Healthy Beetroot dip – two ways!

On Wednesdays we wear pink…

ummmmm actually, most days I wear grey and black much to my mums disapproval, “you’ve got your whole life to wear black” she used to say. I’m not entirely sure what she meant by this, so I’m going to eat pink and colourful food instead…does that count?!beetroot dip 1.JPG

Whenever we buy cooked beetroot in the vacuum packs I always end up with a few leftover, I put them in the fridge with every intention of using them and in a blink of an eye they’ve gone off. I’m trying to consciously reduce the amount of food we throw away so I thought I would create some simple recipes to use up the rest, so no excuses!

I’m also a massive fan of dips; hummus, tzatziki, guac, tahini, salsa, you name it. They’re such an easy way to make a meal taste amazing! They’re also great for when you’ve run out of ideas, especially for things like salads, just add a dollop of dip and it totally changes the dynamic of the dish.

Beetroot is an amazing source of antioxidants and vitamins such as potassium which is important for muscle contraction and it’s very high in folic acid which the body requires on a daily basis. Folate is used in the body to produce DNA and to help with cell division which is essential for you to heal and grow.

Cooked beetroot is really cheap too, I think the pack I bought to make both of these dips was around 80p. They are easy to juice or chop up in salads but one of my favourite ways to eat them is to cut them into chunks and mix with warm goats cheese  🤤

Beetroot mint and yogurt dip

Ingredients

  • 3 medium sized cooked beetroot
  • A small bunch of fresh mint
  • 200g Greek yogurt – you could use a plant based yogurt to make this suitable for vegans/dairy free.
  • 1/3 of a cucumber
  • 1 clove of Garlic

Method

Grate the beetroot into a bowl.

Slice the cucumber in half lengthways and with a teaspoon remove the watery flesh to leave 2 long “C shaped” sections. Grate these too and add to the same bowl.

Finely slice the mint and the garlic (if you have a garlic crusher use this) and add to the bowl along with the greek yoghurt. Mix really well, season with salt and pepper and enjoy!

beetroot dip 2.JPG

Beetroot Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 can of Chickpeas
  • 2 tbsp of Tahini
  • 2 cloves of Garlic crushed or finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 3 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 3 medium sized cooked beetroots

Method

Roughly chop the cooked beetroot into quarters and add to the food processor.

Drain the chickpeas and add in along with all of the other ingredients and blitz. If it’s still very thick add in small amounts of olive oil until it’s the right consistency.  Season to taste and serve!

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Both of these dips are really easy and quick to make and can be made vegan too. They go well with crackers, bread, pittas, crudités or just dolloped ontop of your meal 🙂

 

 

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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!

 

Heartwarming Porridge

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Most mornings, particularly in winter my breakfast comes in the form of creamy porridge topped with anything and everything I have in the cupboards. They are super cheap and so so good for you but they don’t have to be boring!

Oats are one of the best sources of fibre which is so important for your digestive system as it takes a while for your body to break it down and absorbs harmful bacteria that may be lingering in your gut, keeping everything running smoothly.

They are also naturally gluten free and provide slow release energy that is easy on your blood sugar levels and helps you feel fuller for longer.

There are 3 main types of oats, all of which can be used pretty much interchangeably, which are:

  1. Steel Cut (or pin head) – Oats cut into 2/3 smaller pieces with a steel blade
  2. Jumbo – larger oats ideal for thicker porridge
  3. Rolled – steamed and dehusked, then flattened with heavy rollers

Porridge is best done the old fashioned way by combining ½ cup of oats (50g)  and 1 cup (roughly 350ml) of water/milk and microwave for 2 minutes or put on the hob and keep stirring (check the oats packaging if unsure). There are a lot of brands that do sachets which are quite handy if you are on the go but unfortunately most of them are full of added sweeteners and preservatives, so check the labels thoroughly first.

Using seasonal fruit in porridge is a great way to up your fruit intake and reach your five a day.  I often use different berries, bananas and dried fruit but you can also make fruity compotes to stir in too.

Example: peel and core an apple, and chop into bite sized chunks. Add 2-3 tbsp. of water, a squeeze of honey and a dash of cinnamon and put on a low heat for 5-10 minutes until the apples become soft then stir into your porridge!

I love adding sultanas, blueberries, flax seeds and cinnamon to mine or if I’m really feeling like something sweet I will have raw cacao powder and a drizzle of maple syrup!

Flax seeds are getting more and more popular and are a great way of adding fibre and omega 3 fatty acids into your diet, which are great for a healthy heart as they have been found to reduce blood pressure and the “bad” HDL cholesterol. As well as being full of antioxidants and vitamins like magnesium, the omega 3 fatty acids in these tiny seeds can help fight against inflammation in the body which are contributing factors of a number of huge health issues like cancer, heart disease and arthritis.

Being ground into a crumbly texture means it’s a lot easier for your body to digest and also makes it easier to add to many things such as yoghurt parfaits, smoothies, pizza bases, and baking without the flavour or consistency being overpowering.

As for raw cacao powder, it’s AMAZING and I could easily talk about it all day long…

However just to give you a little snippet, raw cacao powder is basically chocolate in its most purest, natural form. Cacao pods contain little white beans inside which are usually roasted at high temperatures and processed over and over to create coco powder which is used to make all things chocolaty. Due to this process all the natural goodness is stripped from the bean and lots of artificial sweeteners and preservatives are added.

With raw cacao powder the beans are unroasted and cold pressed to remove the fat known as cacao butter (amazing for making raw healthy chocolates with!) and ground into a fine powder. This powder is full of extremely potent antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and in particular it’s one of the highest sources of magnesium of all foods on the planet! It really is a brilliant thing and can I just reiterate that this is CHOCOLATE!!

I’ll calm down now.

Just having a tbsp of raw cacao powder in my porridge makes it feel incredibly indulgent and a little bit naughty for breakfast but then I remind myself of how good it is so you really could eat this any time of day and not feel the slightest bit guilty!

Porridge really doesn’t have to be boring and once you have tried a few different toppings you will really enjoy being able to mix it up rather than choosing the same old cereal or toast in the morning. Also I noticed that after a while of eating porridge for breakfast, if I did have something like cereal there was a massive difference in how long I felt full and more importantly satisfied for, never mind the spike in my blood sugar levels!

I know for some people the thought of having a bowl of hot creamy porridge first thing is too much, especially for those who don’t have much of an appetite in the morning but you can have it in the form of overnight oats which is a cold version with yoghurt – click here for my recipe.

Whether you have hot porridge or cold overnight oats, it’s definitely one of the best ways to start the day!

My Top 3 Natural Sweeteners

Following on from last weeks post I thought I would dedicate some time to my favourite natural sweeteners as it’s one of the areas of nutrition that I find most interesting and I love creating sweet treats in a healthy natural way! I also wanted to give a few home truths on a popular sweetener which is very trendy but isn’t all that good for you.

 
Honey

It may seem like an obvious choice but honey is just so good for you. It’s been used as a medicinal treatment for thousands of years  and is said to be beneficial for those who have allergies such as hay-fever as it contains traces of local pollen that helps you to build up a natural immunity. Taking a spoonful of honey with a piece of honeycomb in every day for two weeks can massively reduce the symptoms of hay-fever – I will definitely be trying this out next spring!

I love to use honey as a sweetener in hot drinks and its great in a stir-fry or drizzled over vegetables such as butternut squash or parsnips before roasting in the oven.

  • Antibacterial – Honey is my absolute go-to when I’m feeling under the weather and is brilliant for sore throats and colds. Drizzle a teaspoon into some hot water with a slice of lemon and fresh ginger and it will help draw out the moisture and reduce inflammation in your throat. It’s very soothing on an upset stomach too, fighting against harmful bacteria in the gut.
  • Antiseptic – Not only is it good for your insides, honey can be applied topically as an antiseptic on wounds and sores and has even been used on burns to speed up the healing process.
  • Antioxidant – we need antioxidants from our food to keep our whole bodies healthy and honey is an excellent source! Preventing damage to our cells helps our immune system and reduces the risk of many cancers.
Maple Syrup

This is probably my favourite natural sweetener as it’s great to bake with and gives a wonderful flavour without being overpowering. I love mixing it into raw cacao and melted coconut oil to make healthy chocolates and it’s delicious in porridge too!

Maple syrup has a low GI (Glycaemic Index) which means it takes longer  to have an affect on your blood sugar levels than other sugars. Meaning that you won’t crash shortly after consuming it, which can lead to mood swings, feeling lethargic, headaches and worst of all…craving even more sugar! It’s such an easy and negative cycle to get into, so it’s best to stick to natural unrefined sugars, in doing so there are no additives/preservatives or nasty chemicals in there which can lead to obesity, heart disease and diabetes to name a few!

Among many health benefits, maple syrup contains Phytochemicals which are compounds that are found in plants that fight against disease such as inflammation to ensure your cells can regenerate and stay healthy.

Date Syrup

Date syrup is extremely popular in the middle east and is used for sweet and savoury dishes. So far I have only used it in sweet dishes such as overnight oats or when I’m baking but I hope to try it out in a tagine soon!

Dates are a staple part of my day to day diet and I always have them available as a snack or if I want to satisfy my sweet tooth, I use them as a sticky sweet base for my wellness bars! They are full of fibre which is important for your digestive system by keeping things regular and they increase the growth of healthy bacteria in your stomach. Dates contain high levels of potassium which is needed for a healthy heart and is particularly beneficial for to those who have high blood pressure and they can help reduce the risk of stroke. Being high in Iron and antioxidants known as Tannins helps the clotting of blood and contributes towards a generally healthy cardiovascular system.

I’ve only recently discovered date syrup in my local health food shop and you can buy it online too but If you are struggling to find it, it’s super easy to make your own! I like to soak some dates in warm water until they soften and then blitz in the food processor until it forms a smooth runny sauce.

Now for the not so good stuff…

Agave Syrup has been promoted as a healthy alternative to chemical laden, artificial table sugar as it derives from the agave plant or cacti, the same one used for making tequila!

When you look a little closer, it appears that the sap is so heavily refined that it’s just as bad for you as high fructose corn syrup and any nutrients and anti-oxidant’s that could be beneficial to your health will be potentially lost completely within the refining process! Agave is considered a low GI sweetener due to the low levels of glucose which is why it’s often advertised as suitable for diabetics, however it’s extremely high in fructose (even higher than regular sugar!) which can only be broken down in the liver. Consuming high levels of this will result in your body storing it as fat around the liver and stomach which can develop over time into fatty-liver disease, weight gain and high cholesterol.

Sugar is a tricky thing as too much of any kind can be harmful but by switching to natural sugars you can reduce those risks and nourish your body with nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants whilst enjoying sweet treats in moderation.

 

 

 

 

 

Easy Peasy peanut and raisin cookies

When it comes to making sweet treats at home I have a very simple check list…

  • Quick & easy to make
  • As few ingredients as possible
  • Good for you!

These cookies definitely fit the bill, they are so yummy and only take 10 minutes to bake! So if you want something soft, sweet and delicious without feeling guilty then put 5 minutes aside to make them and by the time you have made a brew and decided what to watch on Netflix  they’ll be ready!

When sweet treats are very indulgent you might only want to make them for a special occasion or at the weekend when you have more time but what I love about these little beauties is they are so easy! You can do them anytime and they are great to have as a snack at work or in the evening when you fancy something sweet after dinner.

The sweetener in these cookies is maple syrup which is something I used to only ever use on top of pancakes but it’s great for baking and is  a brilliant natural sweetener as long as you get the  right kind. If you are ever unsure check the label as lots of brands use “maple flavoured syrup” or if there is a list of alien ingredients you can’t even begin to pronounce then it’s a no go – natural is 100%!

There are a few different brands I have bought in the past including “Buckwud” and “Clarks Pure Maple Syrup” that you can get from supermarkets such as Morrisons, Sainsburys and Asda and they are on offer quite frequently. More recently though I discovered that Aldi do their own brand which is 100% natural for £2.99 for a 250ml bottle!

Maple syrup is made from the sap that circulates inside a maple tree. When extracted, it’s heated to remove any water and filtered to get rid of any impurities and that’s it, no chemicals are added, just natural sweetness straight from a tree! There are different grades that you can buy too which are based on the darkness in colour, this is down to the time of year the sap is extracted. It also contains high levels of antioxidants and minerals such as manganese and zinc which are good for healthy bones and joints, as well as  helping your blood to clot. The zinc is especially important for your immune system to helping fight off infection.

Although it’s a natural sugar and has a weaker affect on your blood sugar levels than refined sugar does, it still should still be consumed in moderation.  If you are eating too much sugar on a daily basis your body will start producing more insulin to try to reduce your blood sugar levels by storing it as fat which increases the risk of obesity and diabetes. Not all sugar is the same though, so I will be doing a more in-depth post soon on why this is and some healthier natural alternatives you can switch to. If you aren’t already, follow me on Instagram & Twitter using the links on the right on through the homepage for regular updates.

Makes approximately 12 cookies

  • 40g of oats
  • 3 heaped tablespoons of natural peanut butter (you can use the smooth kind but I prefer crunchy)
  • 6 tablespoons of natural maple syrup
  • A good handful of raisins
  1. Heat the oven to 180°C
  2. Combine peanut butter and maple syrup I’m a food processor (if you don’t have one just mix really well by hand)
  3. Stir in the oats and raisins until evenly distributed
  4. Scoop out each cookie with a tablespoon and roll into a ball using the palms of your hands, or press into cookie cutters using the back of a spoon
  5. Put onto a lightly greased baking tray (I use coconut oil)
  6. Bake for 12 minutes until lightly golden but still quite soft to touch 
  7. Leave to cool (if you can!) and enjoy!

They are gluten, refined sugar and dairy free and suitable for vegans too!

Mexican Inspired Quinoa Bowl


I’m a huge fan of Mexican food…pretty much anything with coriander and lime gets a thumbs up from me…add avocado into the mix and I’m in heaven! However I used to always associate this type of cuisine with heavy, carb-rich foods such as fajitas or quesedilla’s which are so yummy but not something I would necessarily consider healthy due to all of the processed dips, cheese and white wraps.

I wanted to incorporate the freshness of those flavours into something lighter, more nutritionally dense and less processed. So mexican quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) was the answer!

Quinoa is a such an amazing thing to cook with as it’s so versatile, you certainly aren’t going to buy it for one recipe and then never use it again… and with its neutral flavour it can be used with virtually any herbs and spices! It’s also available in many supermarkets, usually in the whole-foods isle so it’s not difficult to get hold of these days. Depending on where you shop the price can vary slightly but from Sainsbury’s a 300g bag is £1.80 and that will easily give you 6 servings, we usually get 4 good sized dinner portions and 2 slightly smaller lunch portions as left overs so its pretty good value for how far it will go!

Quinoa originates from the Andes and was a staple part of the diet, often referred to as the “gold of the Inca’s” due to its high nutritional value. Commonly referred to as a grain, quinoa is actually a seed of a grain so is suitable for those following a Paleo diet and as their bitter coating is removed when harvested this makes it easier to digest. It’s also a brilliant source of protein which is good for vegetarians, vegans and for those who may want to cut down on their meat intake but still keep their protein levels up. The seeds actually contain all of the 9 essential amino acids which the body can’t produce itself – making it a complete protein.

In my post “good fat – made easy”  I mentioned how  good fats fight inflammation which can negatively impact your cells and the immune system. Quinoa contains these healthy mono-unsaturated fats that help to do this and they also contain a high level of manganese which is needed to keep bones and blood healthy.

Although the name might be hard to get your head around it’s so easy to cook so please don’t be afraid! It’s very similar to rice, give it a rinse and then cook your chosen quantity in double the amount of boiling water for 20 minutes.

The below recipe can be altered to your taste and to what you have in your cupboards but one thing you definitely need is the smoked paprika! This is a simple one pot dish packed full of flavour and involves  very little washing up! It’s got a combination of Mexican and spanish flavours, so if you love tapas or paella then this is for you and it’s suitable for vegans!
Serves 2

  • Quinoa x 150g
  • Passata x 390 (or you could use a can of chopped tomatoes)
  • Garlic x 2 cloves
  • Red Onion x 1 large
  • Sweetcorn x 1/2 cup can be fresh or frozen
  • Peas x 1/2 cup – can be fresh or frozen (if either are frozen they don’t need to be defrosted!)
  • Pepper x 1 (optional)
  • Fresh Coriander x 1 handful roughly chopped with stalks
  • Avocado x 1 chopped into small chunks
  • Black eyed beans x 1 can drained
  • Vegetable stock cube – try to get the lowest sodium you can find in 200ml of boiling water
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • Smoked Paprika X 3-4 tsp
  • 1 tsp of Cumin
  • salt and pepper to season
  1. Finely chop the onion, pepper and garlic
  2. Sautee the onion and garlic in a pan over a medium heat
  3. Once they are soft, add the pepper and stir occasionally for 5 minutes
  4. Pour the quinoa into a sieve and rinse with water then add to the pan along with the passata
  5. When the quinoa is fully coated in the passata add the peas, sweetcorn, smoked paprika, cumin and black eyed beans along with the stock and season to taste with salt and pepper
  6. Turn the heat up high for 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly and then reduce back down to a medium heat for a further 10 minutes
  7. Add the chopped coriander, the lime juice and stir well.  Check at this point to see if you need any extra paprika… you honestly can’t have too much in this dish!
  8. Finally add the chopped avocado into the quinoa a couple of minutes before serving so that it still retains it’s consistency but is heated through…or if you prefer serve on the side with a wedge of lime!

 

 

 

 

 

Dakos greek salad

greek 2
This last week I’ve been on my jollies in Sivota, mainland Greece. The first time I visited Greece was when  I went to the island of Kos last year and I fell in love with the place and the food! Everything is so fresh, locally sourced and in season and I love how so many of their dishes are made from a few simple ingredients that taste amazing.

The Greek or Mediterranean diet has always been considered one of the healthiest and I can definitely see why, although some of the most classic Greek dishes are meat based such as Moussaka it doesn’t seem to be the main basis of their diet. Freshly caught fish, lots of fruit and vegetables and small portions of locally produced dairy such as feta and Greek yoghurt seem to make up most of what they eat. Accompanied by some good quality olive oil, homemade bread and an occasional slice of baklava with honey, pistachios and walnuts!

One of the things I noticed about traditional Greek food is that a lot of dishes are either raw or gently cooked for warm salads for example or they are slowly roasted which intensifies the flavours of the ingredients. Many Greek dishes are tomato based as they grow in abundance in most regions . Taking inspiration from how good they tasted over there I thought I would share with you  a recipe which grew to be one of my favourites.

It’s so simple to make and is a great way to use up a few last pieces of bread that you might otherwise use to feed the birds! The dressing is full of healthy monounsaturated fats from the olive oil (check out my last post on why fats are good for you here) and it’s quick and cheap!

Greek Dakos Recipe
  • 3/4 slices of crusty bread (depending on how big you would like the salad)
  • 50 ml of Olive oil 
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp of dried Oregano
  • 1/2 a Cucumber
  • 100g Feta Cheese
  • 2 x Beef Tomatoes (good quality)
  • Small bunch of fresh Dill
  • Salt & Pepper
  1. Put a griddle pan on a high heat, lightly brush the bread slices with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toast on either side for 2-3 minutes until they start to crisp up
  2. Whilst they are toasting, finely chop the beef tomatoes and cucumber
  3. Once all the bread is done put to one side and combine the rest of the olive oil with the lemon juice and dill salt and pepper and whisk
  4. Mix the cucumber, tomatoes and crumble in the feta into the dressing..leaving a little feta to one side to garnish
  5. Chop the bread into thick chunks and combine well with the dressing until it’s evenly mixed
  6. Leave for 10 minutes for the bread to soak up all the juicy flavours.
  7. Sprinkle the remaining feta over the top along with the oregano and season with salt and pepper

This dish originates from Crete but is common all over Greece and you can adapt the recipe to create lovely bruschetta’s too if you were having guests over – to do this just toast the bread in the same way but rather than combining with the tomatoes and feta dressing and leaving to soak, just soak the dressing and then top the bread when ready to serve so it still keeps it’s crunch.

Or just make a big salad that everyone can help themselves to accompanied with some olives, sun-dried tomatoes and hummus – check out my smokey hummus recipe here.

I will definitely be making this dish again when I get the holiday blues and want something light and tasty in 15 minutes! Try it out and let me know what you think 😊

 

chocolate freezer treats

Healthy eating and chocolate rarely find themselves within the same sentence but I’m telling you it can be done! I would say the thing that most people struggle with when they change their eating habits is cutting out the sweet stuff and having a sweet tooth myself I know your pain. But depriving yourself is never the right answer and knowing you can’t have something makes you suddenly want it so much more!

Despite there being so many “low fat” and “99 calorie” sweet treats available on the shelves they are pumped full of sugar to make them taste good so I wanted to be able to make sweet treats that contain natural ingredients that I can read and understand without scrimping on quality.

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And then I found cacao ️❤

I can cut out crisps, cakes, sweets and biscuits  no problem but chocolate is my real downfall and is something I always crave so by using raw cacao powder I realised you can make amazing desserts, chocolates and sauces that are completely natural and guilt free and the best bit is that it’s actually so so good for you!

Cacao is highly potent in magnesium which enables the body to absorb energy from foods and is a key component in our metabolism, in particular keeping our bones strong and reducing inflammation. Due to it’s affects on energy, not having enough magnesium in your diet can leave you feeling achy and fatigued.

Being full of antioxidants, cacao is amazing for your skin and your body as a whole as it neutralises harmful “free radicals” that can damage cells and cause many forms of disease and ageing.

Free Radicals – sound’s like crazy little men with spiky hair do’s running around your body kicking things and generally being up to no good. In reality that’s kinda true! They are groups of atoms that can arise naturally or can be absorbed through food, sun exposure, smoking etc and when they react to oxygen this can lead to a disruption in their growth causing them to become out of control and have a negative impact on healthy cells.

It also helps regulate blood sugar levels which really helps combat that 3pm slump when you feel like you need a chocolate biccy with your brew.

Raw cacao powder can go into smoothies, porridge, overnight oats, deserts, chocolate sauces, brownies, you name it. Unlike cocoa powder, cacao has not had any refined sugars added to it and is unprocessed – tasting like very dark chocolate. So when using this you will most likely need to add a natural sweetener such as maple syrup, honey, agave etc.

To make my healthy homemade freezer chocolates you will need:

  • natural maple syrup 1-2 tbsp
  • coconut oil – 2 TBSP
  • raw cacao powder -2-3 TBSP

(all of the above ingredients can be found in health food stores, online and in some supermarkets, you don’t have to spend a lot but it’s worth spending the extra on cacao as it will last you, and is very versatile)

Melt coconut oil in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl.

Once melted, remove from heat, add cacao powder and maple syrup to taste until mixed thoroughly and forms a runny sauce.

Pour the sauce into ice cube trays (or if you are super fancy like me, a pretty chocolate mould from the pound shop!) put into the freezer for an hour until set.

If you are a lover of nut butters, you can fill the moulds half way and put into the freezer..once set put a small dollop of nut butter in the middle and then top with the remaining melted cacao. As you can see sometimes it will ooze out of the sides but it just adds to the delicious gooeyness…it’s a definite winner!

freezer chocolate close up

You can keep them in the freezer for easily a month and they are a perfect go to if you want a little something sweet at night. You could add some dried fruit or nuts to these to change the texture or add different flavours such as vanilla or cinnamon too.

The above could also be used as a chocolate sauce over some healthy pancakes, frozen yoghurt or fresh strawberries 🍓

Guilt free, homemade chocolate that is good for you, need I say more?!