Homemade Ketchup

ketchup bottlesI for one love various condiments and ketchup is on the list. I don’t eat a lot of it but I like it with certain things, sausages in particular or a healthy english breakfast. The problem with ketchup is that it’s just loaded with sugar which I don’t like. So I started playing around with making my own. In the beginning I was following Jamie Oliver homemade ketchup recipe but I have now made some alterations.

As I have children I’m trying to make them eat healthy as well and they also like ketchup. When I started experimenting the ketchup came out a bit orange in colour and they did not approve of this. I then added a beetroot which made it come out a perfect colour. There is a word of warning here though, I sent them off to school with a dollop of ketchup on their wholemeal pasta and meatballs lunchbox and they came home saying that it was “old”. Turns out that because there is beetroot in the ketchup if you leave it for a long time on your pasta it will stain it a slightly purple colour. We now put it in a separate pot 🙂

I also use a natural xylitol sugar that has less of an affect on your blood sugar. If your children won’t eat anything that doesn’t come out of a Heinz bottle just pour it into a Heinz bottle – job done!

I hope you like the recipe.

Homemade Tomato Ketchup Recipe

makes about 500ml

You can make different colours of ketchup using just yellow, orange or green tomatoes – simply exchange the cherry and tinned tomatoes for the same amount of your chosen coloured ones. I try and make my ketchup look like shop bought so that the children eat hence I’ve added a beetroot. If you are not bothered about the colour you could leave this out.


  • 1 large red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • ½ bulb fennel, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 stick celery, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • olive oil
  • 1 thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • ½ fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, leaves picked, stalks chopped
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • sea salt
  • 1 kg yellow, orange or green tomatoes, chopped, or 500g cherry or plum tomatoes, halved plus 500g tinned plum tomatoes
  • 1 peeled and roughly chopped raw beetroot
  • 200 ml red wine vinegar
  • 70 g xylitol sugar ( or soft brown sugar)


Put all the vegetables in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan (I use Le Creuset but you could also use a slow cooker for this stage)  add a big splash of olive oil and the ginger, garlic, chilli, basil stalks, coriander seeds and cloves. Season with the pepper and a good pinch of salt.

Cook gently over a low heat for 10 to 15 minutes until softened, stirring every so often. Add all the tomatoes and 350ml of cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer gently until the sauce reduces by half. This could take up to 4-6 hours hence the use of a slow cooker could be handy.

Add the basil leaves, then whiz the sauce in a food processor or a blender and push it through a sieve twice, to make it smooth and shiny. Put the sauce into a clean pan and add the vinegar and the sugar. Place the sauce on the heat and simmer until it reduces and thickens to the consistency of tomato ketchup. At this point, correct the seasoning to taste.

Spoon the ketchup through a sterilized funnel into sterilized bottles, then seal tightly and place in a cool dark place or the fridge until needed – it should keep for six months.


Loving Brazil’s new dietary guidelines!!

A reveller of Mocidade samba school dancThere is something really right and exciting about Brazil’s new dietary guidelines. They are sensible and inspiring. You feel like you want to follow them when you read them – or what do you think?

It starts with 3 golden rulesgolden tick

  1. Make freshly prepared foods and meals the basis of your diet.
  2. Use oils, fats, salt and sugar in moderation.
  3. Limit the intake of ready prepared meals and avoid those that are ultra processed (my personal favourite)

It then goes on to talk about ten other guidelines some of the highlights being “Be critical of the commercial advertising of food products” and “Develop, practice, share and enjoy your skills in food preparation and cooking” – very Jamie Oliver AND great advice. On the subject of eating mindfully the guidelines say “Plan your time to give meals and eating proper time and space”.

I couldn’t have said it better myself, if only our government could come up with something like this. I think it would be more clear, encouraging and more importantly, actually inspiring. If you want to see the whole outline click here.

What is the one thing you can do that will make a big change towards eating a healthy diet?

I found this great video this morning. It addresses the subject of sugar addiction and why it’s a hard habit to kick. The better you understand nutrition you will know that it isn’t just the sugar itself i.e. sugar, cakes, ice cream and desserts that will have you addicted but it’s also all the added sugar in processed, highly refined, ready made food and fast food.

If you are looking to make a lifestyle change and want to do 1 thing for you and your family to improve your diet. Take up cooking! If you already cook – then do more of it, I promise you the more you cook the easier it gets. Like anything you practice you will get more skilled at it. If you are already a very keen cook than step it up by start making your own dressings, ketchup and breads.

Want to know why? Then spend 2,5 min watching this as I did this morning.

Happy cooking everyone.


My thoughts on – “Are we addicted to sugar?”

ImageSo I watched the Dispatches episode yesterday called “Are you addicted to sugar”. It is really encouraging to see something like this on mainstream TV. For me who works in nutrition there were no real surprises but the now overwhelming evidence around sugar means that mainstream media is getting in on the game and as reported in the programme the government is now ready to act. I suggest you don’t wait for the government or World Health Organisation to make changes in your diet but you get on it right now. Educate yourself now! Learn about sugars, food labelling and eat for health.

I really hope the programme inspires individuals to take better responsibility for what they put in their mouths. I do believe the ultimate responsibility is always with each individual however I have the biggest sympathy for how hard it is to try and follow a low sugar diet. You cannot go into a coffee place and find a low sugar option generally. Cakes are obviously full of sugar, bread is full of sugar, even the wholemeal bread (if you can find it) has got sugar in it. If your lunch is shop bought the dressing in your salad is probably full of sugar. If you go into any supermarket these days you are literally assaulted by marketing and just the sheer number of high sugar products leering at you around every corner. You can’t really blame the consumer for getting it wrong since there isn’t sufficient legislation around how food is allowed to be labelled and/or marketed. Surely it’s not that strange that we come to the conclusion that “if this is all they are selling then it really can’t be that bad for me, at least not in moderation”, but it really is!

I remember when I first realised. I had come along to a free taster session of a zest4life programme as an attempt to find a new way of losing weight and live healthier. I had tried different diet approaches in the past mainly revolving around cutting calories or fat. Going to this first zest4life session was like opening my eyes. Everything finally fell into place. I understood why I wasn’t losing weight and I also understood why a lot of people were struggling. What I didn’t understand was why this wasn’t common knowledge. It seemed like the holy grail to me and I was only a lay nutrition person at this point.

sugar on a teaspoonCutting out sugar, in some cases swapping for “better” sugars and balance your blood sugar was clearly the way to lose weight. Why is that you say? It becomes very clear when you follow a low GL diet to control blood sugar that it makes sense. First of all it makes sense because the person educating you knows about nutrition and the science behind it. But having said that there is no mystery to it. You hear it and it just makes sense. Then you start to follow the diet and realise that everyday you do it you feel better. You are literally dieting but you are eating good food, healthy, nutritious food and your health is improving which includes losing weight. That is surely how it should be!

It was this encounter in 2009 that made me follow a career in nutrition – It just made sense and I wanted to learn more.

So back to the dispatches programme. Is diabetes doing to turn into a pandemic do you think? I think probably yes (without looking up the definition of pandemic that is).

My husband also commented that surely it couldn’t be so simple as to cut out sugar to cure the diabetes epidemic? The whole situation probably have several layers and nuances to it and he’s probably right. However I think we’ve got to start somewhere and I admire people like Dr Robert Lustig for taking a stand and being so straight talking about the problem. We could focus on the nuances and the layers but we just wouldn’t get anywhere fast and we need to get somewhere fast. If taxing sugar cuts the health bill and more importantly saves 300.000 people in the UK from diabetes I’m all for it.

Is the problem this serious? – Yes

I don’t say that because I’m a health fanatic because I’m not. It’s taken me a long time  – years in fact to come to terms with the fact that health products, low fat, low calorie advertised health products are not good for you. I don’t believe in conspiracy theories and the idea that people or even companies, wants to do you harm but I’ve had to face the fact that these companies only care about their profits and as long as they are allowed to market things that are blatantly bad for you as healthy they will do it because it makes them profit.

I would love to say that it is all about moderation and balance etc. but I now believe that a homemade chocolate cake and lovely home cooked snacks are for treats in moderation. Ready meals, fizzy drinks, doughnuts and endless designer coffees are just bad for you and you are better off without it. No moderation needed. Is it easy – no! Do I find it easy – no. I’m not a naturally healthy person, I have a sweet tooth and I still get the “want” for fast food and fast sugar. I suppose the more I learn the more I convince myself not to have unhealthy sugary foods but I have to work on it everyday.

I hope that seeing more things like this on TV people will go out and educate themselves further. Why is this needed? Because media & food industry cannot be trusted, sugar being bad for you is not new. It just happens to be palatable to the general public now, so media can use it for headlines. If we could trust the food industry we could make decisions based on their marketing and I think it’s proven again and again that we just can’t. Just look at the basis that they make their decisions. It’s about profit margin not about the populations’ health; hence their decision to push a product on you as healthy or otherwise is not about getting you healthier.

There are lots of other good programmes to watch on this subject check out the links below

Hungry for change – Talks about diet, weight loss and what the food industry don’t want to tell you.

Food Matters –  Talks about how nutrition can play a key role in a range of conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

The men who made us fat – Jacques Peretti traces those responsible for revolutionising our eating habits.

Keep Healthy,


Lovely nutritious detox soup

I love a good recipe and this is one of my favourite soups. I’m not a massive fan of soup but I do like them especially since you can just pack them full of nutritious goodies.

This soup is called Primordial Soup and is originally a Patrick Holford Detox recipe but it is the yummiest scrummiest you will ever eat! As a bonus it is rich in vitamin E and beta-carotene as well as anti inflammatory garlic, onion and ginger.

Primordial soupServes 2-3

•1tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
•1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
•1 garlic clove, crushed
•1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
•1 large sweet potato, chopped
•1 heaped tsp grated fresh root ginger
•1/4tsp turmeric
•2tsp Marigold Reduced Salt Vegetable Bouillon Powder
•1/2 red pepper, diced
•75ml coconut milk (I do usually use a bit more because it so nice!)


1. Heat the oil in a large pan and gently sauté the onion and garlic for a few minutes until softened.
2. Add the carrot, sweet potato, ginger, turmeric and bouillon powder. Just cover with boiling water and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the veg is soft.
3. Add the red pepper and coconut milk, then blend until smooth and thick.


If you prefer a chunky soup just leave out the blending.

If you like a bit of heat like me add a nutritious chilli.

Try it out and I hope you enjoy!


What does sugar do to the brain

So I’ve been thinking about where I should start this blog and what I should write about. Maybe it should about me and my journey and thoughts but I’m also tempted to write about the parts of nutrition that I’m passionate about like how to balance blood sugar and emotional eating so I suppose what I’m saying is expect a mix.

Sugar is very topical at the moment which is great in some ways as at least the subject and substance is getting some focus and some headlines. When I started to learn more about nutrition I was quite liberal in my views. Very much of the school of everything is good in small amounts and all you need is balance. I do still believe that balance is the best way forward however I have much stronger views on certain foods and substances. Sugar for example is just evil, there are better and worse versions of sugar however all in all it’s a pretty lethal substance and the food industry has then gone and made weapons out of it in the form of processed foods. Sugar is a very potent drug that will have you dependant and screaming for more in no time. This is a really good video of what happens in your brain when you eat sugar which goes a long way to explain how we can get addicted to it. I hope you enjoy.

Tina x