Guatemalan Tamales

Tamales are typical of Guatemalan cuisine and are essentially flavorful mixes of dough, meat, and sauces steamed in large leaves. They are perfect for food on the go as they are delicious and easy to transport. What’s more, making tamales is a fantastic way to bond with your loved ones, and even if you don’t make the full recipe, it’s a delicious dish regardless!


At the core of the Mayan diet; tamales have a deep history. Tamales were the fuel for their warriors and travellers; they provided food for weeks on the go. When the Spanish came to Guatemala, they introduced new flavours to the region, inspiring a mix of New World and Old World ingredients that are incorporated into tamales found in Guatemala today.

Amazingly, evidence points to tamales being consumed by the ancient Aztec and Mayan cultures. The earliest tamales were simple, made with beans and squash and roasted over a fire. When Europeans brought other ingredients such as chicken, pork, olives, raisins, and other foods to the New World, the tamales became more elaborate and varied.

As with every dish there is numerous versions of Guatemalan tamales. The differences can be found in the size, the leaves used for steaming, flavours of sweet or savoury, and the ingredients of the dough (or masa). 


On a recent trip to Los Angeles a dear friend taught me this amazing recipe! This recipe makes 50 tamales, so you have plenty of delicious food to share with your loved ones…

Ingredients and Method

Part 1- Sauce

  • 2 bunches of coriander

  • 3 fresh by leaves

  • X2 pasilla chilli

  • 8 large red tomatoes

  • 1 ½ celery stalks

  • ¼ one large onion

  • X2 California chilli pods- deseeded

  • 1 red bell pepper


  • Put all the ingredients in a pan cover with water cook for 45 min

  • Blend it when cooked

  • Add chicken stock powder

  • Put banana leaf into boiling water 15 min on each side  to soften them to fold easier

  • When they ready, cut into squares and set aside

Part 2- Sauce

  • Pumpkin seeds 120g

  • Sesame seeds 120g

  • Roast on oven tray

  • Add half of the roasted seeds in the blender

  • Half of the tomato mix above

  • 1-2 cups chicken stock

  • Cinnamon stick

  • Annatto/achiote 1 tbsp (Annatto is an orange-red condiment and food coloring derived from the seeds of the achiote tree (Bixa orellana) native to tropical regions from Mexico to Brazil.

  • 2 cloves

  • 1 tsp black pepper

  • 1 tsp garlic powder

  • 1 tsp meat seasoning

  • 2 tbsp chicken stock

  • 1 tsp salt


  • Blend the ingredients well

  • In a pan add 2oz butter add the blended ingredients to butter in pan and cook down/reduce

  • Towards the end 1 tbsp  chicken stock

  • 1 tsp salt

  • Cook for further 15 minutes then take off heat

  • Add chicken bouillon towards the end

  • 1 cup of veg oil in sauce when cooking

  • 50 pcs aluminium foil cut into 10 x10 inch rectangles


  • Cut foil into squares same size as banana leaf

  • Place the square of banana leaf, washed hard spine removed and cut into 10x 10 inch rectangles- onto foil

  • Put one large spoon of rice on the leaf it serves as a base

  • Onto of the rice place chicken and sauce on-top /can put the chicken pieces in sauce before or shred it whichever you prefer

  • Garnish with peppers and raisins and prune are optional

  • Fold the top edge of the banana leaf down over the filling.

  • Bring the bottom edge of the banana leaf up over this.then fold in both sides to make a rectangular package. (Be careful not to wrap it too tightly or the filling will squeeze out.)

  • Flip the package over so it is seam side down.

  • Finally, place them in a pan with a colander so they can be steamed.

the FODMAP diet-A way to cope with IBS

Spicy meatballs and Butternut Squash Spaghetti

Spicy meatballs and Butternut Squash Spaghetti

Exploring the FODMAP diet concept

As a food consultant working across Leicester and the whole of the United Kingdom, I am always interested in staying at the fore of all things new and exciting, especially in regards to any developments in the food industry.

Recently I’ve heard more and more about the FODMAP diet as a way of helping to control IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and I thought it would be a good idea to explore this concept in a little more detail and share my findings with you.

But first things first, what exactly does FODMAP stand for?

In recent times, research has shown that certain carbohydrates can contribute to symptoms of IBS sufferers and these carbohydrates are:

Fermentable – sources include the obvious sugary treats including cookies, cakes, and soft drinks, but they also include less obvious food such as bread, crackers and breakfast cereals.

Oligo-saccharides- sources include wheat, beans, peas and pulses, some vegetables- particularly onion and sweeteners including processed food additives

Di-saccharides- animal milk such as cow and goats milk

Mono-saccharides- sources include apples, honey, sugar snap peas and fructose

Polyols- sources include peaches, plums, mushrooms, cauliflower and sugar free sweets.

As you may or may not already be aware of, carbohydrates can be present in different forms in foods, ranging from long-chain carbohydrates (such as starch) to simple sugars (such as glucose) that are well-digested and absorbed to produce energy. Resistant starch and fibre are long-chain carbohydrates resistant to digestion and are essential in normal bowel function.

Through extensive research an Australian group have produced fantastic evidence to demonstrate that a group of short-chain carbohydrates, named FODMAPs are problematic to those suffering with IBS. These short chain carbohydrates are poorly absorbed in the small intestine and rapidly fermented by bacteria in the gut. It is the production of gas by these bacteria which is a major contributor to the array of unpleasant symptoms.

Ask anyone suffering with IBS and the majority will confirm that their symptoms are related to the consumption of certain foods. With this in mind, adopting a low FODMAP diet may well help sufferers to reduce the severity of their symptoms and enjoy a better quality of life all round.

How can FODMAP help IBS sufferers?

IBS is a debilitating condition that can reduce the quality of life due to an array of unpleasant symptoms including abdominal pain, intestinal gas, bloating and altered bowel habits spanning all extremes, and so eating yourself well is a important aspect of living with the condition.

In recent times, a wide range of therapies have been tried and tested to control the unpleasant symptoms of IBS including bulking agents, laxatives and various medications, as well as a myriad of lifestyle changes. But rather than popping oodles of pills, day in, day out it seems that following a low FODMAP could be a fantastic alternative.

Tailoring the diet to meet your individual lifestyle and preferences, the low FODMAP diet allows for successful drug-free management of symptoms through diet in many patients but will unfortunately not cure IBS entirely. That said, adopting this diet has been proven to improve the symptoms of IBS amongst sufferers which can only be a positive thing and isn’t restricted to just this condition.

Other clinical studies have confirmed that the application of the low FODMAP diet has also improved gut symptoms in more than 50% of people with inflammatory bowel disease and has also helped those with no colon whatsoever.

Here to help

So, the verdict is out, the low FODMAP diet seems to be a no brainer when it comes to tackling the symptoms of IBS. If you would like to discuss your own individual requirements, get in touch- I’ll be happy to discuss how I can help you in your quest to live with the condition.

As a personal and private chef, I am available throughout Leicester and the wider surrounding areas (as well as across the United Kingdom) to develop diet plans, bespoke meals and also come into your home to cook for you in line with your requirements to ensure you feel fighting fit from here on in!

Why not check out this delicious low FODMAP meal and discover how following such concepts could help control the symptoms of this condition for you.


Judging at the RECENT FreeFrom Food Awards

Halima Ferreira- Judge at the recent Free From Food Awards

Halima Ferreira- Judge at the recent Free From Food Awards

At the very tail end of last month, I had the absolute honour of being a judge at The Free From Awards at the Royal College of Physicians in Regents Park, London, now in its 10th year. And, WOW what an evening to remember- with oodles of fantastic nominations across a variety of different categories, it was no mean feat to decide on an overall winner.

Seeing so many deserving, friendly faces all under one roof really is one of the best feelings about being a judge for the Free From Awards. I get a genuine buzz from seeing how genuinely excited the winners are because they all have so much invested in what they are doing and trying to achieve.

Working as personal/ private chef and food consultant covering not only Leicester but the whole of the UK, I spend my days, and nights, surrounded by delicious, wholesome food and undoubtedly love being a part of this fantastic organisation. Therefore as you can imagine, being asked to be a judge at this year’s event was the icing on the cake for me!

Taking this all into consideration I wanted to give you a little low down into who was crowned as the overall winner this year and who was pipped to the post.

The Winner of the FAIR trophy for the Best FreeFrom Food 2016 was awarded to the very worthy winners- BFree for their gorgeous Sweet Potato Wrap

Building on the popularity of sweet potatoes in recent years, The BFree Sweet Potato wrap is the first of its kind, and tastes absolutely delicious, no questions asked! Free of all of the major 14 allergens, BFree have created something completely new and delicious, which has been described by the panel as ‘enormously versatile, beautifully soft and pliable, a lovely warm colour and tasting delicious’.

And to top it all off, BFree’s Sweet Potato wraps are only 96 calories per wrap, but really pack a punch when it comes to taste – ‘just what a freefrom ought to be!.’ While they low in calories, the wraps also have no added sugar and are a good source of fibre and antioxidant Vitamin E making them the perfect lunch time treat or on the go snack.

‘I would normally expect a wrap to be bland but this adds a really interest and flavour of its own.  Beautifully pliable, great colour – and so freefrom! Brilliant for lunch boxes.’

And now to the very worthy runners up:

Green's Dubbel Ale

Bottle re-fermented and naturally gluten free, Green’s Dubbel Ale is the latest edition to the range of beers created from ancient grains to create gorgeous tasting ale. The dubbel style originated in Belgium, possibly as a “second style” offered for sale by monastic breweries and still makes for the perfect ale, regardless of all the years passed! Green’s Dubbel is the world’s first version of this style produced from ancient grains and boasts all gluten-free ingredients and so it’s no wonder they enjoyed great success at this year’s awards!

 ‘Very dark with a hint of a rich aroma. Rich, rounded taste – deceptively mild but with a strong alcohol hit. Good mouthfeel – typical Belgian dubbel.’

Naturally Coconuts Mint Choc Chip

Unrefined, low GI, crazy healthy with absolutely no added colours or artificial flavours, Naturally Coconut’s Mint Choc Chip ice-cream really is something rather special! Taking the best organic coconuts and transforming their into yummy ice cream, sweetened with unrefined coconut sugar, Naturally Coconut’s ice cream is perfect for vegans, is 100% organic and without question, utterly delicious!

Made with love in beautiful Cornwall, Naturally Coconut’s Mint Choc Chip ice-cream is perfect for kids and adults alike! So, don’t miss an opportunity to try their highly sought after flavour at a freezer near you- you’d be crazy to miss out on this one!

‘Exciting product, super quality cacao and great, complex flavours. Mint is impressive, chocolate almost harsh but it works.’

West Cornwall Pasty Gluten and Dairy Free Traditional 'Everybody' Pasty

The only pasty to make it onto the runners up list, the famous Traditional Cornish Pasty is both Gluten and Dairy Free, packed to the rafters with Traditional tastes of Cornwall and encased in a perfectly perfect hand crimped crust.

Beautifully made in a dedicated gluten free factory which has all checks and measures in place to avoid gluten ever entering the factory, this very delicious pasty stays free from cross contamination, making them absolutely spot on for sufferers of Coeliac Disease and those needing to avoid Gluten and Dairy. Not to be missed this one!

'Amazing to be free of so many allergens but still be a really good pasty! Nice pastry, good and meaty – and available at train stations!’

Yau's Thai Style Satay Sauce

Gluten free, low fat and 100% delicious, Yau’s Thai Style Satay Sauce delivers authentic, fresh-looking Oriental food experiences in a bottle to enjoy in your own home, without the guilt or worry! What’s more, with no MSG and no artificial colourings or preservatives, Yau’s Thai Style Satay Sauces are produced in the UK and therefore support the local economy and businesses, adhering to strictly controlled standards for total peace of mind.

'Really fresh & spicy with a real kick – lovely. Brilliant to have a nut free substitute for satay which tastes just as good – if not better! Great fresh simple ingredients list.’

And last but by no means least in celebration of the Awards 10th Anniversary Clare Marriage of Dove Farm Foods was crowned as the Awards’ Freefrom Superhero. The huge contribution that the Doves Farms flours and foods have made to the Freefrom industry over the last ten years has been recognised by the whole judging panel and I’d just like to pass on my own congratulations on this fantastic award!

I myself wholeheartedly agree with the comments in terms of how far the industry can progressed over the last decade. Everywhere you look now there are fantastic equivalents to standard products- all delicious and often healthier than the originals so it’s no wonder the UK and the rest of the world are supporting the growth in Freefrom Foods! Long may this continue and I very much look forward to being a part of this fantastic movement for many more years to come, should I be so lucky!

Here to help you

If you would like help, advice or suggestions in terms of cooking delicious, home cooked meals suitable for those allergic to allergens, get in touch with me today and I will happily provide helpful advice and food consultancy from the comfort of your own home. Alternatively, as a private/ personal chef I am on hand to prepare and cook meals for you, saving you the time, effort and hassle of trying to create allergen friendly dishes for you and/or the whole family.

I am here to help so don’t delay, get in touch today by emailing or calling now on 07789 326 547.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Kick start your metabolism ready for the summer

Spring and finally sprung and what better time than now to start a healthy detox to kick start your metabolism and get you ready for the summer?!

As a food consultant working across Leicester and the surrounding region, I understand that most people would like to be in better shape and feeling healthy in time for the summer sun. For many a healthy detox can be just the ticket but why should you embrace a health detox, and what are the benefits in doing so?

Firstly, there’s no magic formula that you can take that will suddenly turn you into a healthier version of yourself, however hopefully you can benefit from some of the tips and guidance I am about to share with you.

The Key to Your Metabolism

With a wealth of experience in the food industry the key to a fitter, healthier you lies in your metabolism and how clean your internal body is. As a biochemical process, metabolism dictates how fast you turn calories into energy and this is something which you need to address in order to kickstart your healthy lifestyle and get yourself summer ready!

I’m sure you are aware that you use energy and burn fat when you are exercising and digesting food, but did you know that you also continue to burn fat even when you are resting? The rate at which you burn fat when at rest is called your BMR, or Basal Metabolic Rate. It’ll be music to your ears but there are methods to speed up your BMR so that you can burn fat faster even when you aren’t doing much and also speed up your metabolic rate.

As with everything in life, in contrast to speeding up your metabolism it can also slow down. In fact, you may well be doing things currently that slow down your metabolism and allow your body to store excess fat without even realising it. Such factors include:

  • Eating Poorly – My first suggestion is to stop with the fizzy drinks and sugary treats. While we all deserve a little treat once in while why not speak to me about planning your meals to focus on organic, healthy, and natural foods instead of high processed fat foods?
  • Not Enough Sleep – If your body is exhausted then the efficiency with which it burns calories diminishes. A well rested body is more efficient and not only will it make you feel better, your body will thank you in the long run too.
  • Being Stressed Out – Stress causes high levels of a hormone called cortisol in your body, which leads to excess fat and a lower metabolism. As difficult as it may sound, try to kick back, relax and unwind, and stop stressing…positive mental attitude really will help to kick-start your metabolism and change your attitude towards food in a positive way!
  • Fad Dieting –Avoid fad diets and super low calorie diets. Low calorie diets cause your body to switch to starvation mode, your metabolism slows down to keep you from burning too many calories, then when you eat again your body stores the calories as fat. Fad diets may work in the short term, but the true path to a healthier you is to improve your overall eating habits over the long term.
  • Age- unfortunately some factors affecting your metabolism include some that are beyond your control, such as older age. Your metabolism naturally slows down with age and this is especially true in women.
  • Health conditions- an under-active thyroid, family genetics or adrenal burnout can also lead to weight gain and a slower metabolism. But that doesn’t mean you cannot kick-start your healthy living and speed up your metabolism in time for the summer!

With this in mind, if you have any concerns or questions about how to change your eating habits, how to safely begin a healthy detox and how to eat more ‘clean’ foods, I can help you.

So, what’s the best way to speed up your metabolism? You’ve guessed it- a combination of exercise and delicious, clean and healthy food. As a private chef working across Leicester and the rest of the UK and with many years of experience working as a food consultant, I am on hand to help get your food choices on track, enjoying a healthy detox and kick start your metabolism ready for the summer!

I live and breathe delicious food, all day, every day and look forward to being able to help you live, eat and think ‘clean’. What's more, as a judge for the fantastic FreeFrom Food Awards- now in its 10th year- I have a wealth of experience in preparing and cooking delicious dishes which are gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free and nut-free- perfect for those with allergies and sensitivities.

I was honoured to have attended the annual awards only a few days ago on the 28th March 2017 and cannot wait to share the details with you very soon. Watch this space!

Get in touch today to find out how I can help you by emailing through my online form or by calling me on: 07789 326 547 to discuss your individual preferences, requirements and goals for the summer months.