No more excuses; introduce ‘fitness’ into your life!

Ross Loughran 5/11/2016Pic : Lorraine O'Sullivan

Ross, Pharmacy Technician, Rowlagh

Change your health direction. What does it mean to you? To me, as a pharmacy technician and a personal trainer, it means changing your outlook on fitness, and not just physical fitness, but also your mental wellbeing. It’s about making positive little steps and changes to ensure you improve your overall fitness. From a personal point of view, this is what I did. I underwent that change 5 years ago. Making that shift towards positive healthy habits and I’m all the better for it.

People tend to come up with all sorts of excuses not to exercise… a popular myth out there at the moment is ‘if I’m sick, I can’t work out’ and yes, in some cases this is the truth. I’d never accept a client if they hadn’t got the all clear from a doctor. BUT fitness starts at home. By this I mean, what’s on your plate. It’s about making those small changes. Any commitment too big will never last. Start small… swap your cereal for oats. Swap that chocolate bar for a banana. Do something enough, it becomes a habit. Do it long enough, it becomes part of your life. The same can be said for exercise. Start small… take that flight of stairs to the next level, walk to the shops instead of driving.

Look at the simple habit of sitting down, yes we all do it, BUT even the action of sitting down is part of a very popular gym move; a move that works all muscles of the leg by sitting down and standing up, a move that has one of the highest calorie burning stats of any resistance move… the squat. Try this, before sitting down in front of the TV, go to sit but stop RIGHT before your bum touches the cushion. Then stand. That’s one rep. No barbell, just your own body weight. Repeat it 10 to 12 times. That’s a set. Something so simple but then you’ll have earned that seat. You’ll have raised your endorphins, making you feel good and you’ll have boosted your metabolism, getting the most out of your food. It’s making these changes that help improve fitness. Not just your body but also your mind.

Make 2018 the year of the small but mighty changes!

‘The Healthonist’ Recipes by Pamela Ryan – AUTUMN SUPERFOOD SALAD

Our week 10 Love Your Health recipe, by nutritional therapist Pamela, is AUTUMN SUPERFOOD SALAD!

I am a firm believer that salads are not just for summer. With such a variety of gorgeous vegetables coming into season at this time of year it seems a shame not to show them off in all their glory.  I adore the deep, rich tones of beetroot, figs and purple kale. This earthy salad features lots of familiar superfoods that deliver an abundance of nutrients including protein, iron, vitamin B1 and folate; antioxidants in the form of phenolic compounds found in purple kale, beetroot and figs and antioxidant vitamins C and K. The soluble fibre in lentils and essential fatty acids in extra virgin olive oil and avocado make this a vegetarian main course for lunch or dinner.


Serves 2 hungry people as a main course (or 3-4 as a light lunch or side dish)

  • 2 beetroot (approx. 250g peeled weight) chopped into cubes
  • 1 red onion, peeled & quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 cups cooked green lentils (or 1 can organic cooked lentils, drained)
  • Juice of 1 small (or 1/2 large) lemon
  • Handful of fresh basil or parsley, roughly chopped
  • 2 whole fresh figs, washed and quartered
  • 4-5 stalks purple kale washed and chopped into chunks
  • 1 avocado, peeled, stone removed and chopped into chunks
  • 2 Tbsp pine nuts
  • Sea salt


  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Place the beetroot, red onion, garlic, cumin and thyme onto a roasting tray, douse with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Roast in the oven for about 20 – 25 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the onions slightly caramelised.
  3. While the beetroot is roasting, prepare the rest of the salad:
    • Place the lentils, lemon juice, basil, figs, kale, avocado and pine nuts into a large bowl and toss gently to combine the ingredients.
    • When the roasted vegetables are ready, discard the thyme from the roasting tray and allow the vegetables to cool slightly.
    • Toss the beetroot, red onion and garlic into the bowl with the rest of the salad ingredients and gently combine. Taste and season with more lemon juice, sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil if desired.



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‘The Healthonist’ Recipes by Pamela Ryan – APPLE & BLACKBERRY HAZELNUT CRUMBLE

It’s week 9 of nutritional therapist Pamela’s mouth-watering healthy recipes and she is making it harder & harder for us to pick a favourite! This weeks recipe is Apple & Blackberry Hazelnut Crumble. It’s Gluten Free, Grain Free, Dairy Free & contains No Refined Sugar.

“Late August, given heavy rain and sun for a full week, the Blackberries would ripen”

– From ‘Blackberry Picking’ by Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney’s poem is by far one of my favourites….so evocative of summer’s end and the arrival of autumn. This healthy dessert showcases the best of local autumnal fruits. Blackberries are high in antioxidants which are responsible for their deep purple colour and I used new season apples from last weekends farmer’s market haul. Apples are high in pectin fibre, and slow releasing sugars so they control blood sugar levels and promote healthy digestion. The crumble topping is grain free and deliciously nutty.  Hazelnuts are an indigenous nut and are rich in antioxidant vitamins E and K which protect the heart.  They are also bursting with folate, which is particularly beneficial if you’re planning a pregnancy; and biotin, which supports skin and hair health. I like to serve this with whipped coconut or almond cream but you can use dairy cream if you wish.


  • 5 Apples (peeled, cored & chopped)
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 star anise
  • 50g coconut palm sugar
  • 5 tablespoons water
  • 100g raw hazelnuts
  • 100g mixed seeds
  • 100g almond flour (ground almonds)
  • 125g coconut oil
  • 1 cup dates soaked in 1/2 cup hot water


  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Place the apples, cinnamon, star anise, coconut sugar and water into a saucepan and cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes until the apples begin to soften.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the blackberries.
  4. Pour the mixture into a deep oven proof dish and dust with a little almond flour.
  5. To prepare the crumble blitz the hazelnuts and seeds in a food processor until coarse. Transfer to a bowl and add the almond flour.
  6. Use a hand blender to blend the dates & hot water to make a paste, add the coconut oil and mix.
  7. Combine the nut and seed mixture with the date paste and coconut oil and combine.
  8. Pour the mixture over the apple and blackberries. Cover with a sheet of tinfoil to prevent the nuts from burning, and bake in the oven for 45 minutes (remove the foil after 30 minutes to allow the crumble to brown).
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving warm with coconut or almond cream.



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‘The Healthonist’ Recipes by Pamela Ryan – ULTIMATE BEET BURGERS!

Welcome to week 8 of nutritional therapist Pamela’s divine but healthy recipes. This weeks recipe is ULTIMATE BEET BURGERS…. & ruby-stained fingers!


Makes 10 burgers

  • 1 small red onion, peeled & chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 2 large beetroot (approx. 600g), peeled & chopped
  • 1 handful of basil leaves
  • 2 ounces raw walnuts
  • 2 ounces Nua Naturals hulled hemp seeds
  • 1 egg
  • 150g ricotta cheese
  • 150g organic oat, buckwheat or millet flakes
  • 1 teaspoon maldon sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • Olive oil for brushing

September is probably one of my favourite times of year at the farmer’s market.  A feast of courgette, squash, pumpkin, kale and savoy cabbage, the last of the summer cucumbers and first of new season apples.

My local market is on Sunday mornings at The People’s Park in Dun Laoghaire, but you’ve got to get to McNally’s Organic Farm stand early for the richest pickings! Last week I grabbed some humongous purple beetroot, which feature in this week’s recipe. Beetroot contains betacyanins – a group of antioxidant compounds that give this root vegetable its rich jewel tone – betacyanins support liver detoxification, reduce inflammation and improve blood circulation (the latter being the reason that beetroot is an athlete’s best buddy!).

These nutrient-rich vegetarian beetroot burgers are packed with protein from ricotta cheese (another farmer’s market purchase), walnuts and hulled hemp seeds (Nua Naturals to the rescue yet again), and are a rich source of omega 3 fats, iron and B-complex vitamins. These are truly delicious, ideal in the lunchbox or for dinner with sweet potato fries or a gigantic green salad (see serving suggestions below).


Place all ingredients (except the oat / millet / buckwheat flakes & the olive oil) into a food processor. Pulse until fully combined, but with plenty of texture. Transfer to a large glass bowl and stir in the oat flakes. Cover and leave in the fridge for at least 1 hour (this step is important, as the oats will absorb excess water from the beetroot).

Heat the oven to 200oC. After 1 hour, remove from the fridge and use your hands to shape the mixture into burger patties. The mixture will be moist, but if it feels too wet, stir in another handful of the flakes you used or add 1 tablespoon of coconut flour (I use Nua Naturals). Using a pastry brush, lightly brush each side of the burgers with olive oil and place onto an oven dish lined with greaseproof paper. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then remove the burgers and turn them over gently with a spatula. Bake for another 10-12 minutes and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Delicious warm or cold!


  • On grilled portobello mushrooms with sliced avocado, rocket leaves & tomato, sprinkled with mixed seeds
  • In a wholegrain bun with sliced tomato, lettuce & hummus.




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‘The Healthonist’ Recipes by Pamela Ryan – Carrot, Coconut & Lentil Soup

This is nutritional therapist Pamela’s 7th enticing recipe she’s provided for us. This weeks recipe is Carrot, Coconut & Lentil Soup… perfect for this cooler weather and a lot easier to make than you’d think!

(serves 4)


  • 1 Tbsp virgin coconut oil
  • 1 medium white onion, peeled & chopped
  • 1 thumb-sized chunk of ginger root, peeled & chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 heaped teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric
  • 600g organic carrots, washed, ends removed & chopped
  • 4 heaped Tbsp dried red lentils, rinsed in cold water
  • 1 organic vegetable bouillon dissolved in 650ml hot water
  • 1 can full fat organic coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon maldon sea salt
  • Large bunch of fresh coriander leaves, roughly torn
  • Freshly ground black pepperThis vibrant soup is easy to digest, nourishing and warming, whilst cooling coconut milk and fresh coriander offer subtle hints of summer, which is fortunate because as I write this, Ireland’s summertime is having its last hurrah (you’d know the schools are back!!). Serve with a big green salad, or a chunk of rye or sourdough bread spread with almond butter or some smashed avocado to make a satisfying, incredibly nutritious meal.


Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which the body uses to make vitamin A. A diet high in carotenes is associated with a reduced risk of some cancers, as well as promoting healthy skin, hair and nails. Lentils add protein, iron and a trace element called molybdenum which is excellent for oxygenating the blood (oxygenated blood = mental clarity + great skin….so that’s beauty and brains!!). Spices such as black pepper, coriander, cumin and tumeric posses powerful antioxidant and antibiotic qualities. Turmeric in particular contains a compound called curcumin which is both clinically and scientifically proven to reduce inflammation in the body. Coconut provides medium chain fatty acids. Fat has numerous important functions – it transports antioxidant nutrients such as vitamins A, C and E into our body cells where they can go to work mopping up free radicals and repairing damaged cells, and its satiating, which prevents overeating and snacking too much between meals!


Heat the coconut oil in a large pot. Sweat the onion for about 10 minutes before adding the ginger, coriander, cumin and turmeric. Cook for a further minute then add the carrots and lentils. Stir well over a medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Add the vegetable stock, water and sea salt. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Then add the coconut milk and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before blending. Using a hand blender, blend the soup until smooth. Add a few cracks of black pepper to taste.  To serve, spoon into bowls and add a handful of torn coriander leaves.




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‘The Healthonist’ Recipes by Pamela Ryan – Raw Cacao, Nut & Seed Bars

Welcome to week 6 of nutritional therapist Pamela’s delicious nutritious healthy recipes. This weeks recipe is Raw Cacao, Nut & Seed Bars.

Don’t forget you can also get a free printed version of this recipe and more at your local LloydsPharmacy… enjoy!

Not only are these bars magnificently tasty, they are packed with fibre, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. They are an ideal post-workout snack and will feed  a few hungry kids after school. Add a piece of fruit or a green vegetable smoothie and you’ve got the perfect breakfast! So why are these little superfood bars so good for you?

  • Nuts have some of the highest antioxidant levels of all plant foods which help to fight inflammation and cell and tissue damage caused by free radicals.
  • Hemp, poppy and sesame seeds are equally nutritious as well as being an excellent source of protein and calcium.
  • Dates are excellent for supporting digestion, and balancing blood sugar.
  • Raw cacao powder is hands down one of the best sources of iron and magnesium as well being known to boost mood and energy levels.
  • Bee pollen. These miniature golden nuggets are high in fibre, iron and zinc that enhance energy, support the immune system and may even reduce histamine levels in people with allergies.
  • Note: I use Irish brand Nua Naturals’ superfoods for this recipe. Nua Naturals products can be found in your local Lloyds Pharmacy.

Makes 15-18 bars

Dry Mixture:

  • 1 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups of mixed raw nuts (walnut halves, hazelnuts, almonds, pecans)
  • 1 cup Nua Naturals hulled hemp seeds
  • 2 Tbsp Nua Naturals bee pollen
  • 2 Tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 heaping handful of rolled oats

Wet Mixture: 

  • 1 cup of dried dates (about 20 dates)
  • 3 Tbsp hot water
  • 6 Tbsp coconut oil (room temperature)
  • 3 Tbsp light tahini (sesame seed butter)
  • 4 Tbsp Nua Naturals raw cacao powder
  • 1 Tsp vanilla extract


  1. Line an 8-inch baking tin with greaseproof paper and set aside.
  2. Place all of the dry ingredients into a food processor and pulse. Don’t over process, you want the mixture to be fairly coarse. Transfer the mixture to a large glass bowl and leave aside.
  3. Now add all of the ingredients for the wet mixture into the food processor and blend until thick and smooth.
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry, and mix really well until combined into a slightly sticky ‘dough’ (use a large metal spoon or a spatula, or use your hands).
  5. Transfer the mix to the lined baking tin and press down firmly. Use a small rolling pin or heavy glass jar to flatten the mix evenly.
  6. Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour or freeze for 15-20 minutes.

Once set, remove and slice into bars. Wrap in parchment and store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.




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‘The Healthonist’ Recipes by Pamela Ryan – Chilli Sin Carne (with Chocolate!)

Welcome to week 5 of nutritional therapist Pamela’s amazing healthy recipes. This weeks recipe is Vegetarian, Gluten Free & Dairy Free.

She will be providing plenty more  recipes over the next few weeks! And don’t forget you can also get a free printed version of this recipe and more at your local LloydsPharmacy… enjoy!

This one-pot recipe is packed with nutritious vegetables and beans and makes a perfect vegetarian meal for the family.

Whilst beans are often considered a carbohydrate rich food, they are in fact one of the best sources of plant protein with up to 15 grams of protein per cup cooked. Black beans and red kidney beans have the highest protein content, which is why I include them in this recipe.

Beans are packed with fibre which supports digestive health and bowel function; they are rich in folate, copper, magnesium, iron and vitamin B1 which are essential nutrients involved in energy production and cell function; and they contain phytonutrients which help to reduce inflammation and protect against heart disease.

Its no wonder then that the world’s longest living populations, the ‘Blue Zones’, all consume beans on a daily basis! Coincidence? I think not!

Serves 6

You will need:

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed and chopped
  • 1 heaped tsp cumin powder
  • 1 heaped tsp chilli powder (Tip! Start with 1/2 tsp and add another 1/2 tsp later on if needed. This works well if you prefer to control the heat, or if you are serving to young children)
  • 1 tsp chipotle chilli flakes (as above, start with a 1/2 tsp and add more later if desired)
  • 1 heaped tsp dried oregano
  • 2 celery stalks, washed and roughly chopped
  • 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1x 400g tin of organic black beans, drained
  • 1x 400g tin of organic red kidney beans, drained
  • 1x 680g jar of organic tomato passata
  • 1 Kallo organic mushroom or vegetable stock cube dissolved in 250ml water
  • 4x squares Lindt 85% dark chocolate (from a 100g bar) finely chopped
  • 2 cupped handfuls of finely chopped raw nuts (I used pecans and walnuts)
  • 1 heaped tsp sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve:

1 bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

2 limes, quartered

1 large avocado, stone removed, peeled and diced

2 large spring onions, finely chopped

1 head of iceberg lettuce (peel away and wash the large leaves, keeping them whole so you can spoon some chilli into the lettuce cups).

How to…

Make… Start by prepping your vegetables so you have everything ready to go. Gently heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, celery, cumin, chilli powder, chilli flakes, dried oregano and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes until the onion and celery have softened (but not overly browned or burnt!). Stir in the sweet potatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes or so before adding the black beans, red kidney beans, tomato passata and mushroom stock. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Allow to simmer gently for about 30 – 40 minutes until the vegetables are soft. You can add more water if the chilli starts to get a little thick. Then add the dark chocolate, nuts, sea salt and pepper and stir well before serving.

Serve… Spoon the chilli into deep bowels, sprinkle over some diced avocado, spring onions and add a wedge of fresh lime. I like to spoon some chilli into big round leaves of cooling iceberg lettuce, roll and eat. If you’re feeding a particularly hungry crew you can add a half cup of cooked basmati rice or quinoa to each bowl before spooning over the chilli. Delicious!




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