Smoothie Ideas

Smoothie Ideas

D and I are on a bit of a health kick at the moment and when we are eating healthier I tend to have smoothies a lot for breakfast. I broke my blender making smoothies and now I have a shiny new smoothie maker. I know they’re notorious for being sugary but you can make them less so but adding spinach and using fresh fruit instead of using ready made smoothies. Also in my defence I find that eating fruit earlier on in the day prevents me from craving sweet things made from refined sugars later in the day and it puts me in a happier, more energetic mood and my skin looks better. Generally we try and eat mostly vegetarian and pescatarian meals now so maybe it just fits in with these meals?

I nearly always thicken my smoothies by adding a banana. I also add oats or a nut butter to make it filling enough to see me through until lunch. Then I will add frozen fruit such as mango, blueberries or raspberries or the frozen fruit mixes designed to make smoothies with (like the banana and strawberry mix). Sometimes I use up fruit that isn’t quite at is best (minimise food waste when you can) and I also like to add frozen spinach. It is packed with all sort of nutrients and also because it has anti inflammatory properties so I find it really helpful with stomach pain or aching muscles. I switch between making smoothies with unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk or sometimes normal milk depending on what I have in. (Sometimes I have coconut water too).

I don’t think there is much of a recipe for what is essentially squashed fruit whizzed up in a blender, these are just some ideas to inspire. Maybe I’m just obsessed with fruit?

This is a cereal drama

I wish I could apologise for my dreadful pun, but I can’t. I love a good pun especially in the context of breakfast food. I have mentioned in previous posts trying to have healthy breakfast foods, but struggling to stay full until lunch. Which I must admit I have managed since changing what I ate in the morning and I must admit that adding muesli and porridge back into my repertoire there has been no exception. The added bonus of having a sweet breakfast is that once I get round to lunchtime I don’t seem to crave really sweet food quite so much.

I got sent some muesli by Stoats along with a range of their porridge which I loved and got me back onto cereal in a big way. Its just so easy! While I love smoothies and things on toast this actually means there is less washing up overall. (Also as mentioned previously I’m a big fan of Scottish food and produce as its part of my heritage and what I grew up eating).

I have found however, that it perks me up so much to have fruit first thing and I think my skin has certainly improved since adding more fruit into my diet.

Plus, I think cereal looks so beautiful when you’re hungry.

I was provided with samples of Stoats porridge but you can order online and find stockists here.

Banana and pineapple loaf

Banana and pineapple loaf

I’ve really started enjoying fruit recently. I have a (somewhat deserved) reputation as a chocoholic within my friendship group, but I feel my fruit consumption of late might have redeemed me. I got sent a selection of Nature’s Finest fruit pots a little while ago and it was just a bit too easy to take the majority of them to work for lunch. I also appreciate anything that stops me having to wrestle with a pineapple, or decipher when a mango might be ready.

Anyway, we always have a stash of bananas in the house and I sometimes think simple is best I made a more tropical themed banana loaf (especially in time for the first week of the Great British Bake Off cake week). It turned out pretty beautifully because the banana and pineapple kept the cake soft, even after 40 minutes of baking. I made this last night and D has been eyeing it up for hours while he was waiting for me to get in from work.

To make a banana and pineapple loaf you will need:

140g butter

140g caster sugar

2 large eggs

2 bananas (slightly over ripe is best)

140g self raising flour

200g pineapple chunks (keep back the juice)

50g icing sugar

Approx 20g dessiccated coconut

Heat the oven to 180°C. Line a loaf tin. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the bananas and eggs (if doing it by hand mash the banana first). Once the wetter ingredients are mixed beat in the flour to form a creamy mix. Finally, add the pineapple chunks.

Add to the loaf tin in a smooth layer. Bake in the middle of the oven for 40 minutes, until a skewer comes out of the cake cleanly. Allow the cake to cool.

To prepare the icing add about a teaspoon of the juice the pineapple came in to form a smooth paste and thinly cover the loaf with this. To finish, sprinkle over the coconut.

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Usefully, this cake keeps for several days in an air tight tin, if you can keep the people you live with’s hands off it for long enough!

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Natures’ Finest fruit is available in most big supermarkets. It comes in coconut water or fruit juice, rather than syrup so it makes it a preferable baking ingredient and a healthier snack when you’re on the go. I was sent samples of this to try. For more recipe suggestions visit here.

Strawberry and mascarpone brownies

Strawberry and mascarpone brownies

I feel like these brownies which evolved from cheesecake brownies are the height of summer decadence. However, I am all about balance these days and when shared with friends these are the perfect treat for those lazy Sunday lunches we all love in the Summer. I actually tend to use the reduced fat mascarpone in these as I genuinely cannot tell too much of a difference. Adding vanilla bean paste to these adds a rich sweet dimension that goes perfectly with the strawberries. However, I part baked these and then had to finish them off in my Uncle’s oven so they aren’t as attractive in the final pictures are they initially were in the earlier ones. However, when I make these again I am pretty tempted to retake some of the final photos so you can see some of the beautiful swirl patterns going on.

To make 12-16 brownies (depending on size preference) you will need:

100g cornflour

200g dark chocolate (Bournville is good for these ones)

250g caster sugar

3 eggs

100g butter

6-10 strawberries depending on size

1 teaspoon vanilla paste or 1 vanilla pod

250g mascarpone (or reduced fat mascarpone).

Preheat your oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with grease proof paper. Whisk the eggs and sugar until thick and the mixture leaves a trail on the surface when you lift the beater. Melt together the chocolate and butter. Set aside to cool while you sift in the flour. Gradually add the chocolate mixture while you continue whisking your eggs. Once all this has combines pour into your baking tray.

In a separate bowl combine the vanilla and mascarpone. Swirl this over the top of the brownie mix. Half your strawberries and dot these on the top of everything else. Bake for about 40 minutes until a skewer comes out of the brownie almost clean.

Cut into squares and serve warm with ice cream or cool as they are.

This is what they will look like when you drive them across a hilly town, but they still taste amazing! I certainly felt pretty decadent eating these.

Blueberry yogurt swirl brownies (dairy and gluten free!)

Blueberry yogurt swirl brownies (dairy and gluten free!)

Anyone who is a regular follower of this blog knows I periodically post another variation on brownies. What can I say? I like a good traybake and occasionally get a massive craving for brownies. Anyway, these came about while thinking of cheesecake brownies and wondering if I could make a swirl type brownie without using dairy products. Turns out it works pretty well and I managed to do it without using any wheat or gluten containing products. Perfect for treating your friend with the dietary requirements as you can still get all of the ingredients in your local supermarket.

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To make a batch of brownies you will need:

100g coconut oil

200g good quality dark chocolate

250g brown sugar

30g cocoa powder

4 large eggs

100g cornflour

2 tablespoons vanilla soy yogurt

1 teaspoon maple syrup

1 handful frozen blueberries

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Line a deep baking tin with baking paper or greaseproof paper. Using an electric whisk beat together your eggs and sugar until the mix leaves a trail on the surface. In a separate bowl melt your chocolate and coconut oil in a microwave safe bowl. Set this aside to cool and then slowly fold this into the egg mixture.

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Sift in the flour and cocoa powder and fold this into the mix. Pour this into the lined baking tin.

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Mix together the yogurt, blueberries and maple syrup in a small bowl. Swirl this over the chocolate mix, but down mix too thoroughly to create a fetching pattern.

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Bake for 35-40 minutes until a skewer comes out almost clean.

Share with your friends, especially the poor one who usually has to pass on all baked goods for dietary reasons.

Quick chia pudding

Quick chia pudding

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I do apologise, this is going to be another one of my wonderfully vague recipes. Although I would not call this a particularly quick recipe (who can argue something is quick when you soak it all night?); it will make your morning routine more simple. Not having to think beyond “should I grate in that apple or throw in a handful of sultanas” is sometimes the most complex thing I can determine when I get up for work.

Anyway chia pudding is convenient, really healthy and can really easily be adapted into a vegan recipe or made with things you really like.

To make chia pudding for 1 you will need:

Chia seeds

Milk of your choice (mine is coconut milk)

Yogurt (I used Alpro strawberry and rhubarb yogurt)

The topping of your choice (sliced banana, grated apple, etc etc)

Pour a small quantity of chia seeds into a cereal bowl so a thin layer covers the bottom. Cover this with about 2cm milk. Add 1 large spoonful of yogurt. Stir this so that all the seeds are as evenly dispersed as you can manage. Cover this and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning stir again. Add your toppings and serve. Enjoy your beautifully simple and delicious breakfast.

Healthy breakfast ideas part 2

Healthy breakfast ideas part 2

So my quest for healthier things for breakfast has been one of the most fun and delicious food challenges yet. I am finding myself naturally opting for some sort of fruit or vegetable when I start the day. The other thing is that I tend to force myself out of bed earlier to make breakfast and D has even jumped on the bandwagon on days where I prepare things in advance.

You’ll notice that currently there has been nothing with eggs for one reason only – in the mornings when I make my breakfast I am usually trying to do lots of things at once. So breakfast is thrown together (and photographed) while I make my lunch, feed the rabbits and try to put a load of washing in or do some other household chore. I feel I will fail miserably at egg cooking while doing all of the above. Anyway, here are some of the lovely things I have been eating for my breakfast lately.

1. Overnight oats (or is this Bircher? I’m new to this)

DSC_0586DSC_0587DSC_0591DSC_0592Overnight oats have become a favourite in our house. They’re really good value for money to make, they’re filling, they taste beautiful and they travel well. To make 2 portions take a mug full of oats, top with fruit juice to 1cm above the oats (I’ve used apple juice and mango juice so far), cover this and leave overnight. The next morning add a couple of tablespoons of yogurt (I used Alpro Soya yogurt with coconut in mine and low fat lemon on D’s). Then top with whatever fruit, nuts or seeds you fancy. I put D’s in his soup mug and he eats them on the bus – just make sure your container is sealed tightly.

2. Ham and tomato on toast

DSC_0595Obviously this one is pretty self explanatory but its also a good idea for days when you wake up late.

3. Porridge with fruit

DSC_0583DSC_0584IMG_0328I am a recent porridge convert but usually I stick to Oatso simple (which I still love), but trading in ready make combinations for proper fruit keeps your metabolism ticking over for far longer. So here are 2 of my favourite porridges. Banana and raspberry porridge and apple, sultana and cinnamon porridge (grate in your apple, add 1/2 tsp cinnamon and a handful of sultanas).

4. Toast with cashew butter and salami

IMG_0348So I saw a similar thing to this on buzzfeed about healthy breakfasts. Words cannot describe quite how delicious this is. Think heavenly savoury food loving angels singing to your mouth while you bite into warm salami goodness. Bliss.

5. Smoothies!

DSC_0590DSC_0597DSC_0585According to social media, smoothies are insanely popular at the moment. Hardly a day goes by when somebody isn’t adding a picture of a NutriBullet filled with glorious fruit to my instagram feed. You know what though? They do have a point. Smoothies are such an easy way to get more fruit (and vegetables) into your diet and they are so quick to make. I usually have mine going for a couple of minutes while I make a salad to take to work and they come out with a really creamy texture. Pictured combinations are blueberry, cashew butter, coconut milk and banana; raspberry, almond butter, banana and coconut milk; and blackberry (bramble), yogurt, banana and coconut milk. These feel so decadent and filling and the nuts add good fats your body needs to give you beautiful skin, shiny hair and they keep you fuller longer.

It’s funny how I’ve found a little time in the morning has made such a difference to my eating habits. I find I get less bloated and my moods have improved a lot. Plus I get fewer spots which is always a winner!