Petersham Nurseries



Mozzarella and cucumber salad + Grilled vegetables selection – Petersham Nurseries

I’m lucky enough to live close to one of the sweetest lunch spots in South West London. Petersham Nurseries is a rare and unusual oasis, nestled between Richmond Park and the river Thames, that has established its own very special magic, available to locals as a cafe after dropping off children at school as well as for those coming from further afield to admire the plethora of plants.  The combination of a seemingly effortless, bohemian garden with scattered flower pots, eclectic Italian glass and ceramics, shabby chic garden furniture and random seating are beautifully juxtaposed with the slickly run restaurant and the very serious business of gardening which is at the core of this lovely venture. It has that aspirational quality to it as well – if we all fell head first into a fortune, this is how we would want to live.

On any given day you will find one or several amateur artists sketching the bountiful blooms available everywhere. But it is a haven not only for artists and horticulturists but also foodies, both the serious and the casual. You have to book long in advance to secure a table in the excellent restaurant yet on any day you can come and enjoy the home-made salads and cakes available in the charming cafe, all displayed on large rustic plates, probably sourced in a souk or a flea market in India, that will satisfy even the most discerning lunch guest. The randomness and setting of the place, coupled with the irresistible food and artifacts makes every visit a memorable event. If you get a chance to go, I’m sure you too will fall under its spell. x


Beetroot, rocket and goats cheese salad – Petersham Nurseries


Super Green Juice


I love reading the scathing reports on the latest super foods, health drinks, powders and cook books, generated by the media. We have happily eaten hot dogs, turkey twizzlers, Burger King and  battery farmed chickens for years – yet should someone decide to come up with a supplement or a new way of eating that claims any health benefits then all hell breaks loose. Why is that? Schadenfreude when someone feels and looks good after changing their way of life or just plain suspicion of anything new. The mind boggles. In any case – today’s green juice comes from the much maligned Gwyneth Paltrow’s cook book ‘It’s All Good’. This book is filled with gluten and dairy free recipes and drinks – yet includes meat – that  are tasty and fresh. As gluten and dairy are causing allergic reactions and discomfort in many, this book ought to be both helpful and inspiring. I suspect the book would have had a different reception should the author be a civil servant with a couple of gluten intolerant children in tow.  Still, I suspect she cares not much about the critique as her book flew off the shelves.

I very much enjoyed her juice this morning and hope you will do too.

The Best Green Juice (from ‘It’s All Good’ by Gwyneth Paltrow)

5 large leaves of kale, ribs discarded, leaves roughly chopped (if kale is not in season use spring greens)

1 lemon, zest and pith removed

1 large apple

1″ piece of fresh ginger

1 sprig of fresh mint

Juice all ingredients. Alternatively, if you have a blender but not a juicer, fret not. Gwyneth’s top tip is to blend all ingredients and then pour the mixture into a fine meshed strainer. Leaving the fiber and ending up with juice only. Happy Saturday to you all! X


Japanese Green Bean Salad



This is a celebratory post in honour of the humble salad. Where I grew up, salads were certainly not what they are today. I have memories of bare leaves, mostly iceberg, thick dressings (think Rhode island or blue cheese) and the content of a can of sweet corn and button mushrooms, perhaps a few bits of cucumber too. Or the classic potato salad with more mayo than potato, with added bacon bits from a package. Sweden, where I grew up, was not known for its vegetable culture, that’s for sure.

These days, however, the salad is fast becoming a main event. Traditional pubs are now offering ‘super salads’ on their menu, which really are packed with super greens, seeds and nuts. And salad is a loose term. Leaves are no longer mandatory, instead all kinds of vegetables suffice – green beans, lentils, watercress, rocket, radish, chickpeas, lambs lettuce, beetroot, kale nuts, seeds and so on can be called a ‘salad’. For those tolerating dairy, feta, halloumi, goats cheese and mozzarella can be fab additions too. And what a lovely concept it is, to play with flavours, dressings, leaves, pulses and seeds until you find combinations that are uniquely your own. No rules!


At a recent BBQ, the meat was a side and instead salads, all varieties, took centre stage at the table. It was a beautiful, varied spread. What are your favorite? I’d love to hear it. Currently, mine is a Japanese green bean salad with sesame dressing (see top). I could eat this every day at every meal. It goes with fish and meats but works beautifully on its own too.

Japanese Bean Salad with Sesame Dressing

Large packet of fine green beans, washed and topped

1 tbsp sesame seeds

2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce

1-2 tsp sugar/stevia/agave (depending on the sweetness you require)

Steam the green beans until just tender – you don’t want to overdo it. Put aside and cool slightly. In the meantime add sesame seeds to a small dry frying pan and toast until golden. Grind most of the toasted sesame seeds (not all) with a pestle until almost crushed and the aroma released. Mix tamari/soy with the sugar and add the sesame mixture and pour over the green beans. It may look like the dressing will not go far but keep turning the beans with a pair of tongs and eventually the beans will be beautifully coated in the dark, sweet soy mixture. Sprinkle the remaining sesame seeds on top of the bean salad and serve immediately. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do. Happy Wednesday! X



Pink Lunch



Feeling too hot to eat today? I did – yet a lunch time smoothie is a perfect compromise of drink and solids. I made this one with less liquids than usual but added ice cubes, creating a consistency reminiscent of the frozen yoghurt I used to have in the States many years ago. I ate it with a spoon, which fooled me into thinking it was pudding, yet it was jam-packed with green goodness and ONE beetroot to make it this perfectly pink!

Pink Lunch Smoothie

1/2 romaine lettuce

1/2 cucumber

1 avocado

1 banana

1 beetroot

2″ ginger root piece, peeled

1/4 fennel

1 lemon

Handful of cashews, not roasted!

Chia seeds

Coconut water

Ice cubes

Blend the lot and depending on the consistency you are after, add more or less coconut water (or regular filtered water if you prefer). Enjoy your Tuesday! x




Roasted Veg Medley


Thank God It’s Friday. Best way to end the week is to sit down with some good food and tonight it is roasted vegetable medley with goats cheese. The aubergines have ‘sweated’ and have roasted in the oven with the rest of the mixed vegetables. This dish would make an excellent side to grilled fish but is perfectly fine served on its own – with a few sun dried tomatoes and a tad of natural yoghurt on the side.

 Friday Roasted Veg Medley

1 aubergine, sliced and sweated

1 courgette, sliced

3 carrots, sliced length ways

1 large red onion

1/2 fennel

Dried herbs

Olive oil

Salt, pepper, chili flakes

Slice the aubergine and place on a baking tray. Add salt and let them ‘sweat’ until you can see drops forming on the surface. Wipe the liquid away and add to deep baking tray lined with greaseproof paper together with the rest of the vegetables. Add a generous glug of olive oil, salt, pepper, herbs and chilli flakes. With your hands, mix all together and ensure every vegetable is coated with oil. Place in a hot oven (200C) and roast for about 35-40 minutes or until  the vegetables are browned and soft. Let cool slightly and then add a few sun dried tomatoes, crumbled goats cheese and a dollop of yoghurt. Enjoy! x



Grain Brain



With the risk of sounding didactic, I urge all of you out there to read Dr David Perlmutter’s book ‘Grain Brain“. Yes, in it he discusses the risks of wheat, gluten, carbs and sugar, topics that have been newsworthy for some time and may make you shake your head. Do we really need more ‘fad science’? I would argue not. But I believe this may be different. Dr Perlmutter is an American neurologist that have made links between substances we consume and brain health. And not just any brain health but the biggies like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, depression, diabetes, behavioural diagnoses (ADHD, autism et al) and recurrent migraines to name but a few. In his clinical practice, the results he’s achieved by simply changing his patients diets, not by medication, are quite astounding and he’s a stern critic of our, the world’s, pharmaceutical industry for whom the links between brain and diet has been known for some time. They do not want our best, they want profit. So in conclusion – this is not about our gut but our brains.

Already, and I’m only 1/3 or the way into the book, I have decided to take his suggestions on board and introduce a new way of eating for us as a family. Dr. Perlmutter’s point is that although a small percentage may be gluten intolerant, we are almost all gluten sensitive. But the biggie here is that we don’t know it. Not everyone has problems in the gut that alerts you there is an issue. Brain degeneration is slow and not immediately noticeable. Yet when it becomes noticeable it can be too late to reverse.


His other point is that we need to eat a lot more fat. High carb – low-fat is a recipe for disaster according to Dr. Perlmutter and many scientists now voicing concern about our eating habits in the West. High fat – low carb is his motto and with fats he means good fats like cheese, olive oil, walnut oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, avocados etc. The point is that our brains need a lot of it to be of optimal use. He is also not a vegan but advocates grass-fed meats such as beef, lamb, game and wild salmon as good sources of protein and fats. Not animals that have been reared with grain feed. However, I belive you can follow his advice even as a vegan if that is what floats your boat.

About a month ago I decided to give Gluten Free a go at home and introduced gluten-free pasta (various shapes) and bread. Some makes were more ‘normal’ than others and overall the children have not noticed. The gluten free pasta has a slightly more yellow tone but mixed with tuna, Bolognese, pesto, tomato sauce no one knows the difference. The texture is great providing you don’t over cook it and the bread toasts as any other toast. We have found the Genius brand to be very good. Overall, however, we have introduced eggs as the breakfast staple instead.

  • Scrambled eggs on (gluten-free) toast
  • Pancakes (buck wheat flour or any gluten-free flour)
  • Boiled eggs + soldiers (gluten-free again)

His book may not be your cup of tea but I think the reading and the mass of scientific studies that underpins his arguments, are quite compelling. Being informed is key, what we then do with the information is totally up to ourselves.


Beetroot Dream Juice


Following on from Dr. Junger’s advice of giving our digestion a bit of a break, I decided to finish off the evening the same way as I started my morning. With a juice! This time a pink one, courtesy of the beetroot from my Abel & Cole veg delivery. Beetroot adds a musty yet sweet flavour to drinks which I’ve always enjoyed but may not be everyone’s cup of tea. However, beetroot is a potent detoxifier and blood purifier – a real immunity booster. It is packed with vitamin B and C, a liver cleanser and supplier of iron which can be beneficial for those prone to anemia. It’s beautiful colour makes almost any drink look appetising, just remember to handle with care, the beetroot juice is not for the sloppy handed and can stain skin and clothes which can be near impossible to get off!


My friend Malin enjoyed her morning ‘cocktail’….

Here is what went into this AM and PM’s juice:

Beetroot Dream Juice

1/2 cucumber

1/2 head of celery

5-6 leaves of romaine lettuce

2 big handfuls of chopped kale

2″ ginger root

2 beetroot, uncooked

coconut water

Juice and enjoy! Top tip: if you feel the pulp is still a bit wet, re-fill the juice chute with the pulp and juice again. You’ll be amazed how much extra juice you’ll gain by doing this. Night night. x





Electric House


As a fruit and veggie lover I generally don’t tend to associate eating out with healthy food. Great tasting food, yes, quality meat, yes, but not necessarily fresh, organic, interesting veggies mixed in a way I’d perhaps prefer if I was cooking at home. Now I know many restaurants and pubs go to great lengths to have local, seasonal produce to serve with their dishes but I am talking about your average meal out, without too much planning or research. The truth is it’s often tasty but not so healthy.

To me, therefore, the concept is quite contradictory – the point of eating out is perhaps exactly that you don’t care about nutrition, on that particular occasion, but rather want to enjoy the flavours of that which you don’t eat every day.

Fast forward to yesterday, however, when I was taken to Notting Hill’s Electric House Restaurant by kind friends. The menu was positively brimming with yummy combos of vegetables that you could team with fish or meat but happily have on its own too. For me it was an eye opener of what eating out could be like when you have a menu match!

Here are some interesting dishes and combos from Electric House’s menu that can be recreated at home:

  • chilled asparagus soup
  • raw vegetables, walnuts, blue cheese
  • watercress, radish, sugar snaps
  • bibb lettuce, avocado and crab
  • grilled tomato, peas, avocado
  • spinach, grilled fennel, grilled asparagus
  • broccoli, carrots, caper berries, almonds
  • beetroot, runner beans, walnuts
  • avocado on toast, poached egg

Most of the vegetable dishes were no more than £7 and the portions were very generous, utterly simple and delicious. Definitely not just a small side. I had a piece of grilled salmon with green beans, coupled with a spinach, grilled fennel and asparagus salad. As I’m staying off gluten and starchy things at present, this was my menu made in heaven and just as filling as if it had been served with rice/pasta/potato. There was no way on earth that I was going to be able to finish all of it and in fact, none of us could. And we all like to eat – a lot! As it is a members club you have to know someone who can take you, but if you get the chance to go I can highly recommend the food and the ambience – when we left close to midnight the place was positively jumping. Enjoy your Saturday, everyone! X


Monday Lunch Shake

Get your bod and mind in shape by consuming a yummy lunch shake, brimming with fresh fruit and veg, nuts and seeds. If you work from home this liquid lunch is easy peasy to shake up – but even office bound peeps can prepare this in the morning and bring with. It will infuse system with much-needed nutrients and fats.

From this.....

From this….. this!

….to this!

As I’m always on the hunt for things to put in my juices and smoothies I recently came across a Raw Green Protein Powder, by Purple Balance, that I now add to my drinks.  I have chosen the raw vegan version but there is also whey (derived from milk) varieties should you prefer that instead. There are also various flavours to choose from and many brands that you can get from reputable health food suppliers but  look for natural ingredients as much as possible. I also add an extra teaspoon of Spirulina that add B6 (immune system and cognitive function) and B12 (for heart and nervous system) to ensure my shake produces maximum effect!


Monday Lunch Shake

5 romaine Lettuce leaves

handful of blueberries

handful of raspberries

1 ” piece of ginger root

1 tbsp coconut oil

1/2 cucumber

2 bok choi leaves (mainly the dark green leaves)

1 tbsp ground nuts (walnut, almond, brazil, cashew, sun flower seeds, pumpkin seeds)

1 tsp chia seeds

1 tbsp ground flax seeds

2 tsp raw green protein powder

1 tsp spirulina

1 cup almond milk

1 cup coconut water

Blend, blend, blend…. Enjoy! x



Love Cherries



Included in my fabulous Abel&Cole fruit and veg box this week was a punnet of cherries. I devoured the entire punnet in minutes. One is just never enough. Knowing that Abel&Cole’s motto is to only include seasonal produce in their weekly boxes, it dawned on me that the cherry season must finally be upon us. Happy days!

The humble cherry comes highly charged and is a bit of a dark horse. It is packed with anti-oxidants, a potent detoxifier, an anti-inflammatory and immune system booster. So far so impressive. But what I didn’t know is that cherries are also rich in the mineral Boron which can help prevent the steady loss of bone density with advancing age, this according to the excellent and invaluable book Natural Wonderfoods; 100 Amazing foods for Healing, Immune Boosting, Fitness Enhancing, Anti Ageing. And, as if that was not enough, you can even make an infusion of cherry stalks, which can be helpful when dealing with cystitis and bladder problems in a natural way. So there!

Shopping for local and seasonal food is nothing new, but it hadn’t dawned on me just how important it could be until I read  Clean, Dr Alejandro Junger’s amazing book about gut health and detoxing. In it, he goes as far as saying that produce that is local, can sometimes be a better buy than organic produce coming from afar. Your local farmer may struggle with the stringent organic certification process, despite using no pesticides in his farming. As a consequence, he may be bypassed by consumers opting for organic produce flown in from abroad.  Still, the fact remains, a head of Kale that has just been taken from the ground at a local farm and driven to a local farmers market is always going to have more nutrition than the head of Kale that has grown organically but then been transported for thousands of toxic air miles. Makes you think!

Eating locally sourced, seasonal food therefore is important on so many levels. It saves us from polluting our planet. Produce in season are filled to the brim with nutrients and enzymes that our bodies crave. Buying from farmers markets or delivery services such as Abel& Cole, supports our local farmers and not factory farms. And finally, what is wrong with longing for something that you know taste best in season?  Yes it is lovely to be able to have the same fruit and vegetables all year around but it also takes away the knowledge of what seasonal food can actually taste like. Plump cherries for example, are wondrous RIGHT NOW and for the next month or so. Live for the moment, people! Enjoy today! x