Super-boost your health this Winter

Following a healthy eating plan and changing your eating habits to include everyday inexpensive basic foods, including vegetables, fruit, lean meat and complex carbohydrates, can give your health a super-boost!

These everyday foods are great-tasting, appetite-satisfying and health-giving.

  • Steak – as well as being a good protein-provider, beef contains most of the nutrients our body needs and is a particularly good source of iron and zinc. It helps increase dopamine levels and mental alertness.
  • Oily fish – just 4 canned sardines provide more than 50% of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for calcium, a third of the RDA for iron (which prevents anaemia), and 20% of the RDA for zinc (essential for healthy skin, the immune system and the reproductive system). Oily fish are also a great source of omega three fatty acids important for a healthy heart and circulation.
  • Green leafy vegetables – such as cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts – are a good source of vitamin C and beta carotene, which is vital for a healthy immune system. And they contain folic acid and iron, important for healthy blood.
  • Baked beans – providing lots of filling fibre and B vitamins important for energy release, baked beans help to keep hunger pangs away for longer because they release energy slowly.
  • Cantaloupe melon – one of the few really good fruit sources of the antioxidant beta carotene and the most nutritious melon having three times more vitamin C than watermelon or honeydew melon.

Tasty Pumpkin Soup for Halloween

This week in group, we’ll be celebrating Halloween with a taster of this warming, lightly spiced soup which marries the flavours of pumpkin with cumin to produce a soup that is deliciously comforting. 

Did you know that the custom of making ‘jack-o-lanterns’ for Halloween is thought to have originated from the Gaelic festival of Samhain (31Oct-1Nov) in the 19th century in parts of Ireland and the Scottish Highlands, where turnips, mangelwurzel or beets were used?

I’ll be carefully scooping out the flesh of an orange pumpkin and making this delicious soup, then carving my traditional lantern to ward off evil spirits at Halloween – what will you be doing with yours?

Spicy Pumpkin & Cumin Soup

Spicy cumin and pumpkin soup

  • Serves: 4
  • Prep. time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 35 minutes
  • Total time: 30-60 Minutes
  • Syns per serving:
    • Green: FREE
    • Original: FREE
    • Extra Easy: FREE


  • Fry Light
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1.2kg/2lb 11oz pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 750ml/26fl oz vegetable stock made with Vecon
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves

To serve

  • 4 tbsp fat-free natural yogurt
  • roasted cumin seeds
  • paprika


  1. Spray non-stick saucepan with Fry Light and place over a medium heat. Add the chopped onion to the pan and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes until softened.
  2. Add the pumpkin and ground cumin and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes. Season well, add the stock and bring to the boil. Cover, lower the heat and simmer gently for 20-25 minutes until the pumpkin is tender.
  3. Allow the soup to cool slightly, place in a food processor and blend until smooth. Stir in the coriander and ladle the soup into warmed bowls. Garnish each bowl with a spoonful of yogurt and a sprinkle of roasted cumin seeds and paprika.

Slimming World Recipe of the Week

Every week in group I put together a raffle prize to encourage members to Food Optimize by preparing fabulous filling meals.  Some weeks it might be a fruit basket, other weeks I might concentrate on a mixture of seasonal veg, but most weeks I try and inspire my members to try some of the fabulous recipes from the amazing books, magazines and ideas posted every week online.
This week’s raffle had the ingredients for a classic Ratatouille Recipe, which I had adapted from a favourite recipe courtesy of Nigel Slater I’ve been cooking for years, food optimized to make it healthy, filling and delicious!  Try it for yourself and see!

Classic ratatouille recipe

Conjure up Provence with this lush mixture of tender vegetables…
Serves: 4
Syns per serving: FREE on Extra Easy & Green

1 onion, sliced
Fry Light
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 aubergine, thickly sliced
2 courgettes, thickly sliced
1 red pepper, 1 yellow pepper, seeded and quartered
1 Can Plum Tomatoes
Fresh or Dried Thyme
Fresh Basil leaves (to serve)
Salt & Pepper to taste

1.    Sweat 2 sliced onions in Fry Light until they are soft, add 2 sliced garlic cloves and cook until soft.
2.    Remove to a deep roasting tin or baking dish. Fry each of the other vegetables separately, until each is pale gold.
3.    Remove as each one is ready and add to the tin or dish
4.    Add the plum tomatoes, seasoning with salt, black pepper and herbs.
5.    Bake at 180C/gas mark 4 for about 40 minutes until soft and tender.
6.    Stir gently with a handful of torn basil leaves and serve.


(Image from Nigel Slater @ Observer)