Kick-Start 2014! Good nutrition = keeping in shape


 Kick-Start the New Year!

Eating Healthy

 Caroline James talks to two healthy eating gurus:

Romilla Arber & Justine Forrest

who give their top tips on how to kick-start a brand new year:

Romilla Arber Whats For Dinner Book Cover

Romilla and Justine are offering a signed copy of their fabulous books for your best healthy eating/weight loss tip comment.Please leave a short description of your tip in the comments below OR email  One winner will be selected at random. Competition closes 16th March 2014.

Justines Journey book cover

Romilla and Justine are mums who believe that home-cooked food is an essential element for good family nutrition, general well-being and keeping in shape.

Romilla Arber Profile
Romilla Arber

Romilla Arber is the author of, ‘What’s for Dinner? Second Helpings’, which won a Gourmand International Cookbook Award in 2013. Romilla graduated from Keele University with a Bachelor’s degree in Law & History and became a successful solicitor. She is the founder of the Food Education Trust which funds cookery classes and teaching equipment in schools throughout the country.   

Justine Forrest Profile
Justine Forrest

Justine Forrest is the author of Justine’s Journey, a best-selling inspirational guide to losing weight and keeping it off. Justine speaks and demonstrates all over the country at leading food shows and events. She appeared on the TV show Michael Winners Dining Stars and won the series and now features regularly on Radio Lancashire. Justine has a successful online brownie business, teaches at many cookery schools and on top of all that runs marathons!


C: As we start a new year, many of us think about our diet and perhaps making changes and I’m thrilled to have two healthy eating experts join us today but I’m also slightly intimidated. As someone who loves to indulge both myself and my family I’m very conscious that a well-balanced diet is essential to good health, but it’s not always achievable in the busy world we live in.

Ladies, what inspired you to write books on healthy eating?

R: I stopped practising law when I had my third child and by the time I had my fourth I realised that it was such a headache to manage mealtimes and I needed structure – hence the book.

J: I had already lost a dramatic amount of weight – 14 stones in all and was constantly being asked how I’d achieved my new body; a book sharing my weight loss knowledge seemed a natural progression.

C: Did you have a ‘light bulb’ moment?

R: My baby son was starting on solid food and in the supermarket one day I reached for a packet of fish fingers. I heard my conscious telling me that he needed fresh fish and visualised my mother’s frown. I knew I had to focus on healthy eating for my family.

J: My ‘light-bulb’ moment came in the middle of the night. I was so overweight and had all the health complications of an obese person. Two of my children had serious medical issues and I realised that my children had no choices but I did – I was killing myself with food. I vowed to stop over-eating and ensure that I lived to be there for my children.

C: You must be very committed to your cause? Why?

R: Since setting up The Food Education Trust and visiting schools where I meet children who don’t know what vegetables or salad items are and have never eaten something as simple as a tomato, I am even more determined to raise money and fund teaching equipment and cookery courses in schools.

J: There is a huge pleasure in giving and imparting knowledge to others and seeing them progress on their very own journey, whether that is to lose weight or to get healthy – it’s lifed-changing for them and for me.

C: Do your own children cook?

R: They all do; my daughter possibly more than my sons.

J: Oh yes – we like nothing more than to all get round the kitchen table and bake and cook together.

C: What are your thoughts on fast food?

R: We break the rules sometimes and have a treat for the kids, such as an Indian take-away which we all enjoy.

J: I hate it and we never eat it. What’s ‘fast’ about it? By the time you’ve gone out to get it I can put meal together.

C: What is your top tip for kick-starting a new year?

R: Eat seasonally – it’s an old wives’ tale but it works.

J: Eat three meals day and exercise for at least 30 minutes. It might only be a walk to the shop but it all counts.

C: You learn from your parents – true or false?

R: True. My mother was a huge influence and made everything from scratch – bread, cakes and even yogurts. We didn’t have a lot of money but we never went without good wholesome food.

J: False. My parents never had a weight problem and thought that to lose weight you would have to starve yourself, I didn’t learn from them and grew up with all sorts of issues. Educating your kids is absolutely essential.

C: Is it important to plan ahead?

R: Yes, I shop once a week and shop from a list.  It is such a waste of time and petrol to shop more than this.

J: Yes, I always plan ahead and shop daily – this means I walk to the shops (great exercise!) and have no ‘stock’ at home to tempt me.

C: Can you have your cake and eat it?

Justine Cake Dresser
“You CAN have your cake and still lose weight!”
Justine Forrest

R: Yes, absolutely, we always have biscuits and cakes in the house but its all about making the right choices and moderation.

J: I couldn’t live without cake and my passion is to bake. When the weight was coming off I still had cake every day and I explain my weight loss ‘plan’ in my book. I lost 14 stones in 18 months which was dramatic so, yes, I would say you can definitely have your cake and eat it!

C: Are you conscious of cost when budgeting for family meals?

R: Yes, I spend less than £100 per week to feed our family of six.

J: All our meals are budgeted and I’m conscious of this in every meal I prepare. We rarely eat out, as a family of five it’s too expensive.

C: Romilla what are your top three healthy eating tips?

  • Be careful about how much you put on your plate
  • Stop eating before you feel really full
  • Eat across the food groups during the week to ensure a varied diet

C: Justine what are your top three weight loss tips?

  • Clean your teeth after every meal, if you’re not at home suck a mint
  • Move about more and get mobile! It releases endorphins and gets you in ‘the zone’ making you feel so much better both physically and mentally
  • Bulk your meals out with lots of vegetables
  • Can I sneak in an extra…? NEVER shop on an empty tummy!

C: Ladies, thank you so much for talking to me. The recipes below look fantastic and will certainly kick-start me into a new regime!


* * * *

Coronation Chicken by Justine Forrest

Justines Coronation Chicken


This little low-cal recipe gem is one of my favourites. It’s so versatile – you can eat it in a jacket potato, with a salad or even in a sandwich or wrap.

Serves 4


4 skinless chicken breast fillets, cooked
225 g. low fat fromage frais
1 tbsp. medium curry powder
2 tbsp. mango chutney
225 g. seedless grapes, halved
Good splash of lemon juice
1 tbsp. fresh or dried parsley
Salt & pepper to season


  • Dice the cooked chicken into cubes.
  • Combine fromage frais, curry powder, lemon juice, mango chutney, grapes and parsley. Mix with chicken and season.

Best kept in an airtight container, in the fridge, until ready to serve.

 Plum & Raspberry Cobbler by Romilla Arber

Romilla Plum and Raspberry Cobbler


A cobbler might not look very glamorous, but it never disappoints the taste buds. As the plums and raspberries cook, they give off just the right amount of juice to soak into the scone topping, making this a glorious pudding.

Serves 6


800 g. plums; cut in half with stones removed
200 g. raspberries
2 tbsp. brown sugar
25 g. butter

100 g. cold butter, cut into cubes
225 g. plain flour, plus extra for dusting work surface
2 tbsp. soft brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
200 ml. buttermilk
1 tbsp. caster sugar


Preheat the oven to 200 C/Gas 6.

  • Place fruit in a gratin dish and sprinkle brown sugar over the top. Break up butter with your finger tips, dropping little bits on top of the fruit.

To make the topping:

  •  Place the butter and flour in a food processor and blend until the mixture has the texture of breadcrumbs, stir in sugar and baking powder and add buttermilk.
  • Whizz briefly and turn the dough onto a floured surface. Form 6 scones and place these at regular intervals on the fruit. Sprinkle with caster sugar.
  • Bake for 35 minutes and serve with cream.

Romilla Arber Links:

Web:   Book:        What’s For Dinner? Second Helpings
Twitter:     @FETonline   Facebook:  Food Education Trust

Justine Forrest Links:

Web:   Book:         Justine’s Journey
Twitter:      @JustineForrest   Facebook:   Justine Forrest 


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