Poached Pears in Winter Spice and Coconut Milk

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This breakfast looks and tastes so decadent yet I’ve made sure the price tag doesn’t match. It’s the perfect warming breakfast for these cold winter mornings and can also double up as a delicious desert recipe. If you’ve got a visitor, this is sure to impress.

As always it’s really healthy. This has 3 portions of fruit in and the herbs in this breakfast have wonderfully healing properties – they contribute towards an effective digestive system and fighting off bacterial infections, as well as helping to control blood sugar levels, soothe your stomach and prevent nausea. I know that many university students, like myself, have exams around this time of year so this is a great breakfast to settle any nerves while feeding your body and mind.

Ingredients:

2 Pears
A handful of frozen Mixed Berries
A handful of Raisins
Half an inch of fresh Ginger
Half a can of Coconut Milk
Cinnamon

I top mine with my homemade maple pecan granola which is a really nice addition as it adds some crunch to the lovely plump, soft fruits. Try adding granola or you could just sprinkle with some chopped nuts and seeds which would provide a great texture combination.

Firstly, peel the pears and cut them into bite-sized chunks. Place them in a pan with the berries before putting a small amount of coconut milk in. You only want enough to just cover the bottom which can be difficult to gauge at first as the milk may need to melt; just keep and eye on it for a minute while it does and you can always add a little more or tip a little out. The milk should only come up to about two centimetres from the bottom of the pan. Then, cut the ginger into tiny pieces and add this to the pan along with the cinnamon, syrup and raisins. Allow the mixture to cook for about 15 minutes while giving a stir every little while. The milk should have mostly evaporated by this time. Heat a little coconut milk in a pan for a couple of minutes and pour this on top of your stewed fruit bowl. Add all the crunchy toppings you desire and enjoy!

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Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce

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Tomato sauce is such a classic and I feel that I’ve now nailed the perfect recipe – try this and you’ll be licking the bowl clean! There’s something so satisfying about slurping up all the deliciousness in this dish. Sometimes it can seem that buying a jar of sauce will be so much easier but honestly, this can be made in 5 minutes!

This meal is great for January when a lot of people are making an effort to look after themselves more but still want to enjoy their food. Getting pleasure from the food you eat is vital – if you’re trying to be healthier but eating bland food that doesn’t fill you, it won’t stick (and if it does it won’t be very fun!). However, this way you can enjoy a bowl of warming comfort food while filling yourself up on all sorts of goodness your body will thrive on!

Ingredients:

Courgetti/spaghetti

3 Sun-dried Tomatoes
2 Salad Tomatos
1 large clove of Garlic
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Handful of Basil
Splash of Olive oil
A sprinkling of Dried Mixed Herbs

I love to sauté mushrooms with salt and pepper and toast pumpkin seeds or pine nuts to put on top.

Firstly cook your pasta or spirulize your courgette, then chop all the tomatoes and add to your blender. Blend with the herbs, olive oil and lemon juice. Fry your finely chopped garlic in a pan for a couple of minutes, and if you’re using courgette, now add this to the same pan to warm through and become softer.  Add the tomato sauce from the blender to a saucepan for a couple of minute so that can heat though too (if you’re cooking spaghetti, add the garlic from the flying pan to this saucepan). Add the spaghetti/courgetti to a bowl and top with your tomato sauce along with any toppings you fancy.

For any of you raw eaters, this can be enjoyed uncooked too, just add all ingredients to the blender and put it on top of the courgetti.

Christmas Time

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Christmas is just around the corner so I thought I’d do a special post giving tips and ideas on how to enjoy this time feeling your best.

Hot chocolate is a comforting indulgence for many at this time of year and helps to warm you through from the inside. The good news is that you can enjoy a delicious hot chocolate by using only nourishing, unprocessed ingredients! I have been loving this superfood hot chocolate lately as it tastes like a hug in a mug. The difference with this hot chocolate is that it is made with raw cacao which is a superfood filled with antioxidants. It has a much stronger flavour than processed cocoa which means you only need 1-2 teaspoons depending on your cup size. To make enough for a teacup, like the one I have here, you simply heat half a cup of almond milk with 1 teaspoon of raw cacao and a splash of sweetener, I used raw maple syrup. If you have a bigger mug, simply double these quantities. I like to add a cinnamon stick for extra festive spice.

On Christmas morning I know some families like to have a Full English Breakfast. Here I have my version of a Full Vegan Breakfast which is delicious and completely satisfying. I use 3 slices of my homemade gluten free nutty loaf which is so health enhancing. You don’t have to make your own bread but if you want to fill your body with goodness be sure to buy a loaf that is unprocessed and contains nuts/seeds which will provide your body with complex carbohydrates and lots of fibre. I use Whole Earth organic baked bean to top my toast which taste great and are so much better for you than the standard tin high in salt and sugar. Beside this are slow roasted tomatoes which are cooked on 170 degrees for about 25 minutes. Finally, sauté sliced mushrooms in salt, pepper and chilli flakes before adding to this healthy feast.

If you are wanting something light in the morning then smoothies are the perfect option! They ensure that your body gets lots of portions of raw fruit and veg so that you don’t need to worry about it later in the day. For a health injection that will nourish your body try blending half a cup of almond milk, 2 handfuls of spinach, a cucumber, a small handful of (frozen) berries, a big banana and a heaped teaspoon of nut butter. This creates a delicious smoothie that has lots of alkalising minerals and will leave you feeling energised for the day ahead. I like to add superfood powders to my smoothies, particularly spirulina, chia seeds and maca for added pizzazz!

Finally, when it comes to your Christmas dinner make sure you enjoy it. Lots of people would call it the best meal of the year and I’m not going to argue with them! And this doesn’t mean it has to be unhealthy. I made this roast dinner which I was very proud of and it was a real crowd pleaser. This is honey glazed gammon with roast carrots, brussel sprout and potatoes which are cooked with lots of rosemary. It has a portobello mushroom in the middle which is stuffed with cooked quinoa. Pomegranate seeds give the dish a lovely crunch and adds sweetness. I made the apple sauce by simply boiling peeled and cubed apples in just enough water to cover for about 20 minutes with some cinnamon and the zest of a lemon. I then mashed the soft apples and drained away any excess water to create the perfect consistency.

There you have four delicious and indulgent recipes that all feel like such a treat yet they all totally nourish your body too so that you can spend this Christmas time feeling healthy, happy and full of energy!

Hot Jalapeño Hummus

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Hummus is a great thing to have in your fridge, it brings moisture to meals and a fantastically filling element. I love adding a big dollop to bowls of quinoa and veg, raw salads as well as using it as a dip for things like carrots, peppers and roast sweet potato wedges. I used to buy pots of hummus from the shop before I realised how easy it is to make myself – it takes no time at all, it’s cheaper than buying from the shop and it’s also a lot more fun! I love experimenting with different flavours and I have found many wonderful mixtures. This particular blend adds a nice bit of spice to my meal which I love and it also has sweet tones of roasted pepper. Once you realise how easy it is to make your own hummus, you’ll never go back.

This famous dip is a fantastic source of protein and fibre thanks to its main ingredient – chickpeas. It leaves you feeling satisfied and energised which is a feeling that will last, rather than a spike in energy levels followed by a dramatic drop as is the case with lots of processed food. You can be sure you’re getting great quality nutrients by making your own hummus, without any unpleasant hidden ingredients.

Ingredients:
1 can of chickpeas
1 pepper (I use red or yellow)
1 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4c water
1 lemon
Jalapeño slices
A handful of fresh basil leaves
A hefty shake of paprika and cumin
A sprinkling of salt and chilli flakes

I like to add about 7-8 jalapeño slices for the whole tub but if you’re not really a fan of spice just add a couple and you’ll still get the flavour. Slice your pepper into about 6-8 pieces and cook them in the oven for abut 15 minutes on 180 degrees. Blend all the rest of your ingredients before adding the roast pepper. Taste the mixture to see if you would like a little more lemon, jalapeño or basil and check if the consistency is how you like it. I actually don’t blend it for too long as I do like the odd small chunk of roast pepper or jalapeño but this is up to you. If it seems too thick add a dash of water but these proportions work perfectly for me.

Festive Bites

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As it’s getting colder, you may feel energy depleted. Your body has to work extra hard to keep you warm which is why these energy balls are so brilliant for you right now. It’ll give you that extra boost you need to take you out Christmas shopping and to those Christmas parties. These bites are so incredibly easy to make too!

Ingredients:
7 medjool dates
1 cup almonds
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp lucuma powder (optional)
1 tbsp cashew butter
1 tsp almond butter
1 tbsp raw cacao
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger

Honestly… blend the almonds first, add the pitted dates along with all the other ingredients, then roll the mixture into balls. Put them in the freezer for an hour then store them in the fridge. I sprinkled coconut on top of mine like a dusting of snow.

I love making energy bites and since we are now into the first week of December, I gave these a lovely festive flavouring. The rich chocolate and caramel tones make them so delicious and of course this comes from only the best nutritious whole foods. Raw cacao is a fantastic superfood providing antioxidants to your body while giving an intense chocolate scrumminess. It’s also a source of iron and magnesium, both essential minerals for thriving bodies. Lucuma and chia seeds provide additional superfood powers, giving your body a whole host of vitamins and minerals. What really works to stick these balls together are the juicy medjool dates – my all-time favourite food! These festive bites are the perfect treat to make you feel happy and healthy. I love the spices of the nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger, they are sure to get you in the spirit.

Protein Pesto Quinoa

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I was so happy when this meal came together as it was just a combination of leftovers I had at the end of last week. In the future, I will be looking for these specific ingredients in order to recreate this simple delight. It’s totally packed with protein, making it the perfect meal post workout. Nevertheless, the nutrients here will work wonders on your body at any point in the day.

There is a common misconception that people who don’t eat meat can’t be getting enough protein, however this is not the case. Although meat can provide a source of complete protein, so too can certain plant-based foods. Quinoa is probably the best way for a plant eater to ensure they are getting all the protein they need. It contains all 9 essential amino acids and it such a versatile food which can be used as the accompaniment to chillis, curries and salads like this one. There is such a variety of protein sources in this meal including, black-eyed beans, brazil nuts, lentils and of course quinoa; you’ll finish feeling satisfied, without any digestion problems and fuelled with energy!

Ingredients:

1/3c black eyed beans (or another bean)
1/3c quinoa
1/3c lentils
1 large grated carrot
A handful of olives
1 large tomato

For the pesto:
1/3c brazil nuts
1 small handful of rocket
1 handful of basil leaves
1 small slash each of water and olive oil
The juice of half a lime
A sprinkling of salt

As always, I would double up and make enough for at least 2 portions so that I can enjoy it again the next day while saving time. It’s an especially good idea to make more of the pesto as it can be combined into different dishes and means you only have to wash the blender once – result!

Firstly, cook your lentils and quinoa in 1 cup of boiling water with a splash of apple cider vinegar or whatever you like to flavour it. This will take about 15 minutes. While they cook, grate the carrot and blend together all the ingredients for the pesto. Lastly, stir the pesto along with the grated carrot into the lentil and quinoa mix which will have now absorbed all the water. Top with the rinsed olives and sliced tomato.

Carrot, Ginger and Roast Pepper Rice

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After buying a 1.5kg bag of carrots for 85p I was in for a serious carrot fest! This week I’ve been making soups and sauces, carrot cake oatmeal, as well as this wonderful dish. The flavours of this meal come together to make it taste quite oriental, refreshing and filling. I enjoyed my first portion hot and then packed up the second portion I made to take into uni with me today. As well as the versatility of this dish, it is so easy to make.

To make 2 portions:
2/3c brown rice
2 carrots
2 cloves of garlic
An inch of ginger
A large handful of spinach
1 pepper (I like yellow)
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp tamari
Sesame seeds
Shredded coconut

Raw apple cider vinegar is fantastic for your health. It stimulates digestion and metabolism as it is rich in potassium which can aid slimming and really helps with any stomach problems or will prevent them. It is also anti-inflammatory so can help with joint pain. If you can’t find apple cider vinegar though, rice wine vinegar or cyder vinegar will work well too.

Tamari is gluten free soy sauce so if you don’t have tamari and would prefer to use soy that will taste nice too.

Firstly, cover the rice with over an inch of boiling water and cook for 25 minutes. Turn the oven on and roast the sliced pepper for just about 10-15 minutes so it’s ever so slightly brown. While the rice and pepper cook, peel and grate your carrots. At this point, heat the oil in a pan then add the finely chopped ginger and garlic for a couple of minutes before adding the grated carrot and spinach for 1-2 minutes. Splash on all the sauces: honey, tamari and apple cider vinegar before draining and rinsing the rice once cooked and adding it to the pan. Finally toast the coconut and sesame then use it to top this gorgeous the dish and enjoy!

Eating Out

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So I’ve already discussed how to make the most of dining in and it generally comes naturally for people to enjoy dining out but I know that sometimes it can be stressful for those who want to stick with their usual healthy diet. Restaurants and cafes now offer so much variety that there shouldn’t be reason to worry, just the excitement of trying new food!

Two simple tips which can easily help you to navigate a menu and cut down on the options of what can often be a very hard decision is  1)  steer clear of fried food and  2)  opt for tomato based sauces over creamy ones. The most important thing is that you get the food you enjoy; enjoy in terms of taste and enjoy in terms of the way it makes you feel both while eating and later.

If you are choosing the location and wanting to find somewhere healthy, ‘HappyCow’ is a great website which can indicate options including vegetarian and vegan eateries near you. While you are being treated to the creativity of a professional chef, it’s a great idea to try out veg filled dishes which may inspire you to cook vegetables in a way you’d not before considered. It could be that you’ve tried something before and not enjoyed it, but when cooked in a different way might encourage you to reconsider.

Eating healthily shouldn’t be an isolating thing which prevents you from eating out and it doesn’t mean you must sacrifice healthy habits either. Balance is vital to a healthy lifestyle, so relax and socialise over tasty food that makes you happy.

Autumn Eats

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October has arrived and the change in season means the air is getting cooler. This often leads to people wanting richer foods and enjoying more of their ‘comfort foods’. Just because we want warming foods, that does not mean we must sacrifice our healthy eating. As it’s colder, we need more energy to keep our bodies warm and fight off colds but we need to feed ourselves the right nutrients in order to do this.

One of the most comforting and simple breakfasts is porridge. All you need is oats and water or (nut) milk and then you can top with a whole variety of things. Just make sure the mix doesn’t overflow by giving the odd stir. I like to use the biggest oats I can and I heat them on the hop in a saucepan for about 10 minutes. Sometimes I chop a banana into the mix while it’s cooking to give the porridge a lovely sweetness. In terms of toppings, the world is your oyster! Different things I use include raspberries, dried fruit, cinnamon, pure maple syrup, nuts, seeds, goji berries, granola, nut butter (although not right now as I’m seeing if I can last one week without it!), date syrup, blueberries, buckwheat grouts, dried coconut, etc, etc… but not all at once. You can add pretty much anything that takes your fancy. This is such a simple breakfast that just can’t really go wrong. Whether you use a microwave or stove, keep experimenting and discover your favourite texture and toppings for your perfect porridge.

It’s always a great idea to eat what’s in season as this means you’re getting the freshest food that hasn’t had to travel so far to come to you. In terms of fruit, there’s pears, apples, cranberries, blackberries and pumpkins, all of which are in season right now. These make great porridge toppings, snacks on their own or can be used to make crumbles and pies which can be created using much healthier sweet alternatives to refined sugar, like pure maple syrup and cinnamon. The fruit itself provides so much sweetness! What’s in season in terms of veg now includes some of my very favourite ingredients: field mushrooms, broccoli, leeks, courgette and tomatoes. These are all so versatile. Firstly, they can all be made into delicious warming soups which is one of the best comfort foods. I like to make liquid soups then top with sautéed mushrooms and seeds to give a bit more bite and make them more filling. Many of those ingredients often find their way into my pasta dishes either in the sauce or extra veg to top with. Whether cooked or raw, the veggies in season right now make a great addition to salads which can be combined with things like brown rice, quinoa or potatoes to add extra depth and a variety of seeds to give a wonderfully nutritious crunch.

Eating by the season encourages us to try out new things and allows us to get fresher food. Always remember to eat a variety of foods and colours to get the nutrients you need to fight off those autumn bugs.

Dine in

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Most of us appreciate what a wonderful experience eating is but some miss out on the enjoyment of creating the food. The preparation of food can be seen as a chore but for me, it is a key component to the whole dining experience. Eating is something every single human being must do to survive, why not turn it into a hobby you enjoy?

When we go out for a meal, people generally enjoy a whole evening of dining however this can also be done at home. Spending time preparing and cooking food is a lovely way to spend an evening with the delightful ending of eating your own creation. By putting effort into your meals you will gain confidence and experiment with different flavours and combinations to discover what you really love.

A great thing about cooking is how social it can be. It’s lots of fun cooking with someone; a friend, partner or family member, while you chat and discover new cooking techniques. When cooking with another person, you’re probably more likely to try more adventurous dishes as it’s a fun experience for you to do together.

I think that cooking for another person is such a kind thing to do. To put in the effort of sourcing, preparing and cooking a meal for someone is bound to be greatly appreciated and again it turns the process of eating into a whole dining experience to be enjoyed together. Especially if you are trying to stick to a healthy lifestyle, by cooking for friends and family, you can control the food you eat and also show your guests how delicious it is to eat healthy whole-food!