Gluten-free lemon drizzle

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The tea room at work has lemon drizzle cake available every day.  It takes everything I have to not buy a piece at tea time.  This recipe sounds like it might do the trick for me as it is gluten-free (I think I am sensitive now, urgh) and much cheaper if I bring it in myself.  Enjoy!  Thanks to BBC Good Food for the recipe.

200g butter, softened

   200g golden caster sugar
   4 eggs
   175g ground almonds (to make it nut free see below)
   250g mashed potatoes
   zest 3 lemons
   2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
   4 tbsp granulated sugar
   juice 1 lemon

1.  Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.

2.  Butter and line a deep, 20cm round cake tin.

3.  Beat the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy, then gradually add the egg, beating after each addition.

4.  Fold in the almonds, cold mashed potato, lemon zest and baking powder.

5.  Tip into the tin, level the top, then bake for 40-45 mins or until golden and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

6.  Turn out onto a wire rack after 10 mins cooling.

7.  Mix the granulated sugar and the lemon juice together, then spoon over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides.

8.  Let the cake cool completely before slicing.

Potato ricer
If you have one, use a potato ricer to mash your potatoes; it will give a fantastically light and fine texture.

Make it nut-free
If you'd like to make this nut-free, as well as wheat-free, switch the ground almonds for polenta or wheat-free flour.

Per serving (Cake serves 8-10)
514 kcalories 
9g protein
41g carbohydrate
36g fat
2g saturated fat
2g fibre
35g sugar
0.88g salt

Quickie Workout #34

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Remember to go for QUALITY over quantity. If you are unclear what the exercise is I am describing, please look for a video or arrange for an in-person tutorial with me.

Please consult your doctor before engaging on any fitness regime.

Don't forget to breathe! Please email me if you want tips on how to make the quickies easier or more challenging (

Warm up- Walk/run for 2 min, skip rope for 2 min
1 min- Squats on bench/chair (to help you bring your squat low, touch bum to seat)
1 min- In a doorway, push hands out to sides against door frame and hold
1 min- Walking lunges
1 min- Jumping jacks/star jumps
1 min- Calf raises
30 sec- Left side plank
30 sec- Right side plank
1 min- Bicycle crunch
1 min- Push/press up on knees or toes

Weekend Challenge: Learn to Read Food Labels

Friday, October 26, 2012

Recently in the news here in the UK there has been much talk about the 'traffic light labeling system'. It is an easy way to keep track of what you are eating when on the go.  At least once a week, I find myself picking up a sandwich as I travel between my activities across London.  My eye catches the traffic label colors, but then I also read the other nutrition info.

Click here for the FDA's guide on how to read nutrition labels.  You can also check out Real Simple's guide for a quick and dirty how-to.

If you are worried about your weight and/or body shape, exercise will help but nutrition will also play a major role.

Bon appetit!

Guest Post: Does Your Child Drink Sugar-Free Beverages?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Does Your Child Drink Sugar-Free Beverages? Here’s Something You Should Know

As a parent, it’s your responsibility to watch over your child’s food choices. One of the most popular health trends today is preventing children from consuming large amounts of fructose, especially high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), as it leads to various health problems like obesity and diabetes. For this reason, many parents have now switched to “healthier” sugar-free alternatives, in the hopes of reducing their children’s fructose consumption and improving their well-being.

But are sugar-free drinks loaded with artificial sweeteners really the ideal solution? Keep reading and find out.

More Children Are Now Drinking Sugar-Free Alternatives
According to a report in published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the number of children in the United States who drink sugar-free beverages has doubled in just the past 10 years. This was based on data from a federal health survey. Researchers said that in 1998, only six percent of U.S. children consumed sugar-free beverages. By 2008, the number increased to 12.5 percent. (source)
The same goes for adults. During a survey conducted in 2007 to 2008, 25 percent of Americans admitted to drinking at least one “diet” drink in the past day. In 1999 to 2000, though, only 19 percent have confirmed this.

Dr. Miriam B. Vos, senior researcher from Emory University, Atlanta, said that this diet drink trend is not at all surprising in adults. But the increase in the number of children who are soda drinkers was quite unexpected.

She also admits that even though she agrees with wanting children to ingest less fructose, she is still wary of the fact that there are no human studies that have looked at artificial sweeteners’ long-term effects in developing children.  

Animal Studies Reveal the Effects of Consuming Artificial Sweeteners
Dr. Vos notes that animal studies have raised potential health concerns with regard to using artificial sweeteners. One study notes that animals that are given artificial sweeteners have increased their weight, meaning these chemical substances may have affected their metabolism. Dr. Vos says that she is not sure whether the same effects will be seen in children.

Some of the most popular artificial sweeteners used today include saccharin, aspartame, and sucralose. The so-called natural sweetener agave syrup, which is touted “healthy,” is also used in some products, although some natural health experts question its safety.

Can Diet Drinks Benefit People Who Want to Lose Weight?
The rate of obesity in the U.S. has greatly increased in the last 20 years. Due to the increasing size of their waistline, Americans have sought the help of food and beverage manufacturers, and turn to “diet” versions of foods and drinks that can be readily bought at supermarkets and groceries.

However, Dr. Vos comments that no one can clarify whether these food products can really help. In large population studies, it was found that diet-beverage drinkers showed no improvement with their weight management goals. In fact, they even tend to weigh more than individuals who drink water.

Dr. Vos says that this may be uncertain, though. It may be that those who opt for diet drinks are already overweight and are just trying to lose more pounds.

Be Vigilant When Giving Your Children Sugar-Free Drinks
Sugar-free diet drinks may seem like the ideal solution to improving kids’ health. However, more long-term studies should be done to confirm whether these products really have significant effects on children’s overall health.

Pure, clear water that’s free of harmful chemicals like fluoride is still the best beverage for children. Drinking raw milk from pasture-fed cows is also a good idea, as it contains a good amount of nutrients.
If your child really craves sweet drinks, settle for safe and natural options like the herb stevia and raw honey. Use minimal amounts of these sweeteners, though. 

Andrea Peterson is a blogger and doting mom to three kids. She writes various topics about children’s health, and believes that fructose and artificial sweeteners from soda and other processed drinks are among the major reasons why many children suffer from illnesses today.

Quickie Workout #33

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Today's workout requires a pilates ring (also know as a magic ring) and a dumbbell (or gallon jug of water. Pilates rings are very versatility and easy to travel with. Be sure to seek out a dumbbell swing tutorial as risk of injury is great when done improperly. I provided a link but you might need to search out additional information.


Remember to go for QUALITY over quantity. If you are unclear what the exercise is I am describing, please look for a video or arrange for an in-person tutorial with me.

Please consult your doctor before engaging on any fitness regime.

Don't forget to breathe! Please email me if you want tips on how to make the quickies easier or more challenging (

Warm up- 1 min marching in place, 1 min squats, 1 min jumping jacks/star jumps, 
1 min- Chest press with ring  
1 min- Place ring between thighs just above the knees.  Squeeze ring with inner thighs.       
1 min- Hamstring curl by placing ring under bum and on back of ankle.  Press heel towards bum to squeeze ring.
1 min- Press up against wall or bench, on toes, or on knees
1 min- Bicep press by placing ring on shoulder and pressing wrist toward shoulder.
1 min- Squats - Bring bum down to a bench or chair. 
1 min- Dumbbell swing  - Snap your hips forward! For beginners, don't worry about getting the dumbbell very high.
1 min-Reverse lunge - Lunge by stepping backwards.  

Weekend Challenge

Friday, October 19, 2012

Don't they look happy?

With a little over 2 months left in 2012, I challenge you to register for a organized walk or run (such as a 1 mile, 5K, 10K, half marathon, sprint triathlon, etc).  The race doesn't have to be this year, giving you plenty of time to train if need be.  Having a specific date in mind will help you stay focused with your goal of being healthy.  Hopefully you will also gain a sense of pride and achievement when you complete the course.

Let me know what event you chose and when it is so I can cheer you on!

Kale chips

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Let's ease back into it with a delicious and easy recipe for kale chips (thanks Mandy for sharing).  Kale is a leafy green packed full of vitamins and minerals.  Make some of these up the next time you have friends over to watch sports on the television.  They won't know what hit 'em.

Olive oil

1.  Wash and trim tough stem from kale.
2.  Drizzle olive oil lightly on kale and run kale through with hands so that the oil is spread out.
3.  Place kale in single layer on baking sheet.
4.  Add a couple pinches of salt
5.  Bake at 250 degrees for 30 minutes.  Kale should be 80-90% dry.  I usually let it go another 10 minutes, turn the heat off, and just leave it in the oven.

We now return to your regularly scheduled programming

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I am back from a lovely holiday in the States.  My body is refreshed and rejuvenated.  I am looking forward to returning this site back to it's normal posting schedule.


Quickie Workout #32

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Remember to go for QUALITY over quantity. If you are unclear what the exercise is I am describing, please look for a video or arrange for an in-person tutorial with me.

Please consult your doctor before engaging on any fitness regime.

Don't forget to breathe! Please email me if you want tips on how to make the quickies easier or more challenging (

Warm up- 5 min run or jog
1 min-  Squats with bum just touching a bench or chair to ensure you are lowering down far enough. Do not sit though!
1 min-  Holding weights, bottles or water, or bricks (something with weight) perform an overhead press.  Keep weights at shoulders and then lift them above your head as you exhale.  Return weights to your shoulders.
1 min-  Bend slightly forward at the waist with your back flat.  Have a slight bend in the knees.  Keep elbows up towards the ceiling.  Extend arm while holding weight for a tricep kickback.
1 min-  Lunges with left foot forward and raising arm out in front of you to chest height for a frontal raise.
1 min-  Lunges with right foot forward and raising arm out to the sides of you to shoulder height for a lateral raise.
30 sec- Left side plank
30 sec- Right side plank
1 min- Regular plank
1 min-  Push/press ups

Out of the office

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Lucky me, I am travelling once again.  During this time, I will have limited access to the web.  I will try to keep up with my regular posting schedule, but I may miss one or two.  Feel free to look back through older posts for things you may have missed.

See you on the flip side!

#TwitFitMeetUp Thursday 25 October 18.30

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Join other health, wellness, and fitness professionals on Thursday 25 October for the 2nd #TwitFitMeetUp.  It is a free networking event to be held at Draft House Tower Bridge at 18.30 until 21:30.  Find cover now and build relationships with others in similar fields.  You do not have to live or work in the London area to attend.

This is an opportunity to meet the people behind the Twitter handles, develop referral services, and recruit new employees.  Be sure to bring your business cards as you will be making new connections.

If you would like to join us, please RSVP via Facebook here.  It will help us know if we need an extra bartender or not.

Please comment below if you have any questions.  It would be great if you share this opportunity with your friends and co-workers too.  I look forward to meeting you!

Guest Post: Pole Dancing

Monday, October 1, 2012

Photo credit: Digitally Damaged

Flying around with the greatest of ease, hanging upside down like a bat, or defying gravity by walking on the ceiling. Who doesn’t want to learn how to do that!? 

Pole dancing originated in gentlemen’s clubs as a way of dancers advertising themselves for private dances, as they dancers tried to out-do each other, more and more tricks were created, and the dancers found they were getting stronger and fitter from it. 

The clubs themselves would offer lessons in pole dancing as a way of hiring new dancers, but eventually ladies from all walks of life were taking the classes as a fun and challenging experience, from there the modern pole dancing classes were born.

Pole Dancing is performed of a vertical metal pole. Poles can be finished in Stainless Steel, Chrome, or Brass, and each offers a different gripping experience, allowing for slower or faster movements. Portable and removable poles are even available for use in your home, so you never have an excuse not to practice. 

Pole Dancing includes spins using momentum going around the pole. Climbs up the pole leading to static poses, and inverted tricks where the dancer is upside down, often holding on with just one leg!

Tricks to learn:
Basic Fireman Spin – this will teach you the basic mechanics of a spin and how to hold your weight off the floor. Beginner level
Pole Sit – Legs around the pole, crossing over in front, let go with your hands to “sit” on the pole. Improver Level
Static Chopper – An upside down trick; hanging on with both hands together and your legs over the top of you in a V shape. Intermediate Level
Handspring – Two hands on the pole, quite far apart, flip upside down pushing your feet to the ceiling and hold at the top! Advanced Level

The great thing about pole dancing is that there is always something new to learn, you can push yourself to learn new tricks, learn variations of well-known tricks, or even just keep it simple by using the pole as a dance partner and keep your feet on the floor. There’s something for all abilities, and other forms of dance can be incorporated to create a style.  Incorporate tango to create a dark and moody piece, or gymnastics to show off flips and handstands.

Many people love pole dancing as it is known to be sexy and sensual. It gives them a chance to escape, and embrace their inner sex-kitten. Strap on some high heels and you instantly become a slinky minx around the pole. You’ll even forget how much hard work is going in to lifting your platforms over your head. The fitness side is purely a coincidence, you want to work hard to improve your dance, and all the time you are improving your body without realising. This is why people seem to stick to it for a long time! Pole dancing is especially good at toning your arms, shoulders and abdominals. Wearing high heels also teaches you balance and control, you can’t jump or throw yourself into trick whilst wearing 6-inchers!

Starting out, just wear what’s comfortable, close fitting is best. As you progress, you’ll need shorts so your thighs can grip, and a sports bra, because your normal Wonderbra isn’t made to hold the girls in while you’re upside down!

Pole dancing has been featured in music videos including Enrique Iglesias’ “Dirty Dancer” and Nero’s “Guilt” and movies such as “Closer” with Natalie Portman and “I know who killed me” with Lindsay Lohan. Many celebrities have also reported their love of pole dancing, including Emma Watson from Harry Potter!

Want to try pole dancing? Make sure you find a safe and reputable pole dancing studio. Make sure they have relevant insurance, and use safe poles. Check how much experience your instructor has. Be wary of instructors who have a “qualification”, but have not been pole dancing very long.

The Pole Dance Community ( lists studios that have proved that they can adhere to a code of conduct to keep you safe.  It’s totally OK to try a few different studios to see which suits you, but make sure you give each one a proper chance (I recommend about a month of lessons), as they may teach different progressions, or put more weight on basic techniques before moving on to what you might think are the “more fun” tricks.

Above all, take it slowly, it takes a lot of practice to reach the highest levels. Take your time, enjoy the movement, build up your strength and skills through progressions of each move, and really learn to fly!

Robyn Rooke is an advanced level pole dancing instructor and performer,  a national level competitor and competition judge, and has been pole dancing for over 7 years. She lives in Bristol, UK, and her studio can be found at