Well I can't believe that the summer holidays are over and the kids are all back at school! It's not been much of a summer, although we have made the most of it! We are now the proud owners of an old classic VW Camper Van called Bruce and I just love him. Its so much fun, its like camping but all nice and cosy with a pull out cooker, a really comfy bed, an excellent cool box and loads of storage for all our stuff.
I have decided to extend my holidays until October to make the most of Bruce before the weather changes and the nights are shorter! I'm so good to myself!
We are going to a 3 day Festival in Inveraray at the beginning of September which I'm most excited about!
I'm also heading back to Wales to another Vegan Cooking Retreat run by my cool dude buddy Lee Watson of Peace & Parsnips fame, my favourite vegan cookery book!
So lots to look forward to and enjoy, lucky me!!
I have a blessed life indeed.
So back to sharing some healthy recipes with you lovely people!
Another of my healthy obsessions is cookery books and the latest addition to my collection is;
Veggie Desserts and Cakes by Kate Hackworthy
so for my first blog post in a while I thought I'd share a really simple recipe from her book.
I love veggies and eat shed loads of them so this book appealed to me big time!
I think we are all familiar with Carrot Cake, but this book takes the use of veggies in cakes to new levels! Parsnips, beetroot, cauliflower, kale, peas, sweet potatoes, aubergine, spinach, swede, and sweetcorn all get a mention!
I'm all for using sweet veggies in cakes but I'm yet to be convinced by cauliflower and kale!!
I once made a chocolate and cauliflower cake for the BBC Kitchen Cafe Programme which I was a guest on. The very smell of it was awful and was not improved by the most luscious chocolate frosting. I couldn't even try it, the cauliflower smell was so strong and off putting! Maybe I just used a particularly strong cauliflower but I thought at the time that some things are just wrong and cauliflower and cake is one of them!! So needless to say I won't be trying that again!
On the plus side, there are many lovely recipes to try, so I thought I'd start with these Beetroot Seedy Squares! I'm a big fan of beetroot and always have a few vacuum packs in the fridge.
I adapted the recipe a bit, I used half the amount of beetroot and rolled them into balls instead of cutting them into squares. Beetroot although sweet has a strong earthy taste which can be overpowering and I didn't want to make a whole batch then discover that no one liked them! I can't stand waste so I played it safe and I'm delighted with the results. These wee bites are a lovely colour so I decided not to roll them in seeds or coconut. I like them bare!! The beetroot flavour is very subtle and perfectly balanced by the sweetness of the dates. Mixed seeds, ( I used sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and linseeds ) add texture, loads of good fats, protein and minerals, oats contain soluble fibre and dates are just packed with everything a body needs!
So these wee nutrient dense power bites make a delicious healthy snack at any time of day or when you feel in need of an energy boost!
Also great for packed lunches and hungry kids!!
So overall verdict for these wee bites is a big thumbs up! Next on my list are Pea and Mint Cupcakes, Sweet Potato and Pecan Blondies and Cucumber and Lemon Cake with Gin Icing!! I was sold at the Gin icing!!
Kate also has a blog which is well worth checking out.
So here is her recipe, slightly adapted...
BEETROOT BLISS BITES
Makes 25 wee bites
Now that the weather is finally warming up and thoughts turn to long summer days filled with fragrant flowers, summer berries and al fresco meals, I'm craving delicious berries!
I'm very much a seasonal person and love the different foods that each season brings and for me raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries invoke lovely memories of warm summer days, eating delicious salads!
I made this jam at my Lighten Up for Spring Workshop and the ladies all loved it, especially when they found out how simple it is to make and how healthy it is, compared to shop bought jams, which are sometimes more sugar than fruit!
All berries are a great source of vitamins and antioxidants which protect us from oxidative damage & keep us looking young.
Purple berries are particularly high in anthocyanidins, a group of flavanoids with many proven health benefits.
Blueberries contain the highest concentration of these and can protect against age related macular degeneration, protect the brain from oxidative damage, promote urinary tract health in a similar way to cranberries and improve digestion due to the soluble and insoluble fibre content.
That's pretty impressive and they taste delicious too!
Lidl were selling lovely blueberries last week for only 59p per pack so I bought loads of them, washed them all then froze them for adding to smoothies, making jam and jellies.
I quite often use frozen fruit, which is almost as healthy as fresh. Its generally frozen soon after picking preserving the vitamins and antioxidants.
I also bought Chia Seeds from Lidl for only £1.99. This is a great deal and its well worth stocking up at that price.
Chia seeds are tiny black seeds that pack a real punch in the nutrition department! They are really high in fibre, a great source of protein, omega 3, iron, calcium and magnesium They have the unique ability to absorb lots of water and form a gel so are very useful for making jam and keeping you feeling full. They really don't taste of anything so are ideal to sprinkle liberally on porridge, smoothies, salads, soups or desserts.
So back to the jam! It only has 3 ingredients. Berries, chia seeds and sweetener of choice and it only takes 20 minutes!
A quick note, I used xylitol and rice syrup to sweeten my jam.
Xylitol is a pretty good sugar alternative with 40% less calories than sugar, and a lower GI making it useful for diabetics. It's actually a sugar alcohol and can have laxative effects so I only use it occasionally. It is also toxic to dogs so please don't feed it to your pets, unless you want to kill them!!
Maple syrup and brown rice syrup are my sweeteners of choice but as I said xylitol can be a useful alternative to sugar for occasional use.
So here is the very simple recipe... enjoy...!
MAGICAL CHIA JAM
500g fresh or frozen berries
2 tablespoons chia seeds
3 or 4 tablespoons maple syrup, rice syrup or xylitol
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. In a medium pan, combine the berries with 3 tablespoons sweetener and bring to a gentle simmer over a medium heat, stirring frequently for 5 minutes.
2. Stir in the chia seeds and cook stirring frequently until the mixture thickens, around 15 minutes.
3.Once the jam has thickened a bit, remove it from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Add more sweetener to taste.
The jam will thicken more as it cools and will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for a few weeks.
I've been enjoying my magical jam on my morning porridge with homemade coconut kefir. Its just delicious!
Its also lovely on Coconut Scones, stirred into yoghurt or drizzled on pancakes or ice cream!
.....your health in your hands.....
I hope everyone is out enjoying this lovely weather and topping up their vitamin D levels!
I've been rather busy trying out new recipes. I had my lovely juicing buddies over for dinner with a few dietary restrictions between them,! Gluten, nuts, fish, lentils and beans to name a few! Considering I don't eat meat or dairy that presented a bit of a challenge!
Anyway I put on a delicious tapas spread and for dessert I made these absolutely delicious, I'm talking SERIOUSLY OMG DELICIOUS totally raw caramel slice.without any nuts!
The original recipe was from the lovely folks over at Food Matters, which I adapted slightly!
They are extremely healthy and packed full of incredibly nutritious ingredients, including dates, tahini, maple syrup, raw cacao, coconut oil and buckwheat, my genius alternative to nuts!
Most of us are familiar with caramel shortcake, a rather sweet concoction full of sugar, saturated fat and dairy, not healthy on any level!!
So this is a similar but much healthier alternative and it tastes much better too.
Some of you may be unfamiliar with buckwheat which is a gluten free grain, containing all 8 essential amino acids.a great source of complete protein. Its contains fibre, magnesium and high levels of rutin and quercetin, which strengthen the blood vessels, lower cholesterol and blood pressure and enhance the action of Vitamin C.
So its an all round good guy and well worth including in your diet. Holland & Barret and Wholefoods stock it.
The other ingredients are all nutritional superstars, which I have mentioned in various other posts so a quick summary will suffice!
Dates are just fabulous and although deliciously sweet and fairly high in sugar they are also packed with fibre, protein, vitamins and antioxidants. Both fibre and protein slow the rate at which sugar is absorbed into the blood so has a much lower effect on your blood sugar levels, which is exactly what we are aiming for in the health stakes.
Tahini is a fantastic source of calcium and magnesium and its alkaline so great for strong bones, a much better source than dairy! It also has fibre, protein and good fats. Its made from sesame seeds, another of my favourite ingredients.
Raw Cacao is the best source of antioxidants on the planet and will boost your mood, provide you with magnesium, iron and a multitude of other nutritional goodies!
Coconut Oil is antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial, immune boosting, metabolism boosting and supports every body system including your brain and digestion. Its a miracle in a jar, what more can I say!
You can use almonds instead of the buckwheat and just melt some dark chocolate with a tablespoon of coconut oil for the topping, if you don't have raw cacao. You can also use cocoa powder instead in the base but you lose all the associated health benefits and it won't be raw!
These keep really well in the freezer and are a fantastic treat when sugar cravings hit!
So without further ado here is the recipe.
RAW CARAMEL SLICE
3/4 cup buckwheat or almonds
3/4 cup medjool or deglet noor dates (pitted)
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
Simply put all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz until well combined. When you pinch a piece it should stick together. If its not holding then add a teaspoon of warm water. Line a square baking tin with clingfilm, to make it easier to get out of the tin. Press the mixture evenly into the tin. A spoon dipped in hot water is a good way to smooth the base down.
Put it in the freezer.
1 cup of medjool dates
1/2 cup coconut oil melted
4 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
good pinch of Himalyan sea salt
Process in a food processor until smooth and creamy. Pour over the base layer and put it back into the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes.
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup of maple syrup
1/4 cup raw cacao
Put all the ingredients into a glass bowl simmering over a pan of boiling water and stir until melted and well combined. Pour over the caramel and put back in the freezer until set.
Cut into small squares and keep in a covered container in the freezer.
Remove 5 minutes before serving.
......your health in your hands....
I've had a lovely week, it was my birthday and I was spoilt rotten with flowers, chocolate and Prosecco, three of my favourite things!
I have to admit the after effects of too much chocolate and wine are not great but sometimes worth it!
So I thought I'd share one of my favourite healthy chocolate truffle recipes. These truffles are delicious, pretty much free of everything bad for you, incredibly quick and easy to make. In fact they are so delicious it's hard to believe they are packed full of healthy ingredients.
They are a perfect wee sweet treat to end a meal, and make a fabulous last minute Christmas gift for a health conscious friend.!
These truffles are vegan so dairy free, contain no saturated fat or added sugar. All the sweetness comes from the dates and coconut, both natural ingredients with health benefits.
I love dates, they are deliciously sweet and although they are fairly high in sugar, they more than make up for it with the dazzling array of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre, supporting health on so many levels.
The walnuts and sunflower seeds add protein, fibre, minerals and omega 3 fats so these truffles can definitely be enjoyed guilt free!
Medjool dates are the king of dates and are sweet, caramelly and moist and are always my first choice. Deglet Nour Dates are also delicious. Lidl are selling them for £1 a bag just now and they are also pitted which saves you precious time! It's well worth having a few bags on standby. Some of the dates are really quite dry and need to be soaked before you can use them and they are never sweet or sticky enough, don't buy them!
You really need a food processor to make these. The dates need to be blitzed to a paste, although I guess at a push you could use a hand blender. Dates are so sticky though you would have to do it in batches and blitz the nuts and seeds first. Always make sure there are no stones in your dates, that could wreck your processor. Another point to note, for those of you lucky enough to own a Vitamix, don't use it for dates! They are just too sticky and there was a horrible burning smell from mine when I tried it
You have been warned!
If you have any sweet superfood powders like lacuma or maca, you can add a spoonful to up the health benefits even more. Chia seeds are also a good addition!
These truffles are best kept in the fridge to firm them up. I'm not too sure how long they will keep, ours are always scoffed within a few days, but I guess they would be fine for a week or so!
Preparation: 30 minutes
Makes: 20 bite size truffles
. ......your health in your hands......
This quinoa brittle is just the bees knees and the cats whiskers and I love it.
You seriously need to make this!
Now quinoa isn't something that you would normally associate with a sweet dish but I'm discovering that it's extremely versatile as well as extremely nutritious!
It certainly earns the title of superfood Its an excellent source of protein, containing all the essential amino acids, high in magnesium, B vitamins, iron, zinc, vitamin E and fibre. It's also gluten free and thought to be the least allergenic of all the grains so plenty of good reasons to give it a go!
I came across this recipe on The Minamilist Baker Blog, which I love!
I've always been a big fan of those wee sesame snap bars and these reminded me of them, but are way more nutritious.
Admittedly they are not sugar free but more than make up for it with all the other ingredients, and this is a treat after all!
I was so intrigued by this recipe and I had all the ingredients so I made it at 11pm on Saturday night!
I have to admit, I wasn't disappointed, this is seriously addictive!!
It's crispy, crunchy, nutty, nutritious and naturally sweet!
What's not to love?
A few points to note, quinoa has a protective coating of saponins which taste bitter so you really need to rinse it well before using it. I rinsed and drained mine in a sieve, then blotted it on kitchen paper then dry toasted it to remove any moisture, before proceeding with the recipe.
I also replaced some of the nuts with sesame seeds, which I love. They are a great source of calcium and magnesium, which most of us are deficient in and are also alkaline and a good source of protein and fibre.
Chia seeds are also a favourite of mine, another superfood, and high in protein, fibre and minerals and so easy to add to so many dishes.
So without further ado, here is the slightly modified recipe! If you make it, and why wouldn't you?? please leave a comment!
......your health in your hands......
I've just come home from a fantastic wee pre Christmas break to New York with 3 of my lovely girls and we had a fabulous time! So now I'm in the mood for Christmas and will be posting lots of lovely, healthy, recipes to see you through the Festive Period and beyond......!
So I'm kicking off with this delicious Christmas Chocolate Crunch recipe.
This is a real family favourite at any time of year but is ideal to have in your freezer for any unexpected guests over Christmas! The cinnamon and mixed spice gives it a lovely festive flavour and its so easy to make.
This is a really useful recipe: make a batch, break it up and keep it in the freezer. It can be served straight from frozen! It may taste decadent, but the ingredients are all very nutritious!
Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants, oatcakes provide fibre, seeds and nuts provide protein, minerals and good fats. Goji berries boost the immune system and cinnamon is useful in controlling blood sugar. Coconut oil boosts metabolism and lowers the GI of any food it's cooked or eaten with so this is most definitely a treat you can eat guilt free!!
Here is the recipe, enjoy.....
200g (7oz) dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids, broken into chunks
1 tablespoon coconut oil (optional)
125g (41/2oz) rough oatcakes
50g (2oz) goji berries ( soaked for 10 mins to soften, then dried)
50 (2oz) Brazil nuts, hazelnuts or walnuts, roughly chopped
50g (2oz) pumpkin seeds
2 tsp ground mixed spice
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1. Melt the chocolate and the coconut oil, stirring occasionally, in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl doesn't touch the water.
2. Put the oatcakes into a mixing bowl and crumble into small pieces. Stir in the goji berries, nuts, seeds and spices.
3. Stir the nut butter into the melted chocolate and mix until fairly smooth. Stir the chocolate mixture into the remaining ingredients, making sure the ingredients are evenly coated.
4. Spread the mixture over a baking sheet and put in the fridge or freezer to chill and harden. Break into shards or cut into rough pieces when set, ready to serve.
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