Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Duckeys Quickie Healthy Desserts... Meringue nests

One meringue nest filled with fruit layered with low fat Greek yoghurt

  • In a dish add one pre-bought nest or make your own by whisking some egg whites, adding a spoonful of the mixture to a baking tray and cook in the oven until golden
  • Layer this with chopped fruit of your choice
  • Cover in natural yogurt and add a few bananas or almonds on top

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Foods can relieve stress...

Some people reduce their stress by over eating, some people such as myself reduce stress by under eating to gain control within their lives again, we all have our own ways of dealing with stress, be it drinking, treating yourself, shopping all can come down to psychological issues.

We should really be helping stress issues by replacing them with healthy ones instead of unhealthy ones! When feeling stressed it is advised that we should not involve food. Foods act like a stimulate, such as caffeine, which can trigger off stress. Drinking green tea helps, as they are rich in bioflavonoids that help in combating stress and depression!

Food and drink like coffee, tea or chocolate should be eaten in limited amounts. Stress can disrupt our blood sugar levels which is why we should avoid food that will disrupt our sugar levels. So we should be eating whole natural foods containing fibre which stabilizes our blood sugar levels. This in turn help prevents stress. Dark green leafy vegetables, are great for stress reduction high with sources of B-complex vitamins and whole grains for this same reason.
The times we eat our meals are also important, one of the most important guidelines is:
  • If you are going to do something very physical eat more
  • Eat less when your are not going to be doing much physically afterwards
  • Eating too much before you go to bed could interfere with your sleep making you in turn more stressed.
This is avoiding nutritional stress, like if you skip lunch then exercise you are likely to crash later on!

A bad habit I have been known to do in the past but the fact is you need the calories to burn and give you energy!

Basically its common sense and about having a diet that will stabilize your stress levels!


Olives are one of my favourite foods especially as a starter in a restaurant or on a hot summers day! Great Tapas food! You can do so much with them and get so many varieties! So I have researched these wondrous tree fruits and would like to share the information with you!

Where do they come from?

Olives are grown on trees and are usually harvested in September, however they are available all year round much to our benefit! There is a special process that an Olive has to undertake for us to reap their true benefits, they have a unique bitterness to them which vary depending on the type of Olive tree an Olive stems from… this could be the region they are grown, the colour, desired taste or texture.

This creates the difference between green and black Olives. Green Olives are picked early before they are rip whereas black Olives are left to ripen hence turning black in colour. The colour can also be affected by the liquid the Olive is stored in for example some are placed in Brine, oil, water or salt. Some green Olives are also exposed to air which in doing so the Oxidation ripens them to a black colour! I prefer the black Olives when I snack on these delicious fruits however the green ones are great in Martini’s!

Different varieties include Moroccan oil-cured, Kalamata, Nicoise, Picholine and Manzanilla. They vary in size, flavour, texture and you can get Olives pitted or un-pitted as they naturally come with a stone.

They are one of the oldest known foods and it is said they have originated from Crete several thousand years ago! Thank goodness they spread as they are one of my favourite foods!

Why are Olives so good for you?

Olives contain heaps of nutrients that benefit our health… they have a very good source of monounsaturated fat and a good source of vitamin E, iron and copper and also fibre.

A good source of Vitamin E…

As they are high in monounsaturated fats they are very high in vitamin E, it is important to have some in our cells as it helps the membranes around our cells DNA. Vitamin E directly neutralizes all the fat-rich areas of the body.

Protection from Heart Disease…

The nutrients in olives help to prevent heart disease.

Support Gastrointestinal Health…

A higher in take of vitamin E and the monounsaturated fats is associated with lower rates of colon cancer.

Beneficial Anti-Inflammatory Effects…

The anti-inflammatory actions of the monounsaturated fats, vitamin E and polyphenols in olives may also help reduce the severity of conditions such as asthma. They also help women who are going through the menopause as they help hot flushes!

How to pick the right Olive for you?

Most commonly in our country we buy Olives in jars or containers, you can make from Olives a tapenade which is a spread you can use also as a dip, or topping for certain fish dishes! Great with cod! See my version of tapenade!

To serve you could create an anti-pasti dish… these can be accompanied by vegetable crudités, hummus or artichokes or roasted peppers! Great for sharing parties and creating the ultimate tapas!

Good summer finger food.. or if you don’t like getting your hands dirty use cocktail sticks! You can also get some beautiful Olive sets with pickers which look very classy indeed!

Champagne... cheers to your health!

Red wine… good for our hearts...

White wine… good for our lungs...

All wine… good for our lips!

In conducting some online research it has been recently discovered that Champagne may also be good for our brains! Apparently Champagne as a source of brain protection… This beautiful sparkling wine may help protect the injuries related to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or Strokes.

Champagne has a high presence of polyphenols which are chemical substances made from plants. They also act as antioxidants, which can help cells avoid death, destruction, and other nasty things like cancer.

These findings have now lead to further investigations of Champagne’s health benefits and human lifespan, specifically aging. In the past,

This spirit with a sparkling personality, we usually celebrate our good health with a glass of champagne, is know as the glass of “bubbly” so lets raise a glass today to those scientists who provide another happy drink for us to celebrate our health!

I must admit when I’m celebrating I do like the odd drop of Champs to celebrate, especially a special occasion! I love the flavours, the fizz and the class of holding the flute, and now I know it benefits my health with my birthday around the corner the Champagne will be flowing! See my tips on how to drink alcohol in a healthy way!

Lets toast the Dom Perignons, the Moet, and the Louis Roederers of the world!

Monday, 28 April 2008

Romantic Sumptious Salmon

As tragic as it sounds in my single days, I spent my valentines day alone... so what better than to put this time of aloneness to use and create a fantastic romantic meal for my folks! So listen up all romancers her are a few tips from setting the scene to the meal to wine and dine your dearest!

Set the scene:

To produce a romantic meal to give confidence in your cooking you should dazzle your guest with your elegant presentation skills.

In this case I dressed the table with a red table cloth, red roses, the cards my parents gave to each other for Valentines day, Baileys truffle chocolates, Olives to start, Strawberries with whipped cream to accompany the proud bottle of champagne dominating the table. Along with the cutlery, glasses and a napkin to avoid nasty spillages!

In the background I added some light romantic tunes and lit the room by a candle also situated on the table.

The Meal…

RECIPE: Pecan crusted Salmon stuffed with herbs, resting on a bed of vegetable noodle stir-fry topped with sweet potato mash served with a mango salsa, followed by my famous Duckeys Chocciehotpots.

You will need:

2 Salmon fillets
75g pecans
Fresh herbs (I used dill)
Italian seasoning
3-4 sweet potatoes
1 pack of noodles
1 pack of stirfry vegetables

For the Mango Salsa:

1 Mango
1 chilli
1 lemon
1 dessert spoon of crème fresh
1 spring onion

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees

2. Wash the salmon butter flying in down the middle

3. Stuff the salmon with the herbs (fresh dill and some Italian seasoning)

4. Chop finely some pecan nuts and lay on top of the stuffed Salmon (you can even add extra inside)

5. Wrap the pieces in tin foil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes

6. Meanwhile bring to the boil some noodles whilst stir frying some mixed vegetables

7. Also boil so chopped sweet potatoes for 15 minutes

8. Once the noodles are cooked drain and add to the stir-fry

To make the Salsa:

1. Cut up the Mango and remove skin
2. In a blender add the Mango, lemon juice, chilli, spring onions and crème fresh
3. Season to taste with salt, pepper or any other herb of your choice

To serve:

1. Serve the stir-fry and noodles onto a plate
2. In the sauce pan mash the sweet potato and serve on top of the stir fry
3. Remove the Salmon from the foil and lay on top of the mash
4. Add your Salsa!

The verdict my folks absolutely loved the meal and wanted more! They also loved the Chocciehotpots and spent the evening nicely full cuddled up on the sofa!

Job done! (I am also available for birthdays and Christmas!) If you have any Valentine food stories then please share on the blog, good, funny or bad!

Mediterranean Mezze!

The Mediterranean diet is practised by countries in the Mediterranean regions this includes Spain, Greece, Turkey, Italy amongst others.

It is such a diverse and varied diet which doesn’t particularly stick to a regime as such, which could be good for those of us who have a busy lifestyle or hate diets, which would kind of contradict this being a type of diet but hey... who cares!

The diet is said to be more healthy than European or other diets as the meds eat more grains, such as spaghetti, fruits of all types, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and olive oil. Basically lots of natural raw produce!

They eat red meat sparingly which seems to benefit health, too much red meat can be bad for you and in place of this they eat fish a few times a week increasing the amount of Omega 3 fatty acids.

The negetives...

the diet is higher in fat by 40% than the recommended 30% , the Mediterranean diet is a great alternative to low-fat eating... becoming increasingly popular, I can't say eating more fat appeals to me but on the other hand once in a while its good to know it wouldn't hurt to try it!

A typical Mediterranean diet follows the below principles:
  • There fat ration encourages more monounsaturated to saturated fats
  • They limit wine and alcohol consumption
  • They eat less meat
  • They eat lots natural foods such as cereals, legumes, fruits and vegetables
  • Their diet includes lots of fresh fruits as dessert with sweets consisting of nuts, olive oil, and concentrated sugars and honey
  • They limit their intake of milk and dairy products (including cheese and yogurt)
  • Use local produce
  • Have fewer than 4 eggs per week
  • They use olive oil as the principal source of dietary fats even using this to dip their bread in!

I like to challenge myself by cooking different cuisines we decided to try an Italiano mezze spread and here’s how I did it:

RECIPE: Char-grilled vegetable and mozzarella pizza served with mixed marinated olives, garlic roasted mushrooms, tomato basil and balsamic dressed salad and reduced fat hummus.

Basically this is really easy to create and for the best ingredients I recommend Waitrose, slightly more expensive but definitely worth it.

I bought a shop bought pizza from the superstore however you can make your own or buy a base and add your ingredients the pizza we bought was pretty healthy in terms of pizza and has been freshly prepared with light cheese and char-grilled vegetables.

Buy a pack of pre-packed salad and add to this basil leaves, baby tomatoes, mozzarella and balsamic vinegar

Waitrose have a great selection of Olives so select and serve at home!

Buy some flat mushrooms and wash thoroughly, chop up some garlic season with pepper and oven back for 15 minutes with the pizza

For true Italiano add a nice bottle of Pinot Gringo which will complement the flavours delightfully.

Serve with hummus as an accompaniment.

This is great for parties, or if you and a friend feel like spoiling yourselves a bit, I would probably only have this as a treat for being good as I would not usually recommend pizza.

I often eat lots of olives, hummus and snacks however I would be careful as I don't agree with eating too much fat to be honest it scares me so I avoid it. I would tend to always go for the low fat or lighter options if you can and get as many fruit and vegetables in your diet if you can.

Take care of your skin!

How many of us now a days take care of our skin...?

I have a small routine I do daily and a complete cleanse I usually apply on a Sunday evening or when I have time to fit it in.

As for men... does a man have to be extremely confident with his sexuality now a days to take care of his skin?

It is a small fact that most most would put taking care of their skin at the bottom of their to do list! However being a girl I think if a man can take care of his skin it says a lot for his personality!

We all may not bother to do this for the below reasons:
  • It takes too much time
  • We cannot be bothered
  • The expense of the products
  • We simply do not have the knowledge of where to start, nor do they care.

As our skin is like our third lung, one of the first things others notice, and is one of the greatest beauty or attractiveness factors, skin care should be an important part of a daily routine.

Not only does the skin play a part in your identity and appreareance, it shows us whats happening on the inside of our bodies. The skin acts as a protection from things like pollution, bacteria and sicknesses.

Unfortunately as we age, our skin starts to lose its elasticity, and wrinkles, fine lines, and crow’s feet start to form. I have heard we should start our anti-ageing process at 25 years old, before its too late rather than after! Which kind of makes sense!

In order for a man and woman to prolong the youthful appearance of skin it really only takes a few minutes a day.

Here are my top tips:

1. Use a gentle exfoliation cream, to get rid of dry skin

2. Then wash your face with a gentle soap

3. Splash with cold water to close the pores this acts as a protection

4. Use a good moisturizer this should ideally contain an SPF of 15 or greater – you can apply this with a cotton wool pad cleansing deep into the pores

5. You can also get various other treatments such as face packs, under eye balm and lip balm you can use for extra benefit


  • Buying a moisturizer that has SPF protects you from skin cancers and keeps you looking youthful for longer so in essence it does two jobs and protects on a daily basis.
  • Eating a healthy and well balanced diet will also do wonders for your skin.
  • Foods that are high in saturated fats, such as chips, fried foods, like donuts and processed foods such as pre-bought chicken burgers, will all cause the skin to age prematurely.
  • As for the expense there are some great products on the market now a days just go to your local chemist and you are spoilt for choice. I think that Clinque is a good range and not over priced for the quality of the products. You can even make your own products...
I was exploring a website the other day and they gave advice on how you can make your own remedies!

Apart from being easy to prepare, the freshness of natural ingredients will be loved by one and all. Now I don't know how good these are I can't say I have tested them yet but when I do the photos will be on here ladies and gents! And if you try them leave a comment and let me know how you got on!

Face Cleanser

You can add together plain yogurt to half a cup of oatmeal, which will in turn form a paste. After mixing well, apply this on the face, of course as usual avoiding eye area! …After 10-15 minutes wash off with lukewarm water. As Oatmeal, is hypoallergenic, is highly absorptive and softens skin. Apparently Oats have been clinically proven to dry and itchy skin.

Body Cleansers

You can flush out the toxins by adding a cup of hot water to lime. Internally you can make a paste formed of sea salt and water can be rubbed into the body before shower, almost acting as an exfoliation method allowing at least a minute before washing off.

Face Pack (oily skin)

Add about 8 to 9 Strawberries mashed up and three tablespoon of honey (sounds almost yummy)… then mix (but don’t blend). Add this to your face and allow a few minutes set, then wash off or eat it... mmmm there’s a challenge!

Face Pack (dry skin)

Mash up some bananas with a fork, but not so the mixture goes to runny. Add a drop of honey and leave for ten minutes then wash off.

Face Pack (Normal Skin)

Cook 1 peach, until its soft enough to mash with a fork, like the processes above and add a tablespoon of honey and this time oatmeal so as to thicken’s. Apply to skin and wait for 10-15 minutes before rinsing this time with cool water.

No excuses!

So if you want to stay youthful and radient start today!

Duckeys Divine Pancakes...

For pancake day I wanted to celebrate the tradition properly so I made the healthiest version of Pancakes I could! So I played around and adapted and even came up with an idea of adding a little naughtiness and indulgence!

RECIPE: Moist fluffy scotch pancakes, made in three versions... rocking raisin , baked blueberry and caressing chocolate champion pancakes.
You will need:

125g wholemeal flour
125g milk
2 egg whites
25g blueberries
25g raisins
2-3 dessert spoons chocolate spread

1. Pre-heat a frying pan and spray with 1 calorie spray

2. In a jug mix the egg whites then add into the flour eggs and milk to create a thick consistency batter

3. With a ladle scoop the batter and insert in the pan

4. Insert the filling of your choice on the wet batter

5. With a spatula check underneath and when brown flip over

6. Check again and when the other side is cooked then keep warm on a plate under the grill

7. If you want to try flipping make the pancake a bit thinner than the scotch pancakes and larger this is great fun so try at least one!

8. Serve in a stack on a plate!

These pancakes are wonderful and aren't as bad for you as you think as long as you don't overload them with syrup or sugar!

The blueberry pancakes are amazing as the blueberries cook and turn soft and warm it deepens the taste. The raisin pancakes are delicious with the raisins creating more texture and complement the fluffiness of the pancake batter... now as for the chocolate ones adding a dollop of Nutella spread allows the chocolate to cook into the pancake hardening on the outside, much like a chocolate croissant a naughty one to try for the occasional treat!

Duckeys Summer Fruit Pudding...

Summer is in sight and what more fitting for a dessert than a Summer Fruit Pudding... I have my own recipe and here's what to do...

RECIPE: A Delicious and mouthwatering summer fruit pudding refreshingly filled with fruit and berries, served with fresh bio yogurt or a scoop of creme fresh.

You will need:

100g of raspberries
50g strawberries
50g blackberries
50g blueberries
25g creme fresh
4 slices of wholemeal bread
25g water

To make:

1. Take your chosen size bowl or individual ramekin.

2. Boil down in a saucepan 50g of raspberries to create a compote

3. Cut a circle around out of once slice of the bread to make a base and dip into the compote sticking the base to the bottom of the bowl

4. Using the same process cover the bowl sides with bread (the bowl should now be lined with bread)

5. Fill with the mixture of washed fruit and berries

6. Cut out a wop lid and press down firmly to seal

7. Place in the fridge to cool for 30 minutes to one hour and serve to your liking.

This recipe not only is yummy but it is so healthy for you and fills you up nicely too!

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Everything at Steak!

A little bit of red meat doesn’t hurt, so to class up the original ‘Steak and Chips’ I decided to put my Duckey stamp on this dish and create a healthy alternative. Red meat is really good for iron so great for people who may have a slight iron deficiency.

I dont' see antyhing wrong with a steak every now and then in moderation. Always buy quality meat, London broil and other cuts of beef are filled with the amino acid LEUCINE, which helps you whittle your waistline without sacrificing muscle tissue.

I would always recommend grilling your Steak preferably in a George Foreman… it gets rid of a lot of the fat content!

RECIPE: Healthy grilled Steak topped with roasted mushrooms, served with couscous stuffed pepper topped with melted mature cheese and fresh seasonal vegetables

You will need:

2 Steaks
2 Red bell peppers
125g couscous
Green Peas

1. Cut the tops of the peppers, remove the seeds and wash (keep the tops for presentation)

2. Pre-heat the grill for the Steaks and the oven for the peppers

3. Roast the peppers for around 20 minutes after 15 add the mushrooms

4. Boil the vegetables in a saucepan

5. In a bowl add hot water to the couscous and cover with cling film leave to sit for 5-10 minutes

6. Add the Steak to the grill and cook to your taste I like mine medium

7. Cook on both sides then serve on a plate

8. Top the Steaks with the cooked mushrooms

9. Stuff the roasted peppers with the couscous and top with cheese put back in the oven until cheese has melted and top with some dill

10. You can add the pepper top at this stage for presentation

11 Serve the cooked vegetables on the side.

Now you can sit down and enjoy your healthy version of Steak minus the fat and chips!

Friday, 25 April 2008

Get up and go... how to wake up happy!

It must be the worst feeling in the world... the alarm goes off early in the morning and all you want to do is reach over and hit the snooze button again and again. To be honest I do I set my aarm three times before I get up!

Some of us are just not cut out for early mornings even the best of us find it difficult waking up a Monday morning with a full work week ahead!

So there must be a simple solution to help you along the way!... Here are a few ways to start your day off right, and make your morning just that little bit better.

1. Hydrate yourself!... Drink a large glass of water as soon as you get up.

When you wake up, your body is dehydrated... you have been asleep for a fair few hours. This will not only make you feel better, but you will avoid the jittery feeling coffee will give you when your body is lacking hydration and you consume caffeine. Although we think coffee is good to wake us up it actually acts similar to a drug and can have the opposite affect.

2. Get up and go!... Start your day off with a walk or light exercise.

Getting up twenty minutes to half an hour earlier than normal shouldn’t be a huge struggle. When you exercise you assist the blood in your body to flow, it will wake you up and burn off some of the calories you consumed during breakfast! It will get you energized for the day, and you will feel great. Better still why not try walking to work not only will you be gaining exercise but it will also reduce carbon emissions and save using transport!

3. Have a healthy breakfast... fuel for your day!

Starting the morning off right with some eggs, whole wheat toast, orange juice, and fruit will energize your body and keep you fueled up until lunch time. If you don’t have time to cook, try a home made smoothie or some porridge or wholgrain cereal with skimmed milk!

4. Get to bed early the night before!

If you have an early start the next day make sure you have a nice relaxing early night to prepare organise yourself the day before... If you have a hard time managing your time in the morning, try making your lunch, picking out your outfit, or doing other organizing the night before instead of when you wake up.

5. Smile...

If you smile you will put yourself in a positive mood, try listening to some upbeat music or do something that makes you happy and inspired before you start your day!

By starting your day off on the right foot, you can improve your mood and set the tone for the rest of the day. A better day and a better mood mean less stress and tension, which can both lead to sickness and disease.

To stretch or not to stretch... that is the question!

These days, stretching is not only a controversial issue amongst runners, but other athletes alike. People have different views on whether you should stretch before a workout or after a work out and how long to hold the stretches.

What it comes down to is that regardless of the how, why, when, and for how long, stretching yields great health benefits.

The point of stretching is to lengthen the muscles, and move the joints. There has been several studies done on stretching before a work out, as a common thought is that stretching a cold muscle can cause harm to it, or reduces endurance.

One study shows that runners who stretched before their run slowed their performance as far as strength and power went.

On the other hand, many fitness experts still condone stretching before a work out. A physical therapist interviewed in the study notes that stretching before exercise can minimize injuries, help to regulate imbalances between opposing muscles, helps with shock absorption, and helps runners reserve energy by loosening muscles. Stretching regularly can also dramatically improve flexibility, which is a key element of fitness and gives you a larger range of movement.

Those that are more flexible are much less likely to strain muscles, and therefore get injured much less than those with more restrictive movement.

Along with stretching regularly at the gym, participating in yoga is a great way to reap the physical benefits that stretching has to offer, as well as the psychological ones that the yoga practices gives.

Yoga is said to be one of the best anti aging activities, and can also help to relieve ailments such as asthma, body pains, high blood pressure, and anxiety.

You can also take up practice of stretching out your body throughout the day, as it will release built up toxins and prevent back pains-especially if your job involves sitting throughout most of the day.

Strawberries rock...

Not all diets have to taste bad... Strawberries are proven to be more satisfying than other foods as they lower cholesterol levels. They also provide the below health benefits:

1. They are healthy!

As they contain valuable vitamins and nutrients. Just eight strawberries provide more Vitamin C than one orange does-about 160% of the daily recommended amount. Not only are they yummy... they are also full of fibe, and potassium-with just only 50 tiny calories per serving and 8 grams of sugar.

2. They will keep you young... hows that for a benefit!

Strawberries are packed with super cancer fighting and anti aging antioxidants. They ward off nasty cronic diseases, and will promote optimal health! Strawberries rank about 10th among the top ten fruits in relation to the amount of antioxidants they contain.

3. They may prevent arthritis... and you don't want that!

In a recent study conducted of more than 20,000 people, found that people who ate healthy foods such as strawberries were more than three times more likely to remain arthritis free than those who didn’t.

4. They are great for your skin... show off your strawberry complexion!

Strawberries are classified as a skin cleansing food, they can also help with certain skin disorders. All the better reason to eat strawberries!

5. They are good for you teeth... so smile!

As Strawberries are naturally low in sugar, in cutting them in half and rubbing them on your gums has even been shown to remove tarter from the teeth and strengthen and heal gums.

In this country Strawberries are thought of as mostly a summer food, due to the season, but by the power of airmail... they can be enjoyed year round.

Strawberries are great served alone, in dishes such as puddings, in smoothies, with yogurt or even served with champagne! Always keep a bag of frozen strawberries in the freezer, so they are always on hand!

Start basic... start walking!

Walking is the best low impact exercise we can do... most of us walk from here to there everyday so if you are someone who will use you car to drive to the post box at the end of your road or quite simply to lazy to walk then listen closely!

Walking is a motion that is a natural movement it is innate to us all. It can also improve your health and keep you in great shape!

If you walk on a regular basis you will find that:

1. Walking reduces stress... and stress can create an unhealthy platform for your body. In general exercise is great at reducing stress, especially when outdoors in the fresh air, a walk home from work will do wonders for your mind as well as your body!

2. It encourages weight lose and helps to maintain your bodies weight. Walking burns calories and is great for toning up by walking as little as half an hour a day can have a great impact on your weight.

3. Walking promotes healthy bones and joints. Keeping active and moving, especially as you age has a direct impact on how strong your bones and joints are, and can prevent harmful injuries later on in life.

4. Walking keeps your heart healthy... It can reduce your risk of a heart attack by lowering bad cholesterol levels and increasing good cholesterol levels. Walking on a regularlywill lower blood pressure, which can contribute to heart disease.

5. Aids the management of diabetes... If you have diabetes, walking regularly actually increases your body’s ability to process sugar and lower blood sugar levels.

So... get motivated to walk, to help you if you struggle set up or join a walking club in your community. Walk with a partner or friend, or perhaps help join our new eco way of life and walk to work! If you make a commitment you are more likely to keep to it!
Walking is also relaxing, there are som many locations we can choose to walk, along the beach, in the woods by the lake I went to London a few weeks ago and spent the morning walking around hyde park with my family and Rob and really felt my butt ache by the end of it!
Also... for us girls... Shopping is a great way to walk! Always a plus! So yes shopping is good for you tell your men!

Alternative health... Reiki healing

Reiki is a Japanese word meaning “universal life energy”.

Those who practice Reiki believe that energy is constantly all around us and that it can be harnessed to improve all aspects of a persons health.

This practice was first started by Dr. Mikao Usui and has been passed down through generations.

Reiki is an excellent form of holistic medicine that can help people heal in today’s stressful, fast paced world.

The process...

  • Reiki should only be performed by a professional practitioner that has been properly trained. A session generally starts with a series of questions as to what needs to be healed in the body. The recipient is almost always in a lying down position, but if the pain is too great when lying down the practitioner will make sure the client is in a very comfortable position and is as relaxed as possible.

  • The Reiki healer starts by placing their hands on or above certain spots throughout the body, and will focus on the areas that are of greater concern.

  • The idea is to re establish a natural flow of energy throughout the human body, letting the body heal itself. Sometimes the energy flow can be blocked which poses a problem for people with injuries or other ailments.

Those with lower “life force energy” tend to feel sluggish or stressed out, and those with flowing energy can more easily have a positive outlook on life, and feel healthy and calm.

Even if you have no apparent injuries, Reiki is an excellent form of and rejuvenation. Patients on prescription drugs have even reported lessening of the drug’s side effects after attending regular Reiki sessions.

Reiki treatments have begun to gain popularity in the last ten to fifteen years. It is a simple and gentle treatment that everyone can benefit from, and it can have remarkable results.

Healthy Salmon Chinese Stir-fry!

It's late on a Tuesday evening after work and i'm not sure what to cook, I want optimum health food but without the hassle of cooking… so I thought how about a Chinese stir-fry? If you don't have a love for Oriental cooking perhaps try my Vegetarian Duckey Stir-fry!

RECIPE: A crunchy, flavourful assortments of Chinese stir-fried vegetables mixed with warmed flaked salmon, coated in soya sauce, on a bed of sesame noodles coated with roasted cashew nuts.

You will need:

½ can of water chestnuts
1 pack of flaked Salmon
1 bunch of Chok Poi
Sliced fresh ginger
Red pepper
Dark Soya Sauce
2 packs of wholegrain noodles
Sesame seeds
25g cashew nuts

1. In a wok pre-heat using 1 calorie spray and toast some sesame seeds

2. Along side boil some wholegrain noodles

3. Chop and wash your Chinese vegetables and insert into the hot wok

4. After about 3 minutes add some Dark Soya Sauce

5. Keep stirring occasionally until vegetables soften and add the flaked Salmon and cashew nuts

6. To serve insert the noodles into a bowl

7. Top with the Salmon stir-fry mixture

You have a quick easy healthy meal for two people.

The truth behind calories...

Understanding calories is important in a balanced diet… now I at a young impressionable age of 19 years old looked at the media and read various articles in magazine telling us how bad calories are and how we should have as little as possible in our diets. Now here is where the misconceptions come from…

Calories believe it or not are actually a measurement of energy, and what do we need energy for… yes, survival. All foods contain calories this is a fact. Science defines a calorie as “the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by one degree Celsius.”

To grow your body needs calories, especially if you do physical activities and for maintenance. It’s like putting petrol in a car someone once told me. The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council suggest for women 25-50 years of age who are 5 feet 4 inches tall is 2200 calories.

The number of calories your body needs depends on your weight, height, age, body size, physical condition and how often you are physically active. Weight gain takes place only if your body exceeds its maximum intake of calories where excess calories are stored as fat, making you gain weight. I suggest this would be two 3 course meals and a fry up each day... not good!

In a balance diet it is also important to keep track of how much fat, carbohydrates and protein are in the foods you eat. If your body is not properly fuelled your energy levels will drop

Its simple really and taken me many years to learn…

  • Eat more than you burn and you gain weight

  • Eat less and you lose weight

  • Whatever calories you eat in excess of what you need; whether fat, protein or carbohydrates - get stored as fat.

There were days I used to feel like a zombie as I didn’t have enough energy to stand, I would stumble in the street, have blurred vision and why put yourself through that to look better, this is when you start to lose who you really are and it’s a slippery road to take!
There are three ways to unbalance what is known as the Energy Balance Equation, in order to lose weight:

  • Eat fewer calories than you normally burn.

  • Eat the calories you eat now and increase the amount you burn, or

  • Do a little of both of the above by increasing what you burn and decreasing the amount you eat. This is the best option, and will guarantee your success.

So don’t be fooled by what you here, take my advice and if you want to stay trim do it the sensible way.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Duckey gets deep...

OK so I have had some changes recently that I feel may have knocked me slightly off my spiritual path, and I’m not talking Christianity or religion but something much greater, the reason we exist… losing our way can happen to us all at some point or another in life.

Whilst moving almost three months ago, in leaving my old life, family and job I had to cut my ties with everything, even the universe. Some people call it god, the source but personally I prefer the universe. I am referring to this ultimate source of energy that makes the world work, if you know how to use this effectively you can get anything you want.

When you are connected to that source, things just seem to work for you, and lately I will admit things have not been going my way. A week ago I became very unwell I had to go home to Suffolk to have some tests and recuperate at my parents. It became apparent I had detached myself from the world to protect myself from missing home and the stress I was going through, only to be seen after a few days of being back there.

After lots of talking I discovered I was disconnected from this universal source and some how I needed to connect again. My parents and especially my brother gave me some good advice. My brother impressed me, he has such a wonderful presence I have only begun to see lately, I admire him deeply and if there is anyone I want to be like it him!

I also had a visit from a friend called Penny. She is the most lovely warm hearted person to be around I see her as a creature I admire ‘the butterfly’ she floats elegantly from place to place doing what she would like to do and living her life! She has been the best friend to my mum and over the weekend really helped me.

Penny specialises in a process called ‘The Journey’ this is a process where you meet your inner self and resolve issues that may have been causing an energy blockage of some kind for example, a bad experience. I did this process with her and it was amazing I was barely conscious and felt like I was travelling through my body.

Can the mind cure the mind, working on itself? This is almost a self- therapy that has been scenically proven to reduce stress or emotional discomfort. It was explained to me that we produce new cells in our body over few days, now if this is true then why do we get cancer? Surely this cell should re-new itself, this is why now it is being said that our cells memorise our emotions, if you are stressed an there is a blockage your cells may remember this and lock onto the new cell. I find it fascinating.

In doing this process I learnt a lot about myself and realised it is ok to be me… I had a lot of issues in the past with friends, relationships and discovered I had put myself in a cage to protect myself from others. I had felt so bad about the things that had happened to me I would never want to hurt anyone else.

I find it hard to make friends I have a “fake Rachel” I display at times of meeting new people, this Rachel I became to despise I hated being this person but due to the metal belief that I had, going back to my school years that I had done something horrible to make people treat me unkindly I had to give people what I thought they wanted to see, which made me an unhappy person as I had to suppress the real me.

After a while this hate became physical, I stopped eating, became more unhappy and found myself in a catch 22 situation heading for a sever eating disorder. It is only now I feel strong enough to come out and say It., I used to be ashamed but now I have been through a journey of self discovery. Sometimes you have to go through shit to find some meaning! I want to be able to be in a position to help others through my experience.

I found doing the journey with Penny a kind of mindfulness meditation; I guess this can be used for individuals with a variety of medical disorders, including stress, chronic pain, depression and eating disorders and perhaps when I have overcome this I would like to use it to help someone else.

Awareness, in eastern cultures is the process of shifting your world-view, from earthly mundane matters, through progressive levels of detachment to gain a supra-ordinal view

It is quite possible though, that if we look upon stress and anxiety as a warning signal from our mind and body that a change in the way we look at life and things in general is needed, and we view meditation as only a part of a whole series of measures to modify our current paradigms of living, it is likely to be far more successful in its originally intended role.

Its about finding a wholeness and inter-connectedness of things when you have found that in yourself wait and see what happens in the world around you.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Duckeys Quickie Healthy Desserts... Bananas

Bananas and low fat yoghurt

  • Chop up one banana (per person)
  • Add to a bowl / glass and add a few spoonfuls of low fat yogurt
  • Sprinkle some chopped almonds to compliment or layer with the bananas.

Duckey’s Healthy Quickie Meal... Paprika Pork

Paprika pork

  • Heat 1 calorie spray in a pan and add 3 thinly sliced onions
  • Fry this for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally until soft and coloured
  • Cut 2 pork fillets into bite size chunks

  • Add to the pan stirring over a high heat to seal and brown

  • Stir in 2 tbsp paprika, cook briefly, then add 300ml chicken stock and bring to the boil
  • Cover and cook for 30-35 minutes, until the pork is tender
  • Stir in 100 ml low fat crème fraiche and simmer for a further 2 minutes

    Serve with a small jacket potato and broccoli.

    For dessert...

    Fruit sorbet

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Happy Chocolate Birthday Cake...

Wednesday celebrates my mum's 42nd birthday!

Yes everyone with me being 22 years old next month that makes my mum a yummy mummy.

Anyway due to personal circumstances I am back for the weekend and in celebration of my mums birthday, while house bound I wanted to make her the most moist chocolate birthday cake as its her favourite.

So in my own Duckey way I will show you to make a not so guilty chocolate cake fit for my yummy mummy!


A tender moist double layered chocolate cake, sandwich together with light vanilla butter cream, fresh plump raspberries, smoothed over by dark chocolate scattered with chopped almonds.

You will need:

To make the cake:

200g wholemeal self raising flour
200g brown sugar
200g light butter
3 dessert spoons of G&B organic cocoa powder
4 organic eggs
1/4 tsp cinnamon

To make the butter cream:

50g light butter
150g Icing sugar
Few drops of vanilla essence

Fresh raspberries
80g dark 80% chocolate
50g chopped almonds

1. In a jug mix together 4 eggs

2. In a separate mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar

3. After 5 minutes add the eggs

4. This is the most important step of your cake baking... beat the eggs sugar and butter together for about 10 minutes until light and fluffy... add a touch of cinnamon for flavour

5. In a figure of eight fold in the flour whilst sifting

6. Once mixed thoroughly add in 3 dessert spoons of cocoa powder and stir in

7. Divide your mixture into two sandwich tins which have been lightly greased with butter

8. Put in a pre-heated oven and back for 15 minutes

The cakes are done when they are bouncy on top

9. Allow the cooked cakes to cool at room temperature for half an hour

To make the filling:

1. Cream together the butter and icing sugar whilst adding a drop of vanilla essence for extra flavour.

2. Once cakes have cooked put half the mixture on one side and one on the other smoothing with a spatula

3. On one side fill the cake with fresh raspberries

4. Sandwich the two cakes together

5. Melt the dark chocolate

6. Spread this mixture on top of the cake

7. Sprinkle on the almonds

8. Finish with some raspberries on top

Your end result will be a truly delicious and uplifting summer cake... mine didn't stick around for long!