New year, new start!

Our local area was identified as one of the healthiest in the country: we love good food and do try to keep fit and healthy. However, most of us need a bit of inspiration at this time of year, so I spoke to Michelle Lake, who is a well-known local nutritionist, and parent. Michelle is known for her sensible and practical nutrition advice that people can really fit into their busy lives.

Here are some of Michelle’s top tips for simple cost-effective changes which will leave you feeling healthy and more energised throughout the year:

1. Eat at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables per day to promote a healthy digestion and strong immune system. Adding veggies to soups and casseroles is an easy way to achieve this goal. Earthworks (Hixberry Lane, St Albans) and Carpenters Nursery (106, St Albans Road) have a good selection of locally grown vegetables which are more appetising and cheaper than the supermarket. Consider a vegetable box if you’re too busy to shop; Riverford Farm ( deliver locally.

2. Ban TV Dinners. Eat all meals at the table even if you eat alone. This encourages mindful eating so you really taste your food, eat more slowly and consume less. A great opportunity to encourage good table manners for those with children and talk about your day.

3. Eat 3 servings of oily fish per week. Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, fresh tuna or sardines are packed full of healthy fats which help to boost your metabolism, protect your heart and ease depression. Visit the fish stalls on St Albans market for a huge array of reasonably priced fish. Tinned fish is an economical alternative.

4.Throw away your cereals. Breakfast cereals are mostly packed full of sugar and salt and are not the best way start the day – whatever it says on the packet. Replace with porridge, unsweetened muesli or seeded toast with fruit spread and nut butter. Alternatively, poach, scramble or boil a couple of eggs to keep you going until lunchtime.

5. Drink more water. It’s so simple but this will really help to boost your energy and metabolism as well as keep headaches at bay. Hot water with a squeeze of lemon and a slice of fresh ginger will kick start your day. Drink enough so that your urine is a pale straw colour.

6. Cut down on animal foods. A predominantly plant-based diet is better for you and helps to save the planet. Make vegetarian versions of your favourites such as chilli, curry, pizza, shepherd’s pie and burgers using beans and lentils. Snack on nuts and seeds. Local suppliers of these healthy ingredients are: Sycamore Foods 214C Hatfield Road (St Albans’s market on Wednesday) or Be Healthy, the Quadrant Marshalswick.

Would like some help getting your diet back on track? Then please call Michelle  Lake on 01727 730921 for an informal chat to see if a nutritional therapy could work for you or e-mail For more recipes to help you achieve the goals outlines above visit

Spiced porridge

Porridge doesn’t have to be boring. Try this as a satisfying alternative to sugary cereals. Cinnamon has been shown to help curb cravings for sugar so this breakfast should help you avoid sugary md-morning snacks.

Serves 1

1/2 cup of porridge oats

300 ml unsweetened soya milk or skimmed milk

1tsp cinnamon

2 chopped dates

2 tsp flaked almonds

1 grated apple

1. Mix together the oats and milk and heat for about 7 minutes until soft and creamy.

2. Sprinkle the cinnamon, dates, apples and almonds over your porridge for a satisfying start to the day.


About thelocalfoodie

Food writer for The Herts Advertiser.
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