The Body Retreat

The Body Retreat

Women Only Weight Loss & Wellbeing Retreats

Quick & Healthy Chicken and Lemon Soup

Lunches can be a challenge when you are trying to follow your commitment to eat healthy meals, thats why so many of us revert to the humble sandwich but as we have discussed in previous blog, eating a sandwich at lunchtime is actually going to set you up for weight gain…even if you eat one of those plastic fantastic calorie counted ones the supermarkets offer.

Soup really is the savour of waistlines, you make rustle up a soup that is high in protein, antioxidants and fibre in just minutes and once you have mastered a few basic chopping skills you will wonder what ever stopped you from unleashing your inner Nigella before.

So, onto the Chicken & Lemon Soup

If like me you had a roast chicken at the weekend and have all but stripped the poor bird bare, wait a moment before you throw her out.  Because I would like to share with you a delicious and nutritious soup recipe that takes only about 30  mins to prepare and will keep you feeling full all afternoon.  The addition of fresh lemon to this hearty soup really lifts the flavours and takes that humble old bird carcus to a new level.  Don’t be put off by the steps for making your own stock, this really is the most simple soup ever.. and you can feel doubly virtuous as you enjoy a big bowl full that not only are you eating a healthy and nutritious home cooked meal but you have also wasted nothing, we are really keen on that at The Body Retreat.

This soup make a great lunch if you are trying to stick to your healthy eating commitment or if you are detoxing from all the Christmas excess.  We make a version of this soup on our Weight Loss Retreat that I call Irish Granny’s Soup as it has the addition of pot barley too.  If you are a vegetarian you can replace the chicken with a can of rinsed chick peas but will also need to add a good quality veg stock like Marigold Bullion.

(you can freeze this soup or it will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days)

Serves 6
  • 1 Chicken Carcus
  • 1 Leek, sliced
  • 3 Sticks Celery, chopped
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 2 large leaves Savoy Cabbage
  • 1 sml head broccoli, chopped into florets
  • 25gm Frozen Broad Beans
  • 25gm Frozen Peas
  • Few springs fresh thyme or tsp of dried is ok too.
  • Grated rind of full Lemon
  • Salt & Black Pepper

Ok first things first…its time to get all that last lovely goodness from you bird.  Place the carcus in a large pot and cover with about 1.5 lts boiling water.  Bring to a gentle simmer on the stove and cover and leave to just bubble away for about 20 mins.

You can now get on with chopping your veggies, there is no right or wrong way, just small enough so that you can get a variety of veggies in one spoonfull.

Now for the messy bit…and ill admit i always wear a pair of rubber gloves for these, i keep a box of disposable gloves in the kitchen for jobs just like this. Take the pot of the stove and allow to cooler for a moment or tow, then lie the carcus out of the stock flaking off any last little bits of meat that by now will be falling off the bones. Discard the carcus and before you add the veggies just need to have a check that no small bones have fallen into the stock.

Add the veggies expect the broccoli, beans and peas and the thyme and bring back to a gentle simmer for 10 mins.  Then add the broccoli, beans and peas…you can add the beans and peas straight form the freezer there is no need to defrost.

Finally , grate over the zest of a whole lemon and add a little salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper to taste.

And that is it.  Just a few simple steps to make a delicious and nutritious soup that is perfect for lunchtime.


Are You Stuck in the Sugar Trap?

Sugar Is A Devious Thing.  

It’s not just found in the usual suspects of sweets, chocolates, soft drinks etc. It is naturally occurring in many food groups but it has also insidiously crept into all kinds of everyday food, including breakfast cereals, bread, pasta sauces, stock cubes, yoghurts, and many products masquerading as “healthy,” “low fat” and “natural.”

There is so much Sugar to choose from these days Granulated, Cane Sugar, Honey, Glucose, Fructose, Sucrose, Maltose, Lactose, Maize Syrup, Agave Syrup, Molasses the list of sugars goes on and on. Then of course there is the killer in the pack High Fructose Corn Syrup (often shortened to HFCS on labels).

In the long term, too much sugar in the diet can lead to weight gain and diabetes, but it can be harmful in the short term too. Even moderate regular sugar intake is linked with a host of conditions from brain fog, fungal infections, mood swings, low energy levels, mucous production, inflammation and lowered immunity.

The other problem with Sugar and its various understudies is that it gives you an endorphin rush, which over time becomes very addictive. Also your brain runs on Glycogen and if you don’t give your brain the right fuel then guess what? Your brain actually sends you straight to eat some carbs to replenish its energy levels… but of course you don’t go for a plate of healthy slow release carbs like whole grains or veggies…. Not when you are habituated by Sugar…. You hit the vending machine!

Swapping to Artificial Sweeteners.

You might think that you are ok because you have substituted artificial sweeteners for many sugars in your diet.

Artificial sweeteners were designed to be sugar substitutes as a calorie cutting alternative. These artificial additives mimic the flavor of sugar but with virtually no useful energy. Cancer concerns aside there are numerous reasons why artificial sweeteners are bad for your overall health (I will blog about that one another time) but also very often these sweeteners have a little added sugar for taste.

There Is An Answer.

If your diet has been sugar rich lately, or if you have been feeling tired and run down, chances are you could benefit from a sugar detox. It’s not as hard as it sounds. The trick is to eat the right foods in the first place in order to avoid sugar cravings, balance your blood sugar and then if you would like something sweet, to surround yourself with healthy options.

Below are 3 Steps To Combat Sugar Reliance Now.

  1. Eat more protein with each meal. This balances your blood glucose and creates a slower release of energy to reduce sugar cravings.
  2. Eliminate processed carbohydrates. White carbs turn into glucose far too quickly in the body, resulting in a release of insulin by the pancreas. This leads to blood sugar fluctuations and sugar cravings. Avoid these types of carbs and replace them with whole grains like whole rolled oats, wholegrain basmati rice and quinoa.
  3. Avoid processed foods. These often contain hidden sugars, so if you are really stuck during your detox period and you must use them, make sure you read the labels carefully. Look for anything which ends in “-ose” (such as fructose, glucose, maltose etc etc) as these are just other types of sugar.

Quitting Sugar Can Be Tough

When giving up sugar, the first few days are often the hardest, but gradually your blood sugar will become more balanced, your skin will start to glow, and you will begin to shed a couple of those stubborn pounds. Best of all, your mind will feel clearer and you will discover an abundance of energy you had forgotten was possible.

Need Help Overcoming Your Sugar Habit?

Join us at our Sugar Detox Retreat where our carefully designed programme balances your blood sugar levels, resets your hormones and supports your body and mind to beat this vicious cycle and put you back in control of your health permanently.

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What to eat when you are sick?

Eating healthily can be difficult at the best of times, but when you are sick or recovering from illness or injury it can seem almost impossible. It can be difficult to know what to eat when you are sick.

Last week after my shoulder operation I had a yearning for soup… it goes back to when I was little and being ill was synonymous with a can of cream of tomato soup eaten from your lap as you rested on the sofa watching cartoons.  These days I tend to watch less cartoons but there is still something satisfying and comforting about having soup when you aren’t feeling too well.

Comfort Food = Crap

Back in the day a couple of weeks off work and major surgery would have meant one thing…COMFORT FOOD….. by which I really mean CRAP!!!  I would have stocked up the fridge and freezer with ready meals and treats.  After the two weeks of sofa eating I can almost guarantee that I would have gained more than a few pounds, but perhaps more importantly I would also have inadvertently slowed down my bodies recovery.  Its difficult for your body to put all its energy into recovery and rebuilding when its also being tasked with detoxing a load of CRAP into the bargain.

So this two weeks have been different… I have focussed on actively nourishing my recovering body, doing what I can help myself get back to health as quickly as possible.

Practice What You Preach 

So, I practised what I preach at The Body Retreat … I planned & prepared before the operation.  So before my operation my fridge and freezer were full…but this time round they were filled with wholesome dishes…and a whole lot of thai influenced dishes as I was also very keen to eat as much garlic, ginger, lemon grass as possible due to their fantastic anti-viral and anti-inflammatory qualities.

Yes it is better to prepare food from scratch to retain the maximum nutritional value…. but in the real world we are often faced with times when that is just not practical or possible.  So planing and preparing in advance can help you to fulfil your commitment to your health and weight loss goals.

Soup is one of the most effective ways of getting lots of good ingredients into your system quickly. Through my planning and preparing I created a healthy alternative to my childhood staple of cream of tomato soup.  One that ticked all the boxes, comforting and wholesome, but also full of amazing ingredients which actively promote health.  Oh and it tastes FANTASTIC…if i do say so myself.  So why not give this soup a try… it takes only minutes to prepare and once you have tried it Im sure you will never be tempted by the canned version ever again.  Did I mention that healthy recipie freezes well too…making it a perfect freezer back up for when real life takes over or you just can’t be bothered to cook 🙂

Thai Cream of Tomato Soup



1tsp coconut oil

1 large red onion, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 inch fresh ginger, peeled & grated

1 stick lemon grass, chopped

1 tsp veg bullion (marigold)

1tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp chopped chillies

1 can chopped tomatoes

1 tcp tomato puree

1 can coconut milk

lots black pepper

Squeeze fresh lime


Place a heavy bottom pan on a medium high heat and melt coconut oil, add the onion, garlic, ginger, lemon grass and sweat for 2/3 minutes until the onions begin to soften but not brown.

Add the bullion powder, spices, tomato puree and chopped tomatoes, reduce the heat and simmer for a 2/3 minutes.

Add the coconut milk and allow to bentley simmer for about 10 minutes.

Blend using a stick blender or carefully transfer to a table blender and blend until smooth.

Return to the pan and check seasoning and add black pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Serve topped with a drizzle of organic rapeseed oil & a few dried chilli flakes.


I’d love to hear how you get on if you try out this recipe, so please leave me a comment in the comments box all the way down at the bottom of the page.  And feel free to share this recipe with anyone you think might enjoy it too.  Just use the share buttons on the side of the page.  Thank You.

Ditch the Diets…7 Healthy Ways to Eat Less

We hate Diets at The Body Retreat!

Now both in our 40’s and like a lot of the ladies who join us now on our Weight Loss Retreats we have both been through the gambit of almost every Diet going, The F-Plan, The Cabbage Soup Diet, Weight Watchers, Atkins, The South Beach Diet, The Dukan Diet, The 5:2 plan…… the list goes on and on and on.  We are yet to meet a happy Dieter.  The idea that excluding whole food groups or by meticulously weighting and measuring every mouthful is going to make you healthy let alone happy is really quite ridiculous to us.

What diets do is set individuals up for disappointment and dysfunctional relationship with food and yet it is almost a national pastime.  Every new Diet fad to hit the shelves brings with it a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe this will be the one.

The problem is that chronic dieting can actually lead to weight gain in the long term, as metabolism and hormones are thrown out of balance.   So, women have been left feeling unhappy about their weight and their bodies.  They are confused about what they can and cannot eat and when they should eat it.  Should  they fast, or graze, or stick to three square meals a day?  Is fat the enemy or is it now sugar?  Many see the plethora of Diet foods available in he supermarkets as the answer, after all its all weighed and measured for you, surely those who produce the meals will know what is good.  Yet the unwanted and unnecessary weight stays put.  Diets don’t work in the long term, they are not deigned to be a way of life.

Dear Diet…Its Over!

At The Body Retreat no real whole food is off limits.  Following the 80/20 principle we advocate that you cut the CRAP from your diet.  80% of the time you eat clean and  as close to nature as possible. Choosing meals based on meat, fish, grains, pulses, fruit and veggies with small amounts of diary and good fats.  Then 20% of the time you enjoy eating whatever you like…literally.  No points, no syns and most importantly no guilt!!

You can read more about the 80/20% Principle for Weight Loss here.

On our Weight Loss Retreats we look to empower women to regain control of their health first.  Making conscious choices that respect and protect their body, learning to listen to what the body really wants and needs. When you put health first, weight loss will follow.

Our 7 Healthy Ways to Eat Less is a great place to start to build a better relationship with food while at the same time supporting your body to shed the weight that is unnecessary for it.

1. Only Eat When You are Truly Hungry.

How often have you confused hunger with thirst or emotion.  Very often we eat when we are not really hungry and so it is difficult to hear the “I’m satisfied” signal from your tummy.  This can easily lead to overeating and weight gain.  Learn to listen to your body and only eat when you are truly hungry.

2. Eat Real Food.

If you can pick it, plant it or catch it then eat it.  If the ingredients sound like a school chemistry experiment then stay well clear.  I know that many of you will say “but I don’t have time to prepare and cook real food”  but healthy food doesn’t  have to be long winded.  Scramble some eggs, grill a piece of fish or throw a potato in the oven.  Yes it will take some time to get used to a new way of preparing food, but it is change that is well worth making the effort in the first instance.

3.  Eat Protein with Every Main Meal.

Protein is more satisfying than carbohydrates. Getting enough protein helps preserve muscle mass and encourages fat burning while keeping you feeling full. So be sure to include healthy protein sources, like good organic meat, fish or dairy, nuts, or beans at meals.

4. Use a Smaller Plate.

Did you know that the average dinner plate has grown from 9 inches to 14-16 inches?  Not to mention those lovely bistro bowls that are so popular now, you know there really deep ones so you can get all your delicious sauce to stay put.  In their infinite wisdom some marketing chap decided that they can make more money selling us bigger plates and so the average dinner plate has evolved into something quite huge.  The trouble is, is that your tummy hasn’t evolved to keep up, our stomach is the size of our own clenched fist.  So in any one sitting you should not eat more than what would fill your clenched fist.  Choosing to eat from a smaller plate helps your brian to become accustomed to less food without feeling deprived as a full plate sends a signal to the brain that you are having a full meal.

5. Sit Down & Pay Attention.

When you do eat you want to eat mindful of the healthy nutritious foods you have chosen.  You want your body to have the time it needs to properly digest the foods so that you get the maximum energy and nutrition from every bite.  So don’t eat on the go, sit down, even if its only for 5-10 minutes.  Pay attention to the food on your plate and most importantly when its in your mouth.  Chew slowly, really savour every mouthful.

6. Put Your Cutlery Down Between Each Mouthful.

This is one of the healthy habits we adopt on all our Body Retreats.  Putting your cutlery down between each mouthful slows down your eating by about 25% therefore giving you time to properly digest the food and very importantly allowing time for the “I’m Satisfied” signal to reach your brain telling you to stop eating.

7. No Water While You Eat

Back in the day I can remember specifically being told that drinking lots of water with every meal made you feel full up faster and so you didn’t eat as much.  True..BUT..and its a big BUT here.. the water you drink is absorbed in about 15 minutes and so you are left feeling unsatisfied and more likely to snack on fattening foods later in the day.  Also drinking water at meal times dilutes your digestive enzymes and so your body is not able to get the maximum nutrition form the foods you have chosen, so it is kind of a lose, lose situation.  Drink right up until you start eating and stop until about 15/20 mins after you have finished your meal.

Follow these simple 7 Healthy Steps to Eat Less and you will soon notice a huge difference in not only your waist line, but in your energy levels and digestive health too.

It really is time to ditch the diets and instead focus on making healthy choices about what we put into our body, because we care about our body, because we care about ourselves.


Ditch the Diet

Ditch the Diet

What do you think?  I’d love to hear your experience of dieting or even better how you quit dieting and started losing weight.  Please leave me a comment in the box at the bottom and if you know a serial dieter who would benefit form reading this blog then please do share it with them…a ll you need to do is click the social media button and woos its done.

Best Ever Blueberry Pancakes

These pancakes are always a crowd pleaser, I never cook any other version now. These really are the best pancakes ever.

At The Body Retreat we are always looking for ways to make every day recipes healthier, here we use porridge oats to provide a filling pancake sweetened only with blueberries (although we do like a little drizzle of syrup to serve), these pancakes will keep you full all morning until your morning snack. I usually have frozen blueberries in the house, so I have the ingredients to make these pancakes at any time, but Pancake Day is a great reason to give them a try.

Gluten, Dairy and Sugar Free Blueberry Pancakes
Makes about 10 good size pancakes or six very generous ones
  • 2 tablespoon gluten free flour
  • 1 cup porridge oats (rough)
  • 1 cup blueberries (mash up a few to release a bit of juice)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup unsweetend soya milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon gluten free baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tblps light rapeseed oil


Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, add the mashed blueberries ( saving few back for presentation)
Add the egg yolk and a good slug of milk, you are looking for a sturdy but gloopy batter mix (Due to the oats this will be much thicker than normal batter mix)
In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites
Fold the egg whites into the with metal spoon or fork so as not to knock the air out, this will loosen the mixture slightly.

Heat a tablespoon light rapeseed oil in a frying pan and using a large serving spoon to drop in a dollop of batter. I usually cook three at a time. The batter dosnt tend to run too far and once it meets the heat they start to set. Give it about two mins per side and then using a fish slice flip over and two mins on the other side.

I serve mine with the remaining blueberries a dollop of natural yog and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Start to finish this gorgeous recipe only takes about ten mins.

Id love to hear what you think about these pancakes and how you get on making them 🙂 xx