Monday 10 February 2014

A recipe for Raw 'Banana Bread'

This morning I had some errands to run in town, so after my tasks were complete, I duly popped into 'Infinity Foods' for a wee gander.

For those who are not familiar with Brighton; 'Infinity Foods' is I suppose a 'health food supermarket' (other wise known as a middle class 'earth mothers' dream). It's the kind of place where you can pick up biodegradable nappies, whilst stocking up on Goji berrys and Acai. God I love it.

If I was ever asked to summarise Brighton in a shop (although why that would happen I do not know), Infinity Foods, would unequivocally be that shop. The staff who work in there seem to be in a perpetual state of 'zen', as if they've just spent 6 months meditating with Tibetan monks, or just smoked waaaay too much weed as teenagers (to be fair this is Brighton, so both of these things are highly likely)

Anyway, the nub and gist is, whilst I was perusing the aisles, picking up ma Goji's. The consumerist and sugar fiend within me was drawn to a box of 'Raw Banana Bread Bars'. Now, I'm a sucker for a healthy bar, ever since my mother first gave me an 'Apricot Grizzly Bar' after dancing lessons aged 5 (I still get one in my stocking, god love her). They are also the perfect antidote for silencing the hungry beast that rears his ugly head around 4:20pm each afternoon, giving me the urge to binge eat 10 kitkats. And they are bloody yummy to boot, chewy, oaty (I love oats) sweet, and satisfying.
But this time, I didn't just blithely pop them in my basket and skip to the checkout. No, being the anal health freak I am, I just had to check the ingredients list, and quel horreur, I saw I would be paying, in essence, about £3.50 for a selection of pulverized fruit n nuts.
So for once in my life, sense took over and I firmly eschewed the urge to impulse buy and let the thrift within me place the box back on the shelf. Instead I bought a bunch of 'organic bananas' and set off home, Goji's in hand, to recreate said 'raw banana bread' for a lot less money.

Although to be fair, I did also buy a gluten free Chelsea bun, as well as some hemp protein (when in Rome) sooo all in all the savings weren't great... But they taste bleedin' delicious!!

Btw I'm afraid you need a food processor for these little numbers, unless you don't mind spending about 5 hours with a pestle and mortar...grinding away.

Raw Banana Bread

(This recipe makes about 8 2inch cubes)

300g whole almonds

120g walnuts

40g oats

1 tsp cinnamon (alter to taste)

4-6 medjool dates (depending how sweet you likey)

2 medium ripe bananas

pinch of rock salt

In a food processor, Blend the almonds, walnuts, oats, and cinnamon until the mixture has the consistency of course flour

Add in the Dates, and Bananas and pulverize until it forms a dough like consistency. Add salt to taste and pulse once more, then press the dough in a a loaf tin, or any old tin, really. And freeze until ready to eat...or just eat it...

et ouila!

(n.b. if you want, you can fiddle around with the ingredients a bit, i.e omit some of the dates for some dried apricots, or ground almonds for desiccated coconut etc etc... the world is ya oyster!)

crushin' me nuts

Thursday 6 February 2014

Homemade Nutella recipe

Oh Nutella... how do I love thee? let me count the ways.

Thanks for the line Elizabeth Barrett Browning, but there are too many.

My relationship with Nutella has been fraught throughout the years.
Funnily enough, we never actually had it in the house when I was growing up, which meant that my chubby 13 year old self would only get the chance to enjoy it at my pals after school, usually on top of a co-op crumpet, swirled with 'Utterly Butterly' alongside a cup of milky tea/hot chocolate... oh the sweet carb innocence of youth.
When I got to Uni this all changed, my Irish housemate always kept a huge tub in his cupboard, hidden behind his 'All bran' in a hopeless attempt to stop fellow housemates from eating it... alas it was a shit hiding space mate. 
I would sneak in after a night out or just when I knew he was in bed/out and eat spoonfuls of the chocolatey goodness before slipping it neatly back behind the cereal... I feel for the poor fellow, but really he should have hidden it better, or at least kept it in his room. (I realize that this is no excuse for stealing, but get over it, it's only Nutella, there's nothing else that will drive me to steal) 
Fast forward a few months and a few doctors appointments later, I found out the reason for the terrible stomach cramps, that had been plaguing me a while, was down to IBS caused by a lactose intolerance. As a glutton of epic proportions, this was a blow to me (and probably karma for stealing my housemates Nutella) No more lattes, no more ice cream, Cadbury's fruit and nut, cheese and of course, no more facking Nutella... I tried alternatives, i.e 'dark chocolate spread' but it wasn't the same in anyway shape or form, in fact it was depressingly unsatisfying. And so I sought another way to satisfy my Nutella cravings. And it actually turned out to be pretty easy to make... 

So here is my recipe for

 'Homemade Healthy Hazelnut Spread'

(ps for the calorie conscious among us this only comes in at about 36 kcal per tbsp... winner)

180 g hazelnuts
50g cocoa powder or if you're feeling extra healthy/flush unrefined cacoa powder (available from most health stores)
120ml unsweetened almond milk
itsp vanilla powder
2 tbsp of stevia (to taste)
1tsp rock salt (to taste)

Preheat the oven to 350 f or 180 fan
Spread hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes
Pull the skins of the hazelnuts. Transfer hazelnuts to food processor and blend until smooth and buttery, stopping to scrape down as needed, about 10 minutes.

Add in remaining ingredients and blend, adding in more or less sweetener and salt to taste. 
transfer to a 16 ounce jar. It will keep in the fridge for a week.. but will it really last that long?

A Healthy Breakfast

I really don't get those people who 'forget to eat breakfast'. How can you forget? As soon as I get up my first thought is 'FOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD'. 
I'm not ashamed to admit that there have been times when I have not been able to sleep due to the sheer excitement of breakfast... especially if my dinner the night before was that of the bland variety (although I hasten to add it rarely is).

Being the glutton that I am, this pivotal meal is never an afterthought, and of course it must be undeniably nutritious. After all, with breakfast we are doing exactly as the word suggests and breaking our overnight fast. Therefore, I need something that will revitalize me and kick start my metabolism for the day ahead. whilst giving me enough sustenance to prevent myself from eating the contents of the fridge come 1pm (we've all been there). This means more in the way of protein, vitamins and minerals, good carbs and fat. And less in the way of sugar, refined carbs and saturated fats. 
Mornings can often be hectic, and for those days the key is having a nutrient dense brekky that can be made super fast. Yet sometimes it's nice to enjoy a lazy breakfast; luxuriating in the smell of brewing coffee, whilst catching up on the days news/facebook... Below are my fave Breakfast options, some for those fast days and some for the slowens:

Boiled eggs with avocado
I frikkin love the combination of creamy avocado with a hot boiled egg. The notion of an egg cup and soldiers is something I have not been able to grow out of (sometimes I use asparagus as a variant on toast for a low carb, middle class treat)  but for the more mature eater it's also nice to smush said ingredients together on a piece of rye bread/wholemeal toast with plenty of cracked black pepper and sea salt. Bob's your uncle, fanny's you aunt, you've got a delicious breakfast which will undoubtedly keep you going for a good few hours.
Or if you're pressed for time in the morning, hard boil a few eggs on Sunday night and you’re set for the week! The Eggs contain protein and come in at about 80 cals a pop. Add a few avocado slices for added flavor and a fiber-rich, healthy fat (Don't be afraid of 'healthy fat' although avocados are high in cals for a veg, they are sososos good for you, just don't eat 4 at a time.)

100g of avocado is about 116 cals, so all told this breakfast will probably come to under 300 kcals!

Protein Smoothie
OK, a lot of people (and I hate to say it but especially women) get freaked out at the concept of protein powder. 'Won't it make me hench?' is the retort I most often receive when I dare mention the idea of it to my female friends... Well yes and no, there are obviously certain types of 'whey protein' which are designed to add bulk. But there are also a variety of 'diet proteins' and vegan protein powders which are a great source of protein for those of us who live busy active lifestyles, not to mention they are amazing at keeping cravings at bay. (for those who want to find out more here is a guide via the maximuscle website: Protein Powder guide) I have got ALOT of healthy snack and breakfast recipes that include protein powders, which I will be posting in due course... (link to come) but for now I will leave you with one of my favorites to tickle your fancy:

1 scoop of chocolate flavored protein (I use soy as I'm lactose intolerant, but there are many great companies using whey, phd and reflex are good. Or if you are vegan try hemp, or pea available online or at most health food shops)

1 tsp cacoa powder (available at most supermarkets and health food stores)

1/2 ripe avocado

1 pitted date (add more depending how sweet you like it)
1/2 ripe pear 

a sprinkling of rock salt to taste

200ml of unsweetened almond milk

ice cubes.

place all in a food processor and blend until smooth, thick and creamy!

this smoothie comes in just under 300kcals, and is also perfect post workout!

The Full English...
Ok, I'm not talking the greasy fat laden version, favored by builders down the local 'caff', featuring those fake sausages we all secretly love and a dodgy hash brown. My version of The Full English is healthy, stuffed full of good fats, protein and vitamins, and of course deliciosa!

1 egg poached or boiled (2 if ya feeling extra hungry/gluttonous)

2 rashers of lean back bacon (cut the rind and fat off) grilled

1 tomato

1 portabello mushroom

1/2 avocado

1 slice of rye bread/wholemeal toast (the grainier the better)

Start with ya toms and mushroom and bacon, whack them under the grill and leave to cook.
Whilst this is bubbling away nicely prepare your egg water, for either poaching or boiling. (I know poaching is a bit of a contentious issue for alot of people so I have gone to the liberty of supplying the following video: how to poach an egg)

Pop your toast in the toaster, then smush with avocado, top with the grilled mushroom, tom, bacon and finally your eggs. Yumma.

(feel free to vary this i.e if your not feeling a bacon vibe, try a good quality low fat sausage sans horsemeat (venison sausages are a great source of lean protein) or some sauteed sweet potato. Orr add some good old fashioned baked beans, go for the low salt and sugar variation. If you're feeling extra virtuous and have some nice stuff in da fridge, whack on some spinach or watercress for good measure)

Not sure about the cal content of this, but really who cares, you're treating yourself plus you know it's all wholesome and delicious!


I love porridge so bloody much. People think I'm odd when I harp on about its deliciously creamy, custardy texture and the comforting warmth it brings on a cold British morning. Not only is it scrumptious but it is unbelievably good for you. Oats are a great 'fat burner' revving up your metabolism and keeping you full until lunch time, whilst supplying your body with all the nutrients it needs to be glowing, lively and glorious. I think we all know how to cook porridge... but for those who don't here is a video of Jamie Oliver showing you, BECAUSE YOU SHOULD LEARN how to make porridge 

My personal favourite toppings are:

Ripe banana mushed to a pulp with a sprinkle of salt and cinnamon.

Frozen summer fruits with a hint of coconut.

simple raw honey and unsweetened almond milk (when i want sheer comfort)

A standard 40g serving of porridge with water comes in at about 150kcal

Raw Breakfast Energy Balls

An interesting name indeed... however, these little morsels of deliciousness are ridiculous, honestly you would not believe there is no refined sugar or glorious crap within these chewy bonanzas. (ps they are amazing pre workout)

(makes 4 balls)

2 pitted dates

small handful desiccated coconut

4 walnuts

blitz until it forms a dough like consistency, roll into a ball (or just eat out the blender with a spoon) and enjoy!

Banana Pancakes

Who doesn't like a cheeky pancake to brighten up a wet Wednesday (or any day to be honest) These pancakes however are grain, wheat and dairy free, so you can enjoy them without the guilt or the eponymous food baby which effects so many of us after a gluten binge (hello BLT baguette)
Plus j'adore bananas, they are one of those fruits which can be both decadent and light whilst providing such high doses of potassium, dietary fibre, and vitamin C to the body. 

(makes 4 pancakes)

2 bananas
200ml unsweetened almond milk
4 TBSP almond meal/ground almonds
1 TBSP honey
3 eggs
pinch of salt to taste
tsp of protein powder
2 TBSP coconut oil
In a blender blend all ingredients except oil together.
Place half the oil in a pan on a medium heat (Word of warning: Do not let it get too hot!! I've made this mistake before, and ended up with a sort of burnt yet raw pancakey mush... yum). Pour a quarter of the mixture on the pan, cooking until slightly bronzed, then flip to cook the other side.
Repeat this with the rest if the mixture adding extra coconut oil if needed. serve hothothot.
I like to put some fresh yogurt or cream on top to add a little more indulgence... or add in a handful of your favorite berries if you are feeling flush/ homemade Nutella (link to follow)