7 Delicious Healthier Ways to Eat Chocolate..but still get your fix

Most females like their bout of chocolate and chocolate seems to get a lot of attention. From dark to caramel, from chocolate lovers week-ends away to Charlie and the Chocolate factory and last week it was National Chocolate week!

But we all know that eating chocolate is not such a good idea if you’d like to stay in shape during pregnancy and flatten your mummy tummy post baby. The fat and sugar content from eating poor quality stuff, too much of it and too often can not only creep on quickly as extra weight (especially around the tummy) it can also lead to health risks such as diabetes. However as soon as you tell yourself that you can’t eat that piece of chocolate, it’s all you’ll think about until you realise you’ve delved right into eating the full bar! And as for the cravings you may get due to hormones, stress, emotions, being a mummy, it is very easy to reach for the chocolate as a comfort factor!

So with some creativity and research (which was fun!) I’ve put together a list of Seven Delicious Healthier ways to Eat Chocolate. So you’ll improve the quality of your chocolate ‘fix’ and  save yourself the health risks and calories.

1. Chocolate Covered Fruit
Dip some strawberries or other fruit into good quality chocolate (70% cocoa solids) and you can both satisfy a chocolate craving and add fruit to your diet at the same time. A thin coating, means not too much for your waistline, and the fruit will help satisfy your appetite to avoid overindulging. Save the calories Tip: Keep the coating thin and go for 3-4 pieces of fruit or strawberries

2. Cacao Nibs
Your healthiest choice ! Eat these whole. This is what true chocolate is made from –  cacao beans that have been roasted, hulled and prepped to be  processed into chocolate bars. Crush cacao nibs with a rolling pin and to make chocolate chips and add to natural yogurt as an extra to a snack. Or create a raw chocolate bar, blend together cacao nibs, agave nectar, carob powder, coconut oil, cacao butter and cashews or almonds (without the shell). Pour into a tray and freeze.

3. The Cheeky Chocolate Mousse from the Pure Package, London’s leading gourmet diet food delivery company. There’s three great things about this indulgent delight is that it not only tastes great, it has zero sugar and it is dead easy to make!
Full of dark chocolate is a rich source of antioxidants..
Check out their recipe here (taken from The Pure Package: The DIET for Food Lovers, Jennifer Irvine)

4. Chocolate Brazil Nuts
Save the waistline Tip: Just 3 of these is enough for a chocolate fix with the added benefits of the nutrients of brazil nuts containing essential healthy fats. Aim for dark chocolate coated ones.

5. Chocolate Goji berries
Goji berries are filled with powerful antioxidants that may help prevent cancer and other illnesses, including heart disease. Their antioxidants may also boost the immune system, lower cholesterol and may slow the aging process as well. I recommend this brand dipped in raw chocolate.
Save the waistline Tip:
Keep to a small handful covering half a palm as the raisins are still high in calories.

6. Chocolate and Beetroot Brownies
You won’t notice the Beetroot and neither will your kids or other half! These have around half the fat of regular brownies and the added nutritional benefit of the beetroot, which is rich in Betalian and antioxidants that help reduce risk of heart disease and cancer. Also high in folic acid (great for pregnancy), vitamins A, B-1, B-2 and C and minerals iron, calcium and potassium. Beetroot is also said to have a cleansing and detoxifying effect on the kidneys and gall bladder. This recipe still contains sugar so.. Save the Waistline Tip: Cut the brownies into small squares (1 inch by 1 inch) and eat just one.

7. Hot Chocolate Drink (Green & Black’s dark variety)
Great once a week treat – especially around this time of year. It is of better quality than your usual hot chocolate as you have the health benefits of the dark chocolate powder.  Try it with Almond Milk rather than regular milk for healthy fats.

Just remember two key things when trying these ideas:

Dark Chocolate is good source of flavinoids, which milk doesn’t have.  It also gives you a sense of fullness and rarely has so much sugar added to it.  You need at least 70% cocoa solids.


How much? Aim for 2 squares – enough to give you a ‘fix’.
Why is that?
For information! Green & Black’s Miniatures (15g) has 85 calories compared to a snack Cadbury milk chocolate bar which has 210 calories or bag of Malteasers which has 187 calories!






Pelvic Pain in Pregnancy


You may experience occasional aches in your pelvic region during pregnancy and this is common due to the hormonal changes taking place and the secretion of relaxin, whose job is to soften and widen the joints preparing your body to deliver the baby.

However, with some women pelvic pain can sometimes mean symphysis publis dysfunction (SPD) or Diastasis Symphysis Pubis in it’s more severe form, which is a pelvic joint pain. So it’s essential to monitor the pain and symptoms, which I’ll tell you about further on.

The pelvis is four separate bones joined at the front by the Symphysis pubis. There’s a normal gap of 4-5mm between the two pubic points. During pregnancy, the gap widens by another 2-3mm, as the hormone, relaxin is secreted to allow the pelvis in preparation to aid the baby to pass down the birth canal.

With some women excessive amounts of the hormone or where the pelvis is out of alignment can cause the gap to stretch too far, resulting in pain and discomfort. When this happens there may be pain or swelling over the joint. This can happen at any stage of pregnancy or after the birth – most commonly it is during the second trimester. In severe cases, some women can be incapacitated by the pain and need crutches during later stages of pregnancy.

Symptoms for SPD include:

  • Pain in your pubic area and groin.
  • Pain in the inside and down the thighs.
  • Lower back and hip pain (as the whole pelvis is under strain).
  • Pain when you walk, step, go up and down stairs or get out of bed.
  • A clicking sound that you can hear.
  • A feeling that your bones are grinding together.
  • Difficulty and pain when you try and open your legs.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s vital to get this checked with your doctor or midwife. If SPD is confirmed you’ll be referred to an obstetric physiotherapist, who can prescribe exercises for you.
Prior to the birth ensure you tell your midwife so they can help find a position that is comfortable to you.

Exercise considerations:

  • Avoid activities which take the legs apart and also bring them together as these can cause pain. Squatting, Lunging, stepping, walking, yoga, breast stroke can produce pain.
  • Avoid activities on one leg.

The good news is there are exercises you can do to remain strong and fit. I have trained pregnant clients with SPD and by working closely with the client and their physiotherapist the condition has not got worse.

Exercises you can do:

  • Squat with feet and legs together – like a ski squat would avoid the legs being apart.
  • Core exercises (avoid lying on your back after the thirteen to fourteen weeks), side planks and knee planks
  • Pelvic tilts – addressing posture
  • Standing wall press-ups (legs together)
  • Lateral Raises and upright rows with resistance bands – sat on a chair or fitness ball with the feet together (second trimester)
  • Pelvic Floor exercises

!Stop any of these exercises immediately if they do cause you pain and get your condition and pain checked out again!

Recipe of the week, Energising Calamari Stew

Energising Calamari stew

This recipe from Steph, our nutritionist, is really easy to make. The stew will simmer for 30 minutes, just enough time to feed your little one!

  • Clean and prepare approx 2 large handfuls of calamari per person. Quick Tip: Use Frozen – ensure you defrost properly beforehand.
  • Put ½ cup per person of brown rice on to cook, as per pack instructions
  • Heat 1dsp coconut oil in a pot over a low-medium heat – add 1 chopped onion and cook until soft
  • Add 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped and cook for 1-2 mins, but not until brown
  • Add the calamari and sauté gently for a couple of minutes
  • Add ½ glass dry white wine, 1 tin of chopped tomatoes/ ½ jar passata and 1 handful of chopped parsley. Mix well
  • Cook over a low heat, lid on for approx ½ hour until the calamari is done and sauce is tasty.
  • When 10mins from being done, steam a large handful of broccoli per person for approx 8 mins, until just done
  • Season with salt, pepper and Tabasco sauce
  • Serve with the steamed broccoli and brown rice
Calamari has a very low level of saturated fat and contains vitamin B1, iron, zinc and magnesium. All these vitamins and nutrients provide energy and vitamin B1 helps with fertility. Zinc is great for healthy eyes,skin, nails and hair and also helps boost your sex life!


How to relieve Sciatica in pregnancy

Sciatica is painful but can be prevented through hamstring stretches and doing pelvic
tilts.  If however the hamstring stretch causes further pain, stop immediately.
A physiotherapist, experienced with pregnant clients will help you release any other
tight muscles that may be causing imbalances leading to the Sciatica.

Hamstring Stretch

  • Sit on a block, towel or exercise mat and stretch one leg out in front of
    you with your knee straight and bend the other leg slightly to the side
    ensuring you feel comfortable.
  • Place your hands behind your bottom to help shift your weight onto your seated bones and lift and lengthen your spine.
  • You should feel a stretch down the back of the leg which is stretched out from the bottom to the back of the knee.
  • Hold for 8-10 seconds continuing to breath.
  • Then point the toe and release and circle the ankle one direction 3-5 times then in the other direction 3-5 times.
  • Repeat this whole stretch and ankle rotation on the other leg.

Pelvic tilts

  • Do these on all fours starting hands under shoulders and knees under hips.
  • Keep your lower back flat and shoulders away from ears.
  • Breathe in and as you breathe out, tilt your hips and pelvis as if rounding off
    your lower back and drawing your pubic bone up towards your navel.
    Relax breath in and return to neutral.
  • Repeat 5-8 times.

Jogging when Pregnant..Can I do the Race for Life?

If you’ve run or jogged regulary before pregnancy then you certainly can jog the Race of Life! As with any sporting ‘event’ though, whether pregnant or not, you must prepare yourself in the weeks and months before. If you are not used to running then it wouldn’t be advisable to start, just modify it for a fast paced walk.

Here are a few tips for your training:

  1. If you are pregnant, it’s advisable to wait until twelve week scan – just to make sure everything is Ok with the baby and you. Check with your Doctor you are ok to exercise and there are no complications.
  2. If you’re an experienced or regular runner/jogger, modify your training for the race for life and our pregnant body! Firstly build up gradually – starting with one mile jogging and walking. Then each week add another 10% to the distance so by the time you come to the Race you have jogged the 5km distance (assuming that is the Race for Life distance). In the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, introduce a walk-jog routine. For example jog for 2 minutes then follow with a walk for 2 minutes. Repeat this for the duration of the 3 miles .
  3. The Walk/Jog intervals will reduce the stress on certain areas of your pregnant body, such as the hips, knees and ankles. These are susceptible as your weight increases and the joints begin to soften.
  4. Jogging in water is also a good alternative and with the increased resistance of the water you may find you legs get stronger than before you were pregnant!
  5. Practice good breathing technique from the abdominal muscles when you are jogging and also do perform your pelvic floor exercises.
  6. Wear well-fitting trainers that are designed for jogging and running. This will also reduce any risk for injury. Asics, New Balance and Nike are all good brands. Purchase from a running store and get your feet fitted for the trainers.
  7. Wear a good sports bra to support the breasts, there are some very reputable ones available at sweaty betty.
  8. If you’ve never run before you were pregnant, don;t start sprinting around the block! a brisk walking routine would be safe.
  9. Stay well hydrated throughout your training and during the race and make sure you have a light nutritious snack two hours prior to the jogging and the race.

Good luck with the race for life – you will be a great example to pregnant women, just be safe!

Top nutrition secret every Personal Trainer wants you to know

If you are serious about losing baby weight the first thing to do is address your nutrition. This can be a struggle when you have a new baby in tow and are up most nights. Combined with the fact you may be breast-feeding and have piles of baby washing you also have a distinct lack of time on your hands to start even thinking about preparing nutritious food.

So being a new mum myself and running a business, my top tip is to get help with the cooking. You simply cannot do it all, so forget being Supermum! But then I discovered something better than my husband and his grilled lamb chops.  For the cost of a daily cleaner or a taxi into town you can get healthy, nutritious meals delivered to your door by the Pure package. Or for the cost of a private room in hospital to have your baby, you can invest in all your healthy meals prepared by chefs and delivered to your door for 3 months.

The pure package is exactly was it says on the tin. Gourmet diet food delivery to your door. When you sign up a nutritionist goes through some quick questions about your situation, whether you exercise and works out your daily calories needs based on your lifestyle. You can choose a 10, 30, 60 or 90 day package and you can choose whether you would like a full daily menu or just breakfast or dinner and when you would like your delivery to start.

I opened my front door at breakfast time of the day my meals were due to be delivered and an elegant black cool box was waiting to be opened. I felt like the queen as I studied the package which included by menu for that day – Breakfast was Fresh grapes, Natural Yogurt and Muesli. Followed by a mid-morning snack of Fresh fig’s and Goat’s cheese with pomegranate. Lunch was a very tasty Oriental Beef Noodles and Dinner an Asian Pesto Chicken. The menu included all heating instructions so all I had to do was to pop the hot meals into the oven or microwave. The nutritional principles behind the pure package are no wheat, gluten or sugar or trans fats so great for beating the bloat. There is no low fat, sugar free or pre-packaged foods. The food is all prepared on their premises in New Covent Garden Market by expert chefs and meals devised, researched and tested by Nutritionists and Jennifer Irvine, the founder.

What I was most surprised about was the portion sizes. As I am breastfeeding I seem hungry most of the time but with the pure package I felt satisfied and all cravings for sugary things were long gone (key to weight loss!).

Favoured by celebrities and celebrity trainers and combined with a specific post natal home personal trainer and exercise plan you simply cannot fail to feel amazing, lose weight, and most importantly eat deliciously, yet nutritionally so that both you and your baby can benefit from the essence of healthy nutrition. I only wish I could have pure package delivered to my door every day for the next year but my husband would feel left out.

Easy to make healthy Lunch or Dinner Option: Chicken with warm salad

Chicken with warm salad
(courtesy of our lovely Mummy Nutritional Therapist, Stephanie Ridley www.nourishtoflourish.com).
Recipe taken from the Post Baby Belly Blitz E-book. 

This is  a really easy lunch option and packed with protein, the key to improving lean muscle tone.  One tip is to grill the chicken breasts the night before and keep in the fridge. Then just steam the following day for 1-2 minutes to moisten.

  1. Grill an organic chicken breast or plate-up some leftover roast chicken
  2. Prepare (wash/chop) a handful of watercress per person and top with1 handful of any of the following: avocado or sundried tomatoes, cucumber, celery, grated carrot/courgette, spring onion, roasted butternut squash
  3. Add a handful of steamed green veggies – green beans, peas, asparagus, broccoli and 1tbsp lentils or beans (e.g. kidney beans or mixed beans)
  4. Top with finely chopped flat-leaf parsley and any other fresh herbs you like (e.g. coriander)
  5. Serve with 1-2tsp of virgin olive oil dressing and some lemon juice.

Stretch to improve shoulder and upper back ache

The Overhead reach stretch is great if you are spending some periods of time feeding and you are feeling and looking like the hunchback of Notre Dame with continual or occasional shoulder and neck pain.

The move will also in turn improve your posture by drawing back your shoulders and upper back and releasing the tightness that develops in those muscles. Hold the position for more than 10 secs in order to improve the endurance of the muscles involved, continuing to breathe throughout.

The Overhead Reach Stretch

Start Position

  • Stand with your head, upper back and buttocks in contact with a wall and your feet 10cm from the skirting.

  • Place your hand behind the small of your back; you should just be able to get your fingers between your back and the wall.

  • Put your arms against the wall with your elbows at 90° and in line with your shoulders.



  • Brace your abdominals (draw your naval inwards) and slide your arms up as far as you can while keeping your hands and elbows in contact with the wall.

  • Hold this position for 10 seconds and then lower slowly.

  • Try to reach a little further each time until your arms are almost overhead. Repeat 12 times.



Anti-ageing food secret for mums

Contrary to what the fat phobics believe, the right kind of fat is essential to not only keep skin looking young but also to help prevent the dreaded belly fat.
Actually eating too much sugar and refined carbohydrate is more likely to put on the extra pounds and make your skin look tired and spotty. The right kind of fat can help flatten your stomach and seriously improve your health!

So which foods contain the fats you should be eating?
Since looking closely at many of my client’s food diaries and researching more into nutrition, I now take two dessertspoons of Flaxseed daily and stir fry vegetables with a tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle Brazil nut oil on salads. Just two to three tablespoons of Olive Oil a day can protect you against Heart Disease, improve your skin, boost your mood, improve your immune system, and boosts brain function (ah – mummy brain!)

Flaxseed, olive oil and nut oil fall under the umbrella term ‘essential fatty acids’ with the key word being ‘essential’. Your body needs them – this kind of fat is actually your friend! These fats help you absorb Vitamins A, D and E, vital for your nervous system, lower cholesterol levels and also help prevent stubborn abdominal fat!

There are two kinds of the Essential Fats to include in your diet:

These are typically liquid at room temperature but start to turn solid when chilled.

Mono-unsaturated: You’ll find them in:
Olive Oil
Canola Oil
Peanut Butter
Nut oil Butter (check out your Health food shop, or Nature Intended)
Sesame Seeds

These contain omega 6 and omega 3’s that your body needs but doesn’t produce itself so you have to get these essential fats from foods containing them.
Omega-6 and omega-3 play a crucial role in brain function, memory and in the normal growth and development of your body. They are also essential to the healthy development of your baby’s brain!
Vegetable oils, nuts and seeds are good sources of omega 6 fatty acids. Fish is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. However – government research shows that we are not eating enough omega 3 fish oils obtained from eating oily fish required for anti-ageing and great health. This is because many of us can’t stomach oily fish (or the smell!) or are concerned about the levels of toxins, PCB’s and other pollutants in fresh fish. Plus during pregnancy some fish are to be avoided due to the risk of high mercury levels. If you are not pregnant you can eat these fish but it’s worth enquiring about where they have come from. Also go for a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury such as canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, sea bass.
A supplement of Omega 3 is key, especially if you do not like oily fish. Healthspan has a good Omega 3 supplement.

No time to exercise? Top tips to get you in shape for the very busy mum

Today’s mum is a superhero! Being a mum, juggling chores, taking care of your other half, errands, admin and work can play havoc on any exercise programme and make finding time to get fit very tricky. So it gets left right at the bottom of the ‘to do’ list.

Yet it can be done! Vicky Warr gives her top tips to help  you save time and into shape  easily. Without a gym or a diet, stacks of time and without even realizing it.

The school or nursery run…as your morning workout.
Walking briskly to and from nursery or school instead of driving means you get a workout, fresh air and what some call ‘moving meditation’. The breathing and repetitive movement involved with walking or jogging promotes feelings of calm and tranquility and reduces stress. Being outdoors releases endorphins, natural hormones which promote a sense of feeling good. Plus by increasing your pace, you’ll burn more calories in less time.

Short bursts of strength exercise
You can do this in just 15 minutes a day, three times a week, using just your bodyweight in the comfort of your own home. Recent studies have shown that strength training boosts your metabolism by 10% and increases post exercise fat burning by 100%.

Push-ups, squats, lunges, step-ups (using your stairs), are all ‘multi-muscle’ exercises meaning you use more than one muscle group with one exercise. Using more muscles means toning up more muscles!

Whilst walking or jogging will burn calories and get you fit – exercises using your whole body and lots of different muscles gets you amazing results.

Look for little windows of opportunity.
When the baby naps, use that ten, twenty or thirty minute chance to do some quick exercises at home.
Little and often is actually better than inconsistent exercise of one hour or longer. This keeps your metabolism burning. Latest research shows quick interval training is far superior to slow, traditional cardio-vascular exercise. It results in burning more stomach fat and as your workouts are shorter, it’s over quicker!

Buddy up..
If you and your partner exercise, it sends out a great signal and example to your children. Here’s how both you and your other half can fit it in…

  • Try getting up early (before the baby wakes) for a run or swim or to do your exercise
  • Be active with your baby or child, running with a baby jogger is a great way of getting back into running. Make sure your only start running with them when they have neck control, usually after 6 months. They’re a bit more resilient by this age and may be eating solid foods.
  • Exercise with the baby – try baby presses, baby lunges and baby squats.

Organise ‘Fitness Friday’
Grab a willing friend who also has a little one. Friday could be your day when a friend comes over with their children or baby and you take it in turns to look after the children while the other one does some exercises for thirty minutes, then you swap.

Seek out a Mother and Baby fitness class
If you’ve just had a baby, you often want to get back into shape and get out of the door to meet other mums! There are some mums post natal fitness classes where you can take the baby, check out what’s going on in your local area. These classes are social, fun and motivating – they help lift the ‘baby blues’ and post natal depression and get you fit.

Chores to music
When you have to do the washing, cleaning and tidying up, put the music on, set the timer for fifteen minutes and get the whole family involved. Make it an activity – go up and down the stairs, dance around as you put toys away and as you have the timer on you’ll have to move quickly to get it done!

Do something you love..
Ask someone to look after your child and take some time out to do an activity you love. This is essential for any mum – dance, play a sport (netball is becoming increasingly popular activity), go hiking or take a swim. That way you won’t see exercise as a chore or punishing!

And finally here is one very good reason why you should try to make exercise non-negiotable!

Vicky Warr is founder of the Beez Kneez (www.beez-kneez.co.uk) specialising in pregnancy and post natal, mum and baby group fitness classes. Founder of Member of Wetrainmoms.com and Senior level YMCA-accredited personal fitness trainer.

Vicky consults for BBC Radio, Mothercare and Teapigs. She writes for  many national publications including the Gurgle Magazine, Daily Mail, Pregnancy and birth and bounty.com. She is also a mum to Luca and Poppy.

For details of prenatal and postnatal group fitness classes, visit: www.beez-kneez.co.uk