Skip to content

‘New Year, New You 2015’, a one day workshop

January 15, 2015

Please join Lee Figures, yoga & holistic therapist and myself for a day of Yoga, Naturopathy and Nutrition, to create the year and life you desire.

Sat the 31st January 2015,  Shipston on Stour, Warwickshire, UK

New Year NEw You flyer

Flyer for workshop 31st Jan 2015

Quinoa and Black Bean Burgers with Tahini Sauce

January 12, 2015

Quinoa & Black Bean Veggie Burgers with Tahini Sauce

Makes 4 -5 full sized patties or a dozen plus minis

1/2 cup quinoa*

1 cup water

1 teaspoon garlic powder or fresh garlic finely minced

1 teaspoon dried thyme-or a sprig of fresh

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper or dried chipotle, soaked and finely chopped, optional

1/3 -1/2 can about 5-7 oz black beans canned* (drained and rinsed) or bulk black beans* soaked and cooked

1/2 cup red or green pepper, finely diced (about 1/2 pepper)

1/2 cup shallot, finely diced (about 1 medium) or a small red onion

½ lemon, juiced, plus 1 tsp zest

1 TBS gluten free flour* (or any flour) plus some extra to shape patties

1 small egg, beaten (or use equivalent egg replacer* or soaked flax seeds as alternative)

1TBS soaked chia seeds*-optional

1-2 TBS fresh herbs, chopped. I used parsley, cilantro and chives. Dill or additional thyme can also be used.

2 TBS toasted pumpkin seeds*

½ salt

¼ tsp pepper

Tamari* or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos*

Coconut oil* or olive oil* for shallow frying

Rinse quinoa and place in a medium pot heating it before adding water until quinoa is dry then add water and half the thyme. Bring water, quinoa and thyme to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes until water is absorbed-do not stir. Once done, uncover, stir and let cool.

While quinoa is cooking sauté shallot and pepper until soft. Set aside.

In a bowl, coarsely mash black beans then add shallot, pepper, lemon juice, zest, chipotle, chia seeds and smoked paprika.

Once quinoa is cooled, mix quinoa into the beans along with remaining thyme, juice, herbs and pumpkin seeds, add flour and egg and mix well. Add salt, pepper and Bragg’s, mix through and add more seasoning if needed.

Make the burgers (full or mini sized) by rolling some of the mixture into lightly floured palms then flattening it a little.  Alternatively, keep as a ball to make meatballs. If mixture sticks dust a little more flour in your hands. They can be cooked immediately or refrigerated before cooking. The texture once cooked is very burger like!

In a non-stick frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil to medium high heat. Cook patties about 3 minutes or until lightly browned on each side at which point you can continue cooking a little longer on each side or finish in the oven, baking on a parchment covered cookie sheet at 350F for 10 minutes.  Serve with tahini sauce (recipe below), as you would a burger or as meatballs in a tomato sauce with zucchini spaghetti (made with a spiralizer).

Tahini Sauce

Makes ½ cup plus

 ½ cup tahini*

1-2 TBS lemon juice or orange juice

½-1 tsp freshly minced garlic

1 tsp freshly grated ginger root

Water-amount varies

Braggs Liquid Aminos or tamari to taste

Maple syrup* to taste, optional

In a bowl, mix tahini with lemon, garlic and ginger. It will remain thick until water is added. Add water gradually starting with 1-2 tablespoons, stirring until it smoothes and becomes the consistency of heavy cream. Add Bragg’s and maple syrup a ½ tsp at a time to desired taste.


Sugar; a timely topic

February 21, 2014

sugar on spoon

Sugar is damaging our health. It’s all over the news and difficult to ignore; this latest research coming from many reputable sources.  No surprise here, it’s just taken a while for those who can make a difference to take a new stand. Now that Pandora’s Box has been opened there is no going back. The big question is what do we do with this information, where to start and even more importantly, once we begin to make changes, how do we continue?

To begin it helps to recognise what all of this really means. After all, don’t we need sugar for energy? Yes and no. We do fuel our brains and muscles with glucose first, the sugar that results when food is broken down. Of course it is much more complex than this, but for the purpose of this article it is the type of foods that we overconsume and how quickly they break down that has created the sugar related health problems.

Since the 1970’s fats have been vilified as the cause of obesity and heart disease.  Sugars of all kinds, sugary processed foods, excess starchy carbohydrates and far too much fruit have been consumed in their place and now have finally been recognised for contributing to these conditions as well as also diabetes, inflammatory conditions, hormonal imbalnces, skin problems and many more. We just eat too much sugar , processed foods and starches.

Even as the experts attempt to confirm the dangers of sugar there are those who are trying to discredit and undermine it. The reasons why? There are several; sugar is addictive, it is a low cost additive, it makes processed foods taste better, it gives an immediate burst of energy, and finally-humans are naturally, historically and genetically drawn to consume of sweet foods.

The reasons sugars harms is due to different factors; nutrient depletion, overwhelming the pancreas and immune systems,feeding unfriendly bacteria in the gut to name a few.  Sugars and processed  carbohydrates  have in different degrees been stripped of their own nutrients; vitamins, minerals and fibre and in turn draw on ours when we consume them-they require B vitamins, magnesium, vitamin C  in order to utilise them.

Overloading with sugar, starch and even fruit at one meal (we all have different tipping points) causes the blood sugar levels to rise too high which in turn signals the pancreas to release increasing amounts of insulin, a hormone that lowers blood sugar. This happens automatically and is the body’s self preservation means to maintaining homeostasis, otherwise high sugar levels can damage the eyes and kidneys. Over time, constant sugary excesses require more and more insulin be released from the pancreas as we become resistant to our own insulin. In other words it becomes less effective so it needs to flood the system in order to be utilised.

Stress hormones kick in when insulin levels rise over time, putting the body into a distressed situation. Long term, unrelenting stress hormones are depleting, inflammatory and destructive to immunity, digestion, reproduction, bones, the nervous system and so much more.

Looking at all the foods that we have been discouraged from eating since the 1970’s: eggs, butter, cheese, nuts, meats, even whole milk-‘real foods’ that we can now let go of  the guilt about eating. At last the real culprit has been identified and the promise of a consensus on how to go forward to restore our health and prevent chronic disease gets nearer.

Sugar has many names: sucrose, dextrose, galactose, glucose, maltose, fructose, lactose

Below are lists of the sugars and foods that are best avoided and others that need to be significantly reduced:


  • caster sugar, demerara sugar, icing sugar, beet sugar
  •  golden syrup, corn syrup, high fructose corn sweetener, treacle
  • all artificial sweeteners
  • white flour products (bread, cakes, biscuits, croissants, pies crackers, cereals)
  • processed soups, sauces, gravies
  • sugary fizzy drinks
  • fruit yogurts

Significantly reduce:

  • fruit juices
  • raw sugar, barley malt, honey, rice syrup, date syrup, fruit purees, agave, coconut sugar, xylitol, agave, maple syrup
  •  alcohol
  • fruit-keep to 2 pieces a day


New Year New You 2013 Summer Workshop

April 11, 2013

woman jumping

New Year, New You 2013, Summer Workshop

Reversing the signs of Aging

Friday, 3rd May 2013    cost £75 

The third in our series of workshops to nurture your health and wellness throughout the seasons. Please join myself and my colleague Carmela Rosbottom, Holistic Therapist and skin care expert on this workshop, the last in our series and in the UK before I head back to the US for 6 months (don’t worry will be back with lots of new ideas for our early December workshop).

The day is all about rejuvenating our bodies – from skin to energy to attitudes.

  • we’ll re-visit how to balance blood sugar levels
  •  the top foods and Naturopathic techniques for the skin
  • what drains energy and how to have more
  • why middle aged spread is not a fact of life
  • introduction to ‘Mindful Eating’
  • conscious skincare
  • purpose and actions of your skincare products and routine

As always there will be snacks, beverages and a lunch prepared with the freshest, tastiest and most beautiful foods of the season and recipes chosen to enhance this special day.

Although this workshop is part of a series, it has also been designed to work as a stand alone event and so there is no need to have attended previous workshops.

from 10am to 3.30pm
at The Elysium Room
12 Riverside, Winchcombe, Glos, GL54 5JP

Contact Sharyn at or on 01865 589 333 to book



Nettles; tenacious on our behalf

April 11, 2013

nettlesThe promise of warm weather from this weekend will give a boost to the crops as Mother Nature in her wisdom will turn the landscape from brown to green, the colour of the season. All seasons have corresponding organs in many traditions; spring represents the liver and gall bladder. The foods that support these organs grow at this time of year, so all edible wild green plants and cultivated green leafy vegetables are nourishment for them, helping the liver do what it does best-detoxify.

We can support this hard working organ in many ways, here’s one. As soon as nettles are a foot high, find a clean patch and start picking (the top 4 leaves with gloves!). They can be rinsed and made into a tea, soup, stir fry, risotto or mixed with other greens for Spanokopita, roulade or quiche. The sting disappears as soon as they are cooked. I could wax lyrical about the benefits! To name a few: they contain vitamins and minerals: Vitamin C, iron, magnesium, potassium, are a spring tonic, help when recovering from an illness, and have many other benefits. Believe it or not there is a ‘Be Nice to Nettles Week’ in May, from their website here are some other uses for these all around heroes.

Here is a tasty way to use nettles.

spinach roulade

Spinach and Nettle Roulade

Serves 4


3 to 4 eggs, separated

1 clove of garlic

1  onion chopped

a  generous handful of spinach, Swiss chard or watercress-chopped

a gloved handful of nettle tops from a chemical free patch, washed and chopped

1 tablespoon gluten free  flour

80 grams of cheddar or other cheese, grated.


1 tub of cream cheese – leave at room temperature for a half hour to soften

2-3 TBS fresh herbs such as parsley, chives, coriander, dill-chopped

4-6 semi dried tomatoes -chopped

Preheat oven to 180C fan oven or 190 C normal oven.

For the Roulade

  • Line a Swiss roll pan or baking sheet pan with baking parchment. Brush well with olive oil
  •  Saute the chopped onion for about 2 minutes just until  translucent
  • Add the chopped spinach, nettles and garlic, season with salt and pepper
  • In a large bowl beat the egg whites until stiff. In another bowl mix the egg yolks, cheese, 1 TBS flour and the sauteed vegetables
  • Gently fold the egg whites into the vegetable/egg yolk/cheese mixture
  • Spread onto the parchment covered pan and bake for 12-15 minutes or until firm and golden. Roll up and let sit for a minute
  •  Loosen parchment paper while still warm
  • Spread with filling, roll up and chill in the fridge
  • Serve slices with the salad leaves and vinaigrette

For the filling

  • Mix chopped herbs into cream cheese
  • Add chopped semi dried tomatoes
  • Spread mixture over roulade, roll up and place on a serving platter and refrigerate if not serving within a half hour
  • When ready to serve slice some of roulade about 3/4-1 inch thick and place overlapping slice back on platter for everyone to help themselves

‘Mindful Eating’ a one day workshop

April 10, 2013

Mindful Eating; Applying Attentiveness to Eating, Being and Life

Join us on this introduction to mindful eating. We’ll be experiencing and practising what it is like to appreciate eating and living in the here and now with Sharyn and Motivational Hypnotherapist Nicola Menage

Saturday 27th April 2013

West Oxfordshire 9.45-3pm 

£65.00 per person

including food & drink


Sharyn will introduce

  • Mindful eating
  • Hands on food & tasting experience
  • How to get in touch with the way food makes us feel physically & emotionally
  • A mindfully prepared lunch and eating in community


Nicola will guide us through

  • The essentials of mindfulness to establish stillness & harmony
  • A meditation on blessing the food we eat
  • Creative visualisation to aid digestion & curb binging
  • How we view food as a fuel source or a convenience?

Share with us this day of discovery, a seasonal organic lunch & beverages, nature, company and a new awareness in this delightful and tranquil setting.

Call to book now & reserve your place:

Nicola Ménage: 0845 8339733 |

Sharyn Singer: 01865 589333 |

Eating community – style and other antidotes to food waste

February 3, 2013

Recently the news was about food waste and looked at the huge amount of food thrown away both commercially and at home. It seems to reflect half of our food and highlights people’s comprehension (or lack of) regarding the sell-by, use-by concepts.

By taking another view- addressing quantities that go onto our plates offers the opportunity to change a practice that will make a difference in how much we waste. Inspired by the book ‘The Last Chinese Chef”, I’ve changed the way food is served at home on a daily basis and when entertaining. The author Nicole Mones beautifully describes the tradition of eating as a community. Platters of food are placed on the table and everyone helps themselves; an activity of social grace and elegance, so practical yet so much more. Serving in this style permits everyone to help themselves and portion according to their appetites and tastes. The cook is rewarded with clean plates and leftovers for another day (rather than scrapings for the trash).  New ways of relating and eating will evolve as people sit together and share food.

Some further suggestions to challenge food waste:

  • Detox your store cupboard, check dates on dry and tinned goods and give them away if you don’t think you’ll use them before they’ll expire. Exchange supplies with friends, organise bring and swap food events. Donate unopened items still in date.
  • Learn how to store, preserve and extend the life of foods, safely. More about this in future blogs.
  • Shop more frequently buying vegetables and fruits in smaller sizes and quantities and where bulk items are available for you to measure amounts.
  • Shop with a friend and split items that are larger than you can use. Examples: heads of celery, cabbage, chicken, loaves of bread, cream and some dry and tinned goods. Of course we all end up wondering what to do with that odd ingredient needed for just one recipe. Share it with a nearby friend or friends who can make the same recipe and distribute the ingredient around. They’ll appreciate the opportunity to try something new and have the ingredient readily available and at a fraction of the cost. Spices, beans, grains, vegetables and fruits come to mind here such as jars of Thai curry paste, coconut milk, nuts, etc.
  • Prepare kitchen table foods, see ‘My Kitchen Table Casserole’, using up bits of meat, fish, vegetables, cheeses, herbs in soups, stews, quiches, tarts, omelettes, savoury pies, etc. Get the children involved for wildly imaginative ideas.

How immune are you?

January 10, 2013

Multitudes are succumbing to the latest flu bug. So it feels a good time to talk some more about immunity, how a naturopath views it and what strategies can be helpful , Following on from an earlier blog extolling the virtues of chicken soup, here are some additional thoughts..

How is it that such large numbers get these bugs? Perceived wisdom looks at the ‘catching things theory’. We ‘catch’ a cold or flu from someone who has it, they sneeze on us or come in close contact, and before you know it, we go down with it. Perhaps this is true to a point, but what if this is the end of the story rather than the beginning. In other words, what happens before that contact or sneeze that can predispose us to being more susceptible?

Naturopaths look at the environment – considering it the biggest factor, the protector, with the internal environment the main defender of our health. We all know that environments in general can be healthy or not. So if our own environment is compromised, weakened, or depleted it will certainly impact our health.

Breaking that down if we’re

  • tired or run down
  • stressed
  • nutritionally in short supply (eating poorly)

our defences become overwhelmed and it makes sense that we’re more vulnerable. When we’re fatigued the body can’t repair itself properly, stress hormones interfere with immunity and of course bad eating habits deplete the nutrients important for good health.

In particular, our digestive environment is composed of lymph tissue and along with the good gut bacteria plays a huge role in protecting the immune system from being affected by the above.

What then can we do to help protect ourselves? In so many ways, it’s just common sense but common sense is always worth revisiting!

Some strategies to support the immune system

Eat wholesome, real foods as close to their natural state and as seasonally as possible

Plenty of vegetables esp. broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, kale, shitake mushroom, onions, leeks, squash, sweet potatoes

Fruit such as satsumas, apples, pears, pomegranates

Whole grains: quinoa, barley, wild rice, oats

Lean protein esp. oily fish, organic chicken

Herbs and spices: garlic, ginger, cinnamon, thyme, oregano, parsley, rosemary

Try making ‘Not Just Chicken Soup’

Guard good gut bacteria

Practice above 80% of the time. Eating fermented foods help, such as live yogurt, cultured vegetables (more about these in a future blog), miso, tempeh as well as lentils, beans and pulses.

Drink adequate amounts of hydrating fluids

Warm water with lemon, herb teas, chai tea, ginger mulled juice

Get enough rest

Relax before bed to insure good quality sleep: read, listen to music or relaxation tracks, have a bath with an essential oil like lavender, have an herbal sleep tea or even a few spoonfuls of oatmeal

Manage stress

Exercise, meditate, walk, dance, listen to music, have a massage

Warming, satisfying and great for taking the chill away, this alcohol free beverage goes a long way to helping us feel comforted

iStock_000018167117XSmall (1)

Mulled pear and ginger 
1 litre of natural pear juice
2cm piece of ginger root, sliced
1 teaspoon (using muslin to hold loose spices will avoid need to strain later) or a teabag of mulling spices or a cinnamon stick
1/3 -1/2 litre pomegranate or cranberry juice (optional)
Slices orange or lemon (optional)

In a saucepan heat all ingredients over medium heat for a minimum of 15 minutes until flavours have infused. Serve in mugs or heat proof glasses. Top with a slice of orange or lemon.

Come into the kitchen; a time travelling, cultural, adaptable, adventure excursion

January 8, 2013

If this sounds vaguely familiar it is purely intentional. Think of your kitchen outside the blue box  (hint, a very popular long, long-standing UK TV series) and let your imagination roam. Stretching it a bit of course, but isn’t that what kitchens are about-places where any number can gather and manage to fit and like the fishes and loaves, always enough food to go round.

Kids would want to come in, eager to take control of the dials on the cooker, chop vegetables with the speed and agility they text messages and eat everything on their plates. They’d happily google recipes from around the world, resurrect the best from the past like an archeologist and load the dishwasher without being asked.

The kitchen table, a most versatile gathering ground.  A place to gather our thoughts, families and food.  Where we review, plan, dream, discuss, argue, cry and laugh, and of course eat. What was at your kitchen table this evening?

Here’s what was at mine…

My Kitchen Table Casserole (sounds better than kitchen sink!)

A meal in one and tasty use of leftover roasted chicken, excess chick peas and any root vegetables you have on hand. Sounds like a lot of ingredients but the cooking is very little work and makes up for it. You don’t need to use all of the vegetables listed, they just make it so nice!

serves 4

leftover meat from a roasted chicken, torn into large bite sized pieces

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

1  medium carrot, sliced thickly on an angle

2 slices of butternut squash, coarsely chopped  (celeriac, swede, parsnip, sweet potato can also be used)

2 medium potatoes, skin left on and cut into 8 pieces

1 leek, sliced

peppers (red, yellow and or green ) a couple of thick slices of each, coarsely chopped

1 cup cooked or tinned chick peas

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 TBS tomato paste

8 oz vegetable or chicken stock

1 medium clove garlic

1″ piece ginger

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp coriander

3 cardamom pods crushed

pinch of cayenne or  smoked paprika

a few sliced olives (optional)

olive oil

2 TBS fresh parsley and coriander, chopped

In a large saucepan add olive oil and begin sauteing onion. After a couple of minutes add carrot, potatoes, leek, root vegetables, peppers, ginger, garlic and all spices. Cook  2 minutes until all vegetables are coated with spices and begin to dry. Add tomatoes, stock,  tomato paste and olives, stir well, bring to a boil, turn heat down and cover. Continue cooking at a low simmer for 15 minutes, add chicken and chick peas and cook for a further 10 minutes (all root vegetables should be tender). Serve garnished with parsley and coriander.

An Ode to Chicken Soup

January 7, 2013


It all started with my Grandmother’s chicken soup.  Today, looking back it seems that chicken soup is a recurring theme, actually more like a river of soup that flows along the map of my life. The earliest association, fifty plus years ago, is a scent. One that permeates, fills your nose, gets under the skin and remains in your whole being, forever; aroma of grandma’s cooking.

As soon as you entered the lobby of her apartment building, even before she opened the door, that familiar well-loved fragrance; Friday night’s traditional meal (hers and every other grandmother in the building) welcomed you. Once inside  Grandma’s house, you entered a magical land of cherished flavours and tastes that only she and no other could produce, ever safe in the knowledge that chicken soup cured everything,

Fast forward 25 years; Mom and Auntie’s mantras ‘chicken soup cures everything’ keeps the myth alive. Then one day, it really does happen.

The medical world seen through the eyes of an idealistic, naïve young hospital nurse is a promised land where high expectations soon turn to disappointment – medicine doesn’t have all the answers.

Seeing a patient recover when given chicken soup, after medical interventions were ineffective, was like two worlds colliding, an aha moment that changed everything. Familial wisdom came flooding back and from that moment food was never the same.

Until then food preparation was a necessary chore, though eating was always an unreserved pleasure. Cooking for friends progressed to parties which expanded to catering for events, cooking on yachts in the Caribbean and culminated in a full-time catering business for 10 years. Food as pleasure and vocation evolves.

Throughout, the focus has always been on health and the experience in the hospital became the starting point in a journey that continues, unabated to thrill, excite and open not just doors but new dimensions. The healing and medicinal properties that foods contain and how this can be translated to the plate and palate is the quest.

Along this road the signposts have pointed to different ways of achieving this. Relocation from the US to the UK and now back and forth between the two has brought its own contribution.  Advising people on the health benefits of food within the context of a Naturopathic private practise has broadened to include talks, workshops, courses and a children’s healthy eating program. Cooking professionally is re-emerging.

It’s also essential to incorporate this into the bigger picture – seasonality, locality and the environmental issues surrounding eating, preparing and sourcing food.

My version of chicken soup adapted from the original, handed down the generations incorporates principles of East and West to boost the nutritional benefits (and flavour). To my delight it has been confirmed by science-chicken soup really does enhance immunity.

Try this at the first sign of a cold or flu and particularly in the recovery phase.

 Not Just Chicken Soup  

1 small organic free range chicken, 2-3 chicken thighs, 4 whole wings or 4 drumsticks

2 carrots, chopped into large pieces

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

1 leek, sliced

2 medium organic potatoes, scrubbed and skin left on

6 shitake mushrooms, sliced

1/4 cabbage, shredded

4 stalks of freshly parsley, roughly chopped

1 stalk of fresh thyme

1/2 inch piece of ginger, grated

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ teaspoon sea salt

soy sauce (optional)


In a large pot, cover chicken generously with water, add all ingredients except garlic, parsley, cabbage . Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer.  Let simmer, covered for 30-45 minutes or until chicken and vegetables are tender. Remove from heat. Remove chicken from pot to a plate. At this point add the garlic, parsley and cabbage, stir and heat for 2 minutes. Serve soup in a bowl and add pieces of chicken removed from the bone. Add a splash of soy sauce if desired.

When getting over a cold or flu, add 2 TBS tomato paste or puree to the soup. It is high in potassium and helps with recovery.