Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – Good intentions by Grandmas, Bird Watching and Halley’s Comet

Doesn’t time fly when you are having fun. Well I am anyway and I hope you are too… It has been a busy week offline with various projects and also taking advantage of the cold but sunny weather. It is hard to believe that it is January 20th already but it is great that the evenings are growing lighter by a few minutes each day.

My thanks as always to you for dropping in so often and keeping me motivated and here are some of the posts you might have missed..

This week Linda shares the delightful!! coat that her Grandmother managed to find at the charity shop for her..

Getting to know you – Sunday Interview with author Denzil Walton.

The first part of our trip from Houston to Carlsbad Caverns and to see Halley’s Comet on its once in a lifetime visit.

The title of this series came about as I dipped into a Thesaurus to find some words for a poem I was writing. I noticed that a great many words that reflected (see what I mean) key elements in our lives began with the letter ‘R’. In this first post quite a bit about what I think about RESPECT

Chapter one of the sequel to my first book written 20 years ago which followed my 18 month challenge to lose 150lbs. I am told at 42 that I am unlikely to make 45!

This week I look at the nutritional elements of Asparagus and Carol Taylor turns this very healthy vegetable into some delicious meals.

Colleen Chesebro’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge.

I have chosen ‘Secret and Draw’ for my key words this week and I am also trying my hand at a Haibun… here is the link  where you will find a description of this form which is a combination of prose and poetry.


I have discovered the secret to eternal youth. I stand before the mirror. With eyes almost closed the image blurs. Wrinkles disappear. Hair regains its colour. The extra pounds fall away. I am tall and strong. A reflection of how I used to be. I draw the image towards me absorbing its essence.

Do not be deceived
Challenge the silver backed mirror
Remain young at heart.

New book on the shelves

Author Update -Reviews

Thanks for dropping by and hope to see you again next week… Sally.


Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Who is referring others to your blog? Guests, music and laughter

Welcome to the weekly round up of posts you might have missed.

This week I got back into the swing of things and began the 2019 book promotions and the first of the Sunday Interviews. It was a terrific break but very happy being back to normal.

As always a huge thank you to my regular contributors and guests as well as the support on social media. Whilst managing the various platforms is time consuming and sometimes distracting, it was interesting to see, when I looked at the year’s analytic data, where the most referrals were generated from.

At the top end of the list and accounting for approximately 50% of the referrals out of 221,000 views:

  1. WordPress Reader.
  2. Facebook
  3. Twitter
  5. Other search engines.

The other 50% were referrals from individual bloggers.

This confirms a few things to me:

  1. That WordPress Reader is a very powerful promotional tool for promoting not just our own posts but also when we reblog and ‘press’ posts we enjoy by other bloggers. Since people browse the Reader looking for posts that are interesting, it is well worth making sure you titles and the short summary at the top of your post catch their eye.
  2. That my time spent on Twitter and Facebook is not wasted!
  3. That using key words and tags on blog posts gets results from search engines. (but need to do better)
  4. That connecting and becoming part of a supportive community is essential to the success of a blog.

A huge thank you to everyone who took the time to share the posts this year directly to their own blogs which resulted in referrals and to all of you who took the time to like, share on social media and comment.

This week William Price King shared the life and music of the legendary Duke Ellington.

This week Carol Taylor shares her favourite recipes of 2018… and they look delicious.

D. G. Kaye – Debby Gies shares a recap of her 2018 travel column with a reminder of the places you might like to visit on vacation.

Welcome to the first of a new season of Getting to Know You and my first guest for 2019 is Australian author Frank Prem who has recently released a collection of poems and short stories about his childhood – Small Town Kid.

I was delighted to review Fairies, Myths & Magic: A Summer Celebration by Colleen M. Chesebro.

I wrote the original Size Matters in 1998 about my 150lb weight loss… I did update when the book went digital but that was several years ago. After working as a nutritional therapist for the last 20 years, and having continued to research and study food and its role in our health, I decided that it was time to write the sequel.

It is 1996 and it is a year of change with a move to Brussels and Anthony Robbins Life Mastery.

I am had fun with Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 118 with the synonyms this week of ‘Begin’ and ‘Fresh’

It is now 1986 and both David and my father have their birthdays back to back. We are also making plans for a day trip and a much longer road trip over to New Mexico.

New on the shelves this week.

Author update with recent reviews

The Gentle Detox

As part of a gentle detox it is useful to employ the power of nature as a cleanser for your liver and kidneys. Dandelion is powerful and has many health benefits.

It is a good idea to complete a gentle detox to find out what food triggers or environmental contaminants might be causing you to suffer from allergies or health issues.

Thank you very much for dropping in today and for your continued support. It keeps me motivated to keep writing.. thanks Sally.



Smorgasbord Health Column – Elderly Care – Preventing Colds and Influenza – Sally Cronin

There are certain posts that I repeat each year, as a reminder and for new readers to the blog. We are heading into cold and flu season and both the very young and the elderly are very vulnerable to these opportunistic pathogens.

Elderly Care – Preventing Colds and Influenza

In most of our countries there is some form of elderly care system in place, either in a person’s own home or care facility. However, wherever an elderly person might live, apart from a natural reduction in immune system efficiency, at this time of year, there are many more opportunities for pathogens to take advantage of a weakened host. Unfortunately, in a nursing home, hospital or assisted living facility, the ability of germs to spread through the entire resident population is phenomenal.

I looked after my mother full-time for four years until she died at age 95. She loved visitors and there would be a lot of hugging and kissing of cheeks with people sitting to chat and holding her hand. It was great for her morale and the subject of much discussion long after they left. But unfortunately, sometimes they left more than their kindness behind. That first winter, my mother had two colds and a respiratory infection that lingered for weeks.

Christmas was the biggest challenge as she wanted to go to the church gift fair, the pensioners’ lunch and the coffee mornings. Although there were many of her old friends there, she was also greeted by strangers wanting to shake her hand and spend time talking to her. As with any event where there are a great many people, some around her were coughing and spluttering; inevitably she would be under the weather within three days.

After that first year, I knew that we needed to put some safeguards in place. It is difficult to build an elderly person’s immune system back up when their appetites are not as great as they used to be. Some may also have certain food restrictions due to dentures or other dental issues that make eating difficult.

However, it is important to make sure that any food they do eat is nutrient rich and full of anti-oxidants.


It is better to provide six small meals a day rather than one or two larger ones that might go unfinished. It is also easier for an older person’s digestive system if they eat smaller but high nutritional density meals, and this is how I worked with my mother to improve her immune function.

She enjoyed the same breakfast for years but I moved her from white bread to wholegrain, with some butter and marmalade and a glass of orange juice with a cup of coffee (She hated tea with a vengeance!). She would also sometimes enjoy a small bowl of porridge with warm milk and honey.

Mid-morning – another coffee and a piece of soft fruit.

My mother enjoyed a whisky and water before lunch everyday for at least 60 years, and considering she lived until she was 95, I don’t think it did her any harm! And I would not deny the claims that it is medicinal!

Lunch would usually consist of Salmon, chicken, lamb, pork, cod, turkey or beef – cooked so soft and easy to chew. Carrots, wholegrain rice (large tablespoon) broccoli or Brussels Sprouts, or other green vegetables. Some mashed vegetable options such as carrots and parsnips, or swede. She did not like potatoes but could be persuaded to have some if I bought fish and chips every couple of weeks.

For dessert she would have either yoghurt with blueberries, strawberries, stewed apple or rhubarb. Sometimes for a change she would enjoy jelly and custard or rice pudding with stewed fruit. She also enjoyed ice-cream and that would be topped with peaches but her favourite was tinned soft pears in juice with a spoonful of hot chocolate sauce!

Mid-afternoon – glass of cranberry juice or a piece of fruit.

Supper was varied according to what my mother fancied, but usually homemade vegetable or chicken soup with an egg sandwich, or scrambled egg on toast, tuna or chicken sandwich. She enjoyed smoked salmon sandwiches, and also she took rather a liking to bacon sandwiches toasted one side of the bread with mayonnaise . (It can take some time to find foods that they might not have eaten for a while and introduce them, but the more variety the better).

Before bed a cup of cocoa made with skimmed milk.


Dehydration in the elderly is a particular problem, which will impact the immune system function quite rapidly and lead to urinary tract infections. This is especially the case when they are sitting all day in a centrally heated environment without access to fresh air.

I gave my mother a 500ml bottle of water with a little cranberry concentrate on her table by her chair, and she was encouraged to drink through the day in addition to her coffees and juice. I used to top the bottle up from time to time when she would vacate her chair for a while, and she barely noticed that she was drinking more.

Some physical safeguards.

I am afraid I imposed a kissing and hugging ban for visitors to the house, except for family members between October and May initially and then permanently. My mother quite enjoyed telling people that she could not accept their advances! When we went out to an event, she was very good about keeping people at a distance, and like the Queen she wore lightweight cotton gloves when shaking hands.

I would wipe these off when we got home with antiseptic wipes, and there was a bottle of antiseptic hand wash by her chair for use when expecting visitors. I also introduced my mother to tea tree soap, which she used several times a day to wash her hands.

Making visiting a benefit and not a hazard or stressful.

Outside contact and visitors are very important for mental and emotional health and it is tough to limit these. However, if you can work visits in around the daily routine so that it is not too disrupted, it is physically healthier.

Anyone who was planning to visit my mother was asked to call first, and instead of just dropping in at meal times, or when my mother was having her afternoon nap, they would come at a specific time and only stayed 30 minutes or so. The elderly get tired very quickly. and whilst they love having visitors, it can become very stressful for them, especially when there are toddlers and young children running around.

I would ask visitors on the phone if they had a cold, or had been in contact with anyone in their family who had one. You will be surprised how many thought it was okay to come to see a 92 year old whilst in the middle of a cold or flu infection.

My mother did have the flu jab at the beginning of the season and with the improved diet and the precautions. she didn’t get another cold or the flu for the remainder of her life.

So if you are looking after elderly relatives at home, or you have some responsibility for their care, it is perhaps a good idea to review your cold and flu precautions for them as we go into the winter months. And pay particular attention over general holidays such as at this time of year, when either they will have many more visitors, or they will be taken to large family events where they will come into contact with a large number of well-meaning, but hands on admirers.

Fresh air: The wonder drug.

It is very important, despite the colder weather, to try and get elderly people outside into the fresh air on a bright, sunny day. Despite my mother’s reluctance at first, a wheelchair that folded into the back of my car, and a warm fleecy blanket, opened up a great many more opportunities, and we would enjoy sitting along the seafront with a flask of coffee watching the world go by. People would stop to chat, and dogs would come asking for attention, and half an hour of this combination of nature and interaction, are some of the best precautionary measures against illness you can find.

It has a two-fold effect on both the cared for and the carer.

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2019

A little bit about me nutritionally.

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with over twenty years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse by health books and fiction you can find them here:

 If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to ask in the comments.. or if you prefer send in an email to

Smorgasbord Health Column – The Gentle Detox – Food Intolerances, Nightshade Family and Environmental Toxins by Sally Cronin

On this final post on the gentle detox, I am going to cover some of the other reasons that you might give your body a break from your usual daily routine, and this includes the inevitable modern day stresses.

Having said that it is virtually impossible to take all the time out that you need to do this when you are working full time or have one of the most stressful jobs, keeping a family warm, fed and where they need to be each day.  However, by eating lighter with all natural foods and drinking plenty of fluids you will have made a good start. If you can find 45 minutes to an hour every day to sit quietly and breath in fresh air with some music playing, then that will help too.

To live long and healthy lives we need to nurture and sustain our body. Our organs, bones, tissues, skin and blood accumulate debris and toxins over a period of days, weeks, months and years. Under normal circumstances our body is very efficient in clearing out harmful toxins and has a number of systems in place to deal with them. I took a closer look at the liver earlier in the series, since this is the one organ that has the responsibility of getting rid of waste as well as the toxins within our body.

Unfortunately, life is a little more toxic these days and we are bombarded through our skin, in the air we breathe and in the food we eat. This leads me onto the skin which in fact is our largest waste organ. For example if you break out in spots and find that your skin is not as hydrated as it should be then it is likely that you liver is under pressure and unable to get rid of the build-up of toxins that need to be excreted. Rather go into it in full detail here you might be interested in these posts from 2017 on the skin and its vital role in our defence and waste systems.

To illustrate the effect of a build-up of toxins in the body here is a post on eczema that covers the impact of our diet on skin conditions.

Environmental Factors.

Our modern society is not just about what we eat and drink. The pollutants that are surrounding us on a daily basis attack every system in our bodies and we need to build a strong and robust immune system to cope with the age we live in.

Think about all the chemicals that we come into contact with knowingly and also unknowingly. Household cleaners are pretty obvious (wear gloves) second hand cigarette smoke, hair colouring, make-up, most shampoos and conditioners, air fresheners, washing powder and softeners, washing up liquid, plastic food containers, industrial pollution, car exhaust fumes – the list goes on and on.

A spring clean for your body.

A gentle detox is a spring clean and a preventative measure. It will release the toxins from your body and improve your general health. For anyone already suffering the symptoms of toxic build-up it should bring some relief to the symptoms and aid your recovery.

It is almost certain that unless you live on a remote pacific Island, you will be suffering from some form of general toxicity. If you look back at your life in detail you will be able to identify if there might have been specific exposure to toxins in the workplace such as heavy metals in industry, a dry cleaners or dentist surgery. You may have been a heavy smoker in which case you have certainly been exposed to over 4000 chemicals every time you inhaled tobacco smoke. You may have also used excessive stimulants such as coffee or alcohol that will not only have acidified your body but also prevented the absorption of essential nutrients it needs to be healthy.

If you are sick and in pain then it is very probable that you are suffering from an imbalance of acid/alkaline levels causing acidosis, which is an environment that toxins thrive in. More specific toxins would be ingested, inhaled or absorbed from the intestines, through the skin or into the muscle via injections. If you have undergone suppressive treatments such as radiation, chemotherapy or used medications that have driven the toxins back into the system, this will have resulted in stored poison.

You might also be suffering from either food allergies or more commonly food intolerances that are adding to the toxic overload.

If you have already adopted some of the guidelines from earlier in the week and are eating all natural, unprocessed foods, drinking 8 glasses of pure water per day and have given up a very high percentage of the sugars you are consuming… You are doing a great job.

If you suffer from food intolerances then you also need to keep a food diary and note when symptoms of bloating, joint pain, headaches or other signs that are unique to you occur.

It is likely that the culprit food is one that you eat every day and therefore results in a build-up in the toxic element that you are intolerant too.

Your body, a bit like our own waste collection services, has a cycle. Instead of a week it is around four to five days and the liver and your other systems can handle the odd toxin that wanders in by ejecting it.

However, if you are ingesting or being exposed to this toxin every day your body cannot deal with the build-up and it is stored in the cells causing skin problems, damage to the cells which in turn lead to serious diseases such as cancer.

redpeppersLearning to live with the nightshade family.

There are a few suspect foods as you will read in the post on Allergens and Intolerances above. For example I discovered many years ago that I react to certain members of the nightshade family if I eat too many of them together and every day. For example eggplant (aubergine) peppers, fresh tomatoes and potatoes are favourites of ours but I find if I eat them all every day then I get joint pain.

This does not mean giving them up entirely since they are full of nutrients and health benefits but I manage it by only consuming them individually every three or four days. The exception is cooked tomato which funnily enough does not cause me a problem.

If you suffer from any of the symptoms I mentioned check your food diary after a week and circle the foods that are the nightshade family and how many times you are consuming in the week. And if you are eating potatoes, peppers and tomatoes every day and some Goji berries in the mix you are probably intolerant to the nightshade family. Split them up and only consume every few days and see how you feel after a couple of weeks.

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2019

A little bit about me nutritionally.

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with over twenty years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse by health books and fiction you can find them here:

 If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to ask in the comments.. or if you prefer send in an email to

You can find all the Gentle Detox posts in this directory:

Smorgasbord Health Column – The Gentle Detox Tool Box – Water retention – Dandelion by Sally Cronin

As part of the Gentle Detox series, I wanted to share one of the natural remedies that can help eliminate toxins and bring the body back into balance.

I have used herbs either in cooking or in tincture form for over 30 years and there are several that I have introduced over the year that are a permanent fixture in my medicine cabinet. These include Echinacea, Milk Thistle and Peppermint.

At this time of year when over-indulgence has been hard to avoid it is easy to become bloated down to water retention as the body struggles to cope with the extra sugars. A tell tale sign is a puffy face especially under the eyes, puffy ankles and lower legs. Waistbands are tighter and it usually results in at least an extra 5lbs in weight.

The problem is actually not enough fluids to flush the system of the wonderful, sugary treats (toxins according to your body) that you have consumed in a short space of time. Alcohol also dehydrates the body and once the body senses that there might be a drought it goes into water conservation mode and stores fluid until such time as normal service resumes.  You will have ‘experts’ tell you that you don’t need to drink water as long as the food you eat contains it…sorry but whilst it helps to eat fruit and vegetables high in fluid content you still need to flush the system through with good old fashioned and unadulterated water.  If your tap water is high in flouride or other inserted chemicals then find a good quality filtered water or make your own.  Of course you cannot always blame fluid retention… but it is a contributory factor.

Drinking dandelion can be helpful in reducing this but also please take with caution if you suffer from certain conditions involving any of your major organs, as there is a delicate fluid balance required for them to function healthily.


Today a double whammy – a herbal remedy and a free food. Used as a medicine for thousands of years before the word ‘patent’ entered our vocabulary. Used for a number of health issues but definitely for water retention. Please make sure you do take note of the restrictions on use if you are on medication, especially prescribed diuretics for heart conditions.

This herb has been used medicinally, over the centuries, for a number of conditions that relate to the health of the blood. This includes anaemia, cholesterol problems, circulatory problems and diabetes. Additionally, it is a common component of detox complexes due to its diuretic properties and to help clear chest congestion, jaundice, rheumatic pain, gout, gallstones and insomnia.

It is an all-rounder and has enjoyed many different names in folklore. We know it most commonly as the Dandelion and are used to seeing its yellow flowers in the hedges and fields in the early summer. As children, most of us would have tried to tell the time by blowing on the puff-ball of seeds it produces in the autumn.

Its botanical name is Taraxacum officinalis and the name dandelion comes from the French dent de lion or lion’s teeth, a description of the distinctive serrated leaves of the herb. In Tudor times its diuretic properties were well known and it was given the more apt name of piss-in-the-bed! We have evidence that it was used medicinally since around 650 AD by the Chinese and it first appeared in European apothecaries in the late 15th century.

There were a number of superstitions surrounding the plant including its ability to foretell the number of years before a girl married and apparently if you saw the seeds being dispersed by the wind from the puff-ball rain was imminent.

Apart from being used as a medicine, blanched dandelion leaves can be used in salads or prepared in the same way as spinach and dried leaves have been used for many years to make tea and beer. A word of warning before you dash off and include as a signature dish for your next dinner party, it can cause wind problems – as it is not digested or processed until it reaches the intestines. More about Dandelion as a food later.

Today, dandelion is mainly used as a diuretic. Most chemical diuretics cause a loss of potassium but this is not the case when using dandelion. As potassium is vital for correct fluid balance in the body, taking dandelion is a safer way to reduce any excessive water retention. However, taking any diuretic to remove excess fluid should always be done with caution. Fluid is essential to life and if you force your body to excrete fluids on a continuous basis you will be losing critical minerals and salt too. Only use occasionally and if your water retention persists then do consult your GP as it could be the result of an underlying systemic problem.

The roots of the dandelion have traditionally been used in liver tonics. They are rich in Choline a B vitamin that prevents fat from being trapped in the liver. When the liver is blocked with fat, metabolism is affected and can lead to liver disease and elevated cholesterol levels.

Gallstones tend to be formed if the gall bladder does not completely empty of the bile it has produced. Dandelion improves both the production and the delivery of the bile and can be used as a preventative for people prone to this problem.  As someone with an inherited gallbladder problem, Dandelion, as part of a specialised diet has helped me maintain a reasonably stable digestive process.

The herb also contains inulin which is a naturally occurring oligosaccharide (simple sugars linked together). Inulin is indigestible by enzymes that normally metabolise starch so it is not broken down into simple sugars (monosaccharides) that can cause fluctuating blood sugar levels. It has been used by diabetics to help regulate their blood sugar levels but should always be used under medical supervision. If you are losing weight, however, it will help reduce your sugar cravings in the first few weeks until your body has adjusted to a lower sugar intake. Quite frankly the taste will do that for you anyway!

If you are overweight dandelion will help re-balance the fluids in your body and get rid of excess amounts initially. One of the other problems associated with obesity is inefficient fat metabolism and as bile is essential for this process increasing its production will also contribute to a healthy weight loss.

If you suffer from a bacteria and flora imbalance in the intestines, such as an overgrowth of Candida Albicans, eating dandelion leaves can help. The herb is a very efficient prebiotic which stimulates the growth of healthy, probiotic bacteria in the gut. Other probiotic formulas in yoghurt and milk are subject to various chemical processes on their way to the intestines before they can be effective. The dandelion is indigestible until it reaches the gut so is a much more potent source of friendly bacteria.

You can pick dandelions from the hedgerows and use as a food or buy an herbal tincture from a health food shop. There are a couple of restrictions. If you are currently taking prescribed medication such as diuretics, insulin or anti-coagulants you should not take without medical supervision as it may affect the potency of your drugs. Similarly, if you have already suffered from gallstones or a liver condition such as jaundice or hepatitis then you should take advice before using.

Dandelion is a nutritious food as well as tea.

As a food dandelion offers a great nutritional package – Vitamins: A, folate, B6, C, E, and K. Minerals: Magnesium, copper, phosphorus, calcium, iron, potassium and manganese. Dandelion leaves picked from the hedgerow can be used as salad leaves but always remove the woody stems and wash very well. Apart from additional protein in the form of bugs, dogs for some reason love peeing on them! Apart from salads, you can throw into a soup pot with a vegetables and then blend for a lovely creamy soup. Cook like spinach and eat with rich meat dishes. Use raw in sandwiches with egg or avocado.

Some hardy souls have ground the dried roots into a substitute coffee, but do not expect to see in Starbucks anytime soon! It does however; make a good tea although I tend to get from the health food shops as they usually have a high quality selection. As a little word of warning – I suggest that you use the tincture and tea earlier in the day and also the leaves with lunch as there is a good reason that in medieval times it was called piss-in-the-bed!

Remember if you have water retention drink water up to 8 glasses per day (add more in hot climates) but do not overdo as you can upset your electrolyte balance which is essential for the health of blood’s chemistry and processes such as muscle action.

 You can find the other posts in the Gentle Detox in this directory:

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2019

A little bit about me nutritionally.

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with over twenty years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse by health books and fiction you can find them here:

 If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to ask in the comments.. or if you prefer send in an email to

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Die Hard, Detox, Resolutions, Food, Music, Humour

Another quietish week for us after a very peaceful New Year’s Eve which we spent watching the final Die Hard movie of our binge session. Seeing them back to back over five days was great, and brought back memories of where we were in the years we saw them the first time around, starting in 1988. It is amazing how you remember the overall plot but forget detail. We are making a start on Mission Impossible and then The Bourne series next. Keep us out of trouble for a bit anyway.

Over the next few weeks there will be some new series beginning that I hope you will find interesting… in the meantime…here are the posts from the week in case you missed any.

A look back at 2018 and a thank you to the regular contributors who write such amazing posts for the blog. Also a look at what is to come in 2019.

Thomas the Rhymer

Paul Andruss gave us a New Year’s Gift of a four part story The Legend of the Golden Flower, set in ancient Japan and filled with wonderfully researched detail. You can read the complete story and also follow the link to a follow up post on the background to the tale.

I was delighted to welcome Annette Rochelle Aben to the team with the first of her monthly Numerology posts. The first looking at our universal energy for 2019 and the month of January.

Linda Bethea with more tales of her extended family – life in Houston has its ups and downs. The Pink Cupcake, the Hussy and the Promise..

The new season of the Sunday Interview – Getting to Know You.

Delighted to welcome new interviewees to the interview series, and if you have participated before.. no worries, just pick a different five questions to answer..

I want to share this post again for any authors who are new to the blog – The Cafe and Bookstore is a FREE promotional opportunity to showcase your work on a regular basis here on the blog and across my social media. 

The first step is a ‘New Book on the Shelves‘ promotion, followed by regular updates in the twice weekly posts. Any new releases will also have their own individual post.

I did a tongue-in-cheek look at New Year’s Resolutions… with some suggestions how you might get them achieved!!

Another trip down memory lane to 1995 – mechanical bull riding (or destruction) and Annie Lennox.

To get the New Year off to a good start (for your body anyway) I began a short series – The Gentle Detox.

I don’t approve of starving a body into submission, especially after a period of indulgence. I especially do not recommend ‘crash diets’ as this can cause a great deal of stress physically and mentally.  Here are the posts so far….

A series that is worth repeating for the benefit of those who missed the first time around – Cook from Scratch.

In this post I share an alternative breakfast that I ate several time a week in the 17 years I lived in Madrid… Spanish style tomato cocktail on toast..

I try my hand at a new format that Colleen Chesebro has introduced us to in the first of her Tuesday Poetry challenge No. 117 – Poets choice.   A Shadorma… if you have not participated in this challenge, I do recommend as it stretches both our poetic muscles and your creativity.

The first of the Cafe updates for 2019 – a place to share recent reviews and new releases.

D.G. Kaye.. Debby Gies shares some of the funnies from around the web… and I find a joke from my archives.

Thank you for starting the New Year with me and I hope that you have enjoyed the show so far. Look forward to seeing you again soon.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Health Column – The Gentle Detox – Part Three – Willpower.

One of the hardest things that I ever did was give up sugar 23 years ago… not forever, but certainly for the two years that it took me to lose 150lbs. I still do it periodically when I can see my weight creeping back up again. After being so obese for many years my body is determined to regain lbs it has lost and it is still a struggle for me to stay at a reasonably healthy weight.

Completing this gentle detox two or three times a year has certainly helped me to get back to basics and curb my very strong sugar cravings. Once I start, I find it difficult to stop. I discovered when I began working with clients over 20 years ago that I was not alone in this.

I often would have this discussion with my clients who felt that there was no way that they could give up one or more of these because they ‘LOVED THEM’.

This is a little tip – if you keep a food diary for a week, and after seven days review the food that you have eaten and attach the emotion ‘LOVE’ to certain items, you are probably eating too much of that particular food . If the food is sugary in nature then you are also addicted to it.

You might admire, covet, desire to have an object or type of food but to ‘LOVE’ something implies that there is a chance of reciprocation, that the object of your love is a live, warm entity such as a parent, partner, child, dog, rabbit. I am afraid that all you will get from that bar of chocolate you are eating every day is extra weight around your middle, clogged arteries and indigestion. You can have a relationship with chocolate, but like many that we enter into it is healthier when experienced in small amounts from time to time.

“Surgically implanted willpower”

It is no secret that I am not an advocate for weight loss surgery as I believe that it is ‘surgically implanted willpower’. As we have become addicted to fast foods and sugar, we have also become addicted to the fast fix. It took me 18 months to lose 11 stone (150lbs) nearly 23 years ago. Whilst I am not as slim today – I am still 10 stone lighter than I was in the beginning. I also do not have the obesity related health problems I had then, including high blood sugar levels, very high blood pressure and elevated LDL cholesterol. Neither do I need to take medications for those conditions.

These are the future health problems that they believe will be alleviated by giving at risk obese patients the surgery now at a very high cost.

What is even more disturbing is that whilst there may be valid psychological reasons for such radical measures on medical advice, the private sector is making millions offering this surgery to those with enough money to buy into the marketing. The NHS in the UK is now spending £85 million annually (2012 figures) on obesity related surgery whilst patients with life threatening diseases such as cancer cannot receive the drugs they need to extend their life or more disturbing possibly put them into remission.

When considering any surgery you should always research the benefits and the risks. If you are contemplating any form of obesity surgery then here are a few risks to consider.

Post-operative risks that need to be considered.
1 in 20 people will suffer an infection
1 in 100 people – blood clot
1- 100 people – internal bleeding
1 – 12 people – gallstones (common with anyone who has lost a great deal of weight in a short space of time – including me).
1-50 people -gastric band slippage
1- 2000 people with a gastric band – death

Source –

This may seem harsh, but my own experience of obesity is that it is self-inflicted. Of course there are enabling factors – the availability of fast and processed foods, sugar addiction and manufacturers cashing in on our taste buds, but at the end of the day it is actually about our own choices and decisions.

If you read the recommendations for eating following gastric surgery you will understand why a patient can lose 10 stone in a year.

Four weeks of liquid diet a further two on pureed food – the rest of their lives on three small meals a day – minimum snacking – no fizzy drinks, diet or otherwise, eating and chewing slowly and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables with lean protein.

I have worked with a number of clients post weight-loss surgery and found that they had received little or no nutritional counselling (or any that stuck) and had resumed their poor eating habits that had caused their obesity in the first place. A bar of chocolate fits well into a shrunken stomach and saves a lot of hassle preparing a small healthy meal!

Non Surgical Intervention.

So that was the extreme end of the willpower spectrum. But if you are embarking on this gentle detox or any healthy weight loss programme, then perhaps you might consider this formula that I have found very successful for myself and those I work for.



If you are contemplating anything major in your life that you want to succeed, you cannot approach with a wishy-washy attitude and wing it. This applies to any work, personal or health related project. A decision is not a ‘maybe’ a ‘might’ or ‘perhaps’ it is a firm commitment to do something. It is not an ‘I should do this’ it is an ‘I Must do this’.

So having decided you are going to embark on a healthier lifestyle then you need some incentive to stick to that decision to the end.

Vision – Where do you want to be in six weeks’ time or six months?

You want to be healthier, slimmer, more energetic, and able to do more activities. Well this is where your imagination comes in and you need to see yourself at the end of all this hard work looking and feeling fantastic and that the time spent achieving it was worth it.

To help this process it is a good idea to draw up a balance sheet.

On one side the negative impact your current health is having on your life. Why you feel that you need to undertake this project. Perhaps you are too overweight to keep up with your children or grandchildren, you have painful knees and hip joints that are feeling the strain or you have high Blood Pressure, LDL (harmful cholesterol) levels or High blood sugar that could indicate that you are pre-diabetic.

It might be that activities that you were passionate about are now not possible because of your fitness levels. You get the idea. It does not matter – what is important is that you are really clear about why you want to improve your health and lifestyle.

The other side of the balance sheet is the positive impact you expect from working hard over the next six weeks or longer. It is where you visualise what you will be able to accomplish, enjoy and participate in once you have completed the job. This is your reward for making a decision and sticking to it.


This is where the determination comes into it. Having made your decision, have a clear vision in your mind of where you want to be in the time frame you have chosen (realistic) you then have to be firm with yourself every time you feel that you are going to veer from the plan and indulge for a few days.

If you are half-hearted about the process it is effectively taking two steps forward and one step back..It is also likely that you will not complete the project because eventually it will fall by the wayside and end up as one of the high percentage of ‘diets’ that fail.

So the choice is yours when it comes to willpower. If you do not want to be where you are today with health and weight, then you need to make a firm decision to change, visualise where you want to be and stick to it.

Unlike surgically implanted willpower, the only side-effects to this type of attitude are a positive result and a great deal of self-satisfaction in a job well done.

Next time I will be looking at some of the other reasons for doing a periodic detox or health reviews which include food intolerances and unexplained health problems.

You can find the other posts in the Gentle Detox series in this Directory:

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2019

A little bit about me nutritionally.

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with over twenty years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse by health books and fiction you can find them here:

 If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to ask in the comments.. or if you prefer send in an email to

Smorgasbord Health Column – The Gentle Detox – Part Two – Eat food your body recognises…and can work with! by Sally Cronin

Part one of the Detox can be found here:

The Gentle Detox – Part Two – Eat food your body recognises…and can work with!

In my previous posts you will often find me having a poke at the diet food industry – well actually more than a poke. There are certain products that are health related that I do not have a problem with, but I don’t have much time with slimming bars and shakes. I do not care how many nutrients they say are in them, they are not in the form that the body understands or wishes to. We are designed to take our nutrients from natural foods.

I do agree to an extent that what we assume is a nutrient packed vegetable or fruit is not as nutritionally dense as it used to be. Farming methods have changed in the last 50 years or so and we also have to consider the addition of fertilisers that may not be of organic origin. However, despite having busy work or family commitments it is easy and quick to bulk prepare vegetables for several days and it is a great deal cheaper.

There are other times of the year when spending at least two weeks in a transitional mode as far as your diet is concerned is a good thing.

Around May time I get a yearning for the crisp crunch of lettuce, the peppery taste of watercress and Rucula, the smooth buttery taste and feel of avocados – I lose my appetite for parsnips and stews with mashed potato and butternut and carrot soups, preferring gazpacho, cold and tangy with an omelette for lunch.

The same happens again in September when I start to think about more root vegetables and warming foods. I think you get the idea.

Our bodies over the last hundreds of thousands of years, would have been sustained by seasonal foods, both animal and plant. It makes sense that we would therefore get the most nutritional benefit from seasonal foods, with the added benefit of an abundance of other fruits and vegetables that we now have year round. It is wonderful to have this access to so many varieties because they offer us so much more than our ancestors could scratch together.

I am fully supportive of any ‘diet’ programme than encourage us to only use fresh produce and cook it from scratch, but some trendy diets out there are a bit too restrictive, and you need to include other fruits and vegetables and other food groups that were not necessarily available to our ancestors.

If you make seasonal fruit and vegetables your primary choices, you can add in others to provide a more varied and balanced diet. This is why I follow the Gentle Detox seasonally every three months and not just at the beginning of the year. It marks the change in different eating patterns from the more stodgy, carbohydrate driven diet for the winter months to the lighter spring available food and the even lighter summer options and then back again.

Doing any form of detox should not put your body under increased stress but alleviate it. Which is why, this programme is not intended to be used as a crash diet, with few calories and nutrients. Even if you wish to lose weight as well as detox your system, you must not consume below 1500 calories if you are a woman or 1800 as a man.

How many calories do you need each day?

Basal metabolic rate – BMR establishes the approximate calories your body needs to function. At rest, with your digestive system inactive. So basically, first thing in the morning when your organs have been idling, rather than fully functional. This is dependent on your age and gender and as we age our requirement for calories decreases which is why you need to make sure you are compensating by including plenty of activity.

The simplest thing is to give you a link so that you can establish according to your age and gender what the minimum calories your body requires. However, it is important to point out that whilst calories are vital, it is also critical that those calories be as nutritious as possible. Particularly, if you are planning on cutting down calorie intake to lose weight.

For example my basal metabolic rate at 66 is 1450 calories per day. That is not taking into account the calories required to operate my digestive system, organs such as my brain and heart, lungs, liver and kidneys etc. If you are not desk bound, walking around, doing shopping, housework, etc. you will use about 100 calories per hour – in activity and operating the body. That will add about 500 calories per day.

Men use slightly more because of body mass so I use 2000 calories basic requirement for women and 2,300 for men.

I never drop calories for an individual to less than 1500 for women and 1800 for men per day.

These calories should be nutrient dense and be sourced from good quality fresh produce. Your meals should be prepared from scratch using these ingredients, and if you are not very experienced in the kitchen, then do get yourself one of the many excellent cookery books available that promotes healthy produce and preparation. You can find some great recipes courtesy of Carol Taylor in the Food Column:

Don’t buy pre-chopped salads and vegetables

To prepare these meals you have to first buy your ingredients and in step two I would like you to think more carefully when you buy produce. For example buy whole vegetables and fruits rather than pre-chopped. Cabbage will lose at least 50% of its nutritional content once it is chopped and the longer it sits there in that plastic bag the more it will lose. This also applies to bags of chopped salads. It is also a more expensive way to buy your vegetables and fruit. Check the prices but I am pretty sure that the extra that you pay for convenience multiplied over a year will easily pay for a week if not more of shopping.

Also do not be afraid to buy cheaper cuts of meat and get out the slow cooker to prepare a casserole or a roast while you are out at work. You will save both time and money. Visit a farmer’s market and buy your vegetables without them passing through the hands of the distributors. You may find they are all shapes and sizes, rather than beautiful but the nutrients in them are the same.

Bring them home and blanch in salted boiling water for five minutes and then freeze in Ziploc bags. They will only take a few minutes in a microwave or in boiling water to finish cooking.

Here is a basic shopping list you can cut and paste into a word document and take with you when you do your next shop.

As you can see it is not restrictive to the same degree as some of the very rigid detox programmes, but is intended to give you all the food groups in moderation.

Vegetables – carrots, red peppers, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, corn on the cob- any dark cabbage or Brussel sprouts, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, watercress, dark lettuce leaves, cucumbers, celery, avocados and potatoes. (Any other fresh seasonal produce you enjoy) At least five or six portions a day – use a cupped handful as an estimated portion size.

Lower Fructose Fruit – Bananas, kiwi, strawberries and any dark berries that are reasonably priced – try frozen. Enjoy all fruit in season at least three portions a day.

Hot lemon and water first thing in the morning will not only give you a Vitamin C hit, start your digestive process off but will also help with sugar cravings.

Wholegrains – brown rice- wholegrain bread – whole wheat pasta – Weetabix – shredded wheat – porridge oats. Please do not buy sugar or chocolate covered cereals – more sugar than goodness. Carbohydrates are an important food group.

However, as we get older and less active you really only need a large spoonful of rice or potatoes on a daily basis. If you suffer from a Candida overgrowth be aware that it may not be the yeast in bread that causes a problem but the sugar or its substitute.

Fish – Salmon fresh and tinned- cod – haddock (again frozen can be a good option) any white fish on offer – shellfish once a week such as mussels. Tinned sardines, Tuna and herrings – great for lighter meals. (Any fish that is available fresh not from farmed sources)

Meat and poultrychicken or turkey – lamb, beef and pork. Lean ham for sandwiches, (processed meats should be used sparingly) Venison if you enjoy it. Liver provides a wonderful array of nutrients served with onions and vegetables is delicious. Tofu for vegetarians has become more accessible and can be used by non-vegetarians once a week to provide the other benefits of soya it offers.

Nuts and seeds – to put on your cereal in the mornings or as snacks – check prices out in your health food shop as well as supermarket. Almonds, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts.

Dairy and Eggs Milk, butter -yoghurt. Free Range Eggs – have at least three or four eggs a week.

What is very important is that you eat dairy from grass fed cows, not grain fed.. and if you buy meat, it should also come from grass fed animals. The reason being that the vital vitamin K2 is only present when protein comes from grass fed stock. (more about that in a new series on deficiencies later in January). The butter will be yellow in colour and it should state on the label that it comes from a grass fed herd.

Oils – Extra virgin Olive Oil (least processed) – great drizzled on vegetables with some seasoning and also eaten the Spanish way with balsamic vinegar on salads and also drizzled over toasted fresh bread. If you do not like the taste of Olive Oil then use Sunflower oil – do not use the light version of any oil as it has been processed heavily – use the good stuff. For cooking use ordinary virgin olive oil with a dash of sunflower or butter but do not heat to very high temperatures. You can also use coconut oil which tolerates higher temperatures well and has some additional health benefits.

Honey and extras You really do need to avoid sugars refined and in cakes, sweets and biscuits but honey is a sweetener that the body has been utilising since the first time we found a bee hive and a teaspoon in your porridge is okay. Try and find a local honey to you. You can also use a small spoonful of Manuka Honey which is produced in New Zealand. To obtain the medicinal benefits the honey should be classified as 15+.

Sauces – If you buy your sauces in jars and packets they will have a great many more ingredients than you bargained for. One of the worst is sugar or its substitutes. The greatest cooking skill you can develop is to be able to make a wide variety of sauces from scratch. If you do this you will be not only using fresh produce with its nutritional punch but also taking hundreds of pounds of sugar out of your diet over a lifetime.

FluidsGreen Tea and other herbal teas including dandelion, peppermint and a combined detox tea., tap and mineral water, coffee 1 cup a day (not instant but ground coffee) Black tea also has antioxidants so drink a couple of cups a day. Try with sliced lemon and get some Vitamin C. (depending on the climate and altitude at which you live you will need to experiment to find out how much fluid you need. If you have very low humidity you will need considerably more. Average is around the 2 litres per day of combined fluids).

Next time I will covering willpower which is another ingredient required a few days into any new health and lifestyle upgrade….

 You can find the other posts in the Gentle Detox in this directory:

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2019

A little bit about me nutritionally.

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with over twenty years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse by health books and fiction you can find them here:

 If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to ask in the comments.. or if you prefer send in an email to

Smorgasbord Health Column – The Gentle Detox – Introduction and Phase One – Before you begin your weight loss programme

Most of us have come out of the festive season with a little more than some presents and remnants of tinsel around the house. Many go into Christmas with great intentions especially, if they have been careful all year about weight and exercise, and others say ” What the Hell” and dive straight into the Eggnog.. Whichever type of reveller you are this is still a great time to give your body its annual holiday and get it ready for the tough year ahead.

Something to think about.

I will be upfront with you. I do not agree with water only fasts, not starving a body into submission. Whilst I find intermittent fasting (eating within an 8 hour window) suits me, at my age, with my level of activity, and to combat high blood sugar and blood pressure levels. I don’t recommend if you are in working full time including as a mother, have a very active lifestyle, or are already underweight.

I also do not agree with removing any major food group for your diet unless there is a diagnosed medical condition that requires it, or a confirmed allergy. This includes wholegrain carbohydrates which have an important role to play in your complex nutritional requirements.

Protein is essential to our health and development at every age, and if you choose not to eat animal protein then you must ensure that you include sufficient plant based proteins and foods that provide adequate amount of B vitamins. If you would like to check what foods supply the nutrients that we must have, here is an alternative shopping list.

Perhaps you are now going to spend the next twelve months pottering around your luxury villa (paid for completely including overheads) in the sun with dips in the pool and servants to do your bidding. As well as eating fresh exotic fruits for breakfast, fish straight from the sea with luscious vegetables lightly steamed for lunch and a stir fry for dinner. Enjoying warm zephyrs as they waft over your body during your daily beach-side massage while you figure out how to spend your millions sitting in the bank.

More likely you are going to dive straight back into the stress pot that is working and living in crowded conditions, driving in congested traffic, grabbing food on the go, battling germs and trying to get hot food on the table every night for hungry hordes. Whilst counting the number of pennies you have left to last the month.

A good place to start – Give your liver a New Year’s holiday.

There is one organ in particular that struggles as much as you under the daily burden of modern life and that is your liver. I am not going to give chapter and verse on this vital organ since I have previous posts that are recommended reading. We are told that our hearts are the organ to protect but in fact it is our liver which is the powerhouse behind our health and vitality.

If you are really serious about improving your overall health and also losing weight then I do suggest you read these more in depth posts to appreciate how important your liver is. Smorgasbord Health Column

The Liver in a Nutshell

Your liver has two essential roles, making or processing chemicals and eliminating toxins and waste. Without the portal system none of the nutrients that you have carefully processed and passed into the intestines could be carried in the blood, through the liver, to nourish the body and provide you with energy. It is not really the liver that does all the work but the millions and millions of cells within the liver that maintain the critical life processes. Specialist cells called hepatocytes deal with the raw materials our body runs on – proteins, carbohydrates and fats.

The liver stores iron as well as other vitamins and minerals that you need, such as Vitamin B12. The organ also makes clotting factors that stop bleeding after injury, and without which you could bleed to death.

Your liver helps manage the cholesterol in your body – and the body needs cholesterol – but like anything in excess it can do more harm than good. It forms the base molecule for hormones like oestrogen and testosterone, and it is also the base for bile acids that are used to emulsify fat in the small bowel so that fat and fat soluble vitamins like E and K can be absorbed.

The good news that if you frequently give your liver a break and a chance to recuperate it will regenerate. All except for parts of the liver than have suffered scarring from liver disease. In six weeks you can improve its function greatly and I know from experience, when I do this gentle detox three times a year for six weeks, that I feel and look so much younger.

The tell-tale signs of an overworked liver can be seen in your face. If you constantly have puffy eyes, slightly yellow skin tones and you feel nauseous when you have eaten fatty foods you are likely to be overworking your liver.

Gentle Detox – Phase One.

As we go through the short series, I will be giving you shopping lists and explaining why certain foods are better for you and some recipes as well as talking you through some other detox guidelines. However the first thing that I am going to ask you to do for the sake of your liver is to drastically reduce just one thing from your diet.

Sugar in the form of alcohol, chocolate and sweets, all fizzy drinks (even the zero or low calorie with artificial sweeteners), high sugar pastries and biscuits.

If you do not eat sugary foods in great quantities and do not drink alcohol and daily fizzy drinks, the chances are that your liver is already in good shape. However, if you are reading this then you probably looking to lose some weight as well as get healthier and giving them up entirely for six weeks will help.

However, these sugary foods and drinks are the ones that we have probably overindulged in over the lead up and during Christmas. I am not going to sugar coat this (sorry). Whilst you may have the odd craving because of the fats (in chocolate) and the sugars you will be amazed at the difference in energy levels and weight you can experience by not eating them.

This does not mean that I am anti-fat; in fact I am very keen that you should have natural fats during the detox including some olive oil, grass fed dairy products and coconut oil if you prefer the taste. But it should be in moderation and used in food preparation rather than as a recreational drug!

Cheese is delicious for example, but it is very easy to nibble away at, and consume 1000 calories quickly, whereas you are unlikely to drink a cupful of olive oil! The same with chocolate -it is so easy to eat 100gm bar in one sitting which is 500 calories….

If you are tempted to switch off now perhaps I can give you an incentive.

If you normally drink a glass of wine per night, eat a small bar of chocolate and eat 100gm of cheese every day, at the end of six weeks of abstaining, you will likely lose between 10lbs and 14lbs in weight. And if you tend to leave these foods until the weekend and stock up with a week’s worth at time you will actually be doing your liver more harm… It will be overwhelmed.

Giving up alcohol for 6 weeks will make a big difference to your liver function. Giving up sugars such as those in chocolate, even more difference, and reducing the amount of cheese will make a little more.

If you use healthy fats like a scrape of butter on your toast or a small amount of olive oil or coconut oil for your cooking that is fine.

Normally, I have the philosophy that a little of everything in moderation is good for you and apply the 20/80 rule myself.

But during this first 6 weeks of the year…. I stop drinking alcohol and eating chocolate and cheese completely, and you will be surprised how at the end of that time, you will have lost the craving for the fats and sugars and food will taste differently. That effect can last all year if you continue to moderate the amount of sugars that you consume and I have seen clients who have adopted this approach lose 52lbs by the following Christmas.

This in part is down to a desire, once a few pounds have evaporated, to do more exercise, and take the goal of a healthier weight to the next level (more about that when I share the updated new version of Size Matters later in January).

Some health issues should also improve as you lose weight and your risk factors for diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease reduce too.

Fizzy drinks

There is little doubt that drinking too much alcohol is bad for your health in many respects. Your liver, brain and immune system come under immense pressure when they have to deal with excessive amounts and the long term effect on health is measureable. However, these days, the alternatives that are on every shelf of the supermarket and in bars and restaurants, should not be the first thing you turn to when moderating your alcohol consumption.

The worst offenders are the carbonated drinks. Fruit juices without added sugars and additives mixed with mineral water or undiluted are fine in moderation. They too are high in fruit acids that can cause some tooth damage if you do not clean your teeth at least twice a day, particularly at night.

It is the processed canned and bottled fizzy drinks that really do have some harmful effects on not only the teeth but also our operational systems in the body and structural health of skin and bones.

The effects of fizzy drinks on our health

Scientific studies have shown that as little as one or two soft drinks a day can increase your risk of developing a number of medical problems such as obesity, diabetes, tooth decay, osteoporosis, nutritional deficiencies, heart disease and neurological problems.

Most of the calories in soft drinks are in the form of refined sugars or artificial sugars and they have absolutely no other nutritional content. In one study by Dr. Charles Best who discovered insulin by the way, it was shown that teenagers who drink too many soft drinks could develop cirrhosis of the liver, something we normally associate with chronic alcoholism.

You can read the complete article on fizzy drinks:

Possible side effects during a detox.

You will also notice that for the first few days that you may feel some fatigue, bloating and possibly flu like symptoms. This is both withdrawal from consuming over rich foods, in particular sugar, and your body getting rid of the toxins that are stored.

It is important to drink at least 8 glasses of fresh water every day to help the body do this. You might also like to drink some Dandelion Tea a couple of times a day although not late at night as it is a diuretic. (more about that next time)  I also take an herbal supplement to assist my liver as it detoxes, although I usually start taking Milk Thistle before the celebrations and during them.

Diet drinks, shakes and bars

Before you rush out and buy your pre-packaged diet shakes and drinks to lose weight perhaps you might wait until after you have read tomorrow’s post in the series where I will be talking about the actual nutritional worth of shakes and bars and offering some alternatives.

I hope you have found this of interest and I will be posting another Gentle Detox over the weekend. Thanks Sally.

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2019

A little bit about me nutritionally.

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with over twenty years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse by health books and fiction you can find them here:

 If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to ask in the comments.. or if you prefer send in an email to

Smorgasbord Health Column – Cook from Scratch – Tomatoes for Breakfast Spanish Style

Carol Taylor will be back in the New Year with the Food and Cookery Column after a well earned Christmas break.

In the meantime, I am sharing a breakfast that I was introduced to when we lived in Madrid. I love tomatoes and they were always readily available all year round. With some other simple ingredients, tomatoes provide a wonderful start to the day that keeps you going until lunchtime.

I would love to invite any of you who have favourite recipes that use fresh ingredients, to get in touch at the email at the bottom of the post. And of course another chance to promote your work.

Most of us associate a  breakfast with cereals, breads, butter and jams, a fry up, boiled eggs or perhaps sliced meats and cheese. However, when living in Spain we adopted a different and delicious alternative which is toasted fresh baked bread with olive oil and a spread made from tomatoes.

Over the years I have developed various recipes for this simple dish and it is so easy to whip up and so delicious that I thought you might like to find out more about it.

Although the dish is really easy to make and serve, it is absolutely packed with nutrients that work on so many levels in your body and benefit virtually every major organ, your skeleton and your immune system.

Whilst it makes this post a little longer than a simple recipe I wanted to illustrate how nutritionally important this dish is for our health by giving you a brief overview of the ingredients too.

But first the recipe.

You can make several days’ worth and store in an airtight container in the fridge. As there are no artificial additives and refined sugars it is a great alternative to other spreads and you can enjoy any time of the day. We have eaten in the evening for a supper from time to time. When we have guests we might also add some lean chicken or a piece of roast beef to the top.

The Bread

I tend to use my own homemade wholemeal Irish Soda bread which is yeast and sugar free. It can be a little crumbly but delicious with the tomatoes.

Or you can buy a  wholegrain baguette from a bakery where it has been made on the premises (no additives).

tomatoesBasic Tomato recipe.

You will need one tomato per serving. Using up tomatoes that have gone a little soft is great and just wash and take out the central stem. This recipe is based on four tomatoes cut into cubes and put into a blender.

Add 1 dessert spoon of Extra Virgin Olive oil and a pinch of salt. Blend until a puree.

The skin of the tomatoes will solidify the mix so scrape into a dish or a storage container to serve as soon as blended.

If you would like to add some more depth to the spread you can add 1/2 teaspoon of Pimiento Dulce which is lovely and smokey.

peppersRed pepper addition with onion and garlic.

To make the tomato spread especially rich and also even more nutritionally dense, chop up half a red pepper, half an onion and a clove of garlic and cook off with a little coconut oil or olive oil in a pan; or in a microwave without oil with a little water for 10 minutes. Add to your tomatoes and blitz it all up together.

Putting it together

Take a fairly thick slice of bread and toast both sides, or split a small sized wholegrain baquette and then drizzle a little olive oil over while hot. Use a spoon and add a good amount of the tomato spread making sure that it covers the surface of the toast.


Here is a brief look at the health benefits and the nutrients that are packed into this easy to make and healthy alternative to a sugar laden breakfast.

Although it contains fats they are healthy fats and if you need to lose weight just use less on your toast as there is plenty of flavour in the spread already.

olive oilExtra virgin olive oil which is from the first pressing of the olives is the best oil to use as it contains higher levels of nutrients, particularly Vitamin E and Essential Fatty Acids.

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are necessary fats that humans cannot synthesise and must be obtained through diet.

Omega-3 (Linolenic Acid) is the principal Omega-3 fatty acid and is used in the formation of cell walls, improving circulation and oxygen. A deficiency can lead to decreased immune system function; elevated levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat.

Omega-6 (Linoleic Acid) is the primary Omega-6 fatty acid. Omega-6 can improve rheumatoid arthritis, PMS, skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis.

In a human trial it was found that polyphenol rich olive oil included in the diet improved the health of blood vessels which was not the case for another group of volunteers that included oil in their diet with the phenols removed. Obviously the healthier the blood vessels the more effective the entire circulatory system


Tomatoes are another very nutritious food that tends to be taken for granted. We expect to see in the summer with salads but raw or cooked the tomato is a powerhouse of health benefits.

Tomatoes contain Vitamins A, C, and K. Folate and Potassium and provide good quantities of B Vitamins Thiamin, Niacin, B6 as well as the minerals magnesium, phosphorus and copper.

With the addition of fibre, regular inclusion of tomatoes in your diet, helps protect you against high blood pressure, too much oxidised low density lipoprotein cholesterol (the unhealthy kind) and heart disease.

Combine this with beta-carotene which is found in brightly coloured foods such as carrots, eating tomatoes offers some protection against sun damage. The lycopene content also has been show to make the skin less sensitive to UV light damage helping keep your skin looking younger.

As we age we also lose bone density and the Vitamin K, calcium and lycopene are essential in the production of new bone.

Red Peppers

Red peppers are packed with vitamin C, in fact more than most citrus fruits, and they have a high anti-oxidant level including Vitamin A, adding to that already present in the tomatoes.

They also add more B vitamins into the recipe including B6 which makes neurotransmitters that might help inhibit the development of breast cancer.

As well as the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc, red peppers have a good amount of manganese, needed for bone density and tendons and cartilage.

Onions and Garlic
 onionsOnions and garlic fit well into the category of ‘Superfood’ as they are both nutritional and can influence health in a very positive way.

The onion has a powerful sulphur-containing compound, which is responsible for the pungent odour and for the health benefits. Onions contain allyl propyl disulphide, chromium, Vitamin C and flavonoids, the most beneficial being Quercitin.

Allyl propyl disulphide lowers blood sugar levels by competing with insulin, which is also a disulphide for space in the liver where insulin is normally deactivated. This results in an increase in the amount of insulin available to move glucose into cells causing a lowering of blood sugar.

Chromium is a mineral that also helps cells respond efficiently to insulin, which in turn decreases blood sugar levels. These two properties in the onion make it a vegetable worth including in our daily diet as we get older to help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Chromium has also been shown to improve glucose tolerance, lower insulin levels, and decrease total cholesterol levels whilst increasing levels of the healthy cholesterol (HDL).

Garlic contains many helpful compounds including thiosulfinates such as allicin, sulphates including alliin and dithins the most researched being ajoene.
(Just a quick note on the addition of garlic you might want to time this ingredient so that it does not clash with a business meeting or a romantic date….)

Research has identified that garlic lowers blood pressure, decreases the ability of platelets to clump together forming clots, reduces blood levels of lousy cholesterol (LDL) whilst increasing levels of healthy cholesterol (HDL). It also helps our blood vessels relax which prevents atherosclerosis, heart disease and the risks of heart attacks and strokes.

Garlic, like the onion is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral. With the current concerns that we have about potential ‘Super bugs’ it is interesting that garlic appears to be an effective antibiotic, even against some of these resistant strains.

Cancer protection is essential for all of us. The compound ajoene might be effective in the treatment of skin cancer and eating two or more servings a week of garlic may help prevent colon cancer.

You can find out more about the essential nutrients we need to be healthy in this Directory

If you have a favourite recipe that is made from all fresh ingredients then please email me on

I hope you have enjoyed the recipe and that you will enjoy eating tomatoes for breakfast from time to time…thanks Sally