Healthy Chocolate Breakfast Smoothie

Healthy Chocolate SmoothieWho doesn’t like chocolate for breakfast? I regularly want to just have a chocolate bar for my breakfast but restrain myself. So a chocolate smoothie, especially one with healthy ingredients, is a great choice.

I discovered raw cacao a few years back and went through a phase of having it most mornings. It gave me a kind of buzz and set my day off to a great start. But as my health slowly improved, I got lazy and more and more went for ready made granola or cereal for breakfast because it was quicker and easier.

Nut butters are another great ingredient that I enjoy but haven’t properly introduced into my diet yet. I don’t really enjoy the all natural ones on rice cakes and still much prefer peanut butter with a little added sugar and salt. I am working on it though and found a really nice smooth peanut butter that is 100% peanuts. The other thing that puts me off is that you have to stir them and when they are quite full the oil ends up spilling over the sides and making the jar oily forever. But in smoothies I do like them. They add a creaminess and depth, along with a dose of healthy fats and energy.

Healthy Chocolate Smoothie

Recipe (per person)

1 small Frozen Banana

1 heaped tbsp Hazelnut Butter

1 heaped tbsp Raw Cacao Powder (or Cocoa Powder)

Unsweetened Almond Milk (about a cup)

Optional:

1 tbsp Maple Syrup (or replace with preferred sweetener)

1 tbsp Chia Seeds

2 tbsp Gluten Free Oats

Blend everything up and serve. If you are using a fresh banana rather than frozen, throw in a couple of ice cubes to make it cold and thicker.

Healthy Chocolate Smoothie

Having this for breakfast feels like such a treat but it’s completely healthy and full of ingredients that will keep you going all morning (or until snack time!).

Advertisements

Pecan and Date Cupcakes and Traybake

Pecan Date CupcakesCan these be called cupcakes without frosting? Well I am calling them cupcakes, although my mum would probably call them fairy cakes. Either way they are delicious. I love putting dates in my baking because they go all caramelized and syrupy. And then there are the pecans. I love how they soften slightly but still give a lovely bite.

Baking in paper cases is great for portion control too. If I bake one big cake I tend to have a much bigger piece than I would with cupcakes. Plus the clean up is much easier! As you can see, I had a mixture of different designs that need using up so I went for a mismatch. Yes some are christmas themed, and no, I didn’t bake them at christmas. It was only a week or so after so it must be ok.

Even my cat loves these cakes. I let her have a tiny bit (without nut or date) and she climbed on my shoulder for more. She’s a strange creature.

Pecan Date Cupcake

Recipe

4oz/115g Gluten Free Self Raising Flour

4oz/115g Unrefined Sugar

4oz/115g Vegan Margarine (not hydrogenated)

2 eggs (or egg replacement)

1 handful Chopped Pecans

8-10 medium/large Dates, stoned and chopped

Cream the marg and sugar until light and smooth. Beat in the eggs and then fold in the flour, along with the nuts and dates. Spoon in to cases and bake at 180c/160c fan for 10-15 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.

As simple as that! I made the same recipe about a week after but used walnuts instead of pecans, and baked it as a tray bake rather than cupcakes.

Walnut Date Traybake

Both were delicious and used up left over dates and nuts. I always feel better about having a baked treat if there is something healthy in there, whether it be grated veggies, nuts or oats.

Vegetarian Breakfast Bake

Vegetarian Breakfast BakeI am pretty lazy when it comes to a week day breakfast but like to bring out the veggies and eggs at the weekend. You can definitely make this without the egg, maybe even sub for some vegan sausage or tofu, but I am loving eggs at the moment and feel good about eating them as they are very nutritious for my growing bump.

Some weekends it can be hard to get off the sofa or out of bed, especially in the colder months, so cooking something warm and delicious is the best way to motivate yourself. I like to make a late breakfast and spend the morning with my boyfriend before we head out and do whatever it is that we need/want to do. Those are the best weekends and I can’t wait for our daughter to arrive to share those with us.

breakfast

So back to the recipe. You can use what every you like, but this is how I did it.

1 small/medium potato per person

1/2 orange pepper per person

2 plum tomatoes per person

1 egg per person

1 tbsp coconut oil

salt and pepper

dried sage

Chop up the potato, skin on, and the pepper and tomato. Melt the coconut oil in your baking dish and add the potato, seasoning and sage. Let that bake in a medium oven for about 10 minutes. Add in the pepper and tomatoes and make a space in the middle for the egg and crack it in. Bake until the potatoes are tender and the egg is cooked to your liking. If you want a really runny egg, leave the potatoes in a bit longer on their own so they will be tender when your egg is done. I cooked mine all the way through as I am pregnant.

I didn’t have any fresh tomatoes in so I used tinned plum tomatoes. I think the addition of onion would work well, or anything that needs using up in the fridge. It would also be nice with sweet potato instead of white potatoes. You can even melt on a little lactose free or vegan cheese at the end like I did.

Breakfast Bake

Vegan Cookies!

Vegan Cookies

It was one of my New Year’s resolutions in January to work my way through some of the cookbooks I own. And believe me, I own a LOT. While I didn’t try as many recipes as I would have liked, I did try more than any other year. And Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar is one of the books that I have tried multiple recipes from.

Vegan Cookies

These cookies are the standard chocolate chips ones. They are crisp on the outside and slightly chewy inside. My only negative comment on these, as a none vegan, is that they taste vegan. It might have been the oil I used but they tasted slightly of oil. If I make them again I will use coconut oil. I think I used rapeseed when I made these. It didn’t stop me eating them all though!

Vegan Cookie

Have you got this cookbook or any others by these cooks? I’ve got Appetite for Reduction by Isa which I have made quite a few tasty recipes from. The cookie recipe book is the opposite of that healthy eating book but we all need a treat sometimes!

I did make these gluten free. I used a mix brown rice flour and tapioca flour which also could have been to blame for the slight funky taste. Has any one made the recipe with wheat flour? I wonder if it is any different.

I haven’t been doing much cooking or baking lately. I’m now in my third trimester and starting to get a bit big and tired. I also have PGP which is pain in the pelvic joints that is supposed to go away a few weeks after giving birth. I’ve been given a support belt and some crutches because walking is becoming really hard. I had all these plans of how healthy and active my pregnancy was going to be and they have all gone out of the window. With morning sickness and then aversions and cravings, I have been pretty bad. Plus I haven’t really been about to exercise since week 16 and I am now week 30! Oh well, I’m sure there will be plenty of walks with my daughter when she is here.

I hope you all have a really great Christmas and a happy new year ūüôā

DSC_1777

Healthier Chocolate Popcorn

Healthy Chocolate Popcorn

I’m a huge snacker and have at least two snacks every day. I prefer my snacks to be sweet but am always conscious about my sugar intake. I have been eating a lot of chocolate since my second trimester, whether it is actual chocolate, brownies, chocolate milk; I just can’t get enough. But I wanted to lighten things up a bit and bring down the sugar.

I have made home made popcorn only a couple of times and have never added anything wet as a topping because I worried the popcorn would lose it’s crunch but this melted chocolate topping worked really well. It set enough to not be too messy and the popcorn kept it’s texture. I added chopped nuts for extra crunch and nutrition but you can really do anything with this.

Nuts

Coconut oil is a great choice because it has a high smoking point and can be heated really high without going bad, plus it is a healthy fat. I always choose oils labelled as raw or extra virgin because they have been less messed with. These versions usually have a really nice mild coconut taste too.

Chocolate Popcorn

All you need is:

1 tbsp Coconut Oil

1/2 cup Popcorn Kernels

100g Dark Chocolate (mine was 80% cocoa)

1/2 cup Nuts of Choice (I used Hazelnuts and Almonds)

 

Heat the oil in a medium/large saucepan that you have a lid for. Once it is all melted, add in the kernels and put the lid on. Swish them around so they get nicely coated. Leave it on a medium heat until the popping begins. Give it a swish until the popping slows down quite a bit.

In the meantime, gently melt the chocolate and chop up the nuts.

Put the popcorn in a big bowl or container and pour over the chocolate and sprinkle on the nuts. Mix well and enjoy fresh or keep for a day or two.

Chocolate Popcorn

And enjoy!

Sweet Potato Blondies

I am a pinterest addict. I pin all kinds of things from recipes to baby clothes. I was looking through my pins recently to see which recipes I could make and saw that I have pinned over 1600 things! Oops. But it is a valuable resource for recipes and I have actually tried some of them.

I love baking but try not to bake too much due to all the sugar, fat and refined flour. Even my favourite gluten free flour mix is as white as snow which suggests some kind of bleaching or something. This recipe for Sweet Potato Brownies was not gluten free so I just amended the ingredients to suit me. I did 1 cup plain gluten free flour mix and 3/4 cup brown rice flour rather than the suggested wheat flours, and used a gluten free baking powder. I did use real butter because my dairy sensitivity has eased slightly and I prefer to use small amounts of organic real butter than overly processed vegan margarine, but use what ever works best for you and your needs.

Sweet Potato Blondies

These blondies were tasty but I wouldn’t have named them blondies. They were lovely and moist and I enjoyed the chocolate chips (I used chopped chocolate in chunks), however they didn’t taste overly sweet despite having added sugar and the sweet potatoes. They were also a bit time consuming with all the peeling, chopping, boiling, cooling, blending. But for me I would rather spend that extra time and energy to make a healthier bake than to do a quick and easy bake full of rubbish.

Sweet Potato Blondies

We also had some covered with warm soya custard as a sunday night treat which was lovely. Us Brits love a sunday pudding drenched in custard!

If you would like to give them a try you can find the recipe here.

Do you use pinterest? Do you ever actually make anything you see on there?

Sweet Potato Blondies

Basic Gluten Free Vegan Butternut Squash Soup

Easy Butternut Soup

It’s that time of year again where soups and stews become a staple part of most peoples diets. The shops are full of all those lovely autumn/winter veggies like squashes, pumpkins and root vegetables, ready and waiting to be turned into something delicious.

I made this soup because I had a butternut squash sitting around in my kitchen. It’s not really a proper soup; more of a garlic flavoured puree, but it was still delicious. You could saut√© some onion and garlic to chuck into the food processor with the cooked squash if you prefer or can’t be bothered to roast the garlic, but roasting brings out the sweetness of garlic and is worth giving a go if you can. You can roast a whole bulb like I did and use the rest for other things like mashing onto toast or mixing into a pasta sauce.

Roasted Garlic

I have actually been cooking a lot more recently. I’ve had more energy in my second trimester although the third trimester is right around the corner and I feel that energy slowly draining away. Luckily I have been photographing a lot of what I make so I can schedule some posts for when I’m not feeling great. Even though I have not posted on here for a while! There has been so much to do with Christmas shopping, decorating the nursery, buying all the furniture and bits and bobs that baby will need. It’s been a lot of fun though and I am excited to meet our little girl in less then 14 weeks time (if she’s not late!)

Here is the recipe:

1 Medium Butternut Squash

1 Bulb of Garlic (or 2 Fat Cloves)

1 Tsp Dried Sage

Salt and Pepper

1 Tbsp Vegetable Bouillon (or a stock cube. I always go for yeast free)

Water

Butternut Squash Soup

Peel and cut the squash into cubes. Heat some water in a large pan (about 2 mugs full) and mix in the stock cube or powder until dissolved. Throw in the cubed squash and allow to simmer until cooked through and tender. In the meantime, heat the oven to 200c, 180c fan. Cut the garlic in half horizontally and drizzle with a little oil, spreading over the cut sides to stop it catching. Roast for 20-30 minutes until the cloves are soft and you can pop them out easily.

Take the squash out of the cooking liquid with a slotted spoon and add into the food processor or blender (you might have to do this in 2-3 batches). Add in a garlic clove per batch and enough of the cooking liquid to get the desired consistency, sprinkling in some sage and seasoning too. Blend everything up until smooth and serve.

If you are going for the sautéed onion and garlic instead of the roasted garlic, sauté until well softened and add at the blending stage. Add a little soy cream or something like that at the end if you like your soup more creamy.

Butternut Squash Soup

This soup was really good after a long day at work and getting soaked in the rain on the way home. I might try it next time with sweet potatoes which have the added benefit of being much easy to cut and peel!

My new toy is a slow cooker so stay tuned for some yummy warming slow cooked recipes.