To anyone who has not been pregnant - or lived with someone who has been pregnant - I have to tell you that the term 'morning sickness' really is somewhat misguiding. It would have one imagining that this pregnancy-associated sickness is isolated to the mornings, however it is anything but. About 80% of all pregnant ladies complain of morning sickness and for most ladies this nausea lingers the whole day long, and not until the fourteenth week of pregnancy does this queasiness actually lift. The constant pang of nausea is unsettling and if you add vomiting to the equation day-to-day life is simply exhausting. The most likely cause of morning sickness is the body reacting to the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This is the hormone that is detected on a pregnancy test. Some woman experience a more severe form of morning sickness, called hyperemesis gravidarum, where it's challenging to even ingest a glass of water without being sick. This is a completely crippling condition and can often require a stint in hospital to treat.

It's a challenge to eat when struck with nausea, but an empty stomach advocates a queasy tummy, so it's vital to try and tolerate some food. It's best to adopt the policy of grazing on small amounts of bland food during the day, such as porridge, toast, bananas, scrambled eggs or mashed potatoes. Nibbling on some dry biscuits or crackers just before getting up in the morning can help to somewhat ease early morning nausea. Foods which may encourage nausea include fried, fatty foods, and ones that are highly spiced, so these are best avoided. The heightened sense of smell, which accompanies most pregnancies, can also increase bouts of nausea. Every pregnancy is different, so keep a diary of the foods and smells that trigger the nausea and until this stint of sickness has eased try to avoid them, but when avoidance isn't an option stay in well-ventilated rooms.

At a time when it's most difficult to tolerate food, it is crucial to maintain a good hydration level. For optimal health, hydration is important for us all, but certainly when pregnant the more dehydrated you are the more likely you are to be nauseated. As well as sipping on water throughout the day, introduce other ways to increase fluid intake, such as sucking on ice cubes, eating fruit, vegetables and low salt soups.

When you're overcome with nausea and that intense tiredness, which most pregnant ladies experience, be kind to yourself, take any help that's offered and rest. Nausea can be worse when tired so if you're feeling a little lethargic, listen to your body and take a break. During your pregnancy the tiredness and nausea can often be a signal to slow down. After-all, your body is going through a dramatic change with a little person being created from a combination of cells, so it's important to conserve what energy you can. Rest, whenever possible, take plenty of fluids, ask for help from loved ones, and always inform your doctor or midwife of your morning sickness and any associated side effects.

Ginger Snaps

Ginger has been used for centuries to ease a queasy tummy. When inflicted with nausea you may not be too inclined to whip out the mixing bowl, so pass this recipe on to your other half or anyone who's looking to give you a helping hand. Store them beside the bed, in a sealed tin, to help ease the early morning pangs of nausea. For a nice nutritional boost, I'm using sel-raising wholemeal flour, however, it can make the mixture a little extra crumbly when trying to assemble before cooking.  

150g butter
75g soft brown sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
275g wholemeal self-raising flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas mark 4. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.  
  2. In a medium sized saucepan, melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup over a low heat. With a wooden spoon, stir continuously until the mixture is fully melted and combined. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. 
  3. Sift the flour, ginger and cinnamon into a bowl. Add to the saucepan, stirring well to form a ball of dough. 
  4. Once the mixture is cool enough to touch, take a spoonful, about the size of a soup spoon, from the pan and using the palm of your hands roll into a small ball and place on the prepared baking tray. Leave a little room between each biscuit as they do expand a little during baking. With a fork, gently press down on the top of each biscuit. Repeat with the remaining dough, to make approx. 12 biscuits. 
  5. Place in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, until the biscuits have puffed up a little and are a delicious brown colour. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the tray before transferring to a wire tray. Once completely cooled, store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. 
Recipe and text taken from my Home Nurse column - Farmers Journal May 2015
I also shared my recipe for Bircher Muesli in the above column, and I previously shared it here on the blog.
These nutritious muffins are ideal for grabbing as a breakfast on-the-go, but they could also make for a tasty addition to a lunchbox. As this recipe is simply a matter of adding the wet ingredients to the dry ones, it's a wonderful recipe to try out with children if you are planning on a little cooking together. 


Breakfast Muffins


200g wholemeal flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

50g oats, plus extra for sprinkling

75g light muscovado sugar

3 eggs, lightly whisked

150g grated carrot

100g apple sauce

100g greek yogurt

100ml sunflower oil

1tsp vanilla extract

1tbsp mixed seeds




1.     Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/Gas 5. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with 12 large muffin cases.

2.     Place the  flour into a bowl and sieve in the baking powder and cinnamon, then stir in the oats and sugar.

3.     Add the lightly beaten eggs to a large jug with the carrots, apple sauce, yogurt, sunflower oil and vanilla extract.

4.     Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir well until everything is combined together.

5.     Divide the mixture between the 12 muffin cases. Sprinkle the muffins with the extra oats and some mixed seeds.

6.     Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, until well risen and golden. 

7.     Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire tray to cool. Store in a sealed container for up to 3 days.

This post is sponsored by HARIBO.
From an early age, my children have always loved a picnic. If a trickle of early morning sun light ever threatened to peek through the bedroom blind I knew the proposal of a little alfresco dining, be it even in the back garden, was sure to be on the cards. Teddy bears always played a pivotal role at these picnics, and sometimes would even place their own orders of what should don the picnic mat! The older the children have grown the urgency of setting up a picnic on a sunny morning has eased, but their love and nostalgia for picnics hasn’t seemed to diminish in any way. From birthdays to end-of-school farewells, we have shared many a celebration around a picnic blanket. 

The catering for these outdoor feasts has never been fussy. Something savoury; normally a batch of little sandwiches, wraps or maybe a slice of quiche, if I’ve due warning for this outdoor event. Something fruity; slices of melon, an apple or a container filled with grapes. Something to drink; water, fruit juice or perhaps even a flask of tea if sitting on the grass on an Irish summer’s day is a little over ambitious. Finally, the piece de resistance, something sweet. This can simply be the addition of a few packets of our favourite HARIBO’s to our basket, but other times a cake of some depiction will also take centre stage. 

To celebrate HARIBO’s new fruitier mix, now with added fruit juice, and as part of their #MyStarmixFavourite campaign, they kindly asked me to #ShareHappiness and develop a recipe showcasing one of their five iconic pieces. Have you a favourite HARIBO piece? Let me know in the comments below. I chose the cola bottle to showcase, as it has always been my absolute favourite. As a dedicated cake-lover my creation of choice had to involve some sort of a bake, so after a little deliberation, I decided to make an indulgently rich chocolate cake, not just a regular chocolate cake, but one infused with cola and coated in a chocolatey cola frosting, echoing the flavours of the cola bottles which I planned to pile on top. As you can see, it’s a real showstopper of a cake, and one which would easily earn its place at any celebration.

As the summer holidays approach, picnics and outdoor dining are once again on the cards. If you’re planning to enjoy this gorgeous cake as part of your picnic under a sunny blue sky, pop it into a tin and prop it up in a bag or basket surrounded by a few ice packs, which should keep it sufficiently cool on its journey to your picnic destination. 

This recipe and post were sponsored by HARIBO, but Millie and I thoroughly enjoyed setting up our Gummy Bear Picnic and it’s safe to say the cake was happily approved and devoured by the whole family. For more details about the fruitier HARIBO Starmix, visit

This cake is indulgently rich and moist. Even though it contains cola, there isn’t a hugely distinctive cola flavour, however what the cola does add to the cake is a caramel undertone and this delicious sweetness is so much more pronounced when paired with the HARIBO cola bottles. This is the perfect cake to make and enjoy at any celebration this summer.

Chocolate Cola Cake with a Cola Frosting and Topped with HARIBO Cola Bottles

225g butter, softened 
225g light brown sugar
275g self-raising flour 
50g cocoa powder
3 free-range eggs, lightly whisked
125ml whole milk
250ml cola
Chocolate Cola Frosting
125g butter
100g dark chocolate, approx. 50% cocoa solids
2tbsp cola 
Small pinch of sea salt
250g icing sugar, sieved
To Decorate
HARIBO cola bottles

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas mark 4. Line and lightly grease 2 x 20cm baking tins. 
2. Using a mixer, or a large bowl and wooden spoon, cream the butter and sugar together until soft and pale in colour, which will take about 5 minutes.
3. Sieve in the flour and cocoa powder and stir until combined.
4. Next, add the eggs and gently combine, before gradually adding in the milk. A little at a time, mixing well in between each addition. 
5. Pour in the cola and gently stir through the batter until well combined.
6. Divide the batter between the two prepared tins. Place in the preheated oven for about 35 minutes. 
7. While the cakes are baking, make the frosting. Place the butter, chocolate, cola, and pinch of sea salt into a small saucepan over a low heat. Once the butter and chocolate are almost melted, remove from the heat, and stir well to combine. Allow to cool before adding to a large bowl with the sieved icing sugar. Beat well with a wooden spoon to combine. At this stage, the frosting may look as if it has split, but let me assure you, once it is left to sit and cool, on the countertop not the fridge, for approximately an hour, it will look and taste perfect. Simply, give it a good stir every fifteen minutes or so. 
8. When the cakes are baked, leave in the tins for a few minutes to cool slightly, before turning out on to a wire rack. 
9. Once completely cooled, assemble the cake. 
Hold back two tablespoons of the frosting and place in a piping bag, for decorating the top of the cake. Place one of the cakes on a serving plate, top evenly with some of the frosting, before placing the other cake on top. Cover the top and side of the cake with the remaining frosting and smooth using a palette knife. To decorate, pipe a few nozzles of frosting on top of the cake and decorate, as generously as like, with HARIBO cola bottles. Slice and enjoy.
10. The cake will keep well for about three days. Simply pop it into an airtight tin. 

For anyone who practises lent, the forty days of abstinence from sweet treats ceases over the Easter weekend, making chocolate goodies an integral part of the Easter celebrations. Certainly, in a house with children under its roof, chocolate eggs are always aplenty, and once that first one is cracked open, an easter egg-eating marathon is inevitable for hours, or sometimes days, to come. For most, indulging in a few chocolate eggs won't cause any harm, just maybe some tummy aches. However, such an abundance of chocolate on offer can cause serious temptation to those who are either on a strict diet or must avoid chocolate and sugar for medical reasons. If chocolate is your vice, one of the best ways to survive the temptation of Easter treats is to stock up on goods that allow for a chocolate hit, yet are somewhat guilt-free. A good quality, high-cocoa (at least 70% cocoa solids) dark chocolate is great to have in the press, as nibbling on a square can quash a chocolate craving, and dark chocolate also works well as an ingredient for chocolate cakes and bakes. Cacao powder can be used in many dishes, and little of it is needed to give an intense, chocolate hit, along with the benefit of a nutritional, disease-fighting anti-oxidant, boost. For a soothing, hot drink, a spoonful can be added to a cup of warm milk, but as cacao powder can be slightly bitter, a little honey, or your regular sweetener, can be added to taste. Cacao powder is also a delicious addition to a smoothie mix. While a nutritious, chocolatey, ice-cream can be made by blitzing a few frozen bananas, with a drizzle of maple syrup or honey, and a little cacao powder. 

If your house is like mine, and a tsunami of chocolate eggs is imminent, before the first one is cracked put a little time aside to make or buy a few less-guilty treats to enjoy over the Easter season. At least when everyone else is tucking into their chocolate egg you'll be prepared by having something healthier, and possibly even tastier, to appreciate with an afternoon cuppa.



Easter Energy 'Eggs'


If you are planning on making some tasty treats to gift this Easter, this mixture makes enough for two half dozen cartons; one for a friend and one for your fridge. Each one is fairly filling, so it should keep any chocolate cravings at bay. A combination of nuts can be used, but I find hazelnuts and cashews work particularly well.  


Makes 12

200g dates, pitted

4tbsp natural peanut butter

70g roasted hazelnuts

50g unsalted cashew nuts

25g sesame seeds

25g sunflower seeds



1.     You will need two empty egg carton. Add six cupcake cases to each.

2.     If the dates are dry, soak in warm water for 10 minutes, then drain and pat dry. Add the dates to the processor and blitz for a few seconds, until the pieces are very small.

3.     Add the rest of the ingredients and blitz to combine, but be careful not to over process. Don't fully blitz the mixture. Leave some roughly chopped up bits in place.

4.     Remove the blade from the bowl. Take a spoonful of mixture and careful mould, with the heat of your hands, into an egg shape. Repeat this with the remaining mixture, making twelve 'eggs'.

Text and recipe taken from my 2019 Irish Country Living Easter column.

Since we moved into our current home, almost fourteen years ago, we've always had many different pets fighting for a little space against the backdoor. Dogs, cats, ducks and hens have all stated their claim over the years. Like all families, some days their personalities have caused them to clash, but overall they live quite happily in the outdoors together. Throughout the years, we've been ever so lucky to have a steady supply of fresh eggs, and somehow the ones gathered from the garden always seem to taste the best. A little fresh egg is also ever so nutritious, and when paired with brown soda bread it's rather filling too. This baked egg recipe, I'm sharing today, only takes minutes to prepare, and makes for a tasty breakfast, lunch or supper.  

Baked Eggs with Spinach & Soda Bread

Knob of butter
4 slices of brown soda bread, without the crust
100g spinach leaves
4 eggs, free-range organic
40g cheddar cheese


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C / fan 180°C / gas mark 6. Grease the inside of four small ramekins with a little butter.
  2. Put the spinach into a colander, then pour over a kettle of boiling water to wilt the leaves. Once cool enough to touch, squeeze out any excess water.
  3. Using a scone cutter, cut out 4 circles from the bread that will fit the bottom of the ramekins. Butter each piece and place one, buttered side up, in each of the ramekins and press into place. From the remaining scraps of bread line the sides of the ramekins to make a thin wall.
  4. Divide the spinach between the four bread-lined ramekins, and press down well.
  5. Carefully crack an egg into each. Grate over a thin layer of cheese.
  6. Place on a baking tray and then into the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes. Enjoy.


Our NutriBullet must be at least seven years old, and out of all the gadgets we have in the kitchen it's the one most used. Daily juices and post-workout shakes, for the exercise-enthusiasts in the house, are what it's used for most, but I also grab it when I want to whip up a hummus, breadcrumbs or even the odd cocktail. Generally, we don't stick to a recipe when we're making a smoothie, as it's dependent on what is in the fridge, freezer or fruit bowl, but this recipe I'm sharing with you today is one combination everyone in the house enjoys. The creamy citrusy flavour is somewhat reminiscent of an old-style super split ice-cream, making it a deliciously refreshing and nutritious start to the day for the digestive system.

Morning Juice Boost


75g greek yogurt

1 orange, peeled and pips removed

1 banana, peeled and chopped

½ lemon, juice only

Handful of ice cubes 



1.     Add all the ingredients to a high-powered blender and blitz until smooth.

2.     Enjoy straight away.