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 ¬†ūü§§

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!

beetroot dip 3.JPG

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

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

Snack Ideas: Simple, Smokey Hummus

hummud

I¬†quite often come across photo’s online of people food prepping for the week ahead with huge trays of food ready to be roasted and every size of Tupperware you can imagine.

I would say for a lot of people, myself included,¬†that you want to make the most of your Sundays and although I admire those who can prep every meal for 7 days I just don’t have the time or room in my fridge!

Preparing anything in advance doesn’t have to be extensive, just getting ¬†your snacks prepared is a great little timesaver for the week and it’s much easier to have a healthy diet if your snacks are healthy and all ready to go!¬†I will be adding different snack ideas on the blog but carrot sticks and hummus are one of my favourite’s, as it increases my raw veggie intake, it’s really tasty and super healthy!

If you don’t have carrots at home you could always substitute with celery sticks, mange tout or sliced peppers. I tend to use carrots because they are really cheap so I usually get a big bag and use some for freshly pressed juices as well as in salads or dinner recipes. Even something simple like grating some carrot into your salad gives it a new texture and vibrancy.

There is also a bit of truth behind the old saying “carrots help you see in the dark” as I was always told growing up. The Beta-carotene found in carrots which gives them their vibrant colour is turned into Vitamin A when digested. Vitamin A is required by the body for our immune system and those who have a deficiency can often have problems with their sight, which is why carrots¬†help to maintain healthy vision.

Chickpeas are great too as they are cheap, filling and high in protein and as they have a low GI they will not spike your blood sugar meaning you will stay fuller for longer. Plus they are so versatile, I use them in so many different ways and they are a great staple to have in the cupboard for bulking out a meal or when you are running low on fresh veg.

Sweet & Smokey Hummus Ingredients
  • 1 tin of cooked chickpeas
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp. tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. of Smoked Paprika
  • 1 tbsp. Sweet Chilli (optional)
  • 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Lots of freshly ground black pepper and some salt to season

Drain the chickpeas of any water and throw them¬†into a food processor along with the whole garlic clove¬†and all other ingredients and blitz up until smooth…that’s it! This is the easiest thing to make ever and is so tasty you won’t want to buy shop made hummus again.

Other flavour options:

Sometimes I will omit the sweet chilli and smoked paprika and flavour the hummus with something else which may be to suit whatever you are making for dinner or just to mix up what you have for snacks. All you do is mix whatever you like into the top 4 ingredients in the list.

Examples: a tsp. of pesto, cumin and coriander, Moroccan spice mix (you can pick up in almost all supermarkets), roasted red peppers or sun-dried tomatoes.

The tahini paste is quite an important part of the hummus and it gives it quite a distinct¬†taste. You can buy it from places like Holland and Barrett or other health food stores and it’s not particularly expensive considering the size of the jar and how little you will use which is good but you can make it without, it just won’t taste as much like traditional hummus but still makes a lovely dip!

Doing just a little in advance really helps and this is so easy to make for when friends come round by just doubling the quantities or to have on salads. Its great to keep some in the fridge too, so when you get home from work you have a healthy, filling snack waiting for you¬†ūüėä

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.

IMG_0927

And then I found cacao ÔłŹ‚̧

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¬†ūüćď

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