Snack Idea: Crispy Cajun Chickpeas

You’ve got to try these, seriously, they are so good and super moreish. I made them on a whim to go on top of a salad when we didn’t have much in and by the time we sat down to eat there was only a handful left, so I think it’s safe to say this is an ideal recipe for snacking!

Cajun Chickpeas

If you are having a movie night at home and want something that’s healthy but still satisfies your craving for something salty and crispy then these would make a great substitute. In fact if you were to be really organised you could make these up ahead of time for when you go to the cinema…you just can’t go to the cinema without snacks, so why not make them healthy? Unlike popcorn, the fibre and protein content of chickpeas make them a really filling and satisfying snack so you are less likely to fancy something naughty afterwards.

These properties make this snack great for diabetics as they slow down the rate of glucose absorption in your blood and they are rich in selenium too which is quite rare for a legume. Selenium can help prevent cancer due to it’s anti-inflammatory properties which can help reduce tumour growth.

I always try to make sure I have chickpeas in the cupboard for recipes like this one, for hummus and falafel or just to bulk out a one pot meal. They’re a cheap, naturally gluten free staple and even better, you can get 4 cans for £1 in Morrison’s!

Ingredients

  • 1 x can of chickpeas
  • 1 tsp all spice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder – you can decide the heat!
  • 1 tsp medium curry powder
  • salt & pepper
  • olive oil

Method

  1. Turn the oven to 200° C and line a baking tray with tin foil.
  2. Pour chickpeas and their water into a bowl and microwave according to can instructions.
  3. Once cooked drain well and spread out onto the tray.
  4. Drizzle on the olive oil and stir or lightly shake the tray from side to side so that all the chickpeas are coated.
  5. Season well with salt and pepper and put into the oven
  6. After 15 minutes take them out and sprinkle with the herbs and spices and give them a good shake so they are crispy on both sides – the spices are added at this stage to prevent them from burning.
  7. Pop back into the oven for a further 15 minutes, then serve!

Serve immediately for the best flavour, they are still really nice cold if you wanted to make them for the next day but they do loose a bit of their crispness. Obviously if you don’t have all of the above spices then you could just buy a Cajun spice mix but check the label as many have additives and preservatives in, plus lots of salt! Doing it with all of the above spices ensures that you are getting only natural ingredients and you can tailor the heat, salt and intensity of flavour to your liking.

You could make these with a number of different  flavour combinations, so have a play around… if you prefer something a little sweeter to snack on you could try these with a drizzle of honey and some cinnamon instead!

Advertisements

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!

Heartwarming Porridge

porridge1

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!