16th December

Yes, there are still plenty more vegetables to try… Today we have….

advent calendar 16th


wales.com says “According to legend on the eve of the battle against the Saxons St David advised theBritons to wear leeks in their caps so as to easily distinguish friend from foe. This helped to secure a great victory. Today Welsh people around the world wear leeks on St David’s Day.”

I am not going to suggest you wear your leek because the nutrition is only valuable if consumed! Leeks are a good source of vitamin K as well as many other vitamins and minerals. They are a relatively low cost vegetable, especially in season.

This recipe is one of my own and gives each person 3 portions of vegetables.

Bean wraps

Serves 4

1 400g tin tomatoes

1 leek – finely chopped

2 peppers

2 tins of beans (2 different types) – borlotti, cannelini, black eye, haricot, kidney

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Chilli (optional)

half cup couscous (this binds it all together to reduce the chance of your wrap exploding!)

grated cheese to serve

wholemeal tortilla wraps to serve


Heat the oil and add the vegetables and spices, soften the vegetables then add the tinned tomatoes and beans and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the couscous and lower the heat and cook for 4 minutes. Spoon into warmed tortilla wraps and top with cheese.





First foods. Introducing solids. Weaning

Whether you have lots of support around you or family and friends far away, the process of introducing solids can be daunting as a new parent. There is loads of information on the internet but how can you be sure that it is what is best for baby and how can you find the time to read it all around the endless feeding, nappies and washing?

I designed my weaning course after I had had my first child. I am a Registered Nutritionist and learnt about weaning at university but the process of actually feeding my son was an eye opener. I don’t pretend to know everything but I will give you the evidenced based advice in line with the NHS recommendations as well as giving you plenty of practical tips to help too. We will talk about what influences your child’s diet, what equipment you might need (and what you don’t need!), what your child needs to be healthy and more.

The course is run over 3 sessions each an hour and a half long. I run courses for small groups of parents. The next course is due to start on 20th June in Withington, Manchester. The course is just £45 for the 3 sessions. If you think this is a lot, think about the money you will save not buying all the unnecessary things.

One mum recently said: I highly recommend Aliya’s course. 🙂 Very engaging and a much easier way to take in the information than reading websites and parenting forums, which tend to give slightly conflicting information. The other half and I both enjoyed the sessions, and I felt more confident with my decisions afterwards. My baby’s 12 months old now and we still refer back to her notes sometimes. I also liked the personalised approach that took into account the foods we liked.

To join the course click here and fill in the contact form.


Healthy eating is too expensive

In my 10 years of being a Registered Nutritionist, I have had many people tell me that healthy eating is too expensive. I have given plenty of advice to people on low budgets about what they can eat but I have found little detailed information to back up the idea that healthy eating does not have to be expensive…until recently.

The Institute of Economic Affairs (whose ‘mission is to improve understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society by analysing and expounding the role of markets in solving economic and social problems’ ) has published this report – Cheap as Chips:;is a healthy diet affordable?

Their research suggests that it is not necessarily more expensive to eat healthily with diet versions of products costing the same if not less than the regular version, home made food costing less than ready meals and takeaways and the cost of fruit and veg being less than chocolate when compared by weight.

There are, of course, limitations with their research of course, I will note here a few.

Firstly, prices are given per portion. They suggest that you can achieve your 5 portions of fruit and veg for as little as 30p. Their examples, ‘a combination of carrots, peas, tinned tomatoes, pineapple slices and an apple can be bought for 30p. A more expensive combination of broccoli, sprouts, fresh tomatoes, grapes and an orange costs 83p.’  Both these examples assume that the portions can be shared with others, eg in a family setting. If an individual cooking for themselves, as many young people do in shared housing or many elderly people do. If you were to waste the remaining food in the tin or part of the carrot over the 80g portion, the costs would go up dramatically.

Secondly, they do not take into consideration the access to transportation and storage limitations. Those on low budgets, often do not have access to large freezers and fridges to store food in order to take advantage of the larger pack sizes, nor do they have the ability to carry such quantities back from the shops.

Thirdly, the report only looked at 2 supermarkets so those who have to shop at smaller stores may have a different experience.

Despite the limitations however, it is positive to see more low fat, low sugar versions of foods being sold for the same price as the regular versions. This was largely not the case 10 years ago. It is also positive that the report recognises that home cooked food is cheaper than ready meals. We have long known this  but it is important to keep stating it. It is therefore essential we teach our children to cook. With the increased use of the internet and access to simple, varied recipes, we should be encouraging this vital skill.

The report also recognises that we have some way to go in making quality meat more affordable. Cheap meat, particularly processed meat is still cheaper by some margin, and, considering what is in it, it is hardly surprising. But, with the large evidence base around processed meat and bowel cancer risk, we need to look at making other meats more accessible to those on low incomes if we are not to widen the health inequalities gap.




Book review

A little jaunt to our local library in Manchester resulted in borrowing what turned out to be an excellent recipe book – I hasten to add that I have not been paid to write this.

As a professional and a mum I have tried, and bought, my fair share of children’s cook books and as not the most patient mum in the world, I have found many very a frustrating recipe to make with my children in said recipe books. Sometimes it is because they contain expensive ingredients I don’t normally use, or they contain ingredients I can’t buy in my small local supermarket or worse still, they are far too complicated for young ones to take part in – cue stress head mum to enter my kitchen!


The author of this recipe book appears to have found the same issue which resulted in making this book. She does not pretend to be an expert on nutrition as many cook book authors do, no, she sets out to give ideas to mums (and dads, grandmas and other carers) on how to let their children get involved in cooking. It includes a very useful section in each recipe called ‘Parent prep’ which tells you what to do as the adult before the child is called in to take part and then has a section you can do together.

There is also information about the different motor skills they are practising, advice on adapting the recipes for those with allergies, as well as the skill level needed for each recipe.

So far we have made:

  • overnight oats (my 7 and 3 year old did this together)
  • banana and peanut butter cakes (minus the sugar and they didn’t taste too bad without)
  • Chicken and ham pie (my 7 year old particularly was so chuffed because he felt like he actually made something rather than helped me) – next time I would use a soup with a lower salt content

They the above have all been a success and the boys have been over the moon with their achievements. They keep looking at the book to decide what to make next…so far they have decided on vegetable samosas and naan bread.IMG_20170311_171218781

I would definitely recommend this book.

Oh, and the book title…The Tickle Fingers by Annabel Woolmer

Note, these recipes are not designed to be healthy recipes, they are designed to make cooking fun for carer and child. All food made should be eaten as part of a balanced diet which is age appropriate for the children eating it.


10 reasons you are safe with a Registered Nutritionist

When you get in your car, you fasten your seat belt, because it is safer to have one on. When you cross a road, you check there are no cars coming, because it is safer then just walking out.

So, why do we insist in taking advice from people who may do more harm than good for our health? If you are taking advice on diet, ask a Registered Nutritionist not an unregistered one.

Here are 10 reasons why you will be safer:

  1. They have to give you advice based on the bulk of the evidence – not one study
  2. They have to keep to the areas of expertise they are trained in
  3. They have to keep up to date so you are guaranteed the latest information
  4. They have to act in the best interest of their clients – not their wallets or their fame
  5. They have to keep information about clients confidential – just like your doctor
  6. They have to be insured
  7. They have to have a complaints procedure
  8. They have to avoid misleading advertising – no guarantees of results in weeks!
  9. They have to behave outside of work too
  10. They have to stick to the Association for Nutrition’s Code of Ethics (which contains ALL of the above) or they get struck off – just like your doctor

So, next time you need advice from a nutritionist, check they are registered with the Association for Nutrition


NB. Dietitian is a title which only those registered with HCPC can use. You are also safe with a dietitian, they have to stick to a very similar code of conduct.



Fussy eating

A recent study by a student at UCL suggested that there was a genetic link to fussy eating. Although the study looks like quite a good one but where does this leave parents? Do we just put it down to genes and move on? Surely we still have to intervene?

There are lots of things we can do as parents to help our children develop a healthy relationship to food. Whether children have the genetic makeup which leads to fussiness or not, all children need to be taught how to handle food. Here is a list of things we can do.

  • Make meal times happy occasions
  • Talk to your child
  • Give lots of praise for eating well
  • Don’t force a child to finish their food
  • Don’t give up on a food after 1 attempt at offering it, it can take a while to accept new foods (10 times plus)
  • Try mixing foods they don’t like so much with foods they like
  • Eat the food your toddler doesn’t like very calmly yourself in front of them
  • Don’t assume that if your child doesn’t eat something one day that they don’t like it
  • Let your child take food off your plate – if it is age appropriate
  • Allow lots of time and don’t worry about mess
  • Never bargain with your child – especially important when rewards are high sugar foods or foods high in saturated fat.
  • Never give food or drink as a reward e.g. for ‘being a good boy/girl’ or an achievement
  • Don’t watch TV during meals regularly
  • Avoid having snacks close to meal times as it can take the edge off their appetite
  • If your child has a negative experience with a food, don’t dwell on it
  • Encourage physical activity
  • Encourage them to have 12 hours sleep a day
  • Get your child involved in shopping and food preparation (if it is safe)

If you do have a fussy eater, you are likely to find mealtimes quite stressful. You are not alone.

  • Try to keep calm and go with the flow (I understand this is easier said than done)
  • Continue with the prevention steps above
  • Try separating the food out into lots of different bowls – some children don’t like different foods touching others
  • Try cutting out the sauce or gravy as some children like to see exactly what they are eating
  • Don’t give high sugar, high salt foods to pacify
  • Seek professional help if fussy eating is making your child lose weight or you are concerned generally