Peanut butter cookie dough energy bites

Yep. You heard it right, peanut butter cookie dough.

And it’s good for you.

I’ve looked up quite a few recipes for energy bites but what has slightly put me off making them is they have so many ingredients and a lot of them I don’t have in my cupboard like baobab, maca, spirulina and matcha. Don’t get me wrong these are all amazing and wonderful for you but they aren’t very accessible for most people and can be quite pricey so I thought I would do some energy bites for beginners that are easy on your purse strings but still taste great.

However if you do have these and want to add them then please do so! I can’t tell you how they will taste but you could always do half with and half without and see how you get on.

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The good thing about these are that they are pretty easy to change to suit what you’ve got in. So if you’ve got almond butter instead of peanut, then use it. If you’ve not got maple syrup, use honey or another sweetener. You could even put mashed banana in as the stickiness that holds them together. If you don’t have ground almonds or flaxseed that doesn’t matter too much either. I’ve put them in for their added health benefits but don’t go out and buy them just to make these. You could even make your own DIY ground almonds by blitzing almonds in a food processor until they are very fine crumbly consistency.

These little bad boys don’t tasty healthy at all… they are sweet and crunchy and best of all they are satisfying! The peanut butter and ground almonds provide a good dose of healthy fats and paired with the slow release energy from the oats means they will keep you feeling fuller for much longer.

The dark chocolate and/or cacao nibs are really high in antioxidants and in particular Magnesium which is so important for many daily bodily functions. It helps to keep you alert…..

They are so good for snacking, I usually take 2 to work and have them mid afternoon to satisfy my sweet tooth and they keep me going until dinner.

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Ingredients

  • 3 heaped tbsp of peanut butter (I used crunchy but you could use smooth)
  • 1 1/2 cups of oats
  • 1/2 cup of ground flaxseed
  • 2 tbsp ground almonds
  • 2 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs or 70% dairy free dark chocolate cut into little chunks

Method

  1. This is the fun bit! Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until well combined
  2. Put a tablespoon sized amount in your hand and squeeze into a compact shape
  3. Roll it between the palms of your hands or on a flat surface until its round
  4. Once you are done place all the balls into the freezer for half an hour to firm up and then they can be kept in the fridge for 3 weeks… they freeze well too, just let them defrost before eating!

The reason why I’ve used cups in this recipe instead of grams is because you really don’t need to be that accurate! There is no baking involved so it’s pretty hard for them to go wrong. As long as you use the same sized cup for all measurements you are good to go and once you mix everything together you will be able to tell from the consistency whether it needs a bit more of something.

Goats Cheese, Spinach and Sun dried tomato Frittata

Leftovers are the best kind of lunch in my eyes… if there is anyway I can reduce the amount of prep I have to do during the week for lunches I’m all over it and this recipe is so so versatile and easy to do. You can serve hot or cold and as it’s high in protein it will keep you a lot more satisfied than your average sandwich!

FRITTATA

If you don’t eat dairy that’s fine, just leave out the cheese! It’s a nice touch but this recipe doesn’t need it so I often make it without, the variety of tomatoes and herbs give this dish  a lovely flavour as it is.

Now I know many of you might not buy sun dried tomatoes in your weekly shop as they used to be seen as more of a luxury food item that you would get if you wanted some fancy nibbles but they really aren’t these days. I usually get them from either Morrison’s, Home Bargains or Aldi and they are a pound or less for a jar! Some shops are still getting away with charging way more though so do shop around.

Whats great about them is they last a long time in the fridge and they give recipes such an intense flavour so you don’t need to use loads and the price per meal is even lower. Also if you chop them into big chunks they have quite a meaty texture (not taste!) which I quite like..maybe it’s a veggie or vegan thing? .

Ingredients

  • 5 free range eggs
  • 1 red or yellow pepper
  • 1 courgette
  • 2 small red onions or one large
  • 10 cherry tomatoes
  • 6 sun dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 bag of spinach or a handful of frozen spinach
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 50 g goats cheese

If you don’t have enough eggs, say 3 or 4 for example add approx 100 ml of milk (both dairy or non dairy will work fine) and beat together before adding to the pan, just bare in mind the cooking time may be longer as it will need more time to set.

Method

  1. Turn the hob to a medium heat and add in a good glug of olive oil.
  2. Chop the onions into thin slices and then separate the individual layers into the pan.
  3. Finely chop the garlic and add in too.
  4. Chop the courgette into half moons,the pepper and sun dried tomato into small chunks and the cherry tomatoes in half and add them all into the pan.
  5. Once the vegetables have started to soften add the oregano and basil and season well.
  6. If you are using fresh spinach add this in now. If you are using frozen put it into a bowl and cook according to the instructions. Then once cooked drain well and add to the pan.
  7. Crack the eggs into a jug and beat for a minute or so until well combined then season with salt/pepper and a little basil.
  8. When all the vegetables are cooked turn the hob up to a medium high heat and pour the eggs over, lightly pressing the vegetables down so that they are all covered.
  9. After 10-15 minutes check with a wooden spoon that it is starting to set, then chop up or tear the goats cheese into little pieces and dot over the top.
  10. Pop under a hot grill for 3-4 minutes so that the cheese melts and then serve!

If you want to ensure the frittata holds it shape, I would leave it to cool for 5 minutes before cutting it into slices. This is lovely on it’s own but goes well with a nice side salad and some smoked paprika sweet potato wedges 😀

 

No 2 of the top 4 deficiencies

Now this one really surprised me, I knew magnesium was an essential mineral but I didn’t realise how vital it really is! It’s one of the most important if not the most important minerals required as it is needed for so many processes in the body; to develop strong bones, regulate body temperature and blood sugar levels and  ensure muscles function properly . It can also be linked to deficiencies in other vitamins and minerals, as magnesium is required for some vitamins to be distributed round the body such as Calcium.

One of the main processes it’s used for is providing your cells with energy. If you aren’t getting enough that’s when you will start to feel tired and lethargic as your body doesn’t have enough energy to get through daily tasks. Creating energy alone is needed for pretty much everything in the body so this is definitely one to watch out for! Due to this, the first signs of this type of deficiency are usually extreme fatigue both emotionally and physically and this can lead on to insomnia and anxiety.

It also has strong links to fibromyalgia which is a condition whereby muscles all over the body are in constant spasm which feels painful, achy and stiff all the time. Unfortunately Magnesium deficiencies are regularly misdiagnosed as only 1% of it is stored in the blood, and so it’s very difficult to get a clear picture of this vitamin when a traditional blood test is done. Most of the magnesium is stored in the cells all around the body, particularly within the heart muscles and when this is restricted it can lead to heart palpitations, even heart attacks and angina.

Other common symptoms include:

  • muscle spasms – magnesium is needed for muscles to relax
  • headaches
  • poor sleep
  • poor immune system
  • anxiety
  • depression

How to treat naturally…

The good news is that the most common reasons people develop this deficiency is because they simply aren’t getting enough in their diet. The more processed your food is, the lower it will be in essential vitamins and minerals like magnesium. Thats why eating whole, natural foods that are as close to their original state as possible is key to having a healthy diet and living a happier, healthier life.

So how to increase your intake? Eat plenty of these magnesium rich foods – again most of these aren’t difficult to find or expensive.

  • Leafy greens – spinach (this is one of my favourite foods and is one of the  highest in magnesium too!) kale, chard
  • Avocado -goes well in smoothies, chopped up in salads or smashed into guacamole!
  • Cacao/dark chocolate – good news for all of you chocolate lovers!
  • Beans and pulses – lentils, white beans, French beans, black eyes peas, kidney beans, chickpeas
  • Bananas
  • Nuts – almonds, cashews
  • Seeds –  pumpkin, sunflower, sesame
  • Squash
  • Oily fish – mackerel, salmon, herring, tuna
  • Whole grains – brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, wholewheat pasta, oats, bulgur wheat
  • Dried fruit – prunes, dates, raisins, apricots

Much like vitamin B12, the acid in your stomach is needed to break down what you eat to enable your body to absorb the magnesium within these foods – check out my last post for a tip on how you can absorb the most out of your food.

If you suffer from fibromyalgia/sore achy muscles/pins and needles/muscle spasms then adding a cup or two of Epsom salts to your bath will help as they contain magnesium sulphate which can be absorbed easily through the skin. Magnesium has many healing and detoxifying properties so adding Epsom salts to your bath will not only help you on the inside, it will draw out toxins and make your skin glow on the outside too!

Speaking of skin, next week I’ll be looking into Zinc which is known for it’s skin and immune boosting properties, keep a look out on my instagram & twitter, links are top right of the page 😊

 

 

 

broad bean, mint & feta super salad

Despite there being so many creative salad options out there, it can be easy to default back to salad leaves, tomato, cucumber and the main ingredient… it’s so boring! At the weekends when I have more time my salad bowls tend to be more adventurous with hot and cold elements but when you are doing a packed lunch it’s not always as simple. Although the main ingredients to most of my salads are fish or roasted veg I do often revert back the above rule when time is precious….I need to change things up a bit!

feta, broadbean salad

I wanted to make a salad that was weekend worthy but time friendly, so that I could enjoy this at work and didn’t need to spend a lot of time in the evening prepping my lunch for the next day. As I’ve said before the key to living a healthier lifestyle is to be that little bit more organised, so if you make a big batch up this can last you a few days so you have more time to yourself!

You could change this up to suit your taste too, swap feta for another cheese, or you could substitute the cheese with some tuna or you could throw in some olives or roasted squash, different herbs/spices, different beans such as black eyed beans, whatever you have in! As I’m not a huge fan of raw onion in salads, sometimes I chop them into little wedges and roast them in the oven with some olive oil and balsamic and it makes them lovely and sweet!

feta broadbean salad close up

This salad has become a real favourite of mine, it’s so tasty and  I think it helps if you leave the salad to soak up the dressing for a little while too so it really takes on those fresh zesty flavours. It’s full of fibre and protein from the chickpeas, healthy fats form the avocado and olive oil all of which will help you stay fuller and more satisfied for longer. There’s lots of vitamins and minerals in there too from the spinach, tomatoes and broad beans, it’s a great all-rounder!

What you need:

  • 1 bag of spinach or salad leaves of your choice
  • 10 x cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 of a cucumber
  • 3 x spring onion
  • 1 x red onion or 4 little radishes
  • 1 x avocado
  • A handful of sun-dried tomatoes – roughly 5 or 6
  • 100g – frozen broad beans
  • 1 x can of chickpeas
  • 100g of feta cheese – don’t worry this is for 4 meals so only 25g per serving

For the dressing:

  • Juice of a small lemon or half a large one
  • Handful of fresh mint
  • 70ml olive il
  • Salt & pepper

Method:

  1. Put the broad beans into a pan of boiling water for 5 minutes until cooked and then drain and put to one side.
  2. Whilst they are cooking pour a can of chickpeas and their water into a bowl, cover and microwave for 3 minutes on a high heat or according to the instructions, drain and add to the broad beans.
  3. Meanwhile roughly chop the spinach and place into a large bowl.
  4. Finely slice the tomatoes, cucumber, spring onions, radishes and sun-dried tomatoes into little chunks and mix with the spinach. Slice the avocado, remove the stone and scoop out the flesh, chop into bite-sized chunks and add to the salad. If you’ve got any extras I’d add them now too.
  5. Add the cooked broad beans and chickpeas to the salad, crumble in the feta and mix well, season with black pepper
  6. Finely chop the mint and add to a little bowl. Then squeeze in the juice of one lemon and add in olive oil, mix well and then season to taste.
  7. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and give it a good stir making sure everything is coated with the dressing and serve!

This will make enough salad for 4 lunches but I often save 2 portions for dinner and 2 for lunch the next day. The quantities for the salad ingredients are very rough, use as much as you like or have in. If you don’t have much fresh salad in, add some more beans or pulses instead. Thats when the frozen broad beans come in handy as you can always have them on standby for times like these! If you are wanting to bulk it out even more, I often add in some cooked broccoli or couscous and this works a treat!

 

 

 

 

 

No 1 of the top 4 Vitamin Deficiencies

A common belief is that you cannot get all of your required food groups, vitamins and minerals through a vegetarian or vegan diet, especially when protein or calcium come into question. If you’ve been following my blog though, you will notice how many vegetarian and vegan recipes are full of these essential things that your body needs.

So it got me thinking if there were things that these diets can miss out on and one of the main thing’s you have to watch out for is becoming deficient in Vitamin B12.

Unfortunately our bodies  don’t produce enough of this naturally so it has to be absorbed through the food we eat. The vitamin B12 is only found in animal products such as meat, fish, shellfish, eggs and dairy, so it’s a complete no-go for vegans and can still be quite difficult for vegetarians and/or those that avoid dairy to get enough of it in their diet.

Vitamin B12 is extremely important for many of the body’s processes, it aids red blood cells carrying oxygen around the body, it’s used to produce DNA and is needed for a healthy nervous system to prevent you becoming anemic. There is also research that has linked low levels of B12 with Alzheimers and the production of energy as well as your heart health and to prevent osteoporosis.

Developing a deficiency is usually caused by either:

A. Not consuming enough of it.

B. Your body being unable to absorb it.

If you are vegan, it’s highly recommended to take supplements of vitamin B12 to prevent becoming deficient as despite fortified cereals containing trace amounts of B12, these alone don’t provide enough.

There is also research out there debating whether certain types of blue/green algae provide enough B12 but at present it’s unclear whether this is used in the body the same way as the vitamins found in animal products.

I’ve never really been much of an advocate for taking lots of different supplements as I believe you should be able to get the vast majority of your essential nutrients from your diet. However when you find something that is quite difficult to consume such as B12, you have to do what is right for your body.

But what happens if you are getting enough from your diet or supplements and you are still suffering from the symptoms of a deficiency?

These can include:

  • fatigue
  • weight loss
  • weakness
  • poor memory
  • bloating
  • depression
  • sores in the mouth

B12 is attached to the animal protein and once it’s in your stomach the hydrochloric acid helps to break the vitamin free and reattach to another protein called Intrinsic Factor (IF) which your body produces naturally and then this allows it to be absorbed into the blood stream.

One reason why some people struggle to  absorb B12 could be linked to the acidity levels in your stomach. To combat this  you could take a spoonful of Apple Cider Vinegar before eating to help aid digestion and absorption.
Another  reason could be called Pernicious Anemia, which is where your body doesn’t produce enough IF so therefore all of the B12 you are eating is just being lost.

Being deficient in this vitamin is more common for women, particularly those over 60 and  of course for individuals who avoid these food groups. As B12 has an affect on your nervous system it’s really important to address any of the above issues as soon as possible.

Unfortunately there is little information available  to provide alternative methods to increase your B12 intake if you are unable to absorb it and if you have already developed a deficiency the most common treatment is B12 injections. I was really hoping to find a less invasive treatment than this but it seems that this is the most effective way of ensuring the vitamin is absorbed straight into the blood stream rather than risk it being affected by the digestive process.

Obviously taking B12 injections  is recommended if you have a deficiency but if you don’t or you are simply conscious of becoming deficient then you can start now. If you aren’t vegan then having a predominantly plant based, balanced diet with some diary or fish will be sufficient and provide you with all that you need.

The recommended daily amount for adults to consume is 1.5mg which is roughly 1 egg, 1 portion of yoghurt, 1 portion of fish etc. Below is a list of foods high in B12….

  • Shellfish (Crab, Mussels, Lobster, Prawns etc)
  • Smoked Salmon, Mackerel, Tuna (can be tinned or fresh), Trout , Sardines
  • Eggs, Cheese (such as cottage cheese or mozzarella)
  • Dairy Milk & Yoghurt…I would recommend greek or natural yoghurt as flavoured or “greek style” are often high in additives and sugar

Apart from the lobster, most of the above can be found in the supermarkets for pretty cheap and the good news is you can have tinned tuna, sardines and mackerel which will again save you on cost and wastage as they last for some time in the cupboard.

Getting enough can be achieved easily if you are able to eat the above foods. Having a poached egg for breakfast or greek yoghurt and granola for a snack or mackerel salad for dinner would easily reach your recommended daily amount – just of of those that is, not all 3 each day!

There are so many things that this essential vitamin is needed for so I would really recommend that you think about your diet and see whether you are getting as much of the above as you need to ensure you can be the healthiest possible!

…the other side to the blog

As I develop my knowledge of nutrition I am hoping to write more about specific illnesses and conditions and how these can be treated naturally. This is what I have a real passion for and would love to help people in this way. Enabling people to live a healthier lifestyle without relying on medication for very treatable issues that can be solved by eating healthy, nutritious food and being more mindful of their choices.

Everyone has to start somewhere though, so to begin with I’m going to be looking at things on a broader spectrum and include a mixture of nutritional insight and of course delicious recipes!

The topic of vitamin deficiencies has been cropping up in conversation a lot recently and it’s shocking how common some deficiencies are and how much they can impact your health. When I think of deficiencies, the classic story of the sailors who got scurvy because they didn’t have enough vitamin C immediately pops into my mind . I know that we’ve learnt a lot since then but it’s mad how in this day and age we are still deficient in certain things despite everything we have access to. In the UK we have a brilliant healthcare system, so much choice in healthy food and drink in both supermarkets and also when you are out on the go but still people are suffering and may not even know they are lacking in something until it’s too late and considerable damage has been caused.

Deficiencies can be caused by a number of reasons such as having a poor diet, having dietary restrictions such as being coeliac, vegetarian or gluten/dairy free but it can also be linked to pregnancy and getting older. The most important thing to do is listen to your body and keep an eye on even the smallest of changes as they could very well be linked to something you aren’t getting enough of!

To delve into the nutrition side of the blog I have decided to do a sequence of posts focusing on the top 4 deficiencies;

  1. Vitamin B12
  2. Magnesium
  3. Zinc
  4. Vitamin D

I will be looking at how they occur, why they are important, their symptom’s and how they can be managed or treated in a naturopathic way. The first in the series will be Vitamin B12 which I will be posting about this week. If you want to keep in the loop and be updated whenever I post something new, you can follow me on twitter and instagram using the box’s on the right of the page!

 

 

Salted Caramel Easter Eggs

Happy Easter everyone! I hope you are all having a lovely long weekend 😊

I  couldn’t resist doing a healthy option for those that want to enjoy a little chocolate over the holiday but without all of the refined sugars, additives and preservatives that your typical easter egg contains. When you are trying to follow a healthier lifestyle it can be difficult to avoid days like today when unhealthy food is all around you but it you are able to, I’m sure you will take great pleasure in taking naughty treats and turning them into healthy alternatives! This way you don’t feel deprived and you can feel good about what you are eating too!

eggs

I’ve taken my original recipe for my  chocolate freezer treats and adapted it slightly and now these eggs won’t melt if left out at room temperature plus I’ve filled them with yummy salted caramel!

For the Chocolate:

  1. Cacao powder 80g
  2. Cacao butter 100g
  3. Maple syrup 4 tbsp
  4. Coconut oil 1 tbsp
  5. Ground cinnamon 1 tsp
  6. Vanilla extract 1 tsp

For the Salted Caramel:

  1. Tahini 1 tbsp
  2. Vanilla extract 1 tsp
  3. Maple Syrup 3tbsp or date syrup works really well too
  4. A good pinch of himalayan rock salt
  • Melt the cacao butter, coconut oil and maple syrup in a glass bowl over a pan a quarter full with water over a medium heat- make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the glass bowl.
  • Once melted, add the cinnamon and vanilla extract and then slowly add the cacao powder a bit at a time whilst whisking so that it ends up nice and glossy.
  • Fill the moulds you have half way, if you don’t have any chocolate moulds you can use an ice cube tray…but it might not give the same effect for easter!
  • Pop these into the freezer for 20 minutes until they have hardened. Whilst you are waiting, mix together the caramel ingredients and sweeten to taste with extra maple syrup if necessary.
  • After 20 minutes take out the chocolate’s which should now be firm to touch and using a teaspoon put a little blob of caramel into the middle of each one. Then put back into the freezer for another 20 minutes.
  • Finally once this has set, cover the caramel in the remaining chocolate and leave to set in the freezer.

Tahini isn’t for everyone and if you don’t have it in or aren’t a fan, not to worry, I’ve provided another way to make the caramel using dates instead. If you are trying to reduce your sugar intake then I would go for the tahini option but either way they are both completely natural!

Follow the above steps but when it comes to making the caramel use this method:

  1. Cover a handful of dates in some warm water and soak for 5 minutes.
  2. Once soft, drain as much of the water as you can and place into a food processor with the 1tsp vanilla extract and the salt.
  3. Blend until smooth, you may need to get a spatula and scrape the sides down a few times and if it still isn’t to your desired consistency strain the caramel through a sieve to make it nice and smooth.

daffodils

Go on, give them a try and make the easter bunny jealous! 🐰

Super Easy Kiwi & Pineapple Smoothie

Some days are harder than others to get all 5 portions of your fruit and veg and I often find at the weekend when I’m not in as much of a routine food-wise, this is when I can miss out on those vital nutrients and minerals. Particularly this time of year when many of our everyday fruits aren’t in season, frozen fruit really comes in handy and it’s cheap and convenient for blending.

Smoothie

Smoothies are such an easy way to give your body a boost of goodness and it really doesn’t have to be boring or over complicated. There are so many different variations and different ways of building them up, if you prefer a thicker consistency add a banana /avocado or sometimes I add a teaspoon of chia seeds and leave for a few minutes to soak up. For greens I often add frozen spinach as the taste isn’t as potent as fresh but still gives you the nutrients and vibrant colour! If you wanted to make it more substantial, adding some oats into the blender will increase the fibre and provide slow release energy too, great for breakfast.

Some supermarkets provide a wider variety of frozen fruits than others, so if you really love a particular type of fruit, it may be worth buying extra to freeze when they’re on offer to save money. Try to freeze as soon as you buy or as soon as the fruit is ripe to ensure you keep as much freshness and nutritional value in as possible.  Chopping the fruit into small pieces and putting them into zip-lock freezer bags will also make it easier for you later on, if you wanted to add smaller amounts for a smoothie for 1 person or to use for other recipes.

Sainsbury’s, ASDA, Tesco & Morrison’s do some if not most of the below options:

Cherries                                  Black forest fruits

Blackberries                          Strawberry & Banana

Summer fruits                       Pineapple

Raspberries                            Mango

Rhubarb                                  Blueberries

If you are new to making smoothie’s, this is a nice and easy one to begin with,  it’s a mixture of fresh and frozen ingredients and its lovely and refreshing. Often shop bought smoothie’s contain banana to thicken them which some people aren’t fond of… so if you aren’t a banana fan this is for you!

Serves 2

  1. small handful x frozen spinach
  2. 1 x kiwi – flesh scooped out and cut into small chunks
  3. 1 cup x frozen pineapple
  4. The juice of 1 lime
  5. 2 cups of water

Use the same  cup to measure the water and the pineapple – these are only rough guidelines so if you want it to be thicker, add less water etc

  • First blend the frozen spinach, pineapple and water together.
  • Once smooth then add the kiwi flesh and blend again until this is fully combined.
  • Finally, add the lime juice, give it a final blend and away you go!

 

Roasted Parsnip, Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup

Homemade soup is the epitome of heart warming  food and when it’s cold outside on a dreary Monday morning there is nothing better than knowing you’ve got a nice hot bowl of goodness to look forward to at lunchtime. If you’re anything like me and think about lunch as you are finishing breakfast then this is an important factor in your day!

I tend to alternate my lunches at work between salads, leftovers from the night before and soup but at the moment salads just haven’t been cutting it for me. It’s too cold and I want a hug in a mug. Does anyone remember those adverts? With the big purple hairy arms?

Anyway, this sunday as part of our now almost weekly baking/food prepping session, we decided to make some lovely homemade soup.

Soup is really easy to make, I think a lot of people are put off at the thought of whipping up their own but you can make it as easy or as complicated as you like. With this recipe you can do it one of two ways. The first is by roasting the carrots, parsnips and sweet potato in the oven with some olive oil, thyme, honey and mild curry powder. The other and notably easier option is to throw all of that into one big pot with the rest of the ingredients and let it bubble to it’s hearts content. The flavours will be stronger if you roast the veg but if you don’t have loads of thyme on your hands (excuse the pun) then go for the latter.

Soup - Homemade Health“Souping” is said to be the new trendy foodie thing in 2016 (personally I’ve always thought it was great!) and with a variety of different diets and lifestyles, making soup to suit your dietary requirements such as  gluten/dairy free, vegetarian/vegan/paleo couldn’t be easier. Or if you are wanting to adopt a healthier eating style or trying to lose weight then soup is a good choice for lunch as it’s really filling and satisfying.

Using complex carbs in your soup such as sweet potato will help to slowly release the energy too.

Not only is making your own soup much tastier than tinned versions, it’s so much better for your health! You can alter the seasoning and consistency to suit your taste and avoid all the preservatives, salt, sugar and fat  that is often added into the processed kinds.  It’s also freezes well too so if you make a larger than expected batch as I always do then just put the excess into some airtight Tupperware and pop into the freezer.

This recipe makes 8 portions.

  1. 5 Carrots
  2. 500g Parsnips
  3. 3 Medium Sweet Potato’s – peeled
  4. 2 Onions
  5. 2 Garlic Cloves
  6. 2 tbsp Medium Curry Powder
  7. 1 tbsp Honey
  8. 2 tbsp Fresh/Dried Thyme
  9. 2 sticks Celery
  10. 1 litre Vegetable Stock
  11. 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Turn the oven to 220°C
  • Roughly chop the parsnips, carrots and sweet potato and season with salt, pepper, olive oil, honey, 1 tbsp fresh or dried thyme and 1 tbsp medium curry power. Roast in the oven for around 30-40 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes of them being in the oven, finely chop the garlic, onion and celery and fry in a large pot over a medium heat with olive oil until soft. If you like some extra heat, you could throw in a chopped chilli or some dried chilli flakes.
  • Once the roasted vegetables are done, add them to the pot with the onions and stock with the remaining curry powder, thyme and a bay leaf (can be dried) if you have any.
  • Leave on a medium-high heat for 20-30 minutes.
  • Finally blend using a hand blender or a food processor to your desired consistency and season to taste!

 

I hope you enjoy this soup as much as I did and that it gives you a bit of confidence to make your own if you never have before!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maple, Pecan & Almond Granola

top view granola

For some strange reason, despite loving all things breakfast I have waited until now to make homemade granola. I literally have no idea why as every time I’ve looked up recipe ideas people always say how easy it is and that it makes you never want to get shop bought granola again… they weren’t lying!

This granola makes your home smell incredible and it tastes delicious… you could have this plain and simple with milk or layered between yoghurt and fresh fruit for a breakfast parfait.

Granola doesn’t necessarily shout ‘healthy’ to some, as those who usually get the shop bought kind know it contains very  high levels of sugar, sometimes even chocolate chips! However this granola  contains all of the main food components and only natural sugars…

Carbohydrates  Carbohydrates are one of food groups our body produces energy from but complex carbohydrates such as oats take a while for your body to breakdown meaning you stay fuller for a lot longer and you don’t have a sudden spike of insulin in your blood.
Protein You can use any nuts you like for this recipe but as almonds and pecans are some of my favourites I decided to use them. They are a great form of plant-based protein that fuels your body throughout the day, helping your muscles to grow and repair.
Fibre Granola as a whole is full of fibre and this makes it the ideal thing to eat for breakfast as it kick-starts your digestive system ready for the day, ensuring that everything is running smoothly. It reduces the amount of time food is travelling through your colon too which can help prevent harmful bacteria growing and leading to more serious health issues.
Vitamins/Minerals Seeds of all varieties are such an easy way of getting essential vitamins and minerals into your body. Pumpkin seeds are especially good for you as they contain Zinc, which is a real immune booster, helping to prevent disease.
Fat Coconut oil is high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and is made up of medium-chain fatty acids. This makes it easier for the body to absorb and convert into energy rather than storing as fat! Great for your heart, lowering your bad cholesterol levels and also your skin, hair and teeth too!

In spite of all the goodness these cripsy little clusters give you, I would make them just for the smell alone! I spent most of yesterday opening the jar and just smelling the comforting cinnamon and maple! Honestly its so easy to make and the taste is so amazing, much more flavoursome and with homemade you know exactly whats gone into it.

5 minutes to make and 30 minutes in the oven.

Fills a 2 litre jar!

  • Coconut oil – 2 tbsp
  • Natural Maple Syrup -150ml
  • Natural Vanilla Extract – 1tsp
  • Oats – 250g
  • Cinnamon – 2tsp
  • Desiccated Coconut – 50g
  • Mixture of Almonds/Pecans – 150g 
  • Mixed seeds – 100g (I used pumpkin and sunflower)
  1. Heat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
  3. Melt the coconut oil using a microwave and then mix this with the maple syrup and vanilla extract in a small bowl.
  4. Chop the nuts to your desired consistency, I put some into the food processor and pulsed a few times so that some were halved and others were more crumbly – this is optional though.
  5. Combine all the dry ingredients (oats, nuts, seeds, desiccated coconut, cinnamon) in a large bowl.
  6. Pour the wet ingredients into the large bowl with the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly until all the oats, nuts and seeds are completely coated.
  7. Half the mixture between the two baking sheets, spreading evenly and then pop into the oven.
  8. After 15 minutes take out and give them a good stir and switch the trays round so that they have the same amount of time on the higher shelf.
  9. Pop back in for another 15 minutes or until they are a nice golden brown.
  10. Once done leave out to cool, (enjoy that amazing smell!) then put into an airtight jar.

This recipe is dairy free, suitable for vegans and is completely natural. If you are celiac you could use gluten free oats for this and you can alter the above with your favourite nuts/seeds. You could also add dried fruit after it’s cooled too for a sweeter spoonful… enjoy!