Students compete bake-off style!

Published on the 9th Mar, 2017 by Azmina

Inviting young people to cook under a competitive environment is a great way of getting them to enjoy healthy cooking. Students leaving home for the first time to head to university are suddenly confronted with questions around what and how to cook – and in February 2017 I met with some inspiring student chefs who entered the LoSalt Student Cook of the Year (SCOTY) competition. As nutritionist to LoSalt, it was up to me to judge the entries for nutritional composition and I was impressed with the level of knowledge demonstrated by the five short-listed students from around the UK.

students at LoSalt cook off

My interest in this area stems from personal experience with my own two children, and my work with NHS choices on helping students to eat well after leaving home. The other judges joining me were:

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Leftover makeover – rice to risotto

Published on the 6th Aug, 2014 by Azmina

I love risotto but can’t be bothered to stir and wait, stir and wait, so I decided to create a short-cut recipe with some leftover boiled rice I had in the fridge.

boiled rice

Raiding the veg box, I found some courgettes, peppers, spring onions, tomatoes and coriander leaves. I’m using semi-skimmed milk and low fat soft cheese in place of cream and Parmesan.

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Time to sir-fry the veg – I think I’ll add some cashew nuts for crunch and protein.

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As for the rice, I stir-fried it in a little olive oil and garlic and threw in a couple of dollops of soft cheese and some milk.

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Time to mix it all together and smother it in more milk, cover and simmer till creamy…smelling good!

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Voila!

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Do you throw away your five-a-day?

Published on the 25th Mar, 2014 by Azmina

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my new machine

Surveys suggest that people tend to add fruit and vegetables to their shopping trolley, they proudly display fruit in a bowl, or store a variety of veg in the fridge, but by the end of the week much of it ends up not being eaten. In my quest to help people reach their five-a-day target, I decided to check out whether having the appropriate equipment (in my case, a Nutribullet) at home would make a difference.

When I first got my machine, I must admit, the box and cookbook were displayed in the kitchen for a few days, waiting for me to read the instructions and give it its first wash. But once I had overcome that hurdle, I decided to keep the machine on the kitchen surface with all the cups and blades nearby. I’ve learnt that in order to make any change to your eating habits, you need to make it easy for yourself, so I made sure everything was ready and within easy reach. That was step 1. So, did it make a difference?

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5-minute brunch

Published on the 25th Aug, 2013 by Azmina

Fancy a healthy brunch or light lunch for two? Try this 5-minute wholemeal tortilla quesadilla:

tortilla brucnh
1. Stir-fry diced courgettes (zucchini) with ground black pepper and spring onions (scallions), 2 minutes.
2. Heat a little olive oil, sunflower seeds and garlic in a non-stick frying pan and lay a wholemeal tortilla on top, 1 minute.
3. Spread it with light soft cheese and throw in the fried courgettes, 1 minute.
4. Place a second tortilla wrap on top, drizzle with oil and grill, 1 minute.

Sunday lunch comes off the menu

Published on the 8th Mar, 2013 by Azmina

I’m working with Change4life to help get us eating better and moving more. Today I was on Sky breakfast news talking about the latest survey of 2000 mums around the challenges of cooking from scratch. The story is also in the Metro, Daily Mail online, Express and more.

Time and confidence are the main barriers that mums report when it comes to preparing meals for their families:

  • Over half (51%) of those surveyed said the reason they don’t cook more often is because it is too time consuming;
  • Almost a quarter of mums (24%) said they don’t cook from scratch more because they don’t know how to; and
  • Almost three quarters (71%) said they eat convenience foods instead of cooking from scratch because they are quicker to prepare. 

The survey was commissioned for Change4Life’s Be Food Smart healthy eating campaign, which aims to lift the lid on the hidden nasties – salt, sugar and saturated fat – found in many popular foods, particularly convenience meals.

It’s understandable that over time eating habits change and that the time-pushed mums of today aren’t necessarily going to approach cooking family dinners in the way their own mothers once did. However, many take-aways and processed foods can contain high levels of salt, sugar and saturated fat, so shoppers needed to be encouraged to buy healthier options whist still taking short-cuts to fit in with demands on their time.  (more…)

England’s low ‘Food IQ’ revealed in new research

Published on the 3rd Jan, 2013 by Azmina

Just returned from a sofa chat on ITV Daybreak studios with John Stapleton and Helen Fospero, and today we were talking about healthy living campaign Change4Life survey results on what consumers know about nutrition. Watch one minute of the interview.

Two thousand adults took the newly launched ‘Food IQ’ quiz, designed to highlight levels of salt, sugar and saturated fat in popular foods. The results show that the majority of people are largely unaware of what is in their food – with over three quarters (77%) of respondents’ Food IQs rating as low (scoring 50% or under).

I’m not surprised that people have low awareness. I wouldn’t expect the average person to know that a cheese and ham sandwich has more salt than a packet of crisps. We’re bombarded with different nutritional messages from websites, magazines, even celebrities; often this can be confusing.

And you need to be really label savvy to make healthier choices. Food labels need to be simpler. We don’t often realize that there’s hidden salt in bread or that a fruity cereal bar could be packed with sugar. Cakes & biscuits have hidden fat and sugar, and cured meats, cheese, & breakfast cereals can be high in salt.

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Can Change4life supermarket vouchers really change lives?

Published on the 3rd Jan, 2012 by Azmina

2012 saw the launch of a nation-wide government campaign to help us buy and cook healthier meals on a budget. Yesterday I was quizzed about my views on this, live on the Vanessa show Radio London, as part of my work with the British Dietetic Association. (more…)

Supermarket Savvy

Published on the 6th Dec, 2011 by Azmina


It really does make a difference if you take a list with you when you go shopping as it helps you to avoid costly impulse buys. You may trust a brand name, but buying into brands can burst the budget. Supermarket own brands tend to be cheaper but we sometimes shy away from buying them in the expectation that they will be inferior in some way. Start off by just buying one can or packet of a different brand and if you like it, you can make it a regular item on your shopping list. (more…)

Eat well, spend less: plan ahead

Published on the 15th Nov, 2011 by Azmina

Here I show you how you can keep an eye on your waistline as well as your wallet. This blog post looks at planning ahead, but come back soon for more tips on being savvy in the supermarket and making use of the freezer and special offers. You’ll soon be tucking into delicious healthy food whilst still keeping an eye on the pennies.

Eating well on a budget

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