience symptoms such as insomnia and fatigue.

Taking more time to relax, meditate, and sleep well all have a beneficial effect on your stress levels, and ultimately your health. Put away your gadgets 90 minutes before bedtime too. You may use them as a way to relax, but they have proven detrimental effect on our stress levels.

There are also dietary factors that impact cortisol release, so remember, reducing stress is not only about what you do, and how you perceive and respond to stressors, but also include the quality of the foods (and drinks) you put into your mouth.