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!

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!

 

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!

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!

juice: rebalance & refresh

greenjuice

Having a glass of fresh fruit and vegetable juice is my favourite way to start the day as it makes you feels so healthy on the inside and gives you a massive boost of raw nutrients!

Why is juice good for you?

The process of juicing involves removing the pulp from fruit and vegetables and this enables your body to consume a huge amount of vitamins and minerals in one go without having to do the hard work of digesting all of the fibre they contain. Although fibre is an important part of a balanced diet it’s good to give your stomach a break as it works pretty constantly throughout the day, taking up to 18 hours to break down one meal, even when we are sleeping our stomachs are still active. So by juicing and drinking what we would normally eat this allows the nutrients to be absorbed quickly through the stomach and intestines allowing our digestive system to be fully cleared and refreshed.

Vegetable based juices are so good for you as they contain lots of essential nutrients, many of which are best consumed raw such as B Vitamin’s which are required for cell regeneration and keeping our nervous systems healthy. Folic acid, another name for vitamin B9, is found in leafy greens such as spinach and kale, broccoli, orange and lemons, all of which are great for juicing and is so important for your bowel to enable it to absorb the nutrients.

Most juices are vegetable based with a small amount of fruit to sweeten, this is because fruit contains fructose and although this type of sugar is naturally occurring, it still will have an impact on your insulin levels if you have too much. If you are making one or two a week then I wouldn’t worry about this but if you were doing a cleanse I would try stick to more veggies to keep your blood sugar steady.

Fresh juice bars are popping up all over the place which is great for when you are out and about and want a healthy hit of goodness in one drink but if you can make them at home it’s even better. Having a juicer is a bit of a luxury but if you already have one the good news is that it doesn’t have to be expensive! I did a one day juice cleanse last week which consisted of 5 different juices and for two people it cost under £20! When I did a 3 day cleanse it cost around £60 for 2 people so you are talking roughly £10 per day, per person but compared to buying one juice from a cafe at almost £5 a pop you definitely get a lot more for your money! You can also experiment too with different flavour combinations and quantities, for example I’m not a huge fan of celery in my juices, so I will substitute with cucumber for a more refreshing taste.

Planning what juices you are going to have in advance is essential and it does make things a lot easier when preparing them. Doing a 5-7 day cleanse is quite a big commitment so if you are new to juicing I would recommend doing a one day cleanse and then maybe build up to 3 days depending on how you feel/your budget and what you have going on at the time. Honestly, even if you were to just do a one day cleanse, you feel so refreshed and rebalanced afterwards and because you consume such a small amount of natural sugar, it reduces your cravings too so it has a knock on effect on your overall wellbeing once you have finished.

Juicing can be part of your everyday diet though, it doesn’t have to be just for the purpose of a cleanse. I try to incorporate fresh juice into my diet once or twice a week and it really hasn’t impacted my shopping budget either. See below for one of my favourite juices that’s super tasty, cheap to make and really wakes you up in the morning!

IMG_0866

5 medium-sized carrots 

1 1/2 lemons

1 thumb sized piece of ginger

4 small apples

 Serves 2 people