What is a Registered Nutritionist?

DSCN1133 As this is the title I use, I thought it would be a good idea to write a quick post on what it means. The title, Registered Nutritionist refers to a nutritionist who has registered with the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN), and who use the letters RNutr after their name to indicate registration. Registered Nutritionists are qualified to provide good, evidence-based nutrition information and are usually qualified in nutrition science with either a Bachelor of Science (BSc) or Masters of Science (MSc) degree with 3 years professional experience. Any applicant without a nutrition degree who can demonstrate  scientific knowledge acquired through 7 years peer-recognised professional experience in nutrition can also become registered as a nutritionist.

What are Registered Nutritionists qualified to do?

  • Provide advice, based on scientific evidence, on general and specific aspects of nutrition in relation to life and health in individuals and populations.
  • Practise independently in relation to nutrition and health both for individual clients and for groups of people or populations.
  • Practise as part of a team under the supervision of a suitably qualified doctor contributing to the management of people with medical conditions.

They are not permitted to use their title to make claims unsubstantiated by peer-reviewed and published scientific evidence to directly endorse or validate a specific food or supplement. They can give information about food and healthy eating but not special diets for medical conditions.

The title “nutritionist” is  not protected by law so anyone can use it, irrespective of qualification. However, only registrants with the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists can call themselves a Registered Nutritionist (RNutr). This means that if you’re getting nutrition advice from someone, at the very least you need to know what qualification(s) they hold and also find out whether they are on the UKRVN register.

For more information on the differences between Dieticians, Registered Nutritionists and  Nutrition Therapists go to British Dietetics Association website. In the interests of balance, the Nutritional Therapy Council  also outlines the differences.


What’s for lunch #2: Cheese omelette



This is the second in a series of quick, simple, tasty and above all healthy lunches for you to share with your baby and/or toddler.

I love eggs. There, I’ve said it. I learned back in University in 1999 (eek) that scientists had got it wrong all along – just because eggs contained cholesterol didn’t mean they raise a person’s cholesterol levels. It just goes to show that science and nutrition science in this instance is ever changing. What we think is the truth now may well change with greater understanding, through more research in the future.

Nutrition bits

Where to start… well they contain good amounts of protein, vitamins A, D and E,  iron, zinc, B vitamins, particularly B12 and riboflavin and folate. They also provide high levels of minerals including iodine, selenium, phosphorus and some zinc and iron too.

You will need…

  • 3 medium free-range eggs
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons cheese
How to…
Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat with a fork until smooth.
Heat a non-stick frying pan and add the oil. When the oil is hot, pour the eggs into the pan.
Using a wooden fork or a spatula and working in a circular motion, move the eggs in the pan around, while at the same time moving the pan back and forth across the heat. Allow the eggs to start coagulating.
Stop moving the pan, let the bottom of the omelette begin to cook through and brown a little
If you are in a rush – and/or need to check on baby – pop the pan under the grill to cook the top of the omelette.
Sprinkle cheese on one side of the omelette, put it back under the grill until the cheese has melted and then fold over.
Tip the omelette onto a plate. Cut fingers of omelette for baby/toddler and the rest is for you.
These photos are from a couple of months ago. You can see I served with summer vegetables. Now I would serve with cooked vegetables and/or low salt/low sugar baked beans for baby/toddler.
We had omelette today too – we had just come back from a baby/toddler group and I didn’t have very much in food wise. I put chopped parsley in the pan – just before the eggs. Hopefully, by adding herbs and other green vegetables to dishes, I won’t be asked “what’s that green stuff?” at future mealtimes.

Portion sizes

You’ll know if your following this blog I refer to Caroline Walker Trust CHEW! portion size guidance. I don’t weigh at every mealtime but I do often as it helps me to learn to estimate portion sizes visually.

*9 month olds: I gave 3 x 20g finger portions of omelette to baby, and about 40g baked beans(mash/chop the baked beans). If you’re giving other veg as finger food then give about 20g

10-12 month olds: 4 x 20g finger portions of omelette, 50g baked beans, or 30g veg as finger food

1-4 year olds: 5 x 20g finer portions of omelette, 6og baked beans or 2 x 40g portions of veg

And you: you get whatever is leftover –  and try to have two portions of veg (that’s 2 x 80g of vegetables)

*As have said on previous posts, from experience I don’t think younger babies will eat enough finger food to meet their nutrient requirements, so am recommending this for older babies.

What’s for lunch: Sardine fishcakes

Sardine fishcakes


I am going to try and post some ideas for quick, easy and cheap meals to share with your baby and/or toddler at lunchtime in a series (if I manage to come up with enough ideas) called “What’s for lunch”.

Evidence shows us that children are influenced by what their parents eat and drink, this makes sense (science often tells us what we already know). So it follows that parents can have a positive or negative effect on what they’re children eat depending on their own diet. Eating  together also helps babies to learn that mealtimes are social times.

This recipe uses  breadcrumbs – don’t to throw unused loaves away, instead cut off the crusts and put them into the food processor to make breadcrumbs which you can freeze for ages.

I think fishcakes are easier for babies to handle and eat about 10 months (depending on baby’s food handling skills it may be slightly earlier than this).

Nutrition bits

This recipe uses leftover mashed potato and includes tinned sardines which are a great source of omega 3’s, protein, iron, zinc calcium and vitamin D . Also, as they are lower down the food chain, compared to tuna and marlin, they have lower levels of mercury compared to those bigger fish.

An interesting thing happens to mashed potato when it’s left to cool. Its starch structure changes in a way that lowers its GI so that energy is released more slowly into the bloodstream. Potatoes usually have a high GI (as much as 88) and research shows that it can be lowered a GI of 56 if it is allowed to cool.


You will need…

160g Mashed potato (see portion sizes below to work out what you need)
120g Tin of sardines in olive oil drained*
Chopped parsley (if you have some in – otherwise don’t worry)
1 egg beaten (use milk if your baby has an egg allergy)
Plain flour

Vegetables to serve

How to…

Drain the sardines and mash them well with a fork – no need to remove the bones as they are small and soft.
Mix the sardines with the potatoes and chopped parsley if you are using it.
Form  into 4 small cakes for babies (I made two – see photo – which were a little too big).
Put the frying pan on a medium heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil.**

Once you’ve got the shape and size you want dip the cakes in flour, then egg and then breadcrumbs.
Fry the cakes for about 5 minutes on each side until golden brown.

Portion sizes

The portion sizes I use are from the  CHEW! guidance which is based on recommended intakes for energy and nutrients. They are meant as a guide so don’t worry if you’re baby doesn’t eat all their food that they won’t get enough nutrients.

For 10-12month baby : 40g sardines (about 1 fillet) to 60g potato plus 30g vegetables

1-4 year olds : 50g sardines to 80g potatoes plus 40g vegetables

And for you – there should be about 60g of sardines so mix with about 100g of potatoes and serve with two 80g portions of vegetables.

For babies 7-9 months

For younger babies (7-8 months) I would recommend using the ingredients (without making the fishcakes for baby), pureeing, mixing with baby’s usual milk and serving with the vegetables as finger food.  If your baby is able to eat their meal as whole food well – for my baby this is around 10 months – but your’s may be able to do this younger, then make the fish cakes rather than puree. Based on my experience, younger babies are not able to feed themselves well enough in this way, so are not able to get enough protein, iron, to meet their dietary needs. Portion sizes for this age group are 30g sardines to 50g potato and 20g vegetables.


If your baby has an egg allergy then dip in milk rather than egg to bind the breadcrumbs
If your baby has a gluten intolerance or allergy, dust in gluten free flour and use breadcrumbs from gluten free bread. You can try just dusting in flour too however the fishcakes don’t hold together so well and can be a bit too squidgy.

Postscript added 21 November 2013

Make extra of these and you can take them with you for days out – in a lunchbox – remember to keep them chilled though. I have tried freezing fishcakes before, but have found it doesn’t work well.

*Someone asked me whether they could use sardines in tomato sauce. And I dont see why not for adults but, having looked at the ingredients list, the sardines I have seen in tomato sauce have salt added, so aren’t a good option for babies, or really children, ideally.

**Ideally the fishcakes can be baked at 200°c/ 400°f/gas mark 6 on an oiled baking try for 10 minutes (turning once) – baking is healthier than frying but I didn’t have time to wait for the oven to heat up.

Autumn squash spaghetti bolognese

Spaghetti bolognese is such a family staple in the UK. I can remember my mum’s in the 70’s. I don’t think it had any herbs, except a bayleaf or two. When I first left home, I made my spag bol the same way, but over the years it’s gone through so many changes.

In the Summer I put peppers and courgettes in but come the Autumn, they go out of season. So I wanted to try something Autumnal so thought of trying squash or pumpkin along with red lentils.


As this was the first time I made it this way I wasn’t sure whether the lentils would work, so I only used 50g. I think you could increase the amount of lentils and decrease the amount of beef mince. Adding pulses or beans to meat dishes makes them go further and therefore cheaper. Lentils and beans are good sources of protein, complex carbohydrates and valuable minerals and vitamins.

I am going to try and experiment a bit with the lentils and mince ratio, am sure you could make it with just the lentils (so it would be a vegetarian/vegan) dish but would need to look at whether to add stock as the lentils absorb alot of liquid. When I get a chance I will add to this post on that.


3 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove chopped
500g organic British beef mince (ideally lean)
1 onion diced
1 stick of celery washed, top and tailed and diced
1 carrot top and tailed and diced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or dried if that’s what you’ve got)*
1 squash**
200ml low salt stock or water
1 tablespoon mild smoked paprika
1 tins of chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato puree
Pasta (of course, though I have to say I’m not keen on pasta, while the rest of the family is, so I often have puy lentils with my pasta sauce instead of pasta)

How to…

Heat your oven to  200°c/ 400°f/gas mark 6.
Wash and cut the squash into chunky slices, cutting out the seeds in the middle (which you can roast separately in olive oil as a snack).
Mix with two tablespoons of olive oil and rub with smoked paprika then roast in a preheated tray for 20 minutes until just browning at the edges.
Allow to cool and then cut off the skin and chop into smaller bite size chunks.
Put to one side to add to the spag bol sauce later.

To make the spag bol

Sweat the onion, carrot and celery in a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan.
When they are becoming translucent add the garlic.
Keep stirring so that the vegetables don’t brown.
Then add the mince, breaking it up, but not too much so you keep some texture.
Cook the mince until browned, stirring often.
Add the red lentils and thyme and cook for a few more minutes.
Stir in the tinned tomatoes and the tomato puree and stock or water.
Simmer for about 25 minutes or so, until the lentils are soft.
About 10 minutes towards the end of cooking add the squash and stir well.
Put the water on for the pasta and cook.
Serve with parmesan and side salad or veggie sticks.
Make sure it’s cooled down enough for your little ones.

For babies


If  your weaning, and you don’t want to introduce gluten to your baby’s diet yet or because baby has a possible allergy or intolerance, you can use pasta made from quinoa or corn.

This recipe is suitable from about 7 months onwards, once simple first foods have been introduced. I do try as much as possible to make the same meals for the whole family, including baby, as this keeps life simple. There is no reason why babies can’t have the same as long as no salt is added or hot spices used.

For younger babies, the dish can be thinned a little with babies usual milk and then pureed to suitable consistency. From about 10 months onwards it just needs a little chopping – depending on what your baby is used to. I usually serve spoon feeding dishes like this alongside finger food. You could save some of the squash slices for your baby to have as finger food. I also give some of the pasta as a finger food.

Portion sizes

Just to give a guide on recommended portion sizes, I use Caroline Walker Trust’s CHEW! guidance. This portion size guidance was designed for early years settings, and is useful for parents too. They are based on recommended intakes for babies.

So for 7-9 month olds give about 60g of bolognese and 50g pasta with 20g veggie finger food
10-12 months : 70g bolognese and 50g pasta with 30g veggie finger food
1-5 years : 180g bolognese and 120g pasta with two 40g portions of veggies

*You can freeze the fresh herbs you buy – just put them in a sealed freezer bag.

**I used a Harlequin Squash which was about 1 kg