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Food For Thought

Catherine Burns

Catherine Burns (BA Hons, Dip ION) is a Nutritional Therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in London, UK. After marrying her Bermudian husband and moving to the Island she worked in the worksite wellness field for seven years. She is currently the Managing Director of natural ltd - a nutrition consultancy offering preventive health solutions. Catherine has been running Nutrifit since 2007 and has been writing a weekly nutrition column for The Royal Gazette since 2005. Food for Thought began as a factual nutrition column that quickly took on some humour as stories of Catherine's domestic highs and lows crept in. Catherine is mum to two girls (1.5 and 4) who are often perfect examples of healthy living and occasionally the polar opposite. Catherine strives every day to nourish her daughters and to help people in Bermuda lead healthier lives. Please note that Catherine is not a Registered Dietitian. For contact details, go to www.natural.bm.

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  • Top tips for dinner-table harmony
    Nov 13, 2015 8:00 am

    Top tips for dinner-table harmony

    Wednesday night I went to a friend’s house to help her “bedazzle” some tutus for a dance recital.

    This involved sticking teeny tiny crystals on to netting with a hot glue gun. I can’t decide if the wine was a help or a hindrance.

    It stopped me being obsessive about spacing things perfectly, but I burnt every single finger in the process. We all know we shouldn’t drink and drive, but perhaps we shouldn’t drink and glue either.

  • Is nutrition a health and safety issue?
    Nov 6, 2015 8:00 am

    Is nutrition a health and safety issue?

    I have a little mantra — comparison is the thief of joy — and I have to remind myself of it often. Half-term was a perfect example. I’d taken the week off to hang out with the kids as I’d been working so many evenings. The girls are 7 and 5 now and I really love this age. Sure there are some meltdowns (mainly mine, ha ha) but they are great company.

    In my head, it was all fun and laughter with lots of lazy mornings and afternoon...

  • Can red meat cause cancer? A voice of reason
    Oct 30, 2015 8:00 am

    Can red meat cause cancer? A voice of reason

    Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ll know that earlier this week the World Health Organisation declared processed meat as definitively carcinogenic to humans and red meat as “probably” carcinogenic. Within hours my inbox had exploded and my intern Sarah checked in to test the waters. She’s aware that I have a deep affection for bacon. Obviously I love kale and quinoa and broccoli too, but I love them best with bacon. It’s an...

  • Pumpkins offer more than Hallowe’en decor
    Oct 16, 2015 8:00 am

    Pumpkins offer more than Hallowe’en decor

    Hallowe’en is on the horizon and I am getting excited. The costumes are on their way. Chloe is still a raccoon but Belle, who changes her mind at the speed of light, is going to be a rainbow monster. If you don’t know what a rainbow monster is, you are not alone, but rest assured it exists. Imagine the cast of Monsters Inc attending a gay pride parade and you will be somewhere on the spectrum.

    Between all the costumes and trick or...

  • Ditch mayo with this Green Goddess Dressing
    Oct 9, 2015 8:00 am

    Ditch mayo with this Green Goddess Dressing

    Most of us are busy … crazy busy. It’s not helped by the fact that “busy” isn’t cool any more. We’re realising that yes, busy often means successful, but it can also mean overstretched and less focused. If you, like me, sometimes feel like you’re standing in the middle of a swirling vortex with all the different components of “life” circling around you at high speed, then maybe it’s time to slow on down. The problem is finding the time to...

  • Time to embrace superfoods
    Oct 2, 2015 8:00 am

    Time to embrace superfoods

    The lovely husband is overseas again and I would like to say things have been going smoothly … yet one Emergency Room trip and a Watlington water overflow would suggest otherwise.

    Over the weekend I had decided to top up the tank. If only I had looked at the radar and spotted the mini-monsoon on the way.

    But I didn’t and the tank was low so I let it run overnight. I then left for the usual Saturday morning activity juggle, but...

  • Healthier muffins to tempt your taste buds
    Sep 25, 2015 8:00 am

    Healthier muffins to tempt your taste buds

    Feeding children is a minefield. Mainly because we give them “children’s food” rather than just “food” in general.

    Do you ever wonder if cave babies rejected the sustenance their parents dragged in? I doubt there were many fussy eaters in our hunter-gathering days.

    And yet, in these relative times of plenty, most of us find ourselves worrying about what our children will choose to eat, rather than whether or not we can feed them...

  • Low-sugar snacks for adults
    Sep 18, 2015 8:00 am

    Low-sugar snacks for adults

    October is nearly here, which is a surprise as I am pretty sure it was January yesterday.

    Life is flying by way too fast — especially with my littles being not-so-little. I am seriously enjoying their company these days.

    “Stop growing!” I’ve asked. “We can’t, mummy. You feed us too many vegetables.” And so my words come back to haunt me ….

    There are obviously days when I chase my girls up the stairs to bed.

  • Sugar-free after-school snacks
    Sep 11, 2015 8:00 am

    Sugar-free after-school snacks

    Facebook is awash with back-to-school photos and it’s hard not to feel the love. There’s so much pride and affection tallied on there, it almost drowns out the collective sigh of relief: to all our amazing teachers, tag, you’re it!

    My girls are literally leaping out of the car to discover what’s new in their day. They equally gleefully jump back in to tell me all about it. And because we car pool, the stories are told at deafening...

  • Nutrition advice to help your child sleep
    Sep 4, 2015 8:00 am

    Nutrition advice to help your child sleep

    The lovely husband is away on a business trip to Costa Rica. I know it’s all meetings and hard work, but I cannot help feeling a little jealous. And he gets to sleep star-shaped in a hotel bed.

    True, I can sleep star-shaped in ours, but last night’s peace was interrupted by a certain small person.

    I took the short-term-gain, long-term-mistake route and threw back the covers. I then spent four hours being pushed off the bed and...

  • Healthy eating – tips for keeping it simple
    Aug 28, 2015 8:00 am

    Healthy eating – tips for keeping it simple

    There are good surprises and bad surprises involved in parenting. Bad surprises include the green slime in a newborn’s diaper and the staggering reach of projectile vomit. Good surprises include the fiercely unconditional love and the moment you realise your kids feel the exact same way about you. Warm hugs with sleepy bedheads are also pretty amazing. One thing is for sure, life will never be the same. And neither will your handbag.

  • Bean brownies even picky eaters will love
    Aug 21, 2015 8:00 am

    Bean brownies even picky eaters will love

    I have always been an awkward dancer. A trusty glass of bubbles helps, but I’ve never dashed on to an empty dance floor. I am most comfortable in the middle of a sweaty mob where there is barely any room between bodies and a simple shimmy will do.

    I am not being modest. When your friend leans over with the tip, “less elbows, more ass”, you know you’re not knocking it out of the park.

    I was once laughed off the dance floor at a...

  • Home-baking a summer hit with little ones
    Aug 14, 2015 8:00 am

    Home-baking a summer hit with little ones

    A short note from me this week as I’m reporting from the trenches of Natural Kids camp. Twenty-seven hilarious children, five amazing staff, toys and books galore ... it is so much fun and the most exhausting thing I do all year.

    Once upon a time a group of scientists had a legendary multisport athlete (Jim Thorpe) mimic the activity of a toddler. He couldn’t keep up. Now I know why. I am not sure how all the teachers out there do it.

  • Treat yourself — with a little bacon
    Jul 29, 2015 8:00 am

    Treat yourself — with a little bacon

    By the time you read this I’ll have been in France for a few weeks, spending quality time with my kids and drinking lots of red wine (funny how those two seem to go together).

    We’re celebrating my dad’s 70th birthday with family from England, Hungary, France and Australia, so it will be a crazy gathering and I can’t wait!

    We’ve been counting down the days for months so it’s strange to think that by the time this prints we’ll be...

  • Ditch junk food and get your five-a-day
    Jul 24, 2015 8:00 am

    Ditch junk food and get your five-a-day

    I am sure you have all heard the recent statistic that 74.6 per cent of our population is overweight or obese.

    That has major implications when it comes to the risk of disease, quality of life and the viability of health insurance benefits.

    Although using body mass index (BMI) as a yardstick is not 100 per cent reliable — for example, people with a high ratio of heavy muscle mass can be incorrectly classified as obese — it is...

  • Chocolate hazelnut crumble: a good treat
    Jul 17, 2015 8:00 am

    Chocolate hazelnut crumble: a good treat

    Last night Sarah and I wrapped up our second cooking night at the Chef Shop. She delivered some amazing recipes and tasty samples. I added the nutrition know-how and several inappropriate jokes. I had been nervous about entertaining that many people but whether it was the help from our hosts, the kindness of our guests or the steady flow of organic wine, it all went smoothly. It turns out that feeding 38 enthusiastic adults is a total joy.

  • Quick summer desserts for kids!
    Jul 10, 2015 8:00 am

    Quick summer desserts for kids!

    When I was little and went to birthday parties, along with pass-the-parcel and musical statues we played something called The Chocolate Game.

    We all sat in a circle and rolled a die; if you were lucky enough to roll a six, you would race to the middle, put on a pair of gloves, a scarf and hat, and proceed to eat an enormous unwrapped bar of Dairy Milk with a knife and fork. You had to use the cutlery and you had to cut the chocolate...

  • Learning to simplify and let it go
    Jun 26, 2015 8:00 am

    Learning to simplify and let it go

    I am a big fan of keeping life simple. But I am also very bad at it. Take Chloe’s bake sale for example. Last year she was determined to have a pop-up snack stand in the first week of the holidays, to raise money for Open Airways and the SPCA.

    Everyone loves Liz Boden [co-founder of Open Airways] so that one was a no-brainer.

    Chloe’s concern for the SPCA arose when I let her watch a “safe” video on YouTube from the World...

  • Avoid the pitfalls of clean-eating!
    Jun 19, 2015 8:00 am

    Avoid the pitfalls of clean-eating!

    There are a lot of roles within parenting. Above all, we are chief distributors of love and affection and I am keeping my fingers crossed (permanently) that if we get that bit right, then the other things don’t matter quite so much.

    If my kids grow up feeling loved then I am hoping my haphazard timekeeping and other domestic challenges won’t keep them in the psychiatrist’s chair too long. Like many of you, I am a cook, a cleaner, a...

  • Healthy barbecue habits reduce cancer risk
    Jun 12, 2015 8:00 am

    Healthy barbecue habits reduce cancer risk

    Naughty Nana has landed back in Bermuda and the girls couldn’t be more delighted. She does have a day job (where she is not naughty at all, I should add) but the after-work antics have already begun.

    So far we are knee-deep in metallic tattoos and eyeliner, so who knows what the rest of the summer will bring. We have lined up a lot of swimming lessons for Belle though, who has outwitted all her instructors so far. I think Naughty Nana...

  • The not-so-sweet 16: savoury snacks
    Jun 5, 2015 8:00 am

    The not-so-sweet 16: savoury snacks

    Susie Switch paid a midseason visit to our house last week, scooping up a bucket full of candy that the kids had been stashing since Christmas.

    The excitement level was pretty major, you honestly would have thought that Santa himself was on his way. Waking up to a surprise toy is pretty cool, even if it’s a small one. Add in a magical character and it’s a done deal really!

    The switch witch concept is simple. After Halloween you...

  • How healthy is too healthy?
    May 29, 2015 8:00 am

    How healthy is too healthy?

    Back from England, where I spent an amazing week doing some extra training and catching up with family. I stayed with my stepsister, who is a juicing fanatic, so I woke up to adventurous combinations almost every morning.

    It’s so easy to be healthy when you roll out of bed and find a nutritious option right there waiting for you. No crazy kids to feed, dress or chase into the car. Only one person’s bag to prep for the day (mine). It...

  • Clean up your salad dressing!
    May 15, 2015 8:00 am

    Clean up your salad dressing!

    After all the fear and anticipation of last week, the plague has finally descended upon our household. No nits, but little Belle caught the big bad bug. She’s lying next to me as I type, watching TV and cautiously sipping electrolytes. It’s taking her a while to work up to the half cracker we decided on for lunch. The downside is that Belle has developed a serious case of Stink Eye — looking at us as if we are half-mad and whispering stern...

  • Tempted by takeout? Try this instead
    May 8, 2015 8:00 am

    Tempted by takeout? Try this instead

    I have three irrational fears in life. The first is of public toilets. Specifically ones where you can’t reach the door once you are sitting down.

    At some point I must have been involved in an embarrassing incident because I am always afraid that someone will burst in. The worst toilets are the ones where you can’t test if the door is locked, without actually unlocking it again in the process. One of the perks of having kids is that...

  • Three things great diets have in common
    May 1, 2015 8:00 am

    Three things great diets have in common

    Among my worst parenting mistakes (and there have been many) was the innocent purchase of some days-of-the-week underwear for the girls. I bought matching socks too. WHAT WAS I THINKING? Belle is a Sunday-on-a-Monday kind of girl, but Chloe is a rule-follower. If this behaviour hangs around when she is a teen, I shall put on a robe and rejoice in Biblical style. In the meantime, not having the correct pair of knickers with the correct pair of...

  • Chia and chocolate chip cookies
    Apr 24, 2015 8:00 am

    Chia and chocolate chip cookies

    **Spoiler alert! To get to the really delicious cookie recipe, you have to read through lots of stuff about babies and what they do to your body. If you are squeamish or eating your breakfast, skip to the end!**

    Friends of ours have just had a perfect, squishy, smiling, amazing-smelling baby and I confess my ovaries felt a little lively. So much so, that I opened our first family album to reminisce. That was an effective contraceptive.

  • Nourishing food for body and soul
    Apr 17, 2015 8:00 am

    Nourishing food for body and soul

    Last week, Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief at The Huffington Post, landed on our pink sandy shores. She spoke to a packed ballroom at the Fairmont Southampton about her latest book, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-being, Wisdom and Wonder.

    She was fabulous. Of course she was. Full of dry humour and compassion, too. Her philosophy of “no brilliant jerks allowed here” has...

  • Food fight breaks out on social media
    Apr 10, 2015 8:00 am

    Food fight breaks out on social media

    Having just spent 40 minutes chasing Shadow around the neighbourhood, getting stuck in a hedge and leaping over a few flower beds, I have retreated inside to contemplate how ridiculous this situation is. Not only is Shadow (the bunny) NOT in the hutch but he is now outside the French door, looking in and taunting me … as if to say, “Come and get me lady, I am not done making a fool of you yet!” I don’t know if he enjoys this little game, but...

  • Upgrade hash browns for healthier breakfast
    Mar 27, 2015 8:00 am

    Upgrade hash browns for healthier breakfast

    It’s been one of those weeks — lots of the domestic and none of the bliss! Three family fevers, a minor surgery, courses starting, e-mail exploding ... I wish I could click my heels and disappear to a far-flung corner of the globe.

    Although, I want to be the one tending to the fevers. So there we have the mummy conundrum in a nutshell: as much as it sometimes feels overwhelming, I really wouldn’t have it any other way.

    With one...

  • Follow the gritty, witty, pretty rule
    Mar 13, 2015 8:00 am

    Follow the gritty, witty, pretty rule

    Last Sunday, Julia Pitt and I did a presentation for the Business and Professional Women’s Association of Bermuda.

    We combined success coaching and nutrition to discuss, ‘Is having it all hurting your health?’

    We weren’t really trying to answer the question of whether it’s possible to “have it all”, but rather how our pursuit of both career and family can knock us sideways if we’re...

  • Here comes the Easter Bunny!
    Mar 6, 2015 8:00 am

    Here comes the Easter Bunny!

    Hop hop, here comes the Easter Bunny! With a basket of eggs and a bag full of Peeps, he has already made his delivery to the pharmacy. A walk through Phoenix brought me out in a cold sweat this morning. I went in for eye make-up remover but almost left with an armful of chocolate I didn’t know I wanted and some paraphernalia I definitely didn’t need. Seasonal holidays are an issue for shopaholics and chocoholics alike. And God help you if you...

  • Food ethics: what to do when you can’t afford them
    Feb 27, 2015 8:00 am

    Food ethics: what to do when you can’t afford them

    Some houses are ruled by the parents. Some are ruled by the kids. I suspect very few are ruled by a bunny. And yet somehow ours is. How did that happen? Shadow, the free-range bunny, is now an official member of the Burns household and ruling the roost — or whatever the bunny equivalent would be. Bossing the burrow?

    He came to stay after we noticed a limp and a big old cut on his nose. After being given the once-over from the vet,...

  • Beat the Couch and show what you can do
    Feb 13, 2015 8:00 am

    Beat the Couch and show what you can do

    I’ve now popped our Beat the Couch signs up along East Broadway and North Shore for a little marketing blitz.

    I took great care to make sure they were perfectly aligned. I even drove past them again to double check they were smart and evenly spaced out.

    However, Mother Nature had alternative plans and it has been blowing a gale out there. We’re almost at find-your-trampoline-in-your-neighbour’s-garden winds and I’ll be lucky if...

  • Seven things you don’t know
    Feb 6, 2015 8:00 am

    Seven things you don’t know

    I’m writing this cross-legged on the sofa, clutching a hot herbal tea and wondering what to chat to you about this week. I’m surrounded by a sea of pistachio shells, carefully constructed toys the kids begged me not to dismantle, and two snoring cats. It’s a glamorous life. Sometimes I wonder how many people out there read this. On the days when it all works out, I like to think there are lots of you. On the days when I cringe over words that...

  • Stretching your budget with soup
    Jan 30, 2015 8:00 am

    Stretching your budget with soup

    Well, hasn’t it been quite the week? Challenging politics in a small environment makes for an intense atmosphere.

    After ten amazing years, and with a Bermudian husband and children, I have invested everything I have here — both emotionally and financially.

    Three years ago I started my own business and know the incredible highs and troublesome lows that come hand in hand with that responsibility.

    There’s no doubt that this...

  • Anyone for rabbit stew?
    Jan 23, 2015 8:00 am

    Anyone for rabbit stew?

    Another week, another domestic saga. This time, the girls have befriended a pet bunny who lives on our development and hops between the houses. They have called it Cottontail although other people call it Colleen, and it’s actually suspected to be a boy. (It’s notoriously hard to establish gender in bunnies — I know this because my otherwise very intelligent friend accidentally had three litters of bunnies in a matter of months.) I was given...

  • There’s WHAT in my what?!
    Jan 9, 2015 8:00 am

    There’s WHAT in my what?!

    Since having kids, all sorts of strange things have happened to my food. I have discovered glitter in my cereal and crayons in my tea. I have rescued Strawberry Shortcake from the bottom of a bag of nuts. I will never, ever, forget the case of the exploding porridge — where a science “spexseriment” sat neglected in an airtight container, detonating four days later in the middle of the night. So I am used to a certain number of foreign objects...

  • Three wishes for a healthy year
    Jan 2, 2015 8:00 am

    Three wishes for a healthy year

    Well here we are, happy 2015! I always love the surge of optimism a new year brings. Our bodies are sludgy and hurting and sloshing with drink but we are determined to get ourselves together.

    I am not sure about you, but I have eaten Christmas ham twice a day for the past week, I have overdone the after-dinner mints and participated in far too much social drinking.

    In my defence, the ham was a Niman Ranch beauty (that I had to...

  • Healthy gifts for grown-ups
    Dec 19, 2014 8:00 am

    Healthy gifts for grown-ups

    Naughty Nana and Roo Roo have arrived for Christmas!

    What is it about grandparents and funny names? Saying them in front of other people is a bit like giving out the e-mail address you thought was cool when you were younger. Things like sexyhotminx@gmail (not mine!) are a bit embarrassing on a CV or when you enter the prize draw at Gorham’s, and yet we can’t help ourselves.

    Once you arrive at something like Naughty Nana there...

  • Healthy Christmas gifts for kids
    Dec 12, 2014 8:00 am

    Healthy Christmas gifts for kids

    I have to start this with a confession. I haven’t bought my kids salad spinners for Christmas. I have actually bought them American Girl dolls. I did my best to pretend they didn’t exist (the dolls, not my kids …) but Chloe is in P2. Six-year-olds talk. A lot as it turns out. So on Christmas morning, Caroline (a long-haired blonde beauty) and Kaya (an American Indian bombshell) will be welcomed into our home. At the exact same moment, the LH...

  • Battle of the 
festive bulge!
    Dec 5, 2014 7:00 pm

    Battle of the festive bulge!

    By Catherine Burns

    Just back in from the America’s Cup celebrations and despite Belle heckling the speeches we had a lovely time.

    When I say “lovely”, I mean I survived without an injury despite all Belle’s efforts to the contrary.

    I almost lost my eye to her flag but I suppose that was always a risk. Four year olds and flags are a dangerous combination. However the lentil chips in my hair were a surprise. She was on my...

  • Elf on the Shelf is not for children
    Nov 28, 2014 8:00 am

    Elf on the Shelf is not for children

    I was filing away old copies of these columns last night when Chloe’s eyes landed on last year’s Elf on the Shelf debate. Across the room I watched her pull the illustrated pages out of the pile and sit down to read them.

    I propelled myself across the room, tripping over the chair and stubbing my toe, landing beside her in a panic. “Um, you can’t read that one,” I said. “It’s just for grown-ups.” I was immediately informed that the Elf...


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