Iced mocha smoothie…for when you need a little more than coffee in the morning 

I’ve been dying to make this recipe for ages as we’ve been out of cacao powder for some time but after a trip to Sainsburys I am now stocked up and ready to make this dreamy smoothie!

Think iced coffee meets frappaccino but waaaaayyy healthier and only 6 ingredients so it’s an easy one to do.
Avocado gives a wonderfully creamy texture and the cacao and coffee are just an amazing combination! The sweetness comes from a little honey and some dates for some extra fibre too.

Avocado’s are a fantastic source of vitamin E which is beneficial to your immune system for fighting off infection and helps to keep your eyes and skin healthy. They are famously known for their monounsaturated good fats which contribute towards a healthy heart. One of the fatty acids found in Avocado’s is Linoelic acid which cannot be produced by the body so must be consumed in your everyday diet, so that’s good news for avo lovers!

It’s a really nice smoothie to make before work, especially when it’s a warm day as the caffeine wakes you up but it’s cold, icy and refreshing!

Ingredients
Serves 2

  • flesh of 1 avocado
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 handful of pitted dates
  • 3 tsp instant coffee
  • 1 tbsp honey – vegans could use maple syrup instead
  • 200 ml milk of choice (almond milk works well)

Method
Put the dates and the milk into a blender and blend until smooth.

Add in 3 large teaspoons of good quality instant coffee, I like to use Nescafe espresso instant which is a powder so it doesn’t need to be blended for long. If you are using granules you may have to leave it blending for slightly longer. However if you have the time and you own a cafetiere then it’s definitely worth making some fresh coffee (enough for 2 people) and pour the whole lot in. You can always add in more ice/milk/water if you want to make more too.

Add in the avocado flesh, 2 tbsp of cacao, honey, ice and top up with 300 ml water and blend until smooth and creamy! Let me know what you think 🙂

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3 Ingredient Hazelnut Truffles

If you’ve never roasted hazelnuts at home, it’s something you need to put on your to do list this weekend because they taste so damn good and smell divine!

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I’ve made these a couple of times now and each time I have planned on them lasting all week so that I can have a little something sweet either at work or after dinner but so far they have lasted 2 days tops. And it’s not just me that loves them, everyone who has tried them (children too) have given two sticky, chocolatey thumbs up and can’t believe that they are good for you!

They are really easy to do and super fun to make, so if you have kids they are a winner!

Like I said, you can have them for a snack any time of day but I think they go really well with coffee at the end of a meal as they are rich and satisfying so you don’t need many.

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Hazelnuts are high in good fats, both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated and these can help to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

Fats are needed by the body for many reasons, one of which being that certain vitamins and minerals (such as A, K, D and E) are fat -soluble, so can only be absorbed and then used or stored through these types of fats. The raw cacao powder is a really high source of magnesium that is fantastic for your muscles and nervous system. It also raises serotonin levels in the body, making you feel calmer and happier…do you need anymore excuses to eat raw chocolate than that?!

The third ingredient is 100% natural maple syrup. Although is does contain sugar, it is a natural source so there are no additives or preservatives and it has been far less processed than white table sugar.
Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1 cup (150 g) hazelnuts
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup

Makes approximately 20 truffles

  1. Heat the oven to 180°c and roast the hazelnuts for 10 minutes on a baking tray, then remove from oven and allow to cool completely
  2. Put 20 Hazelnuts to one side and put the remaining nuts into a food processor
  3. If you want a really smooth paste you can rub the hazelnuts with some paper towel which will remove the dark skins before you blend them. Its a little time consuming but worth it.
  4. Blend until a fine crumb, then remove 2 tablespoons worth and place in a bowl (this will be used to coat the truffles at the end)
  5. Add the maple syrup and cacao powder to the processor and blend again for a few minutes until a smooth and creamy paste. If it’s sticking too much you can add water but do so a little at a time to prevent it becoming too runny
  6. Using a teaspoon take a small amount of the paste and encase a whole hazelnut and roll into a ball. If you don’t want to get messy you can use two teaspoons and roll the ball between them to round the truffle into a ball. Then place the truffle into the bowl with the crushed hazelnuts and roll around until evenly coated.
  7. Once all are done place into the freezer for half an hour to set. They can be kept in the freezer or in a airtight container in the fridge

 

 

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!

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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! 🐰

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!

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?!

Overnight Oats

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With this being my first post I thought I should start with something I love and have pretty much everyday which is oats! One of the reasons I love oats is they are so versatile and can be kept simple with some berries and a drizzle of honey or you can load it up with nuts, seeds, dried and raw fruit, nut butters… the list is endless! I have a few regulars that find their way in each morning such as ground flax seeds, sultanas, blueberries and raw cacao powder.
If the first and last ingredients are something you are unfamiliar with, don’t worry, I will be writing a more in-depth post about these very soon!
Oats are an excellent choice for breakfast as they provide you will slow release energy which means you won’t be starving by 10 am and eyeing up the vending machine at work. Also, they are cheap! 1kg bag of oats is under £1 in most supermarkets, which will last you a lot longer than a box of cereal and can be used for a number of different recipes.

Overnight oats are usually made the night before (secrets in the name) and means you can have it on the go or take it to work but best of all it gives you that extra ten minute snooze.

The basic ingredients are the same though which are:

½ cup of oats

1/3 cup of greek/natural yoghurt

¼ cup of milk of your choice

Dairy and non-dairy work just as well for both the milk and the yoghurt if you wanted to substitute either. If you want a more dense consistency then use less milk but if you want it runnier then use more. Mix all ingredients together and then you can add whatever you want to flavour… I’ve put some that I use in the list below, plus an optional sweetener and then put a lid on and leave in the fridge overnight for the oats to swell and soak up all the goodness. Due to their thick creamy consistency if you didn’t fancy the full portion, you can keep it in the fridge and have the rest of it as an afternoon snack!

You can put whatever you want in this to flavour it but I would advise that if you are wanting to add nuts/seeds you are better adding these in the morning otherwise they can go a bit soggy.

Dried Fruit Nuts, Seeds & Nut Butters Raw/frozen fruit Superfood’s Sweeteners
Sultanas Cranberries Figs
Dates Prunes Apricots (3 = 1 of your 5 a day!)
Goji Berries
Almond Peanut Cashew Hazelnuts Walnuts Macadamia Pecans Desiccated coconut Sunflower seeds Pumpkin seeds Blueberries Strawberries Raspberries Bananas Mango Cranberries Grapes Raw cacao powder Bee pollen
Chia seeds
Ground flaxseeds/Linseeds Coconut oil
Honey
Maple syrup
Date syrup Cinnamon (this satisfies a sweet tooth and also helps to regulate blood sugar levels whilst suppressing your sugar cravings).

Nuts & Dried Fruit

Nuts and dried fruit are a cheap and easy way to make oats interesting and delish! (A more in depth post is coming soon). Nuts are a great source of protein, healthy fat and contain loads of vitamins and minerals. There are so many to choose from which work with different flavour combinations but the main three, which I always have in, are almonds, brazils and walnuts.

Almonds are definitely my favourite and are an excellent source of antioxidants; they are also one of the highest sources of vitamin E, which is used to protect the fat that surrounds each of the cells on our bodies. Protecting cells in this way helps prevent them from being modified and reduces the risk of cancer.

Brazil nuts have high levels of selenium that fight against heart and liver disease as well as some cancers. You only need 2 a day to get your recommended daily allowance and to have a significant impact on your immune system and thyroid function.

Walnuts not only do these pair beautifully with honey and cinnamon but they are rich in omega 3 fatty acids which are so important for brain function and help cut the risk of stroke and a number of cancers such as breast and colon.

Another tip is to look in the baking isle of supermarkets for nuts as so many can be roasted and salted, you want to look for raw unprocessed nuts as these will still have all the goodness in them. Having nuts in your overnight oats adds a nice crunch but you can also have them in the form of nut butters. Be very cautious though and check the label when buying them as many have hidden sugars and additives, which nobody wants. Many health food stores and even some supermarkets now do nut butters that don’t have all the nasties and are 100% nuts! I always have peanut and almond butter in but cashew is something I want to try next and there are new ones being created all the time.

Now you might be thinking peanut butter is not the best way to start your day due to it being high in fat but the fat is good for you! Your body needs fat to function and it also signals to the brain when you are full so is great for breakfast! Many vitamins such as the ones in nuts are fat-soluble which means they need to be consumed along with the fat in order for them to be absorbed into the body. Dried fruit can be very cheap and easy to buy in bulk. I would say most supermarkets sell their own brand version of your everyday dried fruit such as sultanas, apricots, figs, prunes and dates. These are my go to’s which I use for so many different things, not just for breakfast, as they last ages so you have can them in your cupboards for weeks and they will still be fine to use… that is, if you can leave them for that long! The other brilliant thing is that eating three dates, apricots or prunes = 1 of your 5 a day, when chopped up into overnight oats you can easily have 2 of your 5 a day for breakfast!

If dried fruit isn’t your usual thing then don’t worry! It may sound boring at first but believe me putting sultanas into your overnight oats and allowing them to plump up with all the juicy flavour’s adds such a nice chewy element to breakfast and they really do satisfy a sweet tooth. Soon you will be using dried fruit in things you never thought of and they are a great alternative to a sugar laden cereal bar. The above list is a guide of some of the things I use for porridge and overnight oats, most of them are cheap and easy to find. The superfoods are more expensive and not as easy to find but you can get them all online and usually in health food stores such as Holland and Barrett. I will be writing about these in more detail soon but if you had to pick one I would definitely go with Raw Cacao Powder! It’s chocolate in its most natural form ground into a powder and turns your overnight oats into a chocolaty pudding!

One of my fave’s is ½ chopped banana in with the overnight oats plus a sprinkling of cinnamon and then topped with the remaining banana in the morning and a spoonful of peanut butter! It’s simple but so delicious. Honestly, once you have tried these and played around with different ingredients they really do taste like dessert!

I have absolutely fallen in love with overnight oats and think they are especially brilliant for anyone who doesn’t have much time in the morning so make, snooze and enjoy!