3 Recipes to Support Healthy Hair

Conditioning your hair should start inside the body – after all, you are what you eat

Hair condition is a barometer of general health, say Noel Halligan and Corey Taylor at NOCO Hair. Totally up on their trichology, here they kindly offer nutritional tips for anyone who may be seeking advice for hair loss or thinning.

Strand and deliver

Trichology and nutritional advice have become the norm in many hairdressing salons, where hair loss – both temporary and permanent – is no longer a taboo subject. Being up close and personal with a plethora of clients’ hair issues is all in a day’s work, and post-partum shedding, alopecia areata, scaly scalps, dandruff and thinning leave us completely unfazed but keen to help.

Post Covid-19 pandemic there has been an increase in anxiety and stress levels – emotions that can cause hairstyling havoc. What we also saw was, hair loss being flagged as an unwelcome side effect for those who were recovering from the virus.

Hair condition is a barometer of general health. Just as the body needs to be well hydrated, healthy hair requires moisture. It also needs to be protected against harsh conditions and rough handling. Daily abuses such as blasting away with the blow-dryer, straightening and curling at scorching temperatures, brushing hair when it’s wet, and traction from ponytails too tightly secured all contribute to ongoing problems.

Thinning hair and hair loss used to be associated almost exclusively with men – with older women and new mums the exceptions. However, incredibly, by the time we humans hit 25 we’ve already lost over 50% of our original hair follicles. Stress has been identified as one of the major causes of hair loss, along with genetics, hormonal imbalance, poor diet, long-term illness, and medication side effects.

It’s not crystal-clear what causes alopecia areata, believed to affect one in 100 people in the UK, but extreme stress and trauma are thought to contribute to the over-stimulation of the auto-immune system which encourages the cells controlling hair growth in the follicles to shut down. Hair will usually grow back given time, but it’s not always so in extreme cases because of the complex emotional and physical nature of the problem.

Mark, who has shared quality time with a quarter of a million heads of hair, has poured 40 years’ experience into every gluten-free tablet. The food supplements are also suitable for vegetarians, manufactured in the UK and not tested on animals.

We know Mark professionally, having referred several clients to him and they always return to our salon with great feedback. It’s special knowing the man behind the brand. He’s always there for us and our guests with expert advice and effective solutions to stubborn and persistent problems. We believe implicitly in his ability and inspirational approach – and the proven track record helps. The fact that Covid-19 and pandemic anxiety can have detrimental effects on hair health, in the form of reversible hair loss, makes them even more of a must-buy for us at the moment.

Another professional NOCO turns to for nutritional tips is Rebecca Seal – author of eight cookbooks published worldwide, and self-help book Solo: How to Work Alone (And Not Lose Your Mind). She’s a regular guest expert on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, and she’s also Noel’s sister-in-law’s, sister-in-law!

“Red meat from grass-fed good pastured cattle is a sustainable thing to eat,” advises Rebecca. “Red meat is demonised unnecessarily in my opinion – intensively reared, corn-fed red meat is a villain, red meat out completely isn’t helpful, especially if you’re missing vital nutrients in your diet already.”

Rebecca’s recipe for a scrumptious steak burrito, extracted below from her book LEON Happy Fast Food, is packed with protein to supercharge problem strands…

Rebecca Seal is a regular guest expert on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch and author of 8 cookbooks

Rebecca Seal is a regular guest expert on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch and author of 8 cookbooks

Roasty Toasty Nuts

Roasty Toasty Nuts

Add flavour, texture and goodness to even the simplest soup. You can roast nuts in the oven or on the stovetop – Rebecca prefers the stovetop as she can keep a close eye on whether they are burning or not.


Taken with permission from LEON Happy Soups, by Rebecca Seal and John Vincent, published by Octopus


Prep time 2 minutes

Cooking time 7 minutes

serves 4 as a topping

100g mixed un-roasted, unsalted nuts, chopped into pieces if necessary

If using the oven, preheat it to 180ºC and cook for 5-7 minutes, depending on the size of the nut, until golden. On the stovetop, set a dry pan over a low heat and when hot, add the nuts, and cook, tossing frequently, for 2-4 minutes, until brown and toasted.

If you want to coat the nuts with spices you can use either water, water and beaten egg white, or water and melted butter – just mix a couple of tablespoons of each together with your spices (paprika, sugar, salt, cumin, za’atar, chilli etc) and then toss the nuts thoroughly before roasting in the oven.

West African-style peanut curry

West African-style peanut curry

There are so many of our favourite LEON ingredients in this that it makes us hum tunes from the Sound of Music: kale, sweet potato, chickpeas, chillies and earthy, warming spices.

serves 4


prep time 20 minutes

cook time 55 minutes

1 tablespoon neutral oil for cooking

2 onions, finely diced

2cm thumb ginger, peeled and finely grated

2 cloves garlic, crushed

½ a red pepper, seeded and finely diced

2 teaspoons tomato puree

½ teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon ground cumin 

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

½-1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

400g tin of chopped tomatoes

400ml hot water

50g smooth peanut butter (unsweetened)

600g / 2 medium-sized sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

400g tin of cooked chickpeas, drained

150g kale, or any sweet, soft-leaved green cabbage, ribs removed, finely shredded

50g okra, trimmed and cut into 1cm rounds

1 red chilli, finely sliced, to serve (optional) 

a handful of unsalted, toasted peanuts, chopped to serve

Set a large heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Add the oil and then the onion and saute gently until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and red pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes, until the ginger is no longer pungent. Add the tomato puree and all the ground spices (use only ½ teaspoon cayenne to start with) and cook for 2 minutes, stirring all the time, until the spices are fragrant and the tomato puree doesn’t smell raw.

Next add the tomatoes and their juice, the water (just fill the tomato tin), peanut butter and sweet potatoes. Stir well, then bring up to a simmer. Partly cover with a lid, turn down the heat and leave to bubble until the sweet potato is tender, about 20-25 minutes.

Add the drained chickpeas to the pan and simmer for another 5-10 minutes, then add the kale and okra, if using. Stir well, then simmer for 5 more minutes, just until the kale is done. Remove from the heat. Taste for salt and pepper, and even add a pinch more cayenne, if you like. 

Serve with the fresh red chilli slices and chopped peanuts, sprinkled on top.

TIP If you only have crunchy peanut butter, no worries, you will just end up with a nuttier texture.

Steak burrito

Steak burrito

Many burritos are made with wonderfully tasty slow-cooked meats, which goes against this book’s speedy ethos. So we invented a reverse-engineered way to max out flavour, by flashing cooking skirt steak – an especially tasty cut – until rare and tender, then dressing it with lime and garlic as it rests. (You could treat cooked chicken or fish the same way, or swap the steak for fried chorizo, or alternatively make this vegetarian by using the black beans,



serves 2 

40g uncooked rice 

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ clove garlic, crushed

juice of ½ a lime

salt and freshly ground black pepper

200g skirt steak, fat trimmed away

oil for cooking

for the burritos:

2 large wraps/flatbreads (can be WF GF)

100g cooked black beans

30g feta cheese (ideally a mild one)

3 tablespoons guacamole, or 1 avocado, mashed (optional)

½ spring onion, sliced or about 1 tablespoons pink pickled onions (or both)

sliced or chopped pickled jalapeños

2 cherry tomatoes, finely chopped

a handful of coriander leaves

hot sauce

Measure the rice in a mug, then work out what twice its volume of water would be (that is, 1 mug of rice needs 2 mugs of water). Cook it for about 12 minutes, then set aside while you prepare the rest of the fillings.

Mix together the cumin, oregano, cayenne, garlic, lime juice and some salt and pepper. Set aside.

Season the steak all over. Pour a little oil into a frying pan set over a high heat. Once really hot, quickly cook the steak until deep brown on both sides, just 2 or 3 minutes a side, but still fairly rare. Remove from the pan and place in a bowl to rest; pour over the lime juice mixture.

When ready to assemble, slice the steak into 1.5 thick strips. Warm the breads and place each on a plate. Arrange half the rice in a line on each one, leaving space at the bottom of the bread, to fold up and enclose the fillings later. Place half the beans and half the feta on top of the rice. Arrange half the steak in a line next to the rice. 

Spread the guacamole or avocado, if using, in a line on the other side of the steak and then arrange all the remaining vegetables and herbs on top. Douse everything generously with hot sauce, then tightly wrap up the burrito, tucking in the spare bread at the bottom before rolling, so that everything doesn’t fall out, or drip. 

Eat straightaway.

TIP If you have time, and your burrito is really tightly wrapped, pan-fry the whole thing until light gold all over, in a clean, hot, dry pan.  

Photo credits

Taken with permission from LEON Happy Soups, by Rebecca Seal and John Vincent, published by Octopus

Taken with permission from LEON Happy Fast Food, by Rebecca Seal, Jack Burke and John Vincent, published by Octopus.

Taken with permission from LEON Happy Curries, by Rebecca Seal and John Vincent, published by Octopus. 

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