When aiming to improve your lifestyle, whether it’s to reach a fitness goal, lose weight or simply to feel more energised, it’s often necessary to look at a variety of factors. Are there ways we can reduce our stress, include more exercise in our daily routine, sleep better, or incorporate more nutrients into our diet? With much to consider, it can feel a little overwhelming to start with, but the only way to approach such a change is in a slow and steady manner.

When starting a new routine, health experts stress that if 30 minutes of exercise is a little too difficult at the start, simply begin with a 10 minute – or even a five minute – stroll, and over the coming days and weeks the five minutes will become 10, then 15, and before long, 30 minutes of daily exercise won’t seem like such a burden. It can seem so achievable, yet taking that first step outside the door, especially on a cold January evening, is often the biggest challenge.

Likewise, when altering your diet, a huge overhaul can be extremely difficult, so we need to address it slowly and thoughtfully. It’s well noted how small positive changes have the potential to make a big difference to our overall health.

Something as simple as drinking more water will not only aid our entire digestive system to work more efficiently, but it can also help lubricate our joints allowing us to move with more ease.

Eating more whole foods, natural foods, foods straight from the land, and increasing our intake of fruit and vegetables are well recommended when we’re aiming to increase the nutrients in our diets.

Fruit and vegetables are packed with important vitamins and minerals, but they are also a rich source of fibre, which plays an important role in keeping the digestive system healthy.

Wholegrain breads and rice also offer more fibre, as do wholewheat pasta, making them a good alternative to the white variety. It is always best to avoid sugary, fried, or highly processed foods, as well as high sodium snacks.

After the incessant snacking of the festive season, this habit can be a difficult one to break, but substituting sugary snacks with nutrient-dense alternatives, such as a piece of fruit or homemade protein balls, can be a good compromise.

Mint Chocolate Protein Balls

These protein balls are so delicious and are packed with nutrient-rich ingredients. They only take minutes to make and keep well in the fridge for up to five days.


150g oats

100g dates

25g raw almonds

25g pecans

125ml milk

100g peanut butter

2tbsp cacao powder

4 drops natural peppermint extract

For the topping:

50g dark chocolate, melted

Sprinkle of sea salt

1 Add the oats to a high-powered blender and blitz until fine.

2 Add the dates, almonds, pecans, milk, peanut butter, cacao powder, and peppermint extract. Blitz for about 30 seconds, until fully combined.

3 Taking a little scoop of the dough, roll into a ball and place on a greaseproof paper-lined tray. Repeat with the remaining mixture, making about 20 balls.

4 Drizzle each ball with a little melted chocolate and sprinkle a tiny amount of sea salt on top.

5 Place in the fridge and once set transfer to a sealed container. They will keep well in the fridge for at least five days.

Nessa's Orange Cardamom Granola / Nessa Robins

Orange Cardamom Granola

This granola is packed with nutritious ingredients. It can be enjoyed by the handful, as a tasty snack, but it makes for a delicious breakfast when paired with some Greek yogurt and seasonal chopped fruit.


300g porridge oats

50g sesame seeds

50g sunflower seeds

100g pecans, roughly chopped

4 cardamom pods

50ml coconut oil

75ml maple syrup

Zest of 1 orange

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

Sprinkle of sea salt

1 Preheat the oven to 190°C/ fan 170°C/gas mark 5.

2 In a large bowl, combine the oats, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and pecans. Stir to combine.

3 Crush the cardamom pods to release the seeds inside. Discard the husks and using a pestle and mortar grind the seeds until they’re dusty and fine.

4 In a small saucepan, over a low heat, melt together the coconut oil and maple syrup. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture starts to bubble. Once melted, take from the heat, and stir through the crushed cardamom, orange zest, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and a sprinkle of sea salt.

5 Pour the wet mixture into the bowl with the oat mixture. Stir well to combine.

6 Tip the mixture onto a large baking tray and spread evenly.

7 Place in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, stirring the mixture two or three times while baking, to ensure the granola is baking evenly.

8 Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight jar/container for up to one week.

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Gluten-free Christmas desserts

Nessa Robin's edible gifts for the festive season