Archive for the ‘Health & Wellbeing’ Category

Focus on Sugar – #fit4feb

February 17, 2014

In the past few weeks there has been an influx of media attention on the issue of “sugar”. Much of it has been confusing and contradictory. Is it really that bad for you? Are all kinds of sugar bad for you? Can I eat it in moderation? Laurie Hill, Certified Health Coach gives us the answers:

Laurie Hill is a Certified Health Coach who has been coaching people on better health for over 10 years. Laurie’s passion about health began when she had come to a crisis point herself15 years ago. At 70 pounds overweight, and suffering from some serious health issues such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, gall bladder disease, acne, and horribly low self esteem, Laurie found a Health Coach in California, who helped her lose her weight by showing her how food heals the body.  Amazingly, the health issues either went away completely, or were nearly non-existent.   Laurie says her body was given healthy beautiful food, which stabilised her blood-sugar imbalance, cravings disappeared, her energy increased, and began walking 40 minutes a day.  Laurie says that her body ecology had become messed up from years of chronic yo-yo dieting, stress, sugar addiction, diet-coke addiction, and quick foods (from being a busy mother), that she couldn’t lose weight by trying every fad diet around.  Laurie was so impressed from this natural and healthy approach to body ecology that she became a Health Coach last year and now offers workshops that helps people understand how sugar has devastating effects on health, how to eat healthy and heal your body, and how you can eat for beauty. But most importantly, Laurie says that it’s about learning to love yourself and if you have curves, love them! You’ve been blessed!

#fit4feb OFFER: Get your FREE 60 minute health consultation with Laurie Hill, Certified Health Coach

When my clients first come to me, aside from wanting to lose weight, they may be suffering from; aches and pains, irregular menstrual cycles, blood sugar imbalances, sugar addiction, emotional addictions to food, low energy, low sex drive, and many others…

I can tell you that sugar is a culprit in all of those factors. I have had people tell me that they although they suffer from the above symptoms, they don’t have a “sweet tooth”, and hardly consume sugar. However, when we sit down and examine the typical foods they eat, they soon realise that they are consuming loads of sugar, but most often it is hidden sugar.

The problem with focusing on “sugar” too much is that we can become myopic. The food industry is so clever at manipulating our impulses, that we are brainwashed through the media and even government “nutrition” agencies, that making swaps is our best attempt at limiting sugar. So really, all we are doing is exchanging one bad habit for another, without ever addressing what healthy eating actually looks like. We’re choosing “no sugar added foods”, “low and non-fat foods”, thinking that we are cleverly outsmarting our bodies from taking in sugar. The problem with chemical sweeteners is that they have some pretty scary side-effects that the media isn’t talking about.

My goal of helping my clients is teaching them that their health is their responsibility. Part of that responsibility is learning how to listen to their body. Believe it or not, your body communicates with you all the time. Pain, fatigue, cravings, acne, headache, low sex drive, all are ways that your body is trying to get your attention. When you visit your GP for blood tests and such, blood, pH, thyroid, sugar, iron, are all ways your body is getting your attention. What is it saying to you? Do you throw medication at it, or are there natural ways to help bring your body into balance?

When you shift your perspective about caring for your body, you will be attentive to how food (and non-foods) affects your body. The issue of sugar and all of our questions about foods will be answered because how you feel when you eat those foods will be the great litmus test!

Here are 10 tips I give at my workshops to help people make wiser food choices:

  1. How much colour of fruit and vegetables did you have in your diet yesterday? Have a quick count. If it’s fewer than 7, add more colour every day.
  2. How much of what you ate was live food (fruit and vegetables) and how much of it was dead foods? (Cooked foods, meat, pasteurised dairy, processed food). A life-giving diet will be at least 70% live foods. Even adding a salad, a fruit smoothie, and crunchie veg sticks would be enough to start.
  3. Eliminate sugary drinks; fruit juices (unless you blend them or juice them yourself), fizzy drinks, no-sugar added drinks, and vitamin water.
  4. Drink more water. Sometimes we think we’re hungry or craving sugar, and we’re actually thirsty.
  5. Eat 2-3 times a day, until you’re 80% full, with no in between meal snacks. (Just like how we were raised).
  6. Don’t eat after 6pm.
  7. If you eat dairy foods, eat the full-fat kind. Good fat is your friend, don’t worry.
  8. When you have painful joints, or any kind of inflammation, lay off grain products and dairy foods.
  9. When you shop, focus on the fruit and veg section and don’t get lulled in by the £1 or yellow tag deals, which are usually bread and junk stuffs. Make a list; don’t shop hungry, when you know they’re baking bread, or when you’re feeling emotional or vulnerable.
  10. And lastly, read food labels! If sugar (or any word that has “ose”, “dex”, “malt”) is more than 5 grams, third on the list, or if there are any substances you can’t pronounce, choose another brand or make it yourself)

From those top 10 tips, you’ll notice that the only time I mentioned don’t have sugar is with regard to sugary drinks. When you focus on nourishing your body, you are going to heal it at the same time. Sugar is what we do when we are not conscious of what we eat, eating out of emotion, where we eat, and are too busy or tired to prepare food.

It takes time to bring our taste buds back into enjoying real food, so don’t be hard on yourself. Our kids are even slower to change. The point is to begin taking those 10 steps. When you do, sugar will be naturally replaced with whole healthy foods, and believe it or not, our old favourites will taste way too sweet. We will love the taste of fruit again, we’ll crave fresh foods on our tongue, our bodies will feel better, and communicate back to us with more energy, clear complexions, healthier looking bodies, and weight will shift naturally.

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Easing New Mums back into Exercise – #fit4feb

February 17, 2014

Dr. Joanna Helcké is an award winning expert in pregnancy and postnatal fitness and is the creator of the UK’s first ever online pregnancy and postnatal fitness system. She is regularly quoted as a pregnancy and postnatal fitness expert in the national media. 

Joanna HelckeThe What’s on 4 Me team asks Dr Joanna Helcké how new mums should ease themselves safely back into exercise…

What’s on 4 Me: In your expertise, what are some realistic expectations about when it’s safe to begin exercise? How long does it really take? And will most women be able to bounce back to their former selves?

Joanna Helcké: In terms of when it’s safe to start exercising post pregnancy, the general guidelines are to wait until you have had your 6 week postnatal check up with the GP and been given the green light to start up exercising again. Having said this, 6 weeks is the absolute minimum, and if someone has had a caesarean section then she will need to wait at least 8-10 weeks and use her judgement. In other words, if the scar has not healed properly and is still painful then starting exercise would be unwise. Likewise, water-based exercise is an excellent choice when you’ve had a baby, because it is low impact, but without wishing to make anyone feel squeamish, it is important to wait for everything to have healed up before diving into the local pool.

Once new mums have received the go-ahead from their GPs this should not be taken as licence to throw themselves into hard core, high impact exercise. Post pregnancy exercise needs to remain low impact – that means no running, jogging, jumping, skipping or – heaven forbid – trampolining! – for the first 6 months of the postnatal period. This is partly so as to look after the pelvic floor which – let’s face it – has had a tough time in pregnancy and labour, and also to protect against injury or already vulnerable ligaments, joints, and back. Having said this, I am most certainly not advocating sitting around doing nothing – with a good dose of imagination there are so many activities which are perfectly safe and will get new mums, fit, health and boosting the metabolism.

In terms of new mums bouncing back to their former selves, it’s very much a question of a quick-fix versus a measured, sustainable approach, or a super-complicated diet plan versus a healthy eating plan that is quick and easy to follow for busy mums. Quick fixes are invariable so gruelling that nobody can actually stick to them for any length of time, and complicated diets are just too much hard work for busy working mums. The trick is, therefore, to find ways of eating healthily that are enjoyable and take no time at all. It can be done!

Win 3 months membership to Dr Joanna Helcké’s tummy tightening online New Mum Pilates Programme

What’s on 4 Me: What’s your advice about easing back into your pre-pregnancy fitness routine? How much does exercise and diet really affect breastfeeding? 

Joanna Helcké: When I am helping people regain their pre-pregnancy figure, I never focus on the usual “going on a diet” approach, as this implies a short term measure which is, in my opinion, liable to be unsustainable. It is also inappropriate, given the demands of breastfeeding and looking after a little baby. In view of this I have a three-pronged system for beating the “baby bulge”: specialist, post-pregnancy, abdominal work to strengthen and flatten the abdominals, which have been stretched and weakened in pregnancy; a weekly exercise “portfolio” which is specifically designed to kick-start the metabolism whilst still being safe for the post natal period (low impact interval training, and the introduction of appropriate resistance work to build muscle, which gets the body burning lots of calories) and which is also baby-friendly i.e. no need to find childcare as this stops new mums from sticking to their fitness regime; and last but certainly not least, analysing people’s nutritional intake to ensure that it is balanced and healthy. With regard to the latter, I would suggest that for most post natal women, simply making sure that they get the correct balance and type of protein, carbohydrates, fat, dairy, fruit and vegetables – combined with the right sort of exercise – is enough to see the baby weight come off at a steady and healthy rate, without feeling hungry, tired and without having to count calories, points or swig food replacement shakes.

It is often suggested that vigorous exercise has a detrimental effect on the production of breast milk and can interfere with the success of breastfeeding but reviews of research would seem to indicate that this is not that case and that exercising has no adverse effects when it comes to breastfeeding. Having said this, it is, of course even more important to maintain excellent levels of fluid intake if you are both breastfeeding and exercising. On a personal note, I breastfed all three of my boys – the youngest until the day before his third birthday – and I also exercised regularly. Having clocked up a total of 5 years’ worth of breastfeeding and exercising I had to conclude that it had no negative impact in my case!

With regard to diet and breastfeeding, mums should remember that their babies are gaining so much goodness from them when breastfeeding. This should provide an enormous incentive to eat healthily, so that they are giving their babies the best possible start in life. The added bonus is that new mums will also be getting all the health benefits of this nutrient-rich food. Early motherhood is a tiring experience that requires huge reserves of energy (and patience!) – going on a restrictive diet is unhelpful and likely to leave mums deficient in certain nutrients, iron being a frequent problem.

What’s on 4 Me: Is it true that breastfeeding helps you lose weight fast? Can diet and exercise too soon mess up the breast milk somehow, ie, make it less nutritious?

Joanna Helcké: If a newborn baby is fully breastfed then a new mum will be burning an extra 400-500kcal per day but trying to exploit this in an attempt to shed the baby weight would leave her feeling depleted and exhausted. If breastfeeding mothers eat a healthy, balanced diet and combine this with moderate exercise, such as brisk buggy walking incorporating intervals of faster and slower walking, this is a very good basis for beginning to lose the baby weight in a manageable and sustainable manner.

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Getting yourself fit for birth – #fit4feb

February 15, 2014

Dr. Joanna Helcké is an award winning expert in pregnancy and postnatal fitness and is the creator of the UK’s first ever online pregnancy and postnatal fitness system. She is regularly quoted as a pregnancy and postnatal fitness expert in the national media. 

Joanna HelckeFalling pregnant for the first time is often a time when you reassess your lifestyle, health and fitness. There is the sudden realisation that your body is busy creating a tiny human being, one that is entirely dependent on you for its development and growth. What a responsibility this can feel. Having said this, it’s the ideal opportunity to put in place a healthy lifestyle both in terms of eating and fitness. Whilst it is important not to go on a major fitness drive on discovering that you are expecting, putting in place an appropriate “pregnancy fitness portfolio” can really help you have a more positive pregnancy with fewer aches and pains, an easier labour and a speedier recovery during the postnatal period.

Win a FREE three month membership to Dr Joanna Helcké’s week by week online Pregnancy Pilates Programme  

Whilst there’s no such thing as a “one size fits all” fitness regime for your pregnancy, there are definitely some forms of exercise which work particularly well for the pregnant body. It is important to introduce a mixture of cardiovascular exercise with resistance and deep abdominal work. The former will help give you the stamina needed to get through your nine month journey, especially towards the end when you are carrying around a heavy baby day in day out. If you have been a regular exerciser pre-pregnancy, and as long as all is going well, there is no reason why you cannot carry on during the first trimester with the exercise that you normally do, although it is important to not get too breathless, too hot or to push yourself when your body is crying out for a rest. Be kind and gentle to yourself.

Power walking is an ideal form of exercise during pregnancy and if you spend a lot of time seated at a desk, it will help ease off tightness in the lower back. So how about going for a 20 minute walk in your lunch break every day? Having said this a significant proportion of mums-to-be suffer from pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy and if you are one them, then walking will need to be dropped in favour of other forms of exercise, such as aquanatal.

Water-based exercise is fantastic when you are expecting, especially as you get towards the end of pregnancy when the sheer weight of your bump will leave you feeling tired and depleted. Try aquanatal with a trained specialist in pregnancy exercise or if you can’t find a local expert, swimming is a great alternative. Again, if you are suffering from pelvic girdle pain, be sure to modify your swimming accordingly: breaststroke is to be avoided at all costs but front crawl should be fine for you.

Last but most certainly not least, make time for a weekly dose of tailored pregnancy Pilates. This will help to protect your back by keeping the deepest layer of abdominals toned. Doing just one pregnancy Pilates class a week or even 5 minutes of Pilates moves every day will be enough to keep you free of many of the aches and pains that accompany pregnancy. Be sure to go to a class that is designed specifically for the antenatal period as standard Pilates is not appropriate for pregnancy. If the pregnancy Pilates you do includes postural work, then all the better – posture is greatly affected by pregnancy.

In short, a “pregnancy fitness portfolio” that contains a good mix of exercise to give you stamina – whether it be walking, swimming or aquanatal – and exercise to help keep your back strong and niggle-free, will get your ready and fit for birth.

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5 Benefits of Regular Exercise – #fit4feb

February 1, 2014

You know exercise is good for you, but do you know how good? From boosting your mood and improving your sex life, to losing weight and feeling firmer, find out how exercise can improve your life.

Check out these five ways exercise can improve your life.

No. 1: Exercise controls weight

Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn. You don’t need to set aside large chunks of time for exercise to reap weight-loss benefits. If you can’t do an actual workout, get more active throughout the day in simple ways — by taking the stairs instead of the lift or revving up your household chores.

No. 2: Exercise combats health conditions and diseases

Worried about heart disease? Hoping to prevent high blood pressure? No matter what your current weight, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases. In fact, regular physical activity can help you prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer, arthritis and falls.

No. 3: Exercise improves mood and sex life

Need an emotional lift? Or need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A workout at the gym or a brisk 30-minute walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. Physical activity can also help you connect with family or friends in a fun social setting. So, take a dance class, join a walking group or a netball team. And if feel too tired or too out of shape to enjoy physical intimacy, then regular exercise can leave you feeling energized and looking better, which may have a positive effect on your sex life.

No. 4: Exercise boosts energy

Tired out by grocery shopping or household chores? Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance. Exercise and physical activity deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and help your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you have more energy to go about your daily activites.

No. 5: Exercise promotes better sleep

Struggling to fall asleep? Or to stay asleep? Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. Just don’t exercise too close to bedtime, or you may be too energized to fall asleep.

The bottom line on exercise

Exercise and physical activity are a great way to feel better, gain health benefits and have fun. As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more. Remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have any health concerns.

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YogaBellies tame the Dragons’

August 30, 2013

Mum of one and founder of YogaBellies® Cheryl MacDonald, along with her husband and pregnant YogaBellies teacher, Sophie Keil will appear on Dragons’ Den this coming Sunday. The den falls into unusual serenity when this Glasgow couple demo their women’s yoga franchise….

Picture2The busy mum and author of the recently published Birth ROCKS, started YogaBellies after the birth of her son three years ago. Cheryl hoped to combine her passion for Yoga with that of being a mother. “Being pregnant and giving birth to my son was the most amazing time of my life,” Cheryl says. “I have practiced Yoga for a number of years and found it was something that really helped me throughout the key stages of my life. I wanted to help other women to have the same experience that I had and to enable them to work around their family and love what they do.”

The successful businesswoman (who was a business analyst previously) now has over 80 YogaBellies franchisees across three continents. YogaBellies teachers are given complete training in the unique YogaBellies techniques and run their own socially-conscious YogaBellies business, offer the classes in their local area. “You don’t need to have lots of practical yoga experience to join us, anyone can master the physical aspects of yoga. We want teachers who can demonstrate their willingness to support other women, work around their family and be truly committed to YogaBellies philosophies.”

Cheryl was recently been handpicked as one of the “Top 100 Mums in Business” and was nominated for “Mumprenuer Champion” at the MumsClub 2012 awards. In addition to this, Cheryl also made the finals of Women of the Year 2012 award and YogaBellies as an organization was a finalist in the Working Mums Employer of the Year awards[i] and were finalists in the What’s on 4 Little One’s Best Pre and Post Natal activity award.


[i] MumsClub Awards 2012 official website –

The show will be broadcast next Sunday evening and Cheryl will be available for interviews and comments after the show has aired. You can watch a clip of the show trailer here

Cycling Challenge & Family Fun Day 15th September – in aid of Hearts & Minds

August 29, 2013


Join us for a Hearts and Minds Cycling Challenge  Family Fun Day   

15th September 2013!

Starting and finishing in the stunning grounds of Capethorne Hall the ride will comprise of an intermediate and advanced course, both warming up with a rolling 12 miles through the heart of the Cheshire countryside.

Next is where the “Challenge” comes in!

The course will head off towards Bosley Hill and the famous “Dumbers” climb towards Buxton and will branch off towards the little village of Flash – At 1560ft home of the highest pub in England!

At this point the advanced ride will peel off towards Bakewell. Taking in some of Derbyshire’s most spectacular vista’s, climbs and hamlets (and fast, fun descents!) It will loop back to Buxton and then take in the stunning climb through The Goyt Valley and finally descending back into Cheshire after over 3500ft of climbing.

The intermediate course will still be a challenge with a fast descent from Flash into Buxton and will take in Long Hill and The Goyt Valley before rolling along Clough Brook through the lovely valley of Wildboarclough before climbing back over the Dumbers and descending back into Cheshire. Make no mistake! This is still a challenge and takes in nearly 2500ft of climbing – enough to test the majority of keen cyclists!

You will be joined on this ride by our Patron Rik Waddon. Rik has been an inspiration to many with his fantastic cycling career which has included multiple successes in the Paralympics and World Championships.

All cyclists who have registered for this event will receive  a voucher giving 10% discount off all none sale accessories and clothing at the Manchester Cycle Surgery store. Cycle Surgery will also have a bike maintenance area at the start / finish area and will be on hand to help with any mechanical problems. They will also have a stock of spare parts available should you need them. There will be a number of drink stations and marshals along both routes as well as a medical team for your safety. We will also have a Family Fun Day at Capesthorn Hall for your family to enjoy while you are cycling.

To register for this event please visit Hearts & Minds Challenge

What’s On 4 Me 2013 Awards Nominee – Joanna Helcké, Zest4lifeUK, Loughborough

August 27, 2013

All Awards nominees are given the opportunity to showcase their great work on our Blog.  So, remember to Sign up for our Blog to hear news of other nominees coming shortly!

(To add your blog – email

Hi there, I’m Dr Joanna Helcké and I’m a pregnancy and postnatal fitness expert, juggling career alongside looking after my three lively boys. In 2009 I founded Zest4lifeUK and have looked after the fitness of hundreds of women working with an entire spectrum of women, from fitness novices to team GB athletes.

Zest4lifeUK offers a really unusual range of specialist exercise classes designed to help women have a happy, healthy and sociable time throughout pregnancy, into early motherhood… and beyond. What makes these fitness classes so different?

JoannaHelckeFirstly, no-one needs to worry about childcare because babies come along to all the classes – from postnatal Pilates to outdoor buggy workouts – and they are even catered for with lots of play gyms, toys and play pens for the crawlers.

“But what else is different about the Zest4lifeUk fitness classes?” I hear you ask. Well, every single one of my classes includes a social aspect. For example, BounceBack  is my mother-and-baby post natal Pilates class and this is how it works: we have a 15 minute outdoor warm up in a beautiful field (yes, even in winter, because research has proven that exercising outdoors in lovely surroundings is of great psychological benefit). We then move indoors and the babies have fun on their play gyms whilst the mums do their exercises, each person working at the correct intensity and level depending on how recently she gave birth, what type of birth she had, to what extent her abdominals have been affected by pregnancy etc. After an hour of exercise I serve tea, coffee, and herbal infusions with a mini homemade biscuit (made by me!) for the mums so that they can have time to socialise, chat, swap advice, share their worries, and relax.

Each type of class that I run includes this sort social element as I am convinced that building a strong support network is vital for the mental wellbeing of new mothers.

My passion for enabling new and expectant mothers to experience the incredible benefits of pregnancy and postnatal exercise, has led me to develop the UK’s FIRST EVER online specialist pregnancy and postnatal fitness and wellbeing system, which will be accessible to women, wherever they live. It has taken me two years to create this innovative system and I am so excited about its upcoming launch on the 12 September 2013. If you’d like a sneak preview of some of my online workouts then do take a look here.

Joanna x

Joanna and Zest4lifeUK have been nominated in two categories Most Inspirational Coach, Instructor or Tutor and Best Sports, Health or Fitness Group. To vote for Zest4lifeUK please visit the What’s On 4 Me Awards website and click the Voting Link.

If you want to keep updated and find out how to attend our glittering Awards Ceremony at Earls Court in November, as part of the Ideal Home Show at Xmas, then add your details here

Decline in Mineral Content of a Medium Apple

March 13, 2013

Decline in Mineral Content of a Medium Apple

Live Life With Minerals


A recent report in the Daily Mail stated that an apple a day is not as good as it used to be.

Fruit and vegetables are being gradually stripped of the natural goodness which makes them beneficial for health, experts have found.

An alarming drop in essential minerals means that the apples and greens of today are nowhere near as good for us as those eaten 50 years ago.

Some fruits are also becoming sweeter than they were during the last century, leading to fears about tooth decay and obesity.

Nutrients needed to help the body and immune system work properly, balance hormones and produce vital blood cells are dwindling across a wide variety of fruit and vegetables, it emerged.

Five a day

Government health advice is to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day to help maintain health and possibly avoid some cancers.

But research…

View original post 258 more words

National NO SMOKING Day! Ten Chances to Win an E-Lites Starter Pack!

March 13, 2013

Ahead of National No Smoking Day (13th March) and to mark the launch of its new TV advertising campaign E-Lites, the leading UK brand of electronic cigarettes, is offering not one, but ten What’s On 4 Me fans the chance to win an E-Lites starter pack with refill E-Tips each worth £33.98 RRP.

Created for smokers, E-Lites electronic cigarettes offer a harm reducing alternative that recreates the sensation of a tobacco cigarette without the smell, smoke, legal restrictions or impact of passive smoking.

Designed to look, feel and taste like the real thing, E-Lites electronic cigarettes are made using the latest technology and contain a nicotine solution that users inhale as a vapour without any of the tar or carbon monoxide found in a tobacco cigarette.

Available in Regular, Light or Menthol, E-Lites electronic cigarettes are distinguishable by their unique green tip, which upon inhalation lights up to alert those around you that it’s not a tobacco cigarette.

Not only are E-Lites less harmful to a smoker’s health, but they also cost around 70 per cent less than tobacco cigarettes.

Each winner will receive an E-Lites E80 starter pack which comes complete with a USB charger, rechargeable battery and 2 E-Tips (equivalent to 80 traditional cigarettes). E-Lites will also throw in an extra pack of E-Tips, giving each winner the equivalent of 160 ‘cigarettes’.

To view E-Lites’ first TV advert, featuring its dancing ‘Gangnam’ baby click here or for more information about E-Lites visit and follow us on Twitter @ELitesUK.

10 lucky What’s On 4 Me fans can win an E-Lites starter pack each worth £33.98 to celebrate National No Smoking Day (13th March) – ENTER HERE


February 10, 2013

Anyone who has lovingly prepared food for another knows its potential power. Silky-smooth and sensually-satisfying is the way to go for a hot Valentines night this year and Lobster Bisque is hard to beat, say nutritionist and author, Fiona Kirk.

As far back as the late 1800s, the aphrodisiac powers of seafood were championed, which is easy to understand as it’s got the lot. It is a rich source of iron which increases blood flow to our sex organs, zinc which increases the production of testosterone, the ‘libido lifter’ in both males and females, Omega 3 fats which boost our mood and iodine which makes us feel vivacious and ready for whatever the night might have in store!

This slightly extravagant soup takes a little time to prepare but right from the first spoonful you just know that your efforts were worth it and the rest of the evening is going to take you and your valentine into a very good place.

Lobster Bisque

Enough for 2 with plenty left over for a late night snack!

Steam 2 lobster tails (frozen is fine as long as you defrost them completely), shell side down over a pan of simmering salted water (about a pint and a half) for 8-10 minutes or until the flesh is cooked through but not tough. Remove the lobster, save the water for the stock, take the flesh out with a couple of forks and set aside.

In another fairly large pan, gently sauté the lobster shells in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil for 5 to 6 minutes. Add a couple of large glasses of dry white wine, 24 fluid ounces of chicken stock and the water used for steaming the lobster, bring the whole lot to the boil and keep at a rolling boil until the liquid is reduced by half (takes around 45 minutes).

In the meantime, sauté 1 small fennel bulb, cleaned, trimmed and finely sliced and 4 shallots, peeled and finely chopped in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until soft and transparent (don’t let them brown). Add 3 medium-sized tomatoes, skinned, de-seeded and chopped, 2 tablespoons of white rice, 1 tablespoon tomato puree, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 bay leaf, 1 sprig of thyme and stir until well-mixed.

When the stock is reduced, strain it through a fine sieve, return to a clean pan then slowly stir in the vegetable/herb/spice mix. Bring back to the boil, turn down the heat, add at least 2 tablespoons of brandy (it’s Valentines night after all!) then simmer gently for another 45 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and thyme and liquidise the whole lot (you will probably have to do this in two batches) until velvety-smooth. Return to a clean pan and keep on a very gentle simmer until just before serving (or refrigerate overnight and reheat – gently!)

Just before serving, slice the lobster flesh into bite-sized chunks and add to the soup with a dash of lemon juice and a few tablespoons of double cream, heat through for 5 minutes or slightly longer if you can possibly wait and serve in cups, mugs, bowls or just dig into the pan together with very big spoons!

For more (slightly less extravagant) soup recipes and her 10 day Flab Fighting Soup Diet see nutritionist Fiona Kirk’s eBook Soup Can Make You Thin, £4.99 available through

For more ideas for Valetine’s Day, Slimming and Fitness activities near you see

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