There I said it. My kids hate broccoli, I can’t even mention it, ditto for most things green as well as tomatoes, strawberries and grapes to name a few. Where I used to despair I now just accept that we are all different and it’s finding out what they will eat is far more important.

When I was a ‘younger’ mother I was bamboozled by parenting articles and books. If that wasn’t bad enough now with social media you have “uber Mom” bloggers suggesting rainbow lunch boxes (vegetables and fruit with lots of colours). While they looked gorgeous unfortunately mine came back untouched. Then the other side of the media is telling me that our kids are obese and type 2 diabetes becoming a near epidemic. I kind of felt I was dammed as a parent either way.

We are now aware that the food children eat can make a big difference on their energy, concentration and sometimes behaviour. But mealtimes for a child and parent can be stressful. Especially if a child is what is called ‘a fussy eater’. So what to do?

Well from experience of two very different children there are different approaches to look at different stages of their lives, just as there is with adults.

For the smallies, definitely blending in sneaky veg to say sauces really helps. It just does. As does blending up different fruits, including frozen berries and yogurt, and making them into ice pops. Introducing different foods early so they get used to different textures and tastes is also great. I’m not sure about rewarding for eating your veg or dinner as it makes it seem from an early stage like a it’s not a good thing yet the treat is?

Noticing how your child reacts to food can be insightful. Do they take their time, do they woolf it down, is smell and touch important to them? A great fun game to play is mindful eating, if and when you have some time over a meal. You can say close your eyes and listen to the food ;does it make a sound, smell the food, take a small bit and really chew it and feel and taste what it’s like. I realized one of my children hates strawberries or anything squishy as he just doesn’t like the texture and feel. Children are so much better than adults at using their senses and really get it. Not that you can do this all the time but it can let them notice more about what they are eating.

For older children who may decide to show their own ‘independence’ or really just not like a particular food agreeing on what they will eat can be helpful. So instead of saying ‘Oh my god why don’t you eat your vegetables?’ How about putting it positively? So what is it you do like? Name 5 fruit and veg you will eat, 3, 2, 1 if really stuck! Then you can agree to build on this, taste something and only then can you say you don’t like it. How you cook something can also make a difference some kids really do like veg that is not cooked like peppers and carrots as they can be sweet while not like them cooked. I personally don’t agree with cooking different meals, we are all way too busy to be short order cooks, so if something is in the meal you don’t like just don’t eat that part.

Finally, taking stress out of eating is very important if you are stressed and uptight around a child eating they will pick up on it. When work with clients it’s amazing how many comment on their eating habits as a child that has followed them through to adulthood. Food is there to be enjoyed and should be seen as a pleasurable experience so if they don’t eat broccoli don’t panic, I think they will be okay!


I met someone recently and they said ‘what is it that you do? What is health and nutrition coaching?’ He then proceeded to talk about the pseudo science in nutrition, how “food doesn’t cure cancer etc.” While a tad taken aback, I realized he had a point. There is a lot of confusion around the whole area of nutrition.

While it’s great that people are more aware of health, fitness and what they eat, there is still the perception of being extreme. From ‘clean eating’, the rise in veganism, Instagramming every meal, fridge cleansing (this is a new one), Ironman competitions, etc. sometimes it feels like you have to be “in or out”.

When I started studying, I remember coming home after my first day of college and saying “I can’t do this, I can’t do extreme’” People were talking about courgetti (courgette made into spaghetti), spiralizers, and cleansing diets. I was totally overwhelmed and intimidated. It felt elitist and part of a club.  I then got a present of Dale Pinnock’s recipe books and I saw lovely, easy to make wholesome food that was really tasty. It wasn’t rocket science; it wasn’t pseudo science; it was just simple food that was good for you and made sense. I knew exactly why I was doing the course – I am passionate about food and about people’s wellbeing; not extremes, but balance.

Health and Nutrition coaching is based on the same concept of any coaching, be it fitness, life or work: Working with a person on a one to one basis to help put them back in control. In the case of Health and Nutrition, the focus is to review their wellbeing at this stage in their life. Looking at their work/life balance; how, where and what they eat; exercise, and any stressors. Sometimes we when we are deep in the forest we cannot see the woods for the trees. But when we look up and step back we can see how simple changes can complement our lives and help us to achieve optimum health and balance.

I don’t believe that everyone should cut out dairy and wheat, or that all carbs are evil and juicing is the only way to get optimum vitamins. I believe that some people have a genuine intolerance to some foods and when they cut them out they feel better. Some people bloat with pasta and bread, while others don’t. Juicing is a great and quick way to get some nutrients but our teeth are there for a reason. We should chew our food to prepare for digestion and not drink down our ‘food’.

I believe in a balanced approach to the food we eat. If you have to think about anything too much, then it becomes an obsession and any obsession, especially regarding food, is not healthy. Each of us is unique and therefore what works for one does not for the other. Many of us are thankfully in a position to buy and choose the food we eat. But a lot are not so fortunate so we should always be mindful and be thankful. Healthy and nutritious food should not be elitist, but an essential and accessible option for everyone. 

Feel free to PM me for more information or to arrange a consultation.


For me, barm or tea brack is one of those Irish Halloween traditions. It brings back memories of me searching every slice of brack until I found the ring or my Dad teasing one of his 5 daughters who would find it and finally get married (wishful thinking on his part!).

I bought a brack recently when I saw it in the supermarket and thought I fancy a slice of brack with butter and a cup of tea. But I was so disappointed as it was so dry and tasteless. So I went back through my old recipes and found my Mam Vera’s tea brack recipe. I made it with my own boys and it was so easy to make, moist and full of flavour. I also made a few tweaks. I used spelt flour as for me I find it actually better for baking and also I am not great with wheat. I also reduced the sugar as the raisins naturally have sugar. You can also leave out the egg and use milled flaxseed as an egg alternative. The one thing to remember is to soak the raisins overnight or even for a few hours in the tea. I forgot which was exactly what my Mam would do so I just added another 2oz of flour as she would have done, sure it was grand. Now all you have to do is relax with a cup of tea and find that ring!! Happy Halloween.

Vera’s Tea Brack

  • 8oz Spelt flour or plain white or wholemeal flour
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 300gm raisins or mixed fruit
  • 300ml cold tea
  • 2/3oz muscovado sugar or xylitol
  • 1 egg or 1 tablespoon milled flaxseed mixed with 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice

Soak the raisins/ mixed fruit in the cold tea in a bowl overnight or for a couple of hours. Sieve the flour and the baking powder add the sugar, mixed spice and add the egg or milled flaxseed/ water. Mix together and add to a loaf tin (lined with parchment paper). Cook at 170 for 1 hour. Turn out the oven and leave to cool. Wrap in parchment paper and leave it to settle overnight.


This is to me comfort food at its best. Love it and if out and it’s on the menu I’d often order it. But my only issue is it can be all potato and a little fish which kind of drives me crazy.  Also, I am one of those rare Irish people who are n’t mad on potatoes sshhhh…don’t tell anyone!

So below is a really simple fish pie but I have used cauliflower to top it instead of potato but also given option to use a mix of both or just potato. Cauliflower has a lower carb value and a good alternative for those who do struggle with the starch of a mashed potato. This dish can be prepared in advance and cooked later or cooked and then frozen.

Recipe serves 4/5

  • 600gm mixed fish (including smoked fish and salmon/ prawns also work great)
  • 1 cauliflower (or 2/3 large Maris Piper potatoes and 1/2 cauliflower)
  • 1 onion
  • 2/3 bay leaves
  • black pepper
  • pink Himalayan or sea salt
  • 1 lemon
  • bunch parsley
  • ½ bag spinach
  • cheddar cheese grated or mozzarella (optional)

Roux Sauce:

  • 1 tsp/knob real butter
  • 1 tsp (dijon mustard optional)
  • 2/3  tsp flour
  • 200/250 ml milk

Place the fish in a shallow dish, squeeze some lemon over the fish and season with salt and pepper. Roughly chop the onion and scatter over the fish and add the bay leaves. Cover with milk and then parchment paper and then tin foil and bake in the over at 170 for 15 minutes.

Chop the cauliflower and/or potatoes if using. If topping with cauliflower only steam it for 10/15 minutes until soft and can break up easily. If using potatoes or a mix of book cook the potatoes until. Take the fish out of the oven and drain off the milk, keep aside to add to roux sauce. You can keep or discard the onions from the fish at this stage.

For the roux, melt the knob of butter and whisk in your flour (and mustard if using) until they blend in and then slowly add reserved milk and keep whisking until the sauce thickens. You may need to add more milk if sauce too thick. Season with ground black pepper and salt.

Wilt the spinach gently in olive or butter. Break up the cauliflower and gently mash with a fork. Mash the potatoes. If you using half and half add the cauliflower to the mashed potato. Scatter the spinach over the fish and pour over the roux sauce. Top with cauliflower/ potato mash. You can top with cheddar or mozzarella cheese.

Place back in the oven and cook for 20/25 mins at 170 until golden brown on top.

Serve with rest of spinach, peas and carrots.