Broccoli Salad with Sesame Dressing

from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s book ‘River Cottage Veg Every Day’

Serves 4

  • 1 large head of broccoli (about 500g)
  • ½ garlic clove
  • 1cm piece of root gingerA pinch of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar or cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 2-3 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cut the broccoli into small florets and steam, or cook it in some lightly salted boiling water, until just tender but still a bit crunchy — about 4-5 minutes. Meanwhile, crush the garlic and ginger with the sugar and some salt and pepper to a paste, using a pestle and mortar. Combine with the vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil. As soon as the broccoli is cooked, drain it in a colander and leave for a few minutes so all the moisture can steam off. While still hot, toss with the dressing and put into a serving dish. Set aside to cool. Lightly toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan until fragrant. When the broccoli has cooled to room temperature, scatter over the spring onions and sesame seeds, and serve.


Tahini-dressed courgette and green bean salad

I’m a big fan of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s! His recipes are colourful, inventive and straight forward to follow. Try this tasty, refreshing salad. It’s easy to make and delicious!

From Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s book ‘River Cottage Veg Every Day’


  • Serves 4
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 medium courgettes (about 400g), sliced into 3mm rounds
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • About 125g French beans, trimmed
  • 4 good handfuls of salad leaves
  • 12-18 oven-dried tomatoes or semi-dried tomatoes (optional)
  • A handful of mint, finely shredded (optional)
  • For the tahini dressing
  • ½ garlic clove, crushed with a little coarse sea salt
  • 2 tbsp light tahini (stir the jar well first)
  • Finely grated zest and juice of ½ lemon
  • Juice of ½ orange
  • ½ tsp clear honey
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the tahini dressing, put the crushed garlic into a small bowl with the tahini, lemon zest and juice, orange juice, honey and a grind of black pepper, and stir together well. The dressing may thicken and go grainy or pastey, but don’t worry. Just thin it down by whisking in a little water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you get a creamy, trickling consistency. Finally, gently stir in the olive oil. Taste and add a little more salt and pepper if needed. The dressing is now ready to use.

For the salad, heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a fairly high heat and cook the courgette slices in batches, tossing them occasionally, for a few minutes until tender and browned on both sides, transferring them to a bowl once cooked.
When the courgettes are all cooked, season generously with salt and pepper, add the lemon juice and chilli and toss together well. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Tip in the French beans, return to the boil and blanch for 1 minute. Drain, then dunk in cold water to refresh. Drain again, pat dry with a clean tea towel and toss the beans with the courgettes.
To assemble the salad, spread the salad leaves in a large shallow serving bowl and scatter over the dressed courgettes and beans, tomatoes and shredded mint, if using. Trickle the tahini dressing generously over the whole lot and serve.


Laura Clark of LEC Nutrition gives her Top Tips!

Did the Olympic Games inspired you to get out and take advantage of some personal training? For athletes, nutrition is often described as a vital piece of the jigsaw alongside natural ability and training. Even for a novice athlete, what you put in your body and when will play a big part in getting the most from your new fitness regime. Here are some top tips:

Eat Regularly

Fuelling your body at regular intervals helps to keep your metabolism working efficiently and will give you the energy you need to exercise. Regular eating means a breakfast, lunch and dinner with snacks in between if going longer than 3-4 hours between meals.

Make it balanced

Include some form of complex carbohydrate (found in bread, pasta rice, potatoes) some form of lean protein (meat, fish, eggs, pulses) and some sort of vegetable/ salad or fruit at each meal. Balanced meals help to regulate your blood sugar levels and keep your energy levels topped up so you’ve got fuel in the tank to exercise!

Know when to snack

If your last meal was a while ago it can be useful to have a snack about an hour before exercise to top you up for example fruit, yoghurt, malt loaf, oatcakes or some plain popcorn. If you’re exercising for weight loss, you obviously don’t want to put unnecessary calories in so have smaller meals and use the calories saved for a small pre-exercise snack to help you power through your session.

Remember exercise is not always a license to eat more

Don’t be fooled into thinking that a slow jog round the park might cancel out last night’s curry. Although exercise has many health benefits such as reducing risk of cardiovascular disease and fending off depression, try not to be unrealistic about how many calories you’ve burnt, particularly if you’re trying to lose weight. For example walking for an hour burns approx. 180 calories, less than what you’d find in a standard sized chocolate bar.

Don’t be fooled by special sports products

Sports products have their place; the key is knowing when to use them to avoid extra calories you don’t need or throwing your money away. If exercising at a moderate to high intensity for over an hour you’ll need to top up your carbohydrate reserves in your muscles. This is where sports drinks or portable snacks like bananas or cereal bars can play a role. If you’re exercising for less than an hour you should only need water.
Protein shakes and bars are another confusing area. Despite what you often hear, protein requirements for most active people can genuinely be met easily through diet. It’s much more important to get the timing right rather than worry about the amount. To repair and re-fuel muscles, protein and carbohydrate taken together within 30 minutes of exercise is most effective. Great snacks for after a workout include a fruit smoothie, crackers and ham or yoghurt and fruit.

For more individualised advice, contact Laura at or on 07917 473 181 for a free 10 minute consultation.


Fat Loss Tips

To lose weight you must be using a combination of effective training with effective nutrition.
Key points for weight loss:

1. Healthy eating

The main principles you should follow are:

  • eat fresh produce as much as possible, not pre-prepared meals, to avoid hidden salt, fat and sugar
  • eat lots of fresh vegetables every day for a range of vitamins and nutrients
  • drinks lots of water and herbal teas to help flush out toxins and aid fat loss
  • eat a good source of protein at every meal to promote lean muscle tissue

Those are the dos, and the don’ts are:

  •  avoid added sugar and be watchful of eating more than one piece of fruit a day
  • eat fruit within 30 minutes after a workout
  • steam, grill and bake your food where possible as opposed to frying
  • if you can’t resist eating bad things, don’t keep them in the house!
  • if you are a parent, the kids’ leftovers don’t have to be eaten by you.

… Sound familiar?

2. Weight training.

Weight training makes your muscles ‘calorie hungry’ so the muscles burn up calories, even after your training session. Long slow distance on the cardio machines is not going to help you in the same way. You are better off doing a circuit of exercises, working big muscles groups, alternating lower body then upper body with little rest in between. This will involve strength training, cardiovascular work and endurance also.

3. Intervals/HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

This method is not only vastly more time efficient but produces greater results in fat loss and maintaining muscle, as opposed to working at a moderate pace for longer. Start off by stepping out of your comfort zone a little then build the intensity over time. Don’t suddenly sprint if you’ve not done any before! Intervals involve short bursts of fast, hard work e.g. rowing or running and then slowing down to recover for a short time then sprinting again and so on. It can be tough work but extremely rewarding for your visual results, your heart health and for boosting your basal metabolic rate!
If you honestly think you’re doing all these and are puzzled, perhaps you have reached a plateau. It’s important to remember that if you’re training regularly (2-3 times a week) you need to change your exercise programme every 6-8 weeks in order for your body to adapt and respond. If the body gets used to the same exercise for 8 weeks plus, you’ll begin to notice very little change as opposed to when you started. Keep it fresh!