Exercise, movement, improving health issues, body image

Autumn Apples and a Somerset Apple cake recipe

photo of different types of apples


At this time of year there is an abundance of beautiful British apples.  Growing up as a child, living in a low income, country environment, apples were a staple of daily life.  You could actually say, that being poor helped protect my teeth, as we couldn’t afford lots of sweets, biscuits or processed foods.  Whenever my brother and I asked for a snack or something to eat, we were always told by my mother “have an apple”!.

Thankfully, the constant supply of apples didn’t put me off them, basically because they are so versatile.

So, what can apples do for your health?

Firstly, apples make a fantastic snack for the kids when you are out and about over half term.


Well, they are packed with antioxidants which protect our cells from damage from pollution and UV rays.

They are  high in fibre, so are great for the digestive system  – #healthygut

Apples are also packed full of vitamins that help boost your immune system and can even help to break down fat – so a great snack for us mum’s too!

At this time of year, many neighbours and friends may have free apples to give away, so your healthy snack doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

What else can you do with apples?

Don’t forget you can stew eating and cooking apples down to use for an apple sauce for the Sunday roast, or add to warming crumbles and apples pies, spoon over your morning porridge or Greek yogurt.  You can also remove the core from the middle of a whole apple, stuff the middle with dried fruit and drizzle with honey for a  Bonfire night baked apple.

A family favourite is Somerset Apple cake – yes, the New Leaf family does eat cake!  Everything in moderation.

Somerset Apple Cake recipe:-

photo of Somerset Apple Cake

6 oz/170g butter

6 oz/170g sugar

2 eggs lightly beaten

6 0z/170g self raising flour

1-2 diced apples

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Fold in flour, eggs and cinnamon.  Then stir in the diced apples.  Pour into a greased, square baking tin, lined with greaseproof paper.  Cook for about 45 minutes at 180°C, until a knife comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes in the tin before turning out on to a wire rack to cool.  You can serve this warm with ice-cream or crème fraiche/Greek yoghurt.


So, remember “An Apple a Day” will help to keep the doctor away!.

Let me know how you enjoy your Autumn Apples in the comments below or on our Facebook page HERE


Journals and Notebooks as a weight-loss tool

two journals, a cup of coffee and a lamp


Journals and notebooks as a weight-loss tool


I just wanted to share with you these lovely notebooks I found in Matalan for £4 each and explain how journals and notebooks can help you achieve a healthy lifestyle.

1. Meal Planning

Firstly, you can use them for writing out your weekly meal plan.  Anything that makes a chore feel a bit more like a treat is a win, so settle down with a cup of tea and your lovely new notebook and plan out the week’s meals.

As you probably know by now, I believe that planning your meals is one of the most important steps you can take to gain control of your eating habits.  If you already know what you’re cooking for dinner, then you’ll be less tempted to buy a takeaway or something ready made and processed from the supermarket.


2. Food diary

Keeping a food diary for a few days to a week is a great tool to assess exactly what you’re eating.

You can also use it to help establish how you feel after eating certain foods.  Personally I notice my stomach feels bloated and uncomfortable if we ever have fish and chips at the beach.  Whilst it’s fine occasionally, I know my energy and general feelings of health would soon drop if I ate fatty, fried food on a regular basis.

When you can establish a clear link between the foods you eat and the way you feel, it makes it much easier to make changes.


3. Writing in a journal

Now, I’ve never kept a journal – I did have secret diaries when I was a teenager, which are particularly embarrassing to read now!

Historically, there are lots of examples of journal keeping- Samuel Pepys, Anne Franks, soldiers during the World Wars.  A journal can be your best friend, never questioning your actions or emotions, helping you through the tough times in your life.

There is increasing research linking the benefits of writing in a  journal with improved mood and mental health.   Using a journal to write down all your worries, emotions and feelings can help your mind to process the events in your life.  The action of unburdening your emotions onto a page can leave your mind clearer and calmer, lessoning the feelings of overwhelm from modern living.

Using a journal to release your emotions can also help you avoid emotional eating.  When we feel low, tired or bored, it’s very easy to turn to food for comfort.  When you feel like this, write it down in your journal before you go to the cupboard.  Hopefully, by stopping and releasing your emotions you will be less tempted to just eat your way mindlessly through a packet of biscuits – yes, we have all been there!

There’s some great articles HERE to explain more about the positive effects of writing a journal.


4. Tracking goals

Another use for your lovely journal would be to help plan and track your goals.

Often life coaches suggest that clients should reveal their goals to a friend or loved one.  This will then keep them accountable to stay on track with their actions.  For most people this works – they are motivated to stick at their goal because they don’t wont to fail.

I believe though, that for many people the actual fear of failure stops them from ever setting goals.  If you fear failure, it’s very difficult to tell a friend or loved one your goals.  If you fail, which in your mind you are sure you will, then you also fear you will lose respect in the eyes of those you’ve told.  It’s easier to just not even try because then you can’t fail.

If you are faced with this dilemma, write your goals down in a journal and keep checking in with yourself.  No one else needs to know how your getting on. You can record your progress and look back on your journal to remind yourself of what you’ve achieved – even if it’s only tiny steps.  In fact, the smaller the goal, the more achievable it will be i.e. “I’m going to eat a healthy breakfast each morning” or “I’m going to exercise 3 times this week”.

Lots of small steps soon add up to a new habit which can have a big impact.


I hope these ideas have inspired you to go and treat yourself to a nice, shiny new journal and set yourself a plan to use it as a tool to improve your life.

If you like what you’ve read, please signup to my free weekly newsletter HERE

Also, share in the comments below or on the facebook page whether you already use a journal and how you find it helps.


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6 Harsh Truths to achieve a healthy lifestyle

 infographic with six pictures and text


There are no MAGIC pills, potions or shortcuts.  The only way your health and weight will change is by taking action yourself on a daily basis for the rest of your life – YEP – that’s a really harsh one, I know!


CHANGE – You will have to make changes in your life which will require work and effort.  You will probably meet resistance – both from your own mind and from those around you.  We all want to stay in our “comfort zone” but life doesn’t change unless we make changes. 


You have to take RESPONSIBILITY for your actions.  Don’t blame the café/restaurant that tempts you with the supersize portions.  Take control of your portion sizes, your eating choices and how much you are moving your body.


It takes TIME!  Yes, you could undertake a drastic diet and lose weight in 2 weeks.  However these types of diet are usually unsustainable and you will end up regaining the weight you lost at a later date.


Don’t strive for PERFECTION.  No-one is perfect.  Set yourself  achievable, long-term goals.


MOTIVATION is over-rated! For most of us, feeling motivated is a fleeting emotion.  It’s very easy to slip back into our comfort zone as soon as we hit an obstacle.  That’s why you need to work on adopting new, daily HABITS to achieve your goals.  Habits are what you do every day without thinking about them – it’s this ACTION that will move you forward.


So, if you want some inspiration and help finding new healthy habits to implement in your life, sign up for my free weekly newsletter HERE


If you found these harsh truths helpful (or scary) let me know in the comments below or on the our Facebook Page

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1 quick step to healthier eating

1 quick step to healthier eating


One of the most common obstacles people say they face in trying to eat healthier is “TIME”.  With our busy lifestyles it’s becoming harder to find time to buy healthy foods, prepare them and cook from scratch.

But – If you keep eating really unhealthy foods such as ready meals and takeaways you are significantly increasing your chance of becoming seriously ill from diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome etc.

Do you actually have TIME to be sick?

If you become ill you could end up spending long spells in hospital receiving treatment, which means less time with your family and friends and less time doing the things you enjoy.  So, finding time to eat healthier is really important.

One of the problems we all face is the “all or nothing” attitude.  We try to go all in on changing everything about our lifestyle and then find we just can’t maintain it and slip right back to where we started from.

I believe it’s better to start with just one or two small changes to begin with.  Once you’ve adopted these changes into your life, it becomes easier to make the next few changes.  As you begin eating healthier you should start to find your energy levels improve.  More energy = more productive use of your time and so the next steps become easier.

So, here’s my first step to get you off on the healthier eating path:-

Shop once a week

Why? – It saves time and you don’t waste money buying food you shouldn’t eat or food you end up throwing away.

If you shop every day or every other day, then you’re increasing the temptation to buy unhealthy foods.  Those chocolate bars look so appealing at the check out!

If you have kids, it helps train them that the cupboards won’t be full of food all week.  Mine are like locusts and can clear a week’s worth of snacks in one day.  When they do though, they end up with no more snacks for the rest of the week  – and yes the reality is we do have snacks in this house! – it’s all about moderation.

Start off with a Meal Plan

Every week I sit down and work out a meal plan for the next week.  I have a stack of recipe books and magazines that have easy recipes that don’t take long to prepare.  I flick through these and pick out some ideas.  This exercise should take about 10 minutes – the time it takes to drink a cup of tea or coffee.  If you have to commute to work on a bus or train, then you could do this whilst travelling.

When planning my meals, I try to bear in mind what’s going on in the next week – if there’s a night when we are going to get back late – then I make sure I have a super easy meal that can be prepared quickly and easily.  Other nights, when I have time, I have something a bit more fancy.  I post my weekly meal plan each week on this site to give you some inspiration and ideas.

Shopping List

From this meal plan I write out a shopping list of the ingredients I need.  I have a notepad in the kitchen which I add items on during the week when I’m getting low or have used something up.  This keeps the basic staples in the food cupboard topped up, so you always know you have them to hand.

Order on line

I use a supermarket delivery system.  This saves a huge amount of time.  One evening a week, whilst watching TV with the family, I click through my order using my shopping list.

It’s then delivered in a one hour delivery slot at a time convenient to me.  No wasting time wheeling a trolley round and round the aisles searching for stuff, no queuing to unload and reload it again through the tills, no driving backwards and forward to the supermarket.  BUT most importantly, I’m not tempted to load my trolley up with lots of unhealthy processed foods that I don’t actually need.

The downside of this process

The family will probably moan that they don’t get much choice or treats – plus side –  if you haven’t got unhealthy foods on the shelf then they can’t eat unhealthy food!

I don’t always feel I get the freshest, best fruit and vegetables on offer.  Ideally I’d love to spend time going to a Farmer’s Market picking these up fresh each week but the reality is, I usually don’t have time.  If you live or work in a town/city then you may find you can slot this into your lunchtime or a Saturday morning.  Like anything, adapt and find a way that work’s best for you.

Cook from scratch whenever possible

Once you have a meal plan and you know you have the relevant ingredients already at home, it becomes much easier to think “ok, when I get home I’m going to cook X” instead of “I don’t know what I’m going to make for dinner – I’ll just get a takeaway”.

I usually end up multi tasking meal preparation time either by:-

  • having the kids sat at the workbench doing homework so I can help them whilst I’m chopping vegetables;
  • or, I might be catching up on a ‘You Tube’ video or podcast;
  • or, talking to my mum or a friend on the phone.

If you’ve had a particularly stressful day, it can be quite meditative chopping and preparing food and gives your brain a chance to start relaxing.

If you can get the whole family involved, it’s a good time to chat and connect together about your day.

Meal preparation doesn’t have to be boring!

However, I’m the same as everyone else and some nights just don’t work out and you know what – sometimes a takeaway makes life easier!  The thing is, to just have some systems in place so that it’s not the everyday routine.


I’d love to know whether you think this healthy eating step is doable, or are you already doing this?  What’s your thoughts or opinions on this?  Send me a comment in the box below or on my facebook page.

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The Power of Walking


Struggling to fit exercise into your weekly routine?

Do you have small children who absorb all your time?

Not keen on organised fitness classes?


Like most people, over the years I’ve tried many different types of exercise routines.  I’m not a naturally sporty type, so often it’s been a struggle.

Now I’m older and wiser I’ve decided the activities that suit me best are:-

walking; yoga/pilates; swimming; easy bike rides and some Hiit exercises – Joe Wickes style!

Of the five activities above, my favourite is definitely walking.


  1. It’s free – on the whole you don’t really need any specialist equipment to get started.
  2. Because you don’t need specialist equipment you can just get out there and get on with it without having to change into different clothes etc –  unless you’re wearing your best Jimmy Choos!
  3. You can do it anywhere, anytime and in any weather
  4. Most importantly, when you have a tribe of kids like me, it’s something the whole family can do.  If you start kids off from a young age, they won’t think twice about going for walks, especially in the countryside/parks where they can explore, pick up sticks and splash in puddles.   We always see something interesting when we are out and about.  If you have babies, you can still get out walking with them in prams or in a child carrier on your back.
Walking in the Lake District

What are the health benefits?

Studies show walking 30-60 minutes per day at a moderate pace can substantially reduce health risks such as high blood pressure and heart health.   If you walk briskly (i.e 3 miles per hour) for a minimum of 150 minutes per week you can significantly reduce your risk of having a heart attack.

The British Journal of Sports Medicine has found that just 30 minutes per day, for six days a week, of any physical activity at any intensity can provide a 40% lower risk of death in elderly men.  Walking is one of the easiest activities that anyone can undertake.

If you add in some steep inclines, you can burn up to 60% more calories and build up your leg muscles.

Every hour you spend walking could add 2 hours to your life.

Getting outside can have great mental health benefits.  There are even mindful walking retreats available  – check out to enjoy walking in Devon.

Ways to make it fun

  • walk as a family and add in a pub or tea garden half way round to keep the kids interested
  • walk with friends and have a good gossip
  • search for pokemon
  • take a picnic
  • walk listening to music or a podcast
  • join a walking group
  • take part in a walking challenge for charity
  • take notice of nature on your walk, maybe taking photos too.
  • walk around the shops, window shopping
  • walk round your local neighbourhood – you’ll be surprised at the number of interesting sights you discover such as hidden doorways, interesting gardens and unusual cars etc

Want to make it more challenging?

Try out Nordic Walking

This is a type of fitness walking with especially designed poles (like ski poles) that originated from Finland.

When walking you have to apply force to the poles with each stride.  This excerts a greater intensity over the whole body as you walk.  Muscles in the chest, arms, shoulders, abdominals, spinal and core muscles all get a good workout.

It will also increase your heart rate and increase your energy consumption by about 46% compared to normal walking.  Research has linked Nordic walking to decreases in the risk of heart disease, stoke, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, stress, anxiety and obesity.

Check out to find a group near you.

Power Walking

If you’re my age, you will probably remember this craze from the 90’s!

Power walking or speed walking is basically walking as fast as you can without running or jogging.  An exaggerated arm swing is usually added, which helps really get your heart rate up.

Power walking offers a good low to moderate exercise which is much more gentle on joints than running.

Like Nordic walking, power walking helps to strengthen and tone muscles and burn calories.


Or you can set yourself a challenge to complete the UK Coast Path, tick off some Monroes in Scotland or follow a pilgrimage route across Europe.  There are hundreds of ways to make walking fit in with your interests and lifestyle.


Right, I’m off now to meet some friends and have a walk and a picnic in the sun – hopefully!


As May is National Walking Month, my challenge to you over the  Bank Holiday or school holiday is to get out walking and tell me in the comments below what you’ve been up to.  If you’re already a walker, let me know what your favourite walk is.

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Sources: Healthy Magazine Feb 2017 issue, March/April 2017 issue,,,,