Sweet Nothings: Try a low-sugar diet by using these healthier substitutes instead…

words by Miss Savvy

Sugar is the devil incarnate affecting our skin, hormones and digestion and let’s not be fooled here; whether you are choosing the whiter than white sachet sugar at the greasy spoon or opting for the nice brown natural looking stuff, it’s much of a muchness. Brown sugar has a little molasses added to give it that ‘healthy’ look but nowhere near enough for there to be any nutritional value. So is there an alternative that will offer a little more than empty calories and waist expansion? Thankfully there is!

I divide them into two camps;

1/ Healthy Slimmers- agave nectar, xylitol and stevia.

2/ Health Maintainers- honey and molasses.

Before we embark upon this journey to the land of all things sweet I would like to add that one of the best things we can do for our health is to curb our sweet cravings and opt for the savory side of life. Tuck into green leafy veggies, pulses, slow releasing carbs like sweet potatoes, buckwheat and brown rice. Enjoy good quality protein and snack on nuts and seeds. Eat fruit in moderation; though high in fructose it also contains vitamins and the all important fibre. But if something more resembling the fine white is needed then choose from below and use sparingly.

Agave Nectar
Agave is one sweet babe and takes me back to my ‘Lyles Golden Syrup’ childhood but how does it rate as a healthy alternative? Agave is from a Mexican plant that produces the sticky juice that is ninety percent fructose. For this reason it has had some bad press and been likened to high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). So what are it’s redeeming points? As the sugar in the syrup occurs naturally it shouldn’t contribute to tooth decay in the same way as sugar, it has a much lower glycemic index than sugar (30 as opposed to 100)meaning it won’t dump a huge hit of sugar in your bloodstream, it contains naturally occurring calcium and iron and as it is sweeter than sugar you will tend to use less. Drizzle with vigilance and always buy a premium raw agave nectar. Perfect with porridge, pancakes and anything that cries out for syrup.

Pronounced zy-lit-ol this is the one to favour if you want a sweetener that looks and tastes just like white granulated sugar; even hard core sugar fanatics will not be able to tell the difference! It is obtained from plant fibres so completely natural, it’s GI is a ridiculously low 7 so it will have minimal effect on blood sugar levels and it has 40% less calories than sugar; it’s a win win! And there’s more; Xylitol is tooth friendly by minimising the bacteria which cause tooth decay and it is good for the gut as it discourages the growth of candida. Superb in baking it can be used like for like and to replace anywhere where you see the granulated sugar sign apart from in baking bread as it inhibits yeast.

The leaves of this small shrub from China and South America have been used for several centuries to sweeten tea, medicine and as a very sweet treat- Stevia is 200-300 times sweeter than sugar! The leaves have a liquorice taste but when refined it retains its uber sweetness without the aftertaste and is a very attractive zero calories. Stevia has almost no effect on blood glucose, will not feed bad bacteria in the mouth and is a divine combination with fruit, cereal or in your cuppa. Stevia is also heat stable so can be used in cooking and baking but it can be tricky getting the sweetness right. There is a school of thought that is concerned that the stevia we consume is so chemically processed that it is many moons away from the plant (which also contains phytochemicals and nutrients) and therefore health concerns could arise but only more research will be able to verify this.

Rich in amino acids, vitamins and minerals honey has been used as a food and medicine since ancient times but not all honey is made alike. Many have undergone a process of ultra filtration and pasteurization which strips it of many nutritional benefits. Opt for raw and local honey as it is very high in antioxidants; the darker the colour the higher the level. It also contains propolis that is antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal and being local it will be a big boost for your immunity. Manuka is also a savvy choice; excellent for the immune system, gut health and skin conditions such as acne and eczema. It provides what is called non-peroxide activity (NPA) which is a unique antibacterial property that is not so easily affected by heat, light or chemicals in the gut. Aim for 5+ – 15+ UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) and get spreading!

Black as midnight and densely rich molasses is the by-product of the sugar cane refining process. The juice extracted from the sugar beet is boiled down, the sugars crystallize and deposit and the syrup left over is molasses. This process happens three times producing three kinds of molasses; light, dark and black strap. With each cycle the molasses contain less sugar but more vitamins and minerals so it would be a wise choice to reach for the black strap. Deep and spicy it is perfect in ginger cakes, spread over toast, oatcakes or any cracker of your choice and yummy with porridge. Molasses is prized for it’s high iron content but also contains magnesium, potassium and calcium. Try the ‘Mineral Morning Cup’ by simply mixing a teaspoon of molasses with hot water to create a fuelling full-bodied beverage.

I would like to end with our old store cupboard staple Cinnamon – so easily relegated to a mere sprinkling on a cappuccino or Christmas bun. The wonders of cinnamon are legendary helping to relieve bloating, heartburn and stabilize blood sugar levels. Cinnamon can be mixed with any of the above to create a lively mix.

So let’s ditch the sugar coated life, savor the savoury and when a tad of sweetening is required opt for more than empty calories.




Hip and Healthy Pesto (Dairy-Free)

Hip and Healthy Pesto (Dairy-Free)

by Saskia Gregson-Williams

I made this vegan pesto as a dip at a lunch party recently and it went down such a treat. I find it very difficult to find tasty dairy-free pesto, it’s normally either too oily or not oily enough and never tastes fresh. This homemade recipe uses a mixture of herbs and nuts giving it another delicious dimension of taste. Try adding it to a sandwich, pasta dish or have as a dip with a host of colourful raw veg.

Nutritional Value:
Unbeknown to most, pesto – and this one in particular – is packed full of healthy ingredients. The basil, which contains an oil called eugenol, is packed with a host of anti-inflamatory properties. And the garlic is a fantastic immune booster. The pine nuts are a great source of fibre and they are also known for making you feel fuller for longer, not to mention that they are a good way to get some protein too. The mint is also a wonderful digestive and the cilantro (coriander) is a superb cleanser.


1 cup basil

1/3 cup cilantro

1/2 cup parsley

1/4 cup mint

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/4 cup pecans

1-2 cloves fresh garlic

1/2 cup Organic Olive oil

Sea salt, to taste

Combine herbs, pine nuts and garlic in a food processor and process the mixture until it turns into a coarse meal. Then slowly add olive oil continuing to pulse the blender on and off. Continue blending until the mixture becomes a smooth paste. Season with sea salt to taste. Move to a bowl, cover and store for at least an hour before serving.


Editor’s Pick: What to snack on whilst you work

* Sweet Treat: 9bar, £1.89 for four, Waitrose
9bars are a fantastic way to satiate your sweet tooth without picking something terribly bad for you. Jam-packed with nutritious seeds including sunflower, sesame, poppy and pumpkin, 9bar’s latest addition, Peanut, adds crunchy roasted peanuts and a pinch of salt to give this yummy snack bar a unique texture and the perfect balance of sweet and salty flavours. All 9bars are dairy- and wheat-free.

* Savory Snack: Popchips, 69p, Waitrose
Those who can’t help but reach for a packet of crisps at 4pm will love the healthy alternative, Popchips. Opt for the original flavour and you’ll be getting a minimal combination of just five ingredients – which is what we like to hear. They are just 95 calories too and have no trans fats, fake colouring or flavouring, no preservatives and no cholesterol.

* Raw Kick: Nosh’s Raw Smoothie, £3.49, Wholefoods
From the owners of Nosh Detox comes a new range of smoothies on the market – the first EVER raw smoothie. Thought that all your smoothies were raw? We did too, but we soon found out that the smoothies on the market are actually heated to a high temperature so that they can last longer on the shelves but the downside to doing this is that it kills a lot of the goodness. Nosh’s Raw Smoothie uses an entirely different (and secret) technique allowing you to receive all the wonderful benefits of eating raw as the smoothies retain all their vitamins and nutrients.


Free Manicure with Every At Home Facial

We have managed to secure a fantastic offer from the brilliant girls at Perfect 10 Mobile Beauty for our loyal readers of Hip and Healthy….

Gone for a pedicure and immediately smudged your feet leaving the salon? Had your brand new spray tan rained on while walking home? Hate the feeling of being on the tube after having a cleansing facial? Perfect 10 eliminate all these problems by coming straight to the comfort of your own home to perform high-end beauty treatments at an affordable price. We especially love their Elemental Herbology facials, paraben and SLS free, this relaxing facial includes an extensive face massage and a pressure point foot massage, all bespoke and tailored to your own skin’s needs. We know how good they are as we have tested them ourselves!

Hip and Healthy Readers will get a FREE mini manicure if you book a full 1 hour 15 minute Elemental Herbology Facial at just £75.

Sign up to our free email updates and you can access the offer by quoting ‘Hip and Healthy’ when you book.

Perfect 10 operate in London; contact them to book through their website: www.perfect10mobilebeauty.co.uk

Passport to Glow: Great Skin Diet Tips From Around The World

words by Skin Expert and Organic Skin Care Range, Nourish, Founder, Pauline Hili

Japan – Eat Until You’re 80% Full and Add Seaweed
When looking for inspiration from around the globe one of the best kept secrets to healthy ageing through our dietary behaviour comes from the Japanese Okinawan population who practice Hara haci bu. This translates to ‘eat until you are 80% full’ and is an Okinawan cultural habit. The Okinawans’  life expectancy is amongst the highest in the world and their practice of stopping at 80% capacity is a smart way of avoiding over-eating as it takes the stomach receptors about 20 minutes after stopping eating to register the level of fullness. Many studies support the theory of reducing the calorific burden on our bodies being linked to longevity and we should all be eating based on nutritional value rather than watching calorific value. It’s better for your skin and your overall health. Also, seaweed plays a big part in the dietary intake of the Okinawanian diet. It’s packed with the broadest range of minerals of any food known on earth as well as lots of anti-inflammatory B vitamins making it excellent for promoting healthy skin. Recent research has focused on a class of chemicals know as fucoidans, which are found almost exclusively in certain kinds of seaweed. These molecules are fast emerging as the anti aging super-heroes and play a role in tissue regeneration, immune function and cell to cell communication. Seaweed is a great regular addition to your diet as fucoidans are not found in any of the common ingredients in our usual Western diets.

Mexico – Discover the Benefits of Jicama
Vitamin C ranks amongst the most important vitamins for healthy skin. Scouring the globe for vegetables with high levels of vitamin C we land in the heart of Mexico where Jicama, an indigenous root vegetable packed full of vitamin C, forms part of the staple diet. It has white flesh and a slightly nutty flavor similar to that of the water chestnut. Vitamin C is crucial to the development of collagen, which is the main structural protein of the skin and it also plays a vital role in the cell renewal process. Top Tip: Not just a nutritionally beneficial food, when used topically, the juice of the Jicama has both moisturising and energizing properties by stimulating the metabolism of the skin’s cells and increases the hydration of the skin.

India – Sprinkle Black Cumin Seeds
Although it is certainly not an excuse to head to your local take-away, the black cumin seeds, which traditionally top the Peshawari naan that accompanies some typical Indian dishes, contain an oil that has been shown to strengthen the hair and finger nails and improve shine when eaten frequently. The oil comes from the seeds of the annual flowering plant native to south and southwest Asia and it has a pungent, bitter taste and smell. But don’t let that put you off as it has a high level of minerals and omega fatty acids and an excellent antioxidant value. Fighting free radicals with dietary defenders is an excellent way of ensuring the skin stays healthier for longer.

Western America – Embrace the Prickly Pear
For those of you looking for an adventurous fruit to add to the fruit bowl to promote great looking skin then look no further than the Prickly pear. This succulent fruit manages to survive and hydrate itself in extremely hot desert temperatures and it provides vitamin A in the form of pro-vitamin beta-carotene, a pigment that protects the health of your eyes and skin. It contains high levels of  magnesium and potassium, which plays an active role in maintaining bone health. Getting enough of these minerals along with calcium in your diet may help prevent osteoporosis. Top tip: Topical application of prickly pear juice provides an excellent natural exfoliant to smooth away dead skin layers.


Dairy-free, Sugar-Free Strawberry Cream Pie


by Ella Woodward


When I first gave up dairy I thought I’d never be able to eat a creamy-tart style dessert, however, I’ve since discovered that a combination of tofu and cashew nuts perfectly replicates that soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture. Combined with strawberries and a little raw agave syrup they work wonders in this pie to create an unbelievable dessert. The sweet and creamy base melts against the ever so slightly crunchy almond infused crust and is enhanced by the beautiful layers of fresh strawberries decorating the top. Even better, this dessert is totally guilt free. It’s so healthy! No gluten, no dairy, no sugar, just nutritional deliciousness! It is amazing. Almost hard to believe something so healthy is so scrumptious. Trust me, everyone will love this no matter what their dietary preferences normally are!

For the base:

– 2 cups of ground almonds

– 1 cup of pecans

– 2 tablespoons of coconut oil

– 1 cup of dates

For the middle:

– ½ a cup of cashew nuts

– 1 cup of tofu

– 1 ½ cups of strawberries

– 3 tablespoons of agave syrup

– 1 tablespoon of coconut oil

For the topping:

– 1 cup of strawberries

Start by making the base. Place the pecans and ground almonds into a food processor and blend into a fine nut flour, this should just take a minute or so. Then add the coconut oil and dates and blend again, after 3-4 minutes a sticky dough should form. Remove the dough from the processor and mould it into a greased pie dish. Then bake at 180C for 20-25 minutes, until the top begins to brown. I like to use ceramic baking beads to ensure the pie kept it’s intended shape, but these aren’t vital. Once it is cooked remove the crust and set it aside to cool.

While the pie bakes rinse the processor. Then place the strawberries (with the green top removed), tofu, cashews, agave and coconut oil in for about 5 minutes to allow a thick, creamy middle to form.

When the pie crust has cooled remove it from its baking container, then pour in the strawberry cream. Next, place the tart in the fridge for an hour to allow it to properly set. Once it is ready to serve slice the top of the final cup of strawberries to give them a flat base on which to stand, then place them in circles on the top.

Slice, serve and enjoy!

Antioxidant Fuelled Puffed Amaranth Muesli

by Saskia Gregson-Williams

A great way to start the day, this muesli is perfect for active bods since amaranth is packed with protein. In the past the Aztecs referred to this nutrient-rich grain as the food of immortality, and its also known for its ability to reduce cholesterol. As well as a host of other health benefits it’s full of b-Vitamins, iron and calcium. This muesli is also teamed with brazil nuts, mixed seeds, pomegranate and raspberries to add to it’s antioxidant value. Amaranth must be cooked in order to make it edible and it is completely free of gluten.


1/3 cup amaranth
1/2 cup mixed oats
5 halved brazil nuts
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp flame raisins
2 tbsp fresh pomegranates
2 tbsp fresh raspberries

Heat a pan on medium-high temperature. Pour the amaranth seeds into the hot pan and cover with the lid. Shake the pan with one hand while holding the lid down with the other. Continue to shake the pan for 1 to 2 minutes while the amaranth seeds cook and puff (you should hear them pop). Remove the pan from the heat when you see all of the seeds have puffed. Mix with all the other ingredients, top with berries and serve with oat, almond or rice milk.

About Saskia
As an aspiring professional ballet dancer, I train up to six hours a day. Ballet is demanding not only on your strength of character but your body and this is where my passion for cooking and creating deliciously healthy recipes comes into play.  They say you are what you eat .I’m no cashew nut so im a little doubtful on that one but I do believe you feel as good as the food you eat. Nutrition plays a key part in injury prevention, muscle soreness and overall body performance. It fuels and heals. I’ve always been passionate about making meals that are not only supremely nourishing but tastes (and for the most part) looks delicious too – the very definition of hip and healthy.
Follow: @sassyballerina

Roasted tomato and red pepper soup

by Ella Woodward

This is without a doubt one of my absolute favourite soup recipes. It is just so amazingly rich, warming and delicious. I love the bright red colour too. All of the ingredients are naturally wonderful, however, it is the roasting process that takes them to the next level as it really intensifies the original flavours. Even better, cooking the tomatoes and peppers in this way means that they fully absorb all the delicious aromas and tastes of the basil, rosemary, bay leaves and thyme. You really can taste the wonderfully subtle hints of each herb in every mouthful, which creates such a perfectly unique flavour. Trust me this makes a fantastic starter, all of your guests will love it. It’s really simple too, which means you can focus on the main course and dessert, preparing them as the vegetables roast. Totally perfect.

Serves 6


16 plum tomatoes

4 red peppers

A large handful of fresh basil leaves

A handful of fresh rosemary

5-7 bay leaves

Dried thyme

1/2 of a cup of water

4 dessert spoons of apple cider vinegar (use lime if you don’t have this)

3 dessert spoons of tomato puree

Olive oil



Slice the red peppers into eighths, removing the centre. Then chop the tomatoes into four or five slices. Cover the bottom of a roasting pan or baking tray in olive oil and place the tomatoes, peppers with the basil leaves, fresh rosemary, dried thyme, bay leaves, salt and a drizzle more olive oil on top. Roast at 200C for 30 minutes.

Once they vegetables have finished roasting put them into a liquidizer with the apple cider vinegar, tomato puree, salt & pepper, be careful not to add the bay leaves or rosemary sticks though. As the soup blends, slowly add in the water until you reach your desired consistency. Once you have reached this pour the soup straight into bowls and serve.

Click here to view Ella’s food blog, Deliciously Ella.

A Boot Camp We Know You’ll Love: Cameron House


words by Harriet Chubb

As the self-confessed Boot Camp lover on the Hip and Healthy team, and after trialling many daily, weekly and monthly camps in London, I practically squat jumped at the chance to experience my first residential camp. This was no ordinary residential camp however, the brand new Boot Camp by SOS Fitness at Cameron House teams a luxury 5* resort with the best (currently serving) military and navy Physical Training Instructors to get both body and mind into shape – fast. Combining this military style fitness with the finest Scottish hospitality, including indulgent Spa treatments, they have created the ultimate pleasure & pain package, all set against the awe-inspiring back drop of the impressive Loch Lomond.

After a short flight into Glasgow airport, I was surprised at how quick the transfer was to the hotel, 25 minutes after weaving through various Glasgow suburbs we arrived at the resort, into a tranquil haven of nature, the sudden appearance of the baronial mansion of Cameron House looming over the brooding Loch was more than a pleasant surprise considering the short ride. You can almost hear your shoulders clunking into their natural position; the stresses and strains of London and travelling instantly forgotten. The hotel itself has subtly managed to capture the traditional essence of Scotland whilst remaining contemporary in style; an exposed modern ceiling in the Cameron Grill restaurant for instance contrasts perfectly with the traditional furniture and artwork, creating up-to-the-minute grill-style dining. The sumptuous bedrooms have a similar fusion, with thick, tartan rugs to wrap around you on chilly evenings while watching your plasma screen TV or listening to music on your ipod docking station; it was easy to forget that early next morning heralded the potentially painful aspect of my stay.

7am dawns and a pre-breakfast run around the loch starts the SOS Fitness regime for the day. Thinking that I could bury my headphones into my ears and shut out the early morning world to get through it, I was very much mistaken. It was not a straight-forward jog but a military style hour-long class blending running with exercising and finally bursts of sprinting creating an interval training based lesson. Although I was slightly taken back at first by the intensity of the session, it was an excellent way to wake up both body and mind, the two instructors were so engaging that by the end of the session they knew everybody’s names and even more remarkably, so did I. It was a perfect ice-breaker and far better than a simple trot around the loch.

After a healthy and nutritious breakfast, think protein packed poached eggs, (no bacon butties in sight) the day began in full force. Kicked off by a light-hearted but informative NLP session (Neuro Linguistic Programming) that aimed to inspire confidence in our training, we were then guided through an overall fitness test, measuring body fat percentage, visceral fat (fat around your organs), athletic age and hydration levels to name but a few! Although this is of course intimidating, it’s a necessary part of beginning and measuring a healthy exercise and eating plan. After completing as much of the bleep test as I could and consequently feeling like I was in Year 10, I had an excellent idea of my overall health and my realistic, achievable fitness goals. What I was not quite prepared for was the circuit training that followed. A gruelling, intense and painful hour ensued, with at least 10 different stations to go through, not once, but twice; including weights, core exercises and various military drills. It was difficult and it was supposed to be. However, the instructors were so good at motivating the group that we all got through it in one piece, notwithstanding the odd profanity murmured and occasional tear shed.

Lunch was as Hip and Healthy as it gets, steamed chicken and vegetables or baked organic salmon fuelled us for the afternoon activities. With great collective relief we realised that there were no more circuits or fitness classes arranged for the day. We were instead whisked off across Loch Lomond on an exhilarating rib ride to Inchmurrin island, small but ruggedly beautiful it was the perfect setting for our military style orienteering. From building a camp fire in two minutes flat to trekking through the undergrowth (and sometimes straight through the ice cold loch!) it was all expertly and lovingly organised and a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon. It is this part of the camp that sets SOS Fitness apart from other companies. I couldn’t quite believe that the people I had met at 7am in the morning had previously been strangers; the experience bought everybody together in a way I haven’t come across before at other day boot camps.

It was the promise of an evening spa treatment however, that was at times the incentive I needed to keeping putting one foot in front of the other during the day and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. After a relaxing massage and thermal experience at the award-winning Carrick Spa I felt entirely rejuvenated from the day’s strenuous activities. Taking a dip in the heated, rooftop infinity pool was a particular highlight, with breathtaking views over the world famous Carrick golf course. Continuing the pleasure theme is easy at Cameron House, with many restaurants to choose from in the resort, however after the rigorous boot camp I would highly recommend The Boathouse, casual dining at its best, featuring the finest local seafood from Scotland’s only salt water loch at the famous Loch Fyne. If you decide to prolong your stay (and we think you will want to) there are many other invigorating activities that the hotel offer, including a real once-in-a-lifetime experience; cruising in the UK’s only sea plane high above the loch, perfect for special occasions, and sometimes the odd romantic proposal!

The Boot Camp at Cameron House by SOS Fitness will run day camps on the 13th October and the 10th November 2012 at £149 per person which includes the full programme with healthy breakfast and lunch. Room rates at Cameron House are £169 per room per night. Look out for the 3 night and 6 night packages that are due to launch in 2013!



If you do one thing this week… Beat the Bloat

No one likes feeling uncomfortable and there is nothing more annoying than a bloated tummy. What you are often feeling is air passing through your intestines. There are many reasons as to why bloating can occur; food intolerances; stress; illness… to name a few, but there are also a few simple things, and foods, that you can introduce to combat bloating, here are our top five.

1. Eat little and often
Leaving too much time between meals causes the body to produce higher levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), which has been proven to slow down the digestive system and therefore cause bloating. By eating little and often you can help to regulate your blood sugar levels, which in turn will stop cortisol in its tracks.

2. Relax and eat bananas
Take a hot bath, read a book, watch your favourite TV show or have reflexology… Whatever it takes to relax you, try it – you may just find that your bloating is caused by external stress such as work or worries. Also, try adding more bananas into your diet – they are high in tryptophan and packed with vitamin B6 which help to manufacture the happy hormone, serotonin (which will combat the cortisol also brought on by stress).

3. Peppermint tea
Drinking a cup of peppermint tea is a great natural way to beat the bloat. As you may know, peppermint tea contains an oil called menthol, which has a very positive effect on bloating as it calms spasms in the smooth muscle tissue. This allows for the muscles around your stomach to calm and then helps you to release any gas that has built up and been causing you all that discomfort.

4. Cut out alcohol
We know you don’t want to hear it but alcohol can exasperate bloating. Beer, cider and fizzy mixers are the worst culprits. Alcohol can also create bloating because it eats away at the stomach lining, which then makes the stomach more vulnerable to digestive juices making it harder to digest food.

5. Eat more fibre
Fibre is what you need to help push all the food you have eaten through your system. A high-fibre diet includes bran based cereal, oats, strawberries and blueberries as well as lots of lovely leafy greens and vegetables. If you are getting enough of all of these then you should remain pretty regular and therefore maintain a healthy digestive system.

The Hip & Healthy guide to Rio de Janeiro

words by Belinda Mann


Rio de Janeiro is one of the sexiest cities in the world, and as the next host to the Olympic games, the perfect backdrop for those with hip and healthy agendas. Whether you’re into running, cycling, swimming, football, volleyball, rock climbing or surfing this city has it all on offer! It’s such a way of life here every Sunday the main street along the beaches is closed to cars to make way for crowds of locals to strut their stuff.  But despite the body bearing beach lifestyle in Rio de Janeiro satisfying my health kick here has taken a little more investigative work than I originally thought. Many menus are meat heavy without a vegetable in sight. Fried foods are common place, pão de queijo (cheese and bread) is a snack bar staple and sugar is added to absolutely everything. But fear not of course this city has some healthy hangouts! However they tend to be frequented more by chic Cariocas (locals) in the know. To help you break away from the tourist crowd and slink your way into a healthy habit, we’ve singled out some of the best options. These won’t break your holiday budget either leaving your body and your wallet ready for bikini shopping – Brazilian style!

Rio is a sprawling metropolis but most visitors are drawn to the famous beaches in the south of the city (Zona Sul) Copacabana, Ipanema & Leblon.

Bio Carioca, Copacabana  
With a mind body spirit mentality when it comes to food they have vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options. Pineapple and limao juice is a nice choice pre meal to aid digestion just ask for it without sugar. I love the assado de lentilhas (lentil nut roast) and the range of salads is good. Some of the non-vegan items can be a bit heavy on the cheese though. Sit down service with friendly waiters. A block back from Copcobana beach (between Post 4 & 5). http://www.biocarioca.com.br/

Delirio Tropical, Ipanema 
Delirio Tropical in Ipanema has a great range of salads and vegetarian options. Just watch out for those with heavy dressings. There is a queue system by where you take a tray and move along a glass counter – great if your Portuguese isn’t up to scratch as you can point at what you want and you know exactly what you are getting when you order. I love the little bottles of house mate (the local ice tea). Located a block off the beach between posts 9 & 10. http://www.delirio.com.br/lojas_ipanema.html#

Post 11, Leblon
At the most upmarket end of Rio, Post 11 in Leblon is THE spot to be seen! Full of young, fashionable, beautiful cariocas. Nothing beats the simple unadulterated pleasure of a coconut on the beach here. After drinking the coconut water ask “você poderia cortar” for them to machete open the coconut so you can scoop out the nourishing flesh. To satisfy a bigger appetite walk a few blocks off the beach to Vegetariano Social Clube. They do a great buffet lunch of fresh salads and hot food for a fixed price. http://www.vegetarianosocialclube.com.br/cardapio_ingles.htm

Universo Organico, Leblon
If you are into raw food then Universo Organico is a must. A stones throw from Vegetariono Social Clube this little gem of a place tucked in the back of a Leblon shopping centre –  it’s worth taking the effort to find. Raw food lasagne is great and they make smoothies using nut milk – something you’ll be very hard pressed to find anywhere else in Rio.

The most important tip I can give you to stay healthy in Rio is to learn the phrase “sem açúcar por favor” as the locals have very sweet teeth indeed, and add sugar to absolutely everything – including naturally sweet fruit juices.

Bom apetite!

Roasted salmon with a soy, lime, chilli and ginger marinade


by Food Blogger, Ella Woodward

The idea of Deliciously Ella, my food blog, developed last year after I was diagnosed with a relatively unknown autoimmune disease, Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (POTs). At that point I faced some pretty interesting challenges. My entire nervous system had shut down, to the point that I was unable to walk between my bedroom and the kitchen without blacking out. As you can imagine this was a little frustrating, so I decided to try a natural approach to healing. To learn to love and nurture my body through food, which has been  amazingly successful. The more I understand the more I want to share, to show how unbelievably creative, exciting and delicious nutritious food could be. Food really has a remarkable affect on our bodies, both physically and mentally. Harnessing this power in a positive way is incredible. It is a tool for absolute health and happiness! I want to inspire people to love healthy eating, to seeing it as a wonderful way of life, not as an imposition. All my recipes are gluten, dairy, sugar & meat free and use the purest, most natural foods to create the most delicious meals. These are my favourite dinner party dishes.

Roasted salmon with a soy, lime, chilli and ginger marinade

This is one of my go-to dinner party recipes. It always looks and tastes incredibly impressive, yet it is surprisingly easy to make, and even better it remains pretty uncomplicated no matter how many people you’re cooking for. The flavours are wonderfully intense, as the salmon fully soaks in the marinade to give it fantastic hints of tangy lime, rich and salty soy, spicy chilli and soothing ginger. Pre-marinating the fish and baking it with so much liquid also ensures that it remains beautifully soft and moist. I love to serve this dish with slow cooked cinnamon infused sweet potato wedges. Their sweet taste and tender texture really compliments the salmon. I’d normally add a green of choice too, often green beans as they add a fantastic little vitamin-infused crunch, but since their flavour isn’t too strong they don’t detract from the unbelievable flavours of the salmon and potatoes.

Serves 6 

6 salmon fillets

1 cup of soy sauce (check it is gluten free)

1 large knob of ginger

3 large jalapeño peppers

6 limes

On the side

6 sweet potatoes



6 handfuls of green beans

First make the sweet potato wedges. Slice them into chunky wedge shapes, then place them on a baking tray with a really generous amount of olive oil. Sprinkle salt, cinnamon and paprika over them before putting them in to bake at about 180C. They should take about an hour to become wonderfully soft and tender, the longer they cook the better.

For the salmon to fully soak up all of the delicious marinade it should be prepared about an hour before you want to cook.

Pour the soy sauce and squeezed limes into a small bowl. Peel and grate the ginger, then de-seed the peppers and slice them into tiny cubes. Add these both to the soy bowl and stir well.

Place the salmon into a deep baking tray and pour the marinade all over. Keep in the fridge until you’re ready to cook.

Once you’re nearly ready for dinner, place the salmon into a 200C oven and bake for 10-15 minutes.

While the salmon cooks steam the beans.