Lemon & Tahini Sauce w/Yoghurt [Vegan & Gluten Free]

Healthy Recipes

Yields: about 200ml
Serves: 6
Prep & Assembly: ≤5mins
Type: Sauce, Dip, Dressing
Tools: Measuring jug, fork or large spoon, silicone spatula, air-tight jar

Notes: This recipe contains*: B-Vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid/B5), Vitamins C & D, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, iron, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and per serving is low in added sugar, salt and sat fats. (*Dependent upon the type and quantity of yoghurt , preserved lemon paste and/or tahini used.) 

We are always looking for fun ways to incorporate more calcium into our diet. Healthy dips and sauces are on the top of our list, especially as we transition into spring and summer and particularly when we can add some unsweetened and natural yoghurt into the mix! Our ‘yoghurt-y’ sauces have worked out so far well; more recently with our avocado cream and previously with our M. Eastern tahini sauce , peanut satay sauce, red kidney bean and lentil dip, broad bean and spinach dip and our butter bean and red pepper dip

As we are always meal planning, we try to incorporate additions (aka homemade sauces and/or dips) that we can use in more meals than none and with the use of of some preserved lemon paste in a M.Eastern stew recently, it got us thinking that we wanted more, delicious lemony foods. This (lemony) sauce is delicious and will definitely come in handy during the next six to seven months! Plenty of salads and bowls or the addition of vegan burgers or bites come to mind! 

This new sauce only has three ingredients and takes less than five minutes to make… hmmm, is that even a recipe?!  o_O We’ve called this ‘recipe’ lemon and tahini sauce, but it could equally be tahini and lemon instead; just use more tahini than lemon and presto; two new sauces for the price of one! 😀

A few other good things to note include:

  • If you do not have any preserved lemon paste, try adding a pinch of salt and some fresh lemon juice and/or lemon zest (to taste) instead.
  • It might be great with the addition of fresh herbs too; try a little mint, coriander or parsley! 
  • We made this sauce a day in advance; the next day the lemon flavour was a bit more concentrated (not gross, just more lemony than what we had originally preferred). If you want a more subtle taste, use it on the day of preparation or reduce the quantity of preserve; adding more the next day if necessary. 
  • If you put it in a sterilised and air-tight jar, if will keep for about 4-5 days, but it will only really stay as fresh as the yoghurt you use in it. NB: Our soya yoghurt was brand new!
  • Annoyingly when we went shopping for natural soya yoghurt, the unsweetened brand was sold out. We would definitely prefer to make this with unsweetened yoghurt (take a hint Alpro!), as the overall flavour works better in savoury dishes. The sweetened version is tasty (don’t get us wrong), but because it was extra lemony, it tasted ‘almost dessert like’ (especially if you serve it with fruit), so really it just isn’t as versatile. But hey, try them both and see what you prefer!

We that hope you enjoy it and have a great weekend everyone!  🙂

 

 

Ingredients

++++++++165g      Natural soya yoghurt (unsweetened & fortified) (*about 2/3cup)
++++++++22g        Preserved lemon paste
++++++++20g       Tahini paste

Need an easy-print recipe? Print here.:)

 

Directions

1. Place the yoghurt, preserved lemon and tahini into a large measuring jug or bowl.

2. Mix with a fork or large smooth until thoroughly combined and uniform in colour. Taste and adjust the flavourings as necessary.

3. Use a silicone spatula and transfer the sauce into a sterilised and air-tight jar. Refrigerate and consume within 4-5 days.

Try serving this sauce with: salads, bowls, tasty wraps or pitta bread sandwiches, sweet potato wedges, with rice dishes, plant-based burgers, falafels, or with some tasty veggie or fruit crudities!

Enjoy!

 

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Slow Cooker Red Wine, Tofu & Vegetable Stew [Vegan & Gluten Free]

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 6
Prep: 60-90 mins (*Dependent upon skill and/or if you are using tofu)
Marination: 12-14 hrs
Cooking Time: 3.5-4 hrs (*On a high SC heat setting)
Type: Main Meal
Tools: Chopping board(s), sharp knife,veggie peeler, large pot, large bowl, kitchen paper, casserole dish, kitchen film, large slotted spoon, sieve, large bowl, large/non-stick frying pan (with a lid), slow cooker

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamin C, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, calcium, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc and per serving* has a moderate quantity of added salt and sugar and is low in saturated fats. (*Dependent upon products used).

Enjoy it while you can- delicious stews, soups, chillies, or even curries straight out of your slow cooker! We’re making the most of our stodgy, plant-based (and low-fat) dishes before Spring arrives… and what better way than with this delicious red wine stew!

As always, our dishes are healthy, but not authentic and most have been ‘veganised’. However on this occasion, we are not going to compare this dish to anything else. This recipe is what it is- a wonderful stew that contains tender (melt in your mouth) slow cooked vegetables, and tasty marinated tofu, all in which are served in a delicious red wine and herb/veggie-infused gravy! 

We have used some organic firm tofu (quite a bit actually) and if it’s not your thing or you do not wish to spend time marinating it, there’s always a plan B! You can opt for using a pre-marinated block of tofu or tempeh (there are some tasty ones about!) or use some hearty cooked beans or lentils instead. 

A few other good things to note include:

  • Like a lot of stews and sauce, it tastes better the next day- especially the tofu! The ideal would to be to marinate the tofu throughout the day, slow cook it overnight and then enjoy it for dinner the next day! 
  • If preferred, you can use balsamic vinegar instead of balsamic glaze.
  • If you don’t like the idea of using soya (or tamari) sauce, you can always try swapping it for a vegan Worcestershire sauce; just adjust the quantity appropriately. 
  • We were originally shopping for some meaty (baby) portobello mushrooms, but the chestnuts worked out just fine. Oh, if you are using tiny button-type mushrooms, you won’t need to chop them, probably saving yourself 5 minutes in the process! 
  • Yes the tofu is purple, but it’s not GROSS! 😀 If you are not using it, you still need to go ahead and make the ‘marinated’ veggies.
  • To help intensify the tofu marinade, we are recommending that you add an additional 100ml of (uncooked) wine to it (but we have adjusted the ingredients list for you).

Happy cooking everyone! 🙂

 

Ingredients

Need an easy-print recipe? Print here. 🙂

 

Directions

1. Drain and press the tofu between two heavy chopping boards or plates for 30 mins.

2. In the meantime, peel and thinly slice the onion. Wash, peel, trim the ends, quarter and then thinly slice the carrot. Wash, trim the ends and then thinly slice the celery. Peel the garlic and finely chop two of them only (leaving one whole).

3. Place the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, 375ml wine, 1 bay leaf, 8 peppercorns, ½ tsp thyme and ¼ tsp vegetable stock powder into a large pot. Place it over a medium heat. Cover with a lid. Bring to a boil. Simmer and cook for 5 mins. Remove from the heat. Transfer the mixture into a large bowl. Allow it to cool down.

4. Meanwhile, drain the excess water off the tofu. Pat it dry with some kitchen paper. Transfer onto a large chopping board. Slice into pieces about one inch long (but the preference is yours!). Transfer and arrange the tofu in a single layer in a large casserole dish.

5. Add the remaining 100ml wine, 1 tbsp balsamic glaze, 1 tbsp soya sauce and 2 tsp olive oil into the bowl that contains the red wine marinade mixture. Mix to combine. Carefully pour the red wine marinade over the tofu, allowing the vegetable mixture to rest on top. Cover with a sheet of kitchen film. Refrigerate for 12-14hrs. Tip: Even if you end up leaving this mixture for longer than 14hrs, it will be fine! 

6. The next day, remove the veggie mixture with a slotted spoon and transfer it into a slow cooker. (NB: For presentation purposes, our veggies are not shown in the slow cooker.). Remove and discard the whole garlic, bay leaf and 8 peppercorns. Rest a large sieve over a large bowl. Transfer the tofu into the sieve. Pour the remaining marinade over the tofu. Allow the tofu to drain and do not discard the reserved marinade.

7. In the meantime, wash and dry the mushrooms; leave whole, halve or quarter depending on the size. Peel the onions.

8. Heat 2 tbsp rapeseed oil in a large frying pan over a medium-low heat. Tip: Alternatively use some low-fat cooking oil or a spoonful of  water and ‘steam-fry’! Add the mushrooms and onions. Season it with a little salt and a few grinds of black pepper to taste. Cover with a lid. Gently fry 4-5 mins or until the vegetables are lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Remove and transfer into the slow cooker.

9. Spray some low-fat cooking oil into the same frying pan. Add the tofu and gently fry 6-7 mins or until lightly browned. Transfer into the slow cooker. Tip: This step will have to be completed in 2-3 batches. Once finished, add one 1 tbsp of water. Swirl it around to help ‘deglaze’ the pan; add this liquid to the slow cooker.

10. In the meantime, boil 1L of water in a kettle. Prepare 500ml of vegetable stock.

11. Pour the reserved marinade into the slow cooker. Add 500ml vegetable stock, 500ml boiling water, 40ml soya sauce and 60ml balsamic glaze . Season it with a few grinds of black pepper to taste. Gently stir together. Add 1 pouch of bouquet garni. Gently submerge it into the stew. Cover with a lid. Cook on a high heat setting for 3.5-4hrs or on a low heat setting for 7-8 instead. Prepare a ‘slurry’ at the end of cooking; in a dish, mix 40g flour with equal parts water and whisk until the flour has dissolved. Whilst briskly stirring, pour the ‘slurry’ into the stew until lightly thickened.

12. Serve warm. Ladle into a large serving bowl. Garnish with a little fresh parsley (if preferred) and serve with a multi-grain or GF roll or even some steamed greens.

Enjoy!

Tip: Refrigerate any leftover stew in an air-tight and resealable container; reheat and consume within 3-4 days. Alternatively store and freeze; defrost, reheat and consume within 1 month.

 

 

Pomegranate Sauce [Vegan & Gluten Free]

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 10
Yields: about 400ml
Prep & Cooking Time: ≤ 8mins
Type: Dip, Sauce, Dressing
Tools: Large measuring jug, whisk, small dish, non-stick pot

Like other ‘healthy’ and wholesome foods, pomegranate can play a great part in supporting a healthy diet and lifestyle! Originating from the Middle East, this lovely fruit is a good source of fibre but also contains vitamins C, E & K, iron and other antioxidants. Although there has been studies (1,2,3,4) that have indicated and helped support possible health benefits, such as protecting us against heart disease, high blood pressure, inflammation and some cancers, the evidence is still inconclusive. Nonetheless we can still enjoy this delicious fruit as one 150ml serving of (pure) juice/day or by scattering these lovely, red jewels over our porridge, yoghurt, salads, rice dishes or any other delicious plant-based meal that we desire! It can be a wonderful way not only to brighten up our meals, but to add some additional nutritional value to them. 🙂

Today we are sharing a lovely pomegranate sauce (dressing or dip)! It’s easy to make and variable depending on what you want to use it for. In all honestly though, this sauce is a ‘treat’, simply because one being we don’t really drink juice and two, unless you can source cheap pomegranates or (100%) pomegranate juice (as ‘juice drinks’ tend to have added sugar, colourings and/or additives), it can be a bit pricey to make.

If you’re feeling rich or the change in your pocket is starting to weigh you down, then we recommend that you whip up a batch! You can adjust how much starch you use to create your prefect consistency and even experiment by adding a cheeky splash of red wine and/or your favourite spices or herbs for a delicious and unique fusion of flavours! We hope that you enjoy some as a dressing over salads or a plate of steamed veggies (mmm broccoli please!) or as a dip/sauce for your plant-based burgers (or bites) or tasty crudities! 

Have a great weekend everyone and happy cooking! 😀

 

Ingredients

+++400ml            100% Natural Pomegranate Juice (or 4 fresh pomegranates/juiced)
+++1 tbsp              Lemon Juice (fresh or concentrated)
+++½-1 tbsp         Fruit Sweetener (*optional)
+++4 tsp                Potato Starch (*variable)

Need and easy-print recipe? Print here. 🙂

 

Directions

1. Pour the pomegranate and lemon juice into a large measuring jug. Add the sweetener (if using). Whisk together.

2. Place the starch into a small dish with equal parts water. Whisk with a fork to dissolve the flour and until combined; forming a ‘slurry’. Tip: you might want more or less potato starch depending on whether you are making a dip, sauce or thinner dressing.

3. Pour and whisk the slurry into the measuring jug.

4. Transfer the mixture into a non-stick pot. Place it over a medium-low heat. Keep whisking until the sauce starts to thicken (and/or your desired consistency is achieved); do not allow it to boil. Tip: start with a small volume of ‘thickener’. You can always add more of this ‘slurry’ mixture if you want a thicker sauce; just remove the pot from the heat and whisk through. Return to the heat and whisk until your desired thickness is achieved. Remove from the heat. Allow it to cool before storing.

5. Serve warm or cold as a dip, sauce or dressing!

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Mmm, it’s delicious with our kidney bean burgers!

 

Refrigerate any leftover sauce in a sterilised, air tight and resealable jar; best consumed within 5-7 days.

 

Sources:
NHS Choices- Pomegranate: superfood or fad?
USDA

 

Have you tried making pomegranate sauce before? What’s your favourite (homemade) go-to sauce that you just can’t live without?!

Vegetable Miso Soup W/Fusilli [Vegan & Gluten Free]

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 8
Prep & Cooking Time: ≤ 35 mins
Type: Main Meal
Tools: Measuring jug, 2 *non-stick pots, chopping board, sharp knife, colander, measuring spoons, wooden spoon.

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamins C, K & E, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and per serving is low in added sugar*, salt* and sat fats! *Variable due to brand and/or quantity of soya sauce, stock and/or miso used.

Firstly, I am going to vent (sorry). This has nothing to do with this post or food, but I just wish that WordPress would stop changing their formatting! Don’t be surprised if some of our older posts start looking ‘shabby’ because of it. 

Secondly, it’s been so cold lately that this has meant there has always been a pot of soup cooking away in our kitchen! Not that we’re complaining, we love soup we’re just not too keen on cold weather; me especially as I suffer from Primary Raynaud’s Phenomenon. It’s not physically deliberating, you can self manage and you’ll find that slightly more women suffer from it than men, it’s just not very nice. 

Anyways, back to the food! We love authentic miso soups, but we do not enjoy their excessive salt contents. However, it’s not all or nothing in our kitchen, we’ve come up with a suitable alternative (at least for our palates!). That being a delicious and savoury soup that we made a couple weeks ago- our vegetable miso soup with fusilli. It’s packed full of inspired Asian flavours, nutritious ingredients and some pasta to help keep you going throughout the day ! It’s also completely adaptable to the season, your own personal tastes and/or budget and definitely one not to miss! We only hope that you enjoy it as much as we did!

A few good things to note include:

  • We tried to keep most of our ingredients bite-sized, but feel free to adapt as you see fit. 
  • Only add your pasta before serving, especially if you are planning to eat this soup over several days (the pasta will lose some of its lovely texture if it’s left soaking in the soup). We refrigerated ours separately to the soup; just add a drop of rapeseed oil to the pasta before storing to help prevent it from clumping together. 
  • Only add the miso to the soup once it has been removed from the heat; adding it to boiling hot water will kill its beneficial probiotics. Traditionally, you can dissolve it in some warm water (creating a miso ‘slurry’) before adding it into the soup to prevent it from clumping. We skipped this step; ours was at room temperature and it didn’t ‘clump up’ when it was whisked through.
  • Rewhisk/stir your soup before serving as miso has a habit of settling to the bottom of the pot. 

 

Quick Foodie Facts:

  • Miso is a naturally aged fermented paste that is made from fermented soya beans, cultures, salt and grains, e.g. giving rise to various types of miso paste. Quite commonly it’s a staple food item used in East Asian cuisine, giving dishes a great depth of flavours! Savoury, salty, sweet and umami comes to mind! 
  • Soya beans (also known as edamame beans) are a legume native to East Asia but are now commonly seem/grown throughout others parts of the globe. They are highly nutritious and healthful; a great source of protein, insoluble fibre, iron, potassium, polyunsaturated fats, phytoesterols, isoflavones (just to name a few) and various other vitamins and minerals! They also give rise to many other soya products (such as milk, miso, tofu, tempeh, flour and oil) and can be a great alternative to meat! 

There are many potential health benefits from soya foods. For instance, they have been shown to actively lower cholesterol levels and therefore reduce your risk for heart disease (*when consuming 25g of soya protein/D as part of a healthy diet), e.g. two glasses (500ml) of soya milk, a 250ml glass of soya milk and 75g of silken hard tofu or 85g of soya (edamame) beans would be plenty.

Have a great weekend and happy cooking everyone! 

 

Ingredients

+++++++++++2                Garlic Clove (fat ones!)
+++++++++++100g          Spring Onion
+++++++++++100g          Root Ginger
+++++++++++400g         Carrot
+++++++++++420g          Bell Pepper (red & yellow)
+++++++++++2.5L            Water
+++++++++++400g         GF fusilli
+++++++++++                   Vegetable Stock Powder (low-salt/DF/GF)
+++++++++++300g          Frozen Soya Beans
+++++++++++200g          Bok Choi
+++++++++++10g             Fresh Coriander
+++++++++++2-3 tbsp    Soya Sauce (low-salt/ or Tamari Sauce for a GF alternative)
+++++++++++50-60g      White Miso Paste (about 3 tbsp)

Need an easy-print recipe? Print here. 🙂

 

Directions

1. Fill a large, non-stick pot with 2.5L cold water. Cover with a lid. Bring to a boil.

2. Fill another pot with cold water. Bring to the boil. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Drain.

3. In the meantime, peel and dice the garlic. Wash, trim the ends and then roughly slice the spring onion. Wash, peel and then chop the ginger into small cubes. Wash, peel, trim the ends and then chop the carrot into small, bite-sized pieces. Wash, remove the stem and core and then chop the bell pepper into ½ cm pieces.

4. Once the water is boiling, add some vegetable stock (we kept ours to a minimum). Stir until dissolved. Add the garlic, spring onion, ginger, carrot, bell pepper and soya beans. Stir to combine. Cover with a lid, bring back to the boil. Cook and simmer for 6-7 mins or until the beans and vegetables are tender.

5. In the meantime, Remove the bok choi leaves from its stalk, wash and then roughly slice (as small or as large as preferred). Wash the coriander, remove its leaves from its stem and then roughly chop them.

6. Remove the pot of soup from the heat. Add 2-3 tbsp of soya sauce and 50-60g miso paste. Stir to dissolve.  Add the bok choi and coriander. Stir through. Taste and season the soup as necessary. Cover with a lid and allow the soup to sit for 10mins.

7. Add the cooked pasta just before serving. Stir through.

8. Give the soup a good stir before serving. Ladle the soup into a serving bowl. Garnish with coriander and sesame seeds.

Enjoy!

 

 

Refrigerate any leftovers in an air-tight and resealable container; gently reheat in a pot over a medium-low heat and consume within 4 days.

 

Sources:
BDA- Soya food and health
USDA

Avocado Cream

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 3- 4
Prep & Assembly: ≤ 8 mins
Type: Dip, Condiment
Tools: Food processor or blender, sharp knife, measuring cups, spoon, silicone spatula.

Notes: This recipe contains: B-Vitamins, Vitamin C, K & E, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, is low in added sugar, salt and per serving is low in saturated fats.

Over Christmas, haven bought numerous fruits and vegetables (a few things impromptu, naughty we know!) we had a few extra items to use before their expiration, including an avocado. 

As lovers of guacamole, avocado-based sauces and well let’s face it, all things avocado this wasn’t going to be a problem! Haven seen a few avocado recipes on our travels last year, we decided to make our take on ‘avocado cream’ (which is really just a smooth dressing, dip or sauce, depending on how you look at it). It was a great idea as it utilised some other ingredients we had on hand; anything to reduce food waste right?!

Potatoes check, Brussels sprouts check, soya yoghurt check… yes, we felt a delicious salad ‘bowl’ and a break from Christmas’s indulgences coming on! So we present to you today our avocado cream! A creamy, tangy and light dip (or dressing) that can be enjoyed with starchy wedges (try making some with your favourite potato, celeriac or parsnip varieties), in salads or ‘bowls’, in a tasty sandwich or wrap, over pasta, as a soup garnish or maybe as a delicious ‘burger’ sauce! It’s also a great way to consume some ‘good’ fats and a little added Vitamin E and calcium! Mmm yes, we feel many falafel or meat-free wraps with this tasty dressing coming on! We hope you enjoy it as much as we did! 

Have a great weekend and happy cooking everyone! 🙂

Avocado Cream

Ingredients

+++++++++++++1              Ripe Avocado Pear
+++++++++++++1 tbsp     Flat Leaf Parsley (*optional)
+++++++++++++½ Cup    Soya Yoghurt (fortified & unsweetened recommended)
+++++++++++++1 tbsp     Lemon juice (fresh or concentrated)
+++++++++++++1 tbsp     Apple Cider Vinegar
+++++++++++++20g        Tahini
+++++++++++++               Pinch of salt
+++++++++++++               Pinch of red chilli flakes (*optional)

Directions

1. Chop the avocado (vertically) into two halves. Remove and discard the stone and then peel away the skin. Place it into a blender or food processor. Tip: If you do not own a suitable kitchen gadget, mash and combine all of your ingredients in a large mixing bowl instead! If using, wash the parsley (or your herb of choice!), remove its stem and then roughly shred them (we cut our parsley with a pair of kitchen scissors!).

2. Add 1/2 cup yoghurt, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp vinegar, 20g tahini and a pinch of salt. Blend or process until smooth, creamy and uniform in colour. Taste and season as necessary.

3. Using a spatula or spoon, transfer the avocado cream into a serving dish or resealable container (whatever is applicable).

4. If using, garnish the avocado cream with fresh herbs, chilli flakes or anything else you desire! Serve promptly with your desired meal or snack of choice! 🙂

Enjoy!

Refrigerate any leftovers in an air-tight and resealable container; consume within 1-3 days. Tip: If your avocado is really ripe, then ideally you should consume this cream on the same day that it’s made.

Recipe updated: 19/02/16

 

Cooper Smith_Orthorexia nervosa_Flickr

A Healthy Diet & Lifestyle: Why You Should ‘Detox’ Your Attitude and Goal Setting Criteria & Not Your Body

Diet & Weight Loss, Exercise, Healthy Mind

HAPPY 2016 EVERYONE! 😀

We’ve had a relaxing break and hope that you’ve all had a safe, happy and healthy festive period too!

As we transition into this sparkling New Year, it offers the chance of promise and a ‘clean slate’ of fresh opportunities. What are you planning; resolutions to rid yourself of bad habits, drastic diets or some realistic permanent and positive changes?

 

This is a cheeky picture of us during Christmas and no we hadn’t been drinking, but we were still enjoying the moment! You do not have to drink to enjoy social occasions, and having preconceived ideas of what you need to do to have a good time can set you up for a bumpy ride. This can also apply to ‘getting healthy’, especially at this time of year.

January usually brings a flood of clichés and crazy regimes, including ‘detox diets’. We have previously mentioned how we feel about ‘superfoods’, ‘detox/BS Health Terms’ and ‘diets and to recap, it’s unnecessary and typically diets will set you up to fail. Instead of trying to ‘detox’ your liver, gut, or your right foot, maybe you should try ‘spring cleaning’ your attitude and goal setting criteria instead.

 

 

 

…So here are five areas which we recommend you concentrate your energy on:

 

1. Give Up On Quick Fixes & Following Fad Diets

Photo by: Steve Davis, Fad diet stock photo_flickr

Photo by: Steve Davis, (Fad diet stock photo) Flickr

We all know that quick fixes and fad diets do not work long term and yet a great many people convince themselves that this time they’ve discovered the secret to easy and rapid weight loss. The only secret is the one kept by the marketers of these diets, which is that you’ll regain the weight as soon as you stop following the diet. However, this isn’t much of a secret, as we’re sure many followers of these quick fixes have been through this cycle at least once already. So what we should be doing is retraining our brains and attitudes.

Creating bad, good or even easy habits can be addictive by nature, but when it comes to creating long term and permanent commitments, we should be seeking only positive ones. Recognise your strengths and weaknesses when modifying your diet and lifestyle and realise that it’s a long-term commitment, not just an intermittent hobby; meaningful changes will not occur overnight.

We have previously talked about ‘fad gluten free diets’, but the principle can be applied to most fad regimes. You might think you need to give up carbs, gluten or go on a seven day detox to lose weight, but why has this become ingrained into your thought processes? The important question to ask yourself is why no accredited nutritionist and/or Dietitian worthy of the name would suggest a quick fix or unscientifically based mantra?

So if someone and/or a product suggests that you can achieve meaningful weight loss through a quick fix (a.ka. a fad diet!), you should put as much distance between them and yourself as possible… and query any other health advice they have to offer.

Which leads us to….‘Detoxing’.

The term ‘detox’ is very real, especially if you’re suffering from alcoholism. When it comes to ‘detoxing’, there isn’t enough credible scientific data published to show that we should take it upon ourselves to ‘cleanse’ or detoxify our bodies in the absence of any genuine addictions. Eating whole foods and eliminating processed foods is a lifestyle change that will benefit anyone. A healthful diet and lifestyle helps our liver, kidneys, colon and other organs to preform our natural mechanisms of ‘detox ’to help keep our bodies running without fail; detox kits and/or regimes do not offer us any substantial benefit and can cause diarrhoea, short term water loss, nutritional deficiencies and a dent in our wallets.

 

2. Be Realistic About Exercise

Photo by: Randy and Sarita, Shoemakers Photostream (ReneeB_Crunchy time) Flickr

Exercise can help reduce our risk in developing heart disease, dementia and other chronic conditions but it does not always promote weight loss, especially if we disregard food portion controls and other healthy eating advice! It can be a great way to improve our mental and physical fitness, but don’t expect it to provide you with a ‘detoxing’ solution. When we sweat, we release sodium, not toxins; as mentioned above, our body has other processes to deal with this. Don’t get us wrong, you can work up a great sweat and detoxify your mind of negative and destructive thoughts, which is great a way to de-stress your mind of day-to-day anxieties and fears.

Developing a realistic exercise programme (one that we can easily fit into our day-to-day lives and enjoy!) can take time and a lot of trial and error. As we are hardwired to conserve energy, we can naturally procrastinate, trying to put off the inevitable… including regular exercise.

If you are new to exercise, it might be worth checking with your healthcare professional first. Embarking on a new exercise regime will take persistence and patience and there are ways to make it easier, but quite honestly it won’t always feel ‘fun’. There have been times where we have felt that exercise was a bit bothersome or that prior to the session it just wouldn’t be ‘good’. All of this pessimistic thinking only leads to failing before you have begun. Putting it into perspective, you wouldn’t expect that going into your office everyday would be prefect, bad days happen, but you do get through them; no one calls in sick because the day in question might be rubbish, so why treat your exercise sessions any differently?!

 

3. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Photo by: Comradehomer (Easy tricks to help you lose weight fast) Flickr

Genetics, age, personal circumstances… we are all different, including the way that we lose weight. For example, Alex has the metabolism of a jet engine and struggles to gain weight, whilst my metabolism needs regular exercise and meals to make sure it’s running efficiently and to help keep my health (and waistline!) in check.

When it comes to meaningful weight loss, there are no quick fixes and there is definitely not a ‘one size fits all approach’; one method that will allow everyone to lose weight in the same timespan or manner.

Additionally we all come in different shapes and sizes; not everyone is designed to be a size 4! We need to appreciate our own circumstances, bodies and cast aside any unrealistic or unhealthy ideals.

A picture of a skinny body does not necessarily depict a healthy diet, it might be down to genetics or a case of someone having high levels of will power and/or potentially disordered eating behaviours.

So don’t compare yourselves to others, we all have our own journey and it is never truly finished; healthy living continues beyond ‘weight loss’, which is only one of many steps.

 

4. Manage Negative Influences

Photo by: Beauty Playin 'Eh's Photostream_img8564_digging for more_Flickr

Photo by: Beauty Playin ‘Eh’s Photostream (img8564_digging for more) Flickr

Negative influences can include anyone or anything that provokes or causes unnecessary stress, roadblocks and/or illness in our lives. Remember it is OK to say NO to people, especially to those ‘office feeders’, a friend that always gets you to skip your gym sessions, a spouse that does most of the cooking but refuses to cook vegetables or to fad health enthusiasts or even your friend’s mother that advises you to give up carbohydrates or that you shouldn’t eat after 6pm… these are all examples of negative influences.

 

Social Contagion Theory

It’s been shown that social networks can influence the size of your waistband. According to a study (regarding obesity in large social networks) published during 2007 in the New England Journal of medicine, their analysis showed that a person’s risk of obesity has a greater influence from their social networks than their genetics. When a study participant’s friend became obese, that first participant had a 57% greater chance of becoming obese himself. We guess that it can be put down to social norms or preconceptions of what is ‘normal behaviour’.

To paraphrase a leading psychologist speaking on a BBC Radio 4 programme last month “we normalise our own behaviours and attitudes based on the averages of our social groups.” E.g. If your entire social network is overweight, you are unlikely to believe that being overweight yourself is unhealthy and/or a problem and are likely to avoid examples, groups and messages to the contrary. You may have heard the saying ‘we create our own realities’!

It’s not all bad news though; a study published during 2013 in Public Health Nutrition looked at weight-control strategies among adolescents with the assistance of family support. It showed that 50% of the group reporting sustained weight loss seemed to have more familial support.

Quite truthfully, you might lose friendships as you adapt and change your lifestyle because not everyone is ‘game to being a fitness buddy’ or ready to make permanent lifestyle changes themselves. However, true friends should understand your principles about making these healthy changes and should not be out to sabotage your good intentions.

 

5. Create Regular Consolidation (a.k.a Zen & Realistic Problem Solving!)

Photo by: Hannah Johnson_yoga_flickr

Photo by: Hannah Johnson (yoga) Flickr

It’s important for us to be diligent and create regular ways in which to reflect, focus on the positives and generate our own bespoke plans; allowing us to change our attitudes, behaviours and/or thought processes that could inhibit us from leading a healthier life, particularly one that we truly desire and deserve!

Plans might be set in motion in order to:

  • Quit smoking.
  • Reduce our alcohol consumption.
  • Improve our cooking skills so that we can eat healthier meals.
  • Go to our GP to see why we are having intestinal cramps (not just putting ourselves on a GF diet!).
  • Understand what the potential reasons are as to why we are overweight.
  • Learn how to control our emotions- jealously, anger, fear or sadness could all be a recipe for disaster!
  • Exercise to improve our total quality of life- but hey, that could mean spending more time in the bedroom too! 😉
  • Learn how to unplug from the mainstream (saying goodbye to long hours spent in front of a computer or iPhone!).
  • Become more social- spending more quality time with the people that matter.
  • Reduce frivolous spending, learning how to budget and/or reduce debt.

 

It could also include ways to help us unwind and deal with the stress in our lives, such as: meditation, yoga, trying not to overcommit to social engagements or making time to read in our bedrooms without any interruptions for one hour a week. Another trend is expressing your thoughts on paper; daily or weekly gratitude journal entries. Planning can help instil positive and long term behaviours, helping us to avoid temptations, distractions and/or being able to find the best time(s) in order to start modifying our diet and lifestyles.

It can be recognising that changing one thing in our life may not create the happiness that we have been craving, e.g. losing weight will not necessary make us happy. If you were depressed before the weight loss, it might be there afterwards. Sometimes it’s not only about weight loss- it’s about finding ways to enrich our lives, becoming happy, healthier and hopefully blessed with more friendships and positive experiences as a result.

 

So let’s remember that everyone has the ability to lead healthier and happier lives (no ‘detox’ pills, drinks or crazy regimes needed!)… we just need to focus on the right decisions, methods and actions to do it!

Are you feeling optimistic? Are you ready for some permanent
and positive changes this year? What are your SMART goals?

 

Article written by:
A. Risby BSc, RD and L. Risby BSc, Nutritionist

 

Sources:
BDA-Detox Diets
NHS Choices- Benefits to Exercise
NHS Choices- 10 Minute Workouts
PubMed
The New England Journal of Medicine
BBC Radio 4 Programme – A leading clinical psychologist !
Public Health Nutrition
BDA-Weight Wise (SMART Goals)
Feature Image by: Cooper Smith (Orthorexia nervosa)_Flickr

 

Meatless Monday: Slow Cooker Seasonal Vegetable Soup W/ White Beans & Sausages

Healthy Recipes, Meatless Monday

Serves: 6
Prep: 40 mins (*Dependent upon skill and/or kitchen helpers!)
Cooking Time: 4-8 hrs (*Dependent on S.C. setting)

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamins C, carbohydrates, protein, fibre calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and per serving* is low in added sugar, salt and saturated fats. (*Dependent upon the type and/or quantity of stock and/or vegan sausages used). 

Happy New year everyone! We would like to take a moment again to thank everyone that has supported us during the last fourteen months; you have truly made it a very productive and rewarding time indeed! It’s been a pleasure sharing, interacting and seeing our posts receive visits from over 80 countries! Thanks everyone, we really appreciate the support and hope that we have helped make your culinary journey and healthy lifestyle easier, tastier and well informed! 🙂

Today we would like to share another great (mostly!) seasonal recipe that’s plant-based and easy to execute! A tasty and seasonal stew that will not only warm your heart and soul, but will help to kick off the year on a fantastic note! #5Aday

It’s a delicious soup that has a lovely natural sweetness from the carrot, swede and fennel and is wholly satisfying! We have suggested the use of plant-based ‘sausages’, but these are completely optional. The soup is tasty and satisfying without them, but those embarking on Veganuary might be keen to sample some processed/ plant-based goodies to help ease their transition. It’s important to note that these types of faux meats are not the gold standard to plant-based eating and/or healthy eating in general; a lot of these products can contain a lot of oil and/or high levels of salt. However, they can be quite tasty and useful in moderation, but we would always recommend trying to make these plant-based goodies yourself.

Here’s to a healthy and happy 2016 and happy cooking everyone! 😀

Quick Foodie Facts:

  • Per serving this soup contains about 5 servings of vegetables towards your 5-A-Day! Now that is truly #eating2health!
  • Butter beans are a great source of nutrients including: Vitamins A, B1, B3, B6, protein, fibre, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc (just to name a few!), are naturally low in fat and count towards your 5-A-Day!

 

Tip: If preferred, use a mixture of  ½ volume water, ½ volume stock with some additional fresh or dried herbs instead of using loads of stock!

 

Ingredients

+++++++++12g           Garlic Clove (2 fat ones!)
+++++++++140g        Brown Onion
+++++++++200g       Yellow Bell Pepper
+++++++++400g       Fennel Bulb
+++++++++360g       Carrot
+++++++++1kg           Swede
+++++++++10g          Fresh Rosemary
+++++++++440g       Cooked Butter Beans (approx. 2 tins or 220g dried/cooked variety)
+++++++++1 tbsp      Rapeseed Oil
+++++++++                Salt & Ground Black pepper
+++++++++187ml      White Wine
+++++++++1               Bay Leaf
+++++++++1.4L          Vegetable Stock (low-salt/GF if required)
+++++++++240g       Frozen Green beans, defrosted
+++++++++6-9          Vegan Sausages (*optional)

Need an easy-print recipe? Print here. 🙂

 

 

Directions

Peel and finely chop the garlic and onion. Wash, remove the stem and core and then finely chop the bell pepper. Wash the fennel, trim the ends, slice it (horizontally) into two halves and then finely chop. Wash, peel, trim the bottom and then chop the swede into cubes. Drain and wash the beans (if applicable). Wash the rosemary, remove the leaves from its stem and then finely chop them. Tip: Check out a previous recipe for some help on preparing your fennel. 

 

 

Wash, peel, trim the ends and then quarter the carrot(s).

 

 

  • Heat 1 tbsp of rapeseed oil in a large, non-stick a frying pan or pot. Tip: Looking for a lower-fat option? Swap the oil for some low-fat cooking oil instead.
  • Add the garlic and onion. Gently fry for 1-2 mins or until softened.
  • Add the bell pepper, fennel and carrot. Stir together. Gently fry for 3-4 mins or until slightly softened.
  • Add the swede.
  • Cover with a lid and gently fry/steam-fry for a final 3-4 mins. Season it with some salt and black pepper to taste. Remove from the heat.
  • Transfer the vegetable mixture into a slow cooker.

 

Add the rosemary, butter beans, wine, bay leaf and stock (and/or water). Stir together. Season it with some black pepper to taste. Cover with a lid. Cook on a low heat setting for 7-8 hrs or on a high setting for 3-4 hrs instead.

 

In the meantime…

Snap the beans into halves and defrost them. Add them to the slow cooker during the last 30mins of cooking. Alternatively, steam and then add them to the slow cooker just before serving.

 

Cook the sausages according to the packet instructions. Allow them to cool and ‘set’. Add them into your soup just before serving (if applicable). Tip: Due to the ingredients in these types of sausages, they will quickly dissolve into your soup’s broth if you add them whilst the soup is still cooking!

 

Ladle the soup into large serving bowls. Add the cooked sausages (if desired); serve with bread if preferred (a friendly warning: this soup is super filling without!). Garnish with some fresh rosemary, parsley or chives if preferred.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Refrigerate any leftover soup in an air-tight and resealable container; reheat and consume within 3-4 days. Alternatively freeze in one or several containers; defrost, reheat and consume within 2 months.

Broccoli and Celeriac Soup [Vegan & Gluten Free]

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 6
Prep & Cooking Time: 40-50 mins (*Dependant upon skills or the number of kitchen helpers!)

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamin C, protein, fibre, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, zinc, and (per serving) is low in salt, sugar and sat fats! 

Two terrific veggies and one fantastic soup! It’s hearty, wholesome and delicious without a lot of hassle or expense. These seasonal vegetables make a great combination, but we have thrown in some tender haricot beans (aka navy beans!) for some extra satiety and texture. Fresh chives and some fragrant lemon thyme also really help bring this soup alive!

Having never previously cooked or prepared a celeriac root (which is also known as celery root) before, we didn’t really know what to expect. It’s a wonderful vegetable; cutting into releases a lovely celery aroma! Preparing it is not that difficult (it’s just as easy as cutting up a potato!), although to look it you would think it would be your worst gardening/kitchen nightmare! It’s good to note that you will lose about a quarter to a third of the weight after the top, bottom and outer skin is removed; it will depend upon on your skill level and/or kitchen utensil you decide to use. We have upped the quantity of celeriac than we have originally used for this reason, but also adding a little more of this delicious vegetable wouldn’t hurt either! 

 

Quick Foodie Facts:

  • Per serving (and based on our recipe!), this soup contains  about 4.4 servings of vegetables towards your 5-A-Day!
  • Celeriac makes a really tasty mash, but also roasts really well! It can slightly discolour once it’s cut, but you can fix this by putting it into a bowl of ‘acidulated water‘. Consider it for your next Sunday dinner or the festive season ahead! If you do not enjoy celeriac, try replacing it in this soup for some turnip instead!
  • Broccoli is so versatile and is packed full of plenty of wholesome nutrients: vitamins, minerals and antioxidants (just to name a few!). Try adding it to casseroles or bakes, soups or stews, stir fries, salads, as part of a baked potato topping (‘cheezy’ broccoli anyone!), curries, pasta dishes or as some raw crudities in your next party spread! For those that love smoothies, add a few (fresh or frozen) pieces to your next drink- it’s delicious! 

For some more broccoli madness, check out this recipe that we made last year!

Happy cooking and have a lovely weekend everyone! 🙂

 

 

Yes, we cheated and used some tinned beans this time! 😛  You’ll also notice that we tossed in some spinach right at the end (only because we had some available), but do not feel obligated to use it.

 

Ingredients

+++++++++++800g  Broccoli Head
+++++++++++800g  Celeriac Root
+++++++++++260g   Banana Shallot (or White Onion)
+++++++++++1           Bay Leaf
+++++++++++1.75L    Vegetable Stock (low-salt/GF if required or use Water )
+++++++++++            Ground Black Pepper
+++++++++++2g        Mild Paprika
+++++++++++10g      Fresh Lemon Thyme
+++++++++++10g      Fresh Chives
+++++++++++60g     Fresh Baby Spinach (*optional)
+++++++++++390g   Cooked Haricot Beans (approx. 2 tins or 200g Dried & Cooked)

 

 

Directions

Prepare the broccoli. Chop the bottom of the stalk off. Remove the florets from the remaining stalk. Roughly chop all of the stalk. Transfer all of the broccoli (and stalk) into a bowl of water and allow it to soak. Drain. Tip: The stalk has a lot of flavour and nutrients too, don’t be tempted to bin it! #reducefoodwaste

 

 

Prepare the celeriac. Wash it. Slice the top and bottom ends off. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the remaining skin or roughly slice it off with a large knife (a lot like you would remove the skin off of a pineapple!). Tip: Using a vegetable peeler will preserve more of the vegetable!

 

 

Chop the celeriac into cubes. Peel and halve the shallot and/or onion.

 

Tip: If you are a speedy chopper an/or have a slower heating electric hob, consider heating the water whilst you prepare the vegetables!

 

Heat a non-stick pot of stock with 1.75L of water and a bay leaf over a medium heat. Bring to boil. Add vegetable stock. Whisk to dissolve. Add the broccoli florets and stalk, celeriac, onion, paprika and a few grinds of black pepper. Cover with a lid. Simmer and cook for about 8-10 mins or until tender. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. In the meantime, wash the thyme and chives. Remove the thyme leaves from its stem and roughly halve the chives.

 

 

If you do not have a stick blender, transfer the soup (in batches) into a blender. Add the herbs. and spinach (if you are using it). Puree until smooth. Transfer it back into the pot or plastic container (as appropriate). Repeat until all the soup has been processed.

 

 

Drain, rinse and add the beans into the soup! Stir to combine. Taste and season as necessary.

 

 

Gently reheat over a low-heat if required.

 

Ladle the soup into a serving bowl. Garnish with fresh chives, red chilli flakes, tahini, soya yoghurt, fresh black pepper or anything else that takes your fancy! This also tastes great when paired some warmed crusty wholemeal bread or cheeky nut butter toast! 😀

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Refrigerate any leftovers an in air-tight and resealable container; reheat and consume within 3-4 days. Alternatively, freeze in a container(s); defrost, reheat and consume within 1-2 months.

Thai Green Coconutty Adventures!

Product Reviews

 

Opened Coconut_JustyCinMD_Flickr

Photo: Opened Coconut By: JustyCinMD_Flickr

For some, coconuts and coconut products are consumed on a daily basis, particularly for those living in subtropical areas around the globe where it is cheap and plentiful; they will probably also learn how to cut a coconut open from fairly youngish age? Who knows… but we think the that idea of hacking into a standard/matured brown coconut can be a little daunting!

We both have memories of adults needing a hammer (or rolling pin and chisel) to open it’s hard exterior; allowing you to pour out what seemed to be a worthless amount of water, followed by an extended period of time to remove its meaty flesh. #palava

Question: How often do you eat fresh coconuts and why?

 

 

Coconut face_Tree_Specles_flickr

Photo: Coconut face_Tree By: Specles_flickr

“Coconut (Cocos nucifera) belongs to the Palm family (Arecaceae). Grown in abundance in Malaysia, Polynesia and southern Asia, Spanish explorers named the cocos – meaning ‘grinning face’, because of the three little eyes on the base which they thought resembled a monkey. Classed as a fruit and frequently confused for being a nut, the coconut is actually a one-seeded drupe. ” . (1)

 

 

Of course sometimes nature makes us work for things, but it can also supply us with easier alternatives…such as Thai Green/baby/young coconuts! They have more water as in the mature ones it’s replaced by the white flesh. So if you have a craving for a refreshing coconutty drink, these are the ones to go for!

There was probably just over a cup of water, maybe 300ml in each of our coconuts; it’s hard to say as hacking these open was thirsty work (j/k!) so we didn’t bother measuring it! It’s good to note that this volume (and the quantity of coconut meat) will probably vary, depending on the size of the fruit (oh sorry, we meant drupe!).

All of this coconut water is great for rehydrating, especially because it’s rich in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, including important electrolytes: potassium, magnesium, calcium and sodium.(2) These electrolytes are vital for the health our muscular, cardiovascular, nervous and immune systems, as well as to help with the absorption and balance of the body’s internal fluids.

Coconut water is not a miracle drink, but a natural and healthful one; one study showed that coconut water is just as effective for rehydration as other carbohydrate-electrolyte sports drinks. Whilst on the topic of sports drinks, it’s good to note that the majority of people do not sweat enough through regular exercise to warrant buying manufactured sports drinks (laden in added sugars!); ideally they are designed for elite athletes that are exercising more than an hour a day. Erm but even then, how many Olympians do you see drinking Gatorade or Lucozade Sport?!

Anyways, let’s move on with our coconutty adventures…

 

Thai Green Coconuts!

We’ve previously read that once these coconuts are harvested, their outer green husk is removed, they are shaped for easy access and handling and then finally wrapped in plastic to help keep in the moisture.

 

Oh and labelled…complete with easy instructions on how to access its sweet water and flesh, but how easy was it?!

 

Pre-Step One

Buy the coconuts! Please note that standard/matured ‘brown’ coconuts are generally a lot cheaper. Our duo pack costed £3.50 (at ASDA of all places, who’da thunk it?!). For lovers of coconut water but not so much the meat, this seemed a little pricey… but it’s a novelty and we’re not going to experience a cheaper one on a Thailand beach anytime soon! Make sure to thoroughly inspect them (as you would any other expensive piece of merchandise!); only in this instance check for mould, cracks, leaks and/or soft spots.

As you can clearly see above, the best before states: consume within 3 days of purchase; it’s been two weeks since we purchased ours! Perhaps we’ve lost a few nutrients, but ours still tasted fresh and down right delicious!

 

Step 1

Give yourself ample room to work with (safety first folks!). Place the coconut on it’s side, then whilst keeping a firm grip you’ll need to hack into and saw off the top; the directions recommend using a ‘sharp chef’s knife’. Even without a really ‘chefy’ knife, this step was easy enough; the outer, white, husky skin is very ‘manageable’. Tip: If the husk is really thick, you’ll have to make your first cut further away from the tip to help expose the hard brown shell; our first cut was about one inch below the tip.

 

Step 2

Whilst still keeping a firm grip, chisel or hack the husk down to expose the top of the brown shell (which is again manageable). The more experienced you are with this, the less mess you will make! Tip: Lie the coconut on its side or keep it upright, whatever you feel most comfortable with.

 

Steps 3 & 4

Alex attempting this without glasses or even a morning cup of coffee!

This is where the fun begins (not really)! It’s advised that you have to hit the brown shell at a 45 degree angle (whilst upright) with the edge of your knife, preparing grooves or a substantial cut in order to be able to lever off the top! Sound simple? Well, if you do not have a sharp (or large) enough knife (because it’s not worth damaging your standard kitchen knives over) or lack strength, then it really isn’t! #nomeatcleaversinthishouse

Unlike this guy…

Photo: Coconut Man By: Christian Senger_Flickr

Photo: Coconut Man By: Christian Senger_Flickr

…straight from the local trees, onto his chopping block and hacking it like a boss!

 

We preformed this step by using two methods; firstly by utilising its recommended approach and then secondly by using an impromptu, quirky but highly effective method! It just goes to show that you don’t need to use anything too sharp.. in fact if your strong and brave enough, you could probably use a simple dinner/butter knife!

Tip: You might need safety glasses for the first approach… husky splinters were known to fly everywhere!

The first approach produced this…

 

 

The second approach was quicker (well at least for us), safer and produced a much wider opening. Perhaps you can try using the latter; a bread knife and rolling pin! Sounds daft but as you’ll see in our (above) 60 second video; it made step three and four easy and simultaneous. It’s also good to note that we didn’t really spill any of the liquid!

***Please excuse our amateur video skills!***

 

Step 5 (The Sweetest Step!)

The product advises topping with a straw and a festive umbrella… erm yeah, we were fresh out of the latter (obviously!)… and our orchid didn’t flower this year, so we still couldn’t fake the much needed ambiance!

So all there was left to do was simply enjoy it’s sweet nectar and imagine being somewhere warm, without grey and murky skies…that we are so fortunate to have in the UK! 😦

Photos: Hammock and coconuts_ Les Salines Beach_Carribean Sea_Martinique By: lo lo_flickr

Photos: Hammock and coconuts, Les Salines Beach, Carribean Sea, Martinique By: lo lo_flickr

 

Our closing thoughts…

There are loads of health claims around coconut water (or coconut products for that matter), subsequently encasing them with the term ‘superfood’… but as we have previously mentioned here, ‘superfoods’ do not exist.

Taste, Price & Value:

Alex found the coconut flesh quite bland while I found it to be quite sweet. Additionally, the flesh was very creamy and jelly-like (living up to its nickname ‘jelly-nut’), it can easily be removed from its shell and tasted absolutely delicious in our morning bowl of porridge (definitely a step up from your standard desiccated coconut topping)!

Although healthful, refreshing and the water having a much sweeter taste than most standard cartons of coconut water, it is pricey (but its no surprise as it is imported). You can buy approx. 500ml of unsweetened/pure coconut water for about the same price as one of these coconuts!

You shouldn’t feel obligated to buy coconuts. If you love them, great; as we have mentioned above, a well balanced diet can provide you with all of the same essential nutrients that are found in coconuts. #nosuperfoods. So unless you desire fresh coconut water and/or meat, or a novelty cup for your next summer party (which sounds AWESOME btw), stick to purchasing cartons of (organic?) unsweetened/natural coconut water, preferably ones that do not contain any added bits of fruit, pesticides or husk!

 

Sources:
1.BBC Good Foods
2.USDA
3.NCBI

 

*Disclaimer: We have not been paid for this product review and all thoughts and opinions are our own.

Curried Potato, Lentil & Spinach Bowl [Vegan & Gluten Free]

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 4-6
Prep, Cooking & Assembly: 40-45 mins

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamins C & K, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, zinc, and (per serving) is low in added salt, sugar and sat fats! 

Another weekend gone and another ten Mondays to Christmas (not that we’re counting)! It’s just amazing how fast the year is going, and sometimes you don’t even realise until you overhear or find something that puts it all into perspective…like an old recipe!

Days and weeks flying by…here’s a delicious lunch that we whipped up over three weeks ago! It’s an untraditional and creamier version of  ‘Saag Aloo’ (with pulses|!). Warmed potatoes, lentils and spinach, flavoured with fresh ginger, chilli, coriander and a creamy, curried yoghurt base- what’s not to love?!

It’ll make a great start to your week and we hope that you enjoy it as much as we did!

Happy cooking everyone! 🙂

 

Ingredients:

++++++++++++++++++++120g      Dried Brown Lentils
++++++++++++++++++++930g     Baking Potatoes
++++++++++++++++++++              Salt
++++++++++++++++++++1             Bay Leaf
++++++++++++++++++++200g     Red Onion
++++++++++++++++++++5g          Garlic Clove
++++++++++++++++++++75g        Root Ginger
++++++++++++++++++++30g        Red Chilli
++++++++++++++++++++20g        Fresh Coriander
++++++++++++++++++++65g        Baby Spinach
++++++++++++++++++++               Low-Fat Cooking Oil
++++++++++++++++++++1 tbsp     Rapeseed Oil
++++++++++++++++++++1g            Coriander & Cumin Seeds
++++++++++++++++++++3g           Mustard Seeds
++++++++++++++++++++1/2 tsp    Ground Turmeric
++++++++++++++++++++2g           Garam Masala
++++++++++++++++++++1/4 tsp    Dried Chilli Flakes
++++++++++++++++++++300ml    Plain Soya Yoghurt (unsweetened & fortified)

 

 

Directions:
  1. Wash the lentils in a sieve, remove any stones and then cook them according to the packet instructions. Drain. Allow to cool slightly.

 

2. In the meantime, wash and chop the potatoes. Place into a pot of lightly slightly water. Add the bay leaf. Cover with a lid. Bring to a boil. Simmer and cook for 6-8 mins or until just tender. Drain. Allow to dry/cool slightly.

 

3. Meanwhile, peel and thinly slice the onion. Peel and dice the garlic. Wash, peel and finely chop the ginger.

 

4. Wash, remove the stem, deseed (unless you prefer more heat!) and finely chop the chilli. Wash the coriander, remove the leaves from its stem and then roughly chop it. Wash and thinly slice the spinach.

 

5. Heat a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium-low heat. Spray with some low-fat cooking oil (or add 1-2 tsp of rapeseed oil). When hot, add the onion, garlic and ginger. Gently fry for 3-4 mins or until softened. Transfer into a bowl.

 

6. Place the frying pan back over the heat. Add 1 tbsp of rapeseed oil. When hot, add the coriander, cumin and mustard seeds, ground turmeric, garam masala and chilli flakes (or your own curry spice blend). Gently fry/temper for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the potatoes. Toss to coat. Remove from the heat. Add the lentils and onion mixture. Stir and gently toss together.

 

7. Transfer the potato mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add the yoghurt, chilli, coriander and spinach. Toss to thoroughly combine. Taste and season as necessary.

 

8. Serve in a bowl garnished w/ additional coriander and/or toasted nuts (if preferred).

 

Enjoy!

Store any leftovers in an air-tight and resealable container. It’s best consumed within 3-4 days (at room temperature); refresh with additional yoghurt, herbs and/or seasoning!

 

If preferred…

  • Use your favourite blend of curry spices (dried or paste); try heating some curry paste with coconut oil!
  • Swiss chard would make a tasty alternative to spinach!
  • Cook some swede, squash or baby new potatoes instead of standard ones.

Fennel, Garlic & Lemon Pasta [Vegan & Gluten Free]

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 2
Prep & Cooking Time: 35-40 mins
Type: Main Meal
Tools: Roasting tin, silicone mat, chopping board, sharp knife, frying pan, mixing bowl, cheese grater, manual juicer, salad tongs

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamin C, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, zinc and (per serving) is low in salt, sugars and sat fats!

Fresh, simple and within forty minutes you’ll have a delicious pasta dish ready for the whole family to enjoy!

As we’ve mentioned before, we think that sometimes the best pasta dishes are the ones that contain only a few ingredients. This recipe comprises of some crisp, fresh and almost sweet and ‘licorice-y’, fennel (which is a cheap, tasty and nutritious addition to any meal!). We’ve also added some sweet and creamy roasted garlic, shallots, lemon and a little parsley for the perfect combination of flavours. Served on some hearty wholemeal pasta and topped with a tasty breadcrumb topping for some added crunch and additional depth of flavour! 

It’s good to note we have advised slightly more fennel and garlic than shown in our pictures! Also, if you’re someone who generally does not enjoy the taste of fennel, don’t be alarmed, we promise that you’ll love this one! Roasted fennel has a completely different taste to that of fennel tea or flavoured food items (if it didn’t, Alex would be the first one to leave the dinner table in protest!). 

Happy hump day and cooking everyone! 😀

 

Ingredients

++++++++++++++++++120g       Banana Shallots
++++++++++++++++++100g      Orange Bell Pepper
++++++++++++++++++400g      Fennel Bulb
++++++++++++++++++20g        Garlic Clove
++++++++++++++++++3 tbsp    Olive or Garlic Infused Oil
++++++++++++++++++               Salt & Ground Black Pepper
++++++++++++++++++20g        Panko Breadcrumbs (or GF version if required)
++++++++++++++++++220g      Wholemeal Spaghetti (or GF if required)
++++++++++++++++++20g        DF Cheese (or 1 tbsp of Nutritional Yeast)
++++++++++++++++++10g         Flat Leaf Parsley
++++++++++++++++++1              Lemon
++++++++++++++++++1/2 tsp    Asafoetida
++++++++++++++++++               Saffron

Need an easy-print recipe? Print here. 🙂

 

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Line a roasting tin with a silicone mat or some kitchen foil (if necessary).

2. Trim the ends off the shallots. Wash, remove the stem and core and then thinly slice the bell pepper. Wash, trim the ends and then slice the fennel (thin or slightly chunky!)

3. Place the shallots, bell pepper, fennel and garlic into the roasting tin. Drizzle over 2-3 tbsp of olive oil (or spray with some low-cal cooking oil instead). Toss to coat. Season it with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper (or to taste). Place the tin onto the middle oven shelf. Roast for about 20-25 mins or until softened and lightly crispy. Remove. Allow to cool. Tip: The garlic might be finished at 15 mins (just remove it and set it aside)!

4. In the meantime, heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. Spray a little low-fat cooking oil. Add the breadcrumbs. Gently fry until lightly browned and toasted. Remove from the heat. Transfer into a bowl.

5. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Drain.

6. Grate the cheese (if using). Wash and remove the parsley leaves from its stem; roughly chop them. Wash the lemon; grate some zest and then juice it.

7. Place the cheese (or nutritional yeast), ½ tsp asafoetida and about 8-10 strands (or a pinch) of saffron into the bowl of breadcrumbs. Season it with a few grinds of black pepper. Mix until combined. Tip: Your breadcrumb topping is now complete!

8. Remove the skin from the garlic and shallots and discard. Finely chop the garlic and then slice the shallot into strips. Tip: Use some kitchen scissors to quickly cut away and remove the shallot skin!

9. Place the pasta into a large bowl. Add the roasted vegetables, parsley, lemon zest and juice (as much lemon juice and zest as desired) and some oil (we added garlic oil!). Season it a few grinds of  black pepper. Gently toss until thoroughly combined.

10. Transfer onto two serving plates. Top with the breadcrumb topping and garnish with additional parsley and/or lemon slices (if preferred).

Enjoy!

 

Tip: For some additional protein, calcium iron and zinc and crunch, add some toasted pine nuts!

 

~Remember folks, you can also follow us on: FaceBook Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest or include us in your Yum collection!~

Masala Lentil Curry Bowl [Vegan & Gluten Free]

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 2
Prep & Cooking Time: 30-40 mins
Type: Main meal
Tools: Chopping board, sharp knife, veggie peeler, non-stick pot w/lid, wooden spoon, small dish, fork

Notes: This recipe contains*: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamins C & K, carbohydrates, protein, fibre,calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and per serving is low in salt, sugars and sat fats!  (*These nutritional contents can vary due to the ingredients and quantities used).

This is such a quick and easy dinner! Just a few staples from your pantry, fridge and/or freezer to produce a tasty and impromptu Masala curry! We had some previously cooked raw pulses and legumes, but don’t feel that you have to stick to our ingredients list; utilising any spare vegetables and/or legumes or pulses (tinned, frozen or fresh) and some spices that you have lying around in your kitchen is all part of what this recipe is all about!

With minimal prep, delicious flavours and a great way to help meet your 5-A-Day, this curry will start making you feel good from the inside out!    

#seasonalvegetables  #nofoodwastage  #plantbasedlove

Happy cooking everyone! 🙂

 

Ingredients
~Make sure to wash your veggies first!~

1               Garlic Clove, peeled and crushed
40g          Root Ginger, peeled and grated
1               Green Bell Pepper, core removed, deseed & finely chopped
250g       Cooked Brown Lentils
120g        Cooked Chickpeas
2tsp         Rapeseed Oil (or low-fat frying oil)
20g          Masala Curry Paste
5g            Cumin seeds
+++++++  Ground Black Pepper
1               Tin Chopped Tomatoes
20g          Tomato Puree
15g           Corn Flour
30g          Baby spinach, large stems removed
10g           Fresh coriander, remove leaves from stems & finely chop
————————————————————————————————–
100g        Green Beans, steamed
2               Salad Tomato, stem removed & diced
1                Red Bell Pepper, core removed, deseed & sliced
2               Radish, stem removed & sliced
60g          Roasted Butternut Squash, sliced
4 tbsp      Soya Yoghurt
4g             Brown Mustard Seeds

 

Directions

1. Heat a non-stick pot over a medium heat. Spray it with low-fat cooking oil (or add 1-2 tsp of rapeseed oil). Add the garlic, ginger and green bell pepper. Gently fry for 1-3 mins or until softened.

2. Add the lentils and chickpeas. Stir to combine.

3. Add 20g curry paste, 5g cumin seeds and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir to coat. Gently fry for a further 30 seconds or until fragrant.

4. Add the tinned tomatoes and 20g tomato purée. Stir to thoroughly combine. Cover with a lid. Bring to boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 10-12 mins or until the tomatoes have become tender.

5. In the meantime, steam the green beans and/or prepare any other veggies that you wish to company this dish!

6. Add 15g corn flour into a small dish with equals parts water. Stir into a paste. Once the curry has finished cooking, stir and pour this mixture into the curry. Keep stirring, the sauce will thicken slightly. Tip: If you prefer a thinner sauce, skip this step.

7. Add the spinach and coriander into the curry. Stir through. Cover with a lid. Remove from the heat. Allow the spinach to wilt slightly before serving.

8. Serve in a large bowl! Place any additional veggies around the edges of the bowl. Ladle the curry into the centre. Add a couple spoonfuls of soya yoghurt. Garnish with the mustard seeds and additional coriander if desired!

Tip: Refrigerate any leftovers in a resealable and air tight container; reheat and consume within 3-4 days. Alternatively, if you are making a bigger batch, store and freeze this curry instead; reheat and consume within 1-2 months.

Enjoy! 

 

 

Love curries as much as we do??! Check out some of our other recipes for some further inspiration!

Recipe updated: 19/02/16

Baked Tofu & Chickpea Flour Omelette [Vegan & Gluten Free]

Healthy Recipes

Serves 2-4
Prep & Cooking Time: 60-70 mins
Type: Main meal

Notes: This recipe contains: B- Vitamins, Vitamins D & E, protein, fibre, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and (per serving) is low in salt, sugar and sat fats!

Vegan omelette or savoury pancake?! We’ll let you decide! This baked ‘omelette’ has a delicious faux ‘egg’ taste with the consistency of a pancake! Fill it with your favourite grain and/or seasonal vegetables and feel free to experiment with the spices and/or flavourings you use to season it with!

Admittedly we over estimated on the amount of rice we needed; I guess our stomachs got the best of us at the time! We used 150g of dried brown long grain rice, but we’d recommend using 80-100g instead…unless you have a hungry crowd or fancy the idea of putting it onto a bed of rice. Be warned though, this omelette is already pretty filling on its own! 🙂 

Our ‘omelette’ is also very versatile and relatively cheap to make! We sourced our gram flour (on sale!) in our local grocers; two  thumbs-up for cheap ethnic aisles! As most of you may already know, gram flour (which is also know as chickpea, garbanzo or besan flour) and tofu are both a great source of nutrients including: protein, iron and zinc (just to name a few)! It’s also good to note that gram flour is gluten free (but still check your package labels before purchasing folks)!

Soooo…

Have you got a lazy Sunday at your disposal? Fancy something new on the menu? Well then try whipping this recipe up for brunch or dinner!

Happy cooking everyone!

 

 

Batter Ingredients

+++++++++++++++++++++3g          Asafoetida (or onion powder)
+++++++++++++++++++++1g           Garlic Powder (unsalted)
+++++++++++++++++++++1g           Ground Cumin
+++++++++++++++++++++1g           Mild Paprika (or Pimenton de la Vera Dulce)
+++++++++++++++++++++1g           Ground Tumeric
+++++++++++++++++++++5g          Mustard Powder
+++++++++++++++++++++110g       Gram Flour
+++++++++++++++++++++2g          Baking Powder
+++++++++++++++++++++—————————————————————————-
+++++++++++++++++++++349g      Silken tofu
+++++++++++++++++++++120ml    Soy or Coconut milk (unsweetened & fortified)
+++++++++++++++++++++10ml      Cider Vinegar
+++++++++++++++++++++               Salt
+++++++++++++++++++++               Ground Black Pepper

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Place the dry ingredients (the first 8 items listed!) into a large mixing bowl. Mix with a fork until thoroughly combined.

 

 

Place the tofu into a food processor. Pulse until creamy and smooth.

 

 

Add the soya milk, vinegar and gram flour mixture. Blend until the ‘omelette’ batter is thoroughly combined. Season it with some salt and ground black pepper to taste.

The batter might seem thick, but do not be tempted to make it thinner by adding additional milk!

 

 

Line a baking tray with a silicone mat or some parchment paper. Pour in the batter. Use a silicone spatula to spread it evenly over the tray.

If lining your tray with parchment paper, leave some overlapping, like the mat.

 

 

Place the tray onto the middle oven shelf. Bake for about 25-35 mins or until lightly golden and cooked through.

Test it towards the end of baking (like you would a cake) with a toothpick- does it come out clean?! If yes, then it’s ready! NB:We used a fan-assisted oven.

 

In the meantime, cook some rice according to the packet instructions and prepare your veggie fillings! Wash, chop and cook (if required) any veggies that you would like to ‘roll’ into your omelette!

 

Once your omelette is removed from the oven, leave it to cool for about 5 mins in the tray and then transfer it (still on the mat/parchment paper) onto a cooling rack. Leave it to cool for a further 6-10 mins. NB: the longer you let it cool, the more stable the omelette becomes.

 

Assemble your fillings!

Our assembly went a little like this…

Firstly, gently (and carefully) loosen the omelette away from the mat or parchment paper using a palate or large kitchen knife. NB: you don’t want your omelette sticking and tearing when you finally roll it up! :/

Secondly, layer the ‘flatter’ ingredients first…

 

 

…followed by your bigger ingredients!

 

 

Finally, add your seasoned rice (or any other grain you prefer!).

We had a lot of filling, which made rolling it up super tricky! NB: our rice had red and spring onion, salad tomato, red bell pepper, cumin seeds, salt, pepper and some fresh coriander. Yum!

 

Carefully roll it up (a bit like rolling sushi or making a ‘Yule log’ cake!).

 

 

Finally, (and carefully!) slide it off the mat onto a serving plate for all to enjoy…

 

…or slice and serve instead!

 

As we mentioned earlier, we overestimated the rice…so we had an overload of plant-based deliciousness!

Enjoy!

Baked Coconut-Crusted Tofu W/ A Tropical Salad [Vegan & Gluten Free]

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 2
Prep: 40 mins
Cooking Time: 25-30 mins
Type: Main Meal

Notes: This recipe contains: B-Vitamins, Vitamins C & E, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, zinc and (per serving) is low in added salt, sugars and has a moderate quantity of fats.

Are you in the mood for something ‘coconutty’ and fruity?! Well get your forks and knives ready folks, as we’ve only gone and whipped up some crispy coconut-crusted tofu, served along side a mild tropical salad and some coconut and lime-infused rice. It’s another great addition to our range of battered and/or baked tofu

This recipe is great! It’s full of delicious and vibrant flavours and colours, including the smell of lime…which in our opinion can make anyone feel happy! 🙂 It’s worth noting that our tofu had a mild coconut taste. If you prefer things more ‘coconutty’, try adding more desiccated coconut than flour into the dry mixture, or some coconut milk powder into the wet batter (about one tablespoon should help), or one final suggestion would be to try using some coconut flour instead of standard/plain flour. 

We hope that everyone enjoys our crispy coconut tofu & juicy tropical salad as much as we did!

Happy cooking everyone!

 

 

Ingredients

 

Directions

Drain and press the tofu between two heavy plates or chopping boards. Leave it for 20-30 mins to help remove some of the excess water.

 

In the meantime, prepare the batters. Place 1(heaped) tbsp desiccated coconut, 2g sesame seeds, 60g flour (*of your choice/see above for recommendations), 5g ground ginger and 1g garlic salt into a wide bowl. Season with a couple grinds of black pepper. Whisk with a fork until combined. NB: This is your ‘dry batter’.

We used a pasta bowl.

 

 

Place about 45g potato starch and 60ml coconut milk into a separate bowl. Whisk together until the starch is completely dissolved. NB: This is your ‘wet’ batter.

Make sure it’s wide enough to lay a wedge of tofu.

 

 

Prepare the rice ingredients. Place 200g rice into a sieve and rinse under cold water. Transfer it into a large, non-stick pot. Leave for the moment.

 

 

Wash the lime; grate 1 tbsp of lime zest and juice the lime. Have 200ml of coconut milk mixed with 200ml of vegetable stock in a large measuring jug, 3-4g ground ginger mixed with a pinch of sugar(*optional) and 1 kaffir leaf ready.

 

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F. Drain the water off the tofu and pat it dry with some kitchen roll or a clean tea towel.

 

 

Place the dried tofu onto a chopping board and chop it into six wedges.

Directions: starting from the top left going clockwise!

  • Line a baking tray with a silicone mat or some parchment paper.
  • Dip each wedge of tofu into the wet batter (one at a time) until thoroughly coated.
  • Place it into the dry mixture; gently press all sides into the mixture until thoroughly coated. Place each prepared piece of tofu onto the baking tray. Spray lightly with some low-fat cooking spray (if desired).
  • Place the tray onto the top oven shelf. Bake for about 25 mins or until lightly browned and crispy around the edges; turning once. Remove.

 

Baked tofu. 🙂

 

 

Prepare the rice. Place half of the zest, coconut milk mixture, 3-4g ground ginger and a pinch of sugar (if using) and kaffir leaf into the pot (do not add the the lime juice at this stage). Mix together. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20-25 mins or until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Remove from the heat but do not remove the lid until serving.

 

 

In the meanwhile, prepare the salad ingredients. Wash, trim the ends and carefully remove the vein and seeds from the chilli (keep intact if your prefer things heated!).

 

 

 Peel and finely chop the red onion. Wash, remove the coriander leaves from its stem and roughly chop them. Open the tin of pineapple; remove the pineapple and reserve the juice. Chop the pineapple into cubes. Peel and then remove the stone from the avocado; chop into small chunks. Peel the mango and then remove the flesh from the stone; chop it into rough chunks.

 

 

Steam the green beans. Drain. Allow to cool.

 

 

Place the chilli, red onion, coriander, pineapple, mango, beans, 1/2 of the lime juice, the remaining lime zest, 2 tbsp rice vinegar and 3 tbsp pineapple juice into a large mixing bowl. NB: Do not add the avocado just yet.

 

 

Gently mix together. Add the avocado right before serving. Gently mix to combine.

The avocado will go a bit slimy in the salad, so it’s best to add it just before serving!

 

Fluff the grains of rice with a fork, remove the kaffir leaf and pour over the remaining lime juice just before serving. NB: If desired, add some additional chopped coriander to the rice before serving.

 

 

Serve the tofu and rice warm next to the salad, or spoon the salad over the tofu!

If desired, pour some additional pineapple juice over the tofu!

 

Enjoy!

~Remember folks, you can also follow us on FaceBook Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest!~
Recipe updated: 19/02/16

8 Modern Fitness Hacks That Are Making Your Workouts Easier

Diet & Weight Loss, Exercise

Avoiding exercise is like trying to avoid the tax man, it may be possible in the first instance, but both have unavoidable repercussions in the end!

We should all know that having a daily fitness regime will have a huge and positive impact on every aspect of our health. Most of us know that this can be difficult and even contemplating a jog around the block can seem like too much effort, but it is possible to go from your ‘Couch to 5k‘ within two to three months. It takes motivation, dedication and plenty of will power, and there are not any short cuts to getting in shape, but they are things that can help.

…So let’s look at some modern fitness hacks that are allowing us to lead healthier and easier lifestyles as a result!

 

Workout Kits

Apparel That Holds Your House Key!

Image: courtesy of Nike.com

Image: courtesy of Nike.com

Particularly during the summer months, I find that not all of my workout kit has appropriate pockets… so this hack is essential! Gone are the days where keys were placed under door mats, or in our shoes or sports bras! Modern key holders come in many forms, including:

  • Pouches that attach to your waistband or trainers (as shown above).
  • In the form of wristbands.
  • As part of your armband that holds your phone or Mp3 player.
  • Devices that allow your key to be clipped to your finger!

 There is something for every budget!

 

 

Specialised Sport Trainers!

saucony-ladies-hurricane-15-shoes

Image: courtesy of Barrington Sports

Personally, this modernisation has been a lifesaver! As an adult, I’ve felt the effects of having predominately flat feet; they’re great for swimming (ha!), but unfortunately nature is not very forgiving towards those that lack arches!

Specialised trainers have allowed me to enjoy the activities that I love whilst preserving my knee and hip joints. Variable to your sport and personal needs, they have really come a long way, both from a fitness and design perspective. When it comes to workout kits, you should only invest in the essentials (trainers being at the top of the list!). The phrase that I am familiar with goes like this, “spend £80 on your trainers and a fiver on your t-shirt”!

This is partially true, apart from the next couple of items.

Such as…

 

Sports Bras!

Image by: Heikki Siltala_Flickr

Whether you’re well-endowed or not, all bosoms need some TLC when it comes to sports and leading an active lifestyle! Expect to forgo at least £30 for anything decent. It’s a small price to pay considering what the alternative is, but can you really imagine a world without this fitness hack?!

 

sports-bra_BBC image

Image: courtesy of the BBC

The first sports bra was developed nearly 40 years ago! It was initially called ‘The JogBra‘, developed by Lisa Lindahl, Hinda Miller and Polly Palmer Smith. It’s certainly come a long way since then and our appreciation and recognition for this light-bulb moment has definitely not been loud enough!

Many major brands offer support to all shapes (big and small), even for nursing mothers.  However, a lot like well-used trainers, they will lose their shape and support over time (especially if you skip the handwash cycle girls!) and will need to be replaced…but this item is indeed priceless. No?

 

Specialised Clothing (and we’re not talking brand names)!

SION Apparel_Trapani_BSO_Flickr

Image by: SION Apparel_Flickr

Thermal or moisture absorbent tops, bottoms, socks and/or hats can be a lifesaver for die-hard runners and/or year-round fitness enthusiasts. Helping to regulate your body temperature and/or draw moisture away from your skin is a modern day fitness hack that most people take for granted. Definitely worth spending the pennies if it keeps you active and enjoying the outdoors all year round! Some general advice regarding fitness attire, wear something fun but skip the name brands unless it’s really offering you something of substance; the words ‘Do it!’ across your chest is free advertisement at best and only professional athletes reap the benefit of that one!

 

Fitness Aids

Image by: Fitness Crazy_Bosu Ball_Flickr

Fitness devices might sound ‘gimmicky’ to some, but I cannot stress enough the importance of a core (aka our back and abs) workout! Ever suffer the result of bad posture and/or weak core muscles? Well naturally slumping forward in a chair, being struck down with sciatica and/or slipping over wet rocks/leaves on a nature hike might ring a few alarm bells! Some of you might regularly practice yoga or Pilates, whilst the rest might be doing nothing or relying on these fitness aids! None the less, as we rely on our core for a variety of everyday movements, it’s especially important that we develop our own core workouts in order to improve our mobility, balance and overall muscle strength and fitness.

I was first introduced to this gismo over eight years ago and it was love at ‘first step’, particularity because I hate ‘standard’ sit-ups! It was an overdue awakening, highlighting that I was not truly as fit as I would like to think. It’s just so much fun too- no matter how silly I looked doing it!  How it works, you will simply wobble so much on it that you will really have to engage your core muscles, keeping them iron-tight so as not to wobble off!

The Bosu company provides a range of products (research before buying!), but the Bosu Ball offers a multitude of exercise platforms:

  • Dome side up: to build lower body strength, work on your core and for cardio workouts (which will have you in a pool of sweat)!
  • Platform side up: for upper body workouts and some ab work.

It’s great for all levels and if treated with respect, it can last a very long time! Unless you already have a rock-solid core, your legs will start to ‘shake like a leaf’ initially, but over time you will grow stronger and really feel and see the positive affects it has on your body (as long as you consistently use it!).

Thinking back, the infamous eighties ‘Pogo Ball’ (for those lucky enough to have one) got children active whilst strengthening their core muscles at the same time!

Now that's a happy face! :D Ignore the iconic stone wash jeans and '80's phrase shirt'.

Now that’s a happy face! 😀 Ignore the iconic 80’s stone wash jeans and ‘phrase shirt’.  Image by: Billy Lane_Flickr

 

 

Home Cardio & Strengthening Equipment 

Image: courtesy of Review-fr.com

This has always been an area of debate! Some might question why we would want to exercise indoors when we have nature on our doorstep (particularly those lucky enough to live near a lot green space or parks)?! Well sometimes it’s just not that clear cut; professional and/or personal circumstances (had a baby recently?!) don’t always allow us to have our dream or even the ideal and frequent workouts that we desire! Sadly, sometimes the things that we can afford (aka nature walks) do not offer’ the same benefits as, e.g. a cross trainer, some dumb bells and a yoga mat will.

I’ve owned my cross trainer for nearly four years and it’s been bliss, particularly for the times where I’ve finished work late, couldn’t afford leisure activity, the weather has been less than desirable or when I wanted a joint-friendly/diverse exercise; it’s really facilitated the momentum of my healthy lifestyle. I initially bought it and lost about ten pounds of laziness (bonus!) and it has not become a coat rack, dust magnet or a nuisance to my neighbours (its’ very quiet when in use)!

If you consider the cost of an average gym membership, it’s paid for its self in less than a year and a half (given that you use it frequently- and I have!).

My top tips, as long as you do try and make this your sole source of cardio and keep updating your music and the exercise programmes that you use on it, home exercise equipment is never boring.

Oh, and do not skip on doing some research before you invest in one!

 

 

‘You Got Music In Your Step (Literally Whenever You Feel Like It)’! 
Xnet Online_Flickr_Mp3_Mp4 Player

Image by:Xnet_Flickr

Kids today (yes, I’ve said it- I must be getting old!) don’t fully appreciate the handicaps of their predecessors! Walkman’s and portable CD players were not the best mediums for fitness (our struggle was very real)! Previous generations did not only endure the stress of manoeuvring them throughout their workout, with occasionally poor and inconsistent sound quality, but we had to source the music first! Recording music off the radio, creating ‘mix tapes’ or purchasing expensive CD’s ring any bells?? Torrent sites and Spotify were non-existent!

Ash Dowle_vintage sony walkman_flickr

Image by: Ash Dowle_Flickr

Mp3 players and modern mobiles that act as music players have limitless music supplies (ahem! large storage capabilities and internet connections!), enabling us to create timeless and/or addictive work-out playlists; not to mention that we can also source audio books to listen to whilst cycling at our local leisure centre (score!)

These devices are obviously a lot smaller and/or compact, making listening to music easy for everyone.

Some studies have shown that listening to music whilst working out can be moderately healthful… and I for one could not imagine workouts without music!

 

 The Internet
Computer screen macro

Image by: Cvrcak1_Flickr

The internet, for good or the bad can offer a huge range of information that can facilitate us with healthy eating and fitness hacks. Some areas of interest includes:

  • Your local markets for cheap produce and other food items.
  • Free workout videos (*but consult your GP before embarking on a new regime).
  • Food and fitness apps: making us accountable for our calories and fitness (as mentioned below!).
  • VLOGS: informative food prep and cooking instructions for all levels.
  • Blogs and health sites: that offers a tonne of free recipes and ‘health advice’. ****Click here for some tasty plant-based recipe ideas!****

In terms of health advice, just make sure to access quality information. For the love of God, use evidence-based information over someone’s opinion, pleaseee!

 

Fitness Trackers and Apps 
Karlis Dambrans_FitBit_Flickr

Image by: Karlis Dambrans_Flickr

For the tech-savvy or those that are motivated by having the facts and figures staring them straight in the face, these type of gadgets could possibly assist you in reaching your fitness goals and developing a more positive and permanent quality of life!

 Making yourself accountable for what you are eating (at the touch of a button!) and the rate at which you are ‘actually’ burning it off, could be the wakeup call and motivation that you need to make some informed choices about your health.

These devices and apps can aid a better workout (as some studies have shown) by tracking your fitness and helping you to meet your fitness goals. Personally, I think that  they could also help to bring out our competitive sides, pushing us to go on and be a healthier version of ourselves!

Unfortunately, unless you use them more often than none, it could end up being expensive paperweight.

 

The World Around Us Has Changed to Facilitate Our Health

Image: Eat2Health Blog Photography ©2015

It has been show that sitting for extended periods can have a negative effect on our health; it’s linked with chronic diseases and premature morality- as shown here.

Luckily the modern world has facilitated us to get off our bottoms by:

  • Modernised trails (some of which used to be rail lines, now allow for on-road and off-road cyclists and easy walking).
  • Modernised parks with free fitness equipment for all ages.
  • Free tennis and basketball courts (although we still need more!).
  • Dirt cheap and (occasionally 24 hour) gyms and leisure centres; some of which have childcare!

…just to name a few, all of which can help us to lead healthier lifestyles! #change4life

It’s also worth considering modern day architecture! Yes, odd structures and buildings, e.g. sports stadiums in the heart of our cities can allow us to make use of their design (and space) as part of our daily exercise regime.

Herrett_061015_0036 Steps leading to the new Arsenal Emirates Football Stadium London UK Copyright © Roberto Herrett. All rights reserved.

Image by: Roberto Herrett_Flickr

For instance, we used to run up and down the Arsenal Stadium’s front and posterior steps as part of our half marathon training (many moons ago)!

This particular stadium also allows for people to run or skate around it’s outside…just please do not do it when matches are on- unless you want possible confrontation with angry football fans!

And finally…

 

Inventive Workouts- Something for everyone!
Kevin__Flickr

Image by: Kevin_Flickr

I think that most people would agree that workouts have the nature of becoming very repetitive and boring. Changing our workouts is great for continued motivation, (keeping our sanity!) and partially because our body has an amazing ability to adapt, and exercising is no exception. Over time, doing our ‘go-to’ exercises over and over will decrease the effectiveness of our workouts. #weightlossplateau

This is why, if you are able, you should have a variety of strength and cardio workouts.

It’s a great feeling to do a new regime, testing our abilities and feeling ‘new muscles’… ones that might even keep us walking like a cowboy for three days! Yes, I’m sure we’ve all been there, the realisation that we have not utilised our inner thigh or glute muscles as much as we should of in the past. One sure solution, make sure you ‘stretch it out’ after each workout to help prevent your muscles from seizing up.

It’s worth looking at local bulletin boards or having a quick internet search; these should highlight a variety of fitness classes (there is something for everyone, no matter how young or old!) that should help to spruce up your current regimes.

If all else fails, you can literally exercise anywhere…

  • At your work desk: ‘glute flexing’ or bicep curls with water bottles anyone?!
  • In your kitchen: dance or do some squats whilst your waiting for the kettle to boil or your pasta to cook!
  • On your way to your local shops: speed walk or take longer strides… even break into full-blown lunges if you dare!
  • Whilst talking to your friends or family on your mobile: hands free options allow you to go lift some dumb bells and do leg lifts (Jane Fonda style if you like!).
  • Especially in front of the TV: cardio equipment or yoga poses can be easily positioned in front of your tube!
  • Utilising tried and true fitness hacks: walking whenever you can, e.g. getting off the bus, train or tube a couple of stops early, cycling to work, using the stairs instead of the lift or limiting the time spent in front of electronic devices.

Just go for it (30mins every 5/7 days if you can)! The only thing that can truly stop you from enjoying fitness and a healthy lifestyle is yourself…

…well, maybe your boss?! exercise with discretion!.

 

Sources:
NHS Choices
Nike.com
Flickr
BBC
Bosu.com
NCBI
Written by: L. Risby BSc Nutritionist

Roasted Butternut Squash, Apple & Walnut Soup [Vegan & Gluten Free]

Healthy Recipes

Serves 6-8
Prep, Cooking & Assembly: 80-120 mins ( *Dependant on skill or kitchen helpers!)
Type: Main Meal
Tools: Chopping board, sharp knife, 2*baking trays, silicone mat(s) (or kitchen foil), veggie peeler, mixing bowl, blender, resealable container (*optional)

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamins C & E, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, omega-3+6, calcium, iron, potassium and per serving (based on six servings) is low in salt, free sugars and saturated fats. 

It’s now officially Autumn, so we should all be making the most of this season (and our local markets!) by sourcing some of nature’s delicious squashes and root vegetables (just to name a few!); all of which can be enjoyed in some hearty, healthful and flavourful soups, stews, warm salads or casseroles!

This soup has some beautifully roasted butternut squash, apple and banana shallots, giving it a delicious and satisfying natural sweetness. A dash of chutney, nutmeg and walnut oil really help to round things off, providing a tasty, wholemeal and seasonal feel. Enjoy it on its own or with some warmed wholemeal pitta bread! 

We used some swede (as we had some to spare!), but it became a tasty ‘background note’ to this soup. Butternut squash is always a winner in our book, but if preferred, substitute it for some pumpkin, acorn squash or sweet potato instead. Please check out some of our other soup recipes here for more tasty, seasonal and satisfying recipes!

Happy Cooking everyone! 😀

 

NB: We did not end up using the maple syrup and we used one more apple than shown here!

 

Ingredients

+++++++++++++++++++++200g       Banana Shallots
+++++++++++++++++++++8g            Garlic clove (about 2)
+++++++++++++++++++++                Low-Fat Oil Spray
+++++++++++++++++++++580g       Swede
+++++++++++++++++++++640g       Braeburn Apples
+++++++++++++++++++++30g         Plum & Apple Chutney (GF if required)
+++++++++++++++++++++1.8kg       Butternut Squash
+++++++++++++++++++++3g            Dried Sage
+++++++++++++++++++++2 tbsp     Extra Virgin Olive Oil
+++++++++++++++++++++500ml    Vegetable stock (low-salt/DF; GF if required)
+++++++++++++++++++++1.5L         Water
+++++++++++++++++++++1-2g        Ground Nutmeg
+++++++++++++++++++++3 tsp       Walnut Oil
+++++++++++++++++++++                Walnut pieces, chopped and/or toasted (*optional)

 

Directions

Trim the ends off the shallots and discard. Place the shallots and garlic onto a lined baking tray. Spray and coat with a little low-fat cooking oil.

 

 

Wash, peel and then chop the swede into cubes. Wash, peel, remove the core/seeds and chop the apple into rough pieces.

Normally we wouldn’t peel our apples, but the skins can give an unwanted bitterness to the soup!

 

 

Place the swede into a large mixing bowl. Add about ¼ of the quantity of chutney. Spray it with some low-fat cooking oil. Mix to coat.

 

 

Place the swede and apple onto the same baking tray as the shallots and garlic.

 

Heat the oven to 190C/375F. Line another baking tray with some parchment paper.

 

In the meantime, peel, trim the ends, deseed and then chop the squash into 1 inch cubes.

 

 

Place the squash into a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining chutney, 3g dried sage and 2 tbsp of olive oil (alternatively use some low-fat cooking oil). Mix to thoroughly coat.

 

 

Transfer the squash onto the lined baking tray, spreading it as evenly as possible.

 

 

  • Place the baking tray with the swede and apple mixture onto the lower oven shelf. Roast for about 30-35 mins or until tender and slightly crisp around the edges; turning the mixture and rotating the tray in the oven at least once.
  • Place the baking tray with the squash onto the middle oven shelf. Roast for about 35-40 mins or until tender and slightly crispy around the edges; turning and flipping the squash at least once.

Our roasted veggies! Remove and allow to cool for at least 5-10 mins.

 

 

Once cooled, peel the skin off of the shallots and garlic. Transfer the vegetables and apple (in batches) into a blender along with a little of the vegetable stock and/or water. Blend until smooth and creamy.

Alternatively, transfer the mixture (and liquids) into a large non-stick pot and blend with a stick blender until smooth.

 

 

Transfer the puréed vegetable mixture into a large and resealable container or a large, non-stick pot (if applicable). Repeat until all of the vegetables have been puréed. Add any remaining water, 1-2g nutmeg and 3-4 tsp walnut oil. Stir to combine. Taste and season as necessary. Reheat the soup over a low heat until warm (if applicable).

NB: If a thinner soup is preferred, add more water than we have previously advised! Ours went into this plastic tub; the joys of meal prepping!

 

 

Serve warm. Ladle the soup into a bowl. Garnish with a drizzle of walnut oil and/or some walnut pieces and fresh chives (if desired) and for the extra hungry, serve with a piece of warmed wholemeal pitta bread!

 

Enjoy!

 

Refrigerate any leftovers in a resealable and air tight container; reheat and consume within 4 days. Alternatively portion and freeze the soup in several resealable and air tight containers (do not overfill); defrost and reheat within 1-2 months.

Recipe updated:19/02/16

Broad Bean, Roasted Bell Pepper & Spinach Sandwich [Vegan & Gluten Free]

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 1
Prep & Assembly: ≤8 mins
Type: Main Meal

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins. Vitamins C & K, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, iron, magnesium, potassium and per serving is low in salt, sugar and saturated fats.

It’s Friday- so let’s make this post quick and tasty! 🙂

This is a great vegan sandwich (that admittedly we made ages ago) that is perfect for those lunch time slumps! We’re not just talking about fuelling you with postprandial energy (because this sandwich has loads of sustainable energy!), but for when you are bored with your regular lunchtime menu. #stuckinarut #samelunchforamonth !!

Planning is important to help create a well-balanced and healthy lifestyle (particularly one that you won’t loathe and that will continually develop your palate and cooking skills!)…

…but if you follow a plant-based lifestyle, this typically means that you will have to plan ahead (unless you don’t budget!?!) and really tap into your creative and adventurous side, so that your meals avoid becoming repetitive, boring and/or potentially unhealthy or just not nutritionally balanced! 

If you’re like us, lunchtime is the most difficult meal to meal plan, not only due to schedules but general indecisiveness! We can be creatures of habit when it comes to our main meals, but sometimes we really don’t know what we’ll fancy for lunch until the day; all the more reason to meal plan some decent eats! 

This sandwich can be prepped in advance and prepared on the day (or the night before). It contains our lovely and zesty broad bean and spinach dip (that also makes an awesome sandwich filling!). Add some beautifully roasted red bell peppers and delicate baby spinach; all layered between a couple slices of toasted multi-grain bread (delicious!).👌 Wash it down with a glass of unsweetened almond or soya milk and you’re good to get on with the rest of your day! #thatfridayfeeling

Check out some of our other sandwichessaladssoups or our vegan bites for some further hearty and healthful lunchtime inspiration!

Quick fact:

  • Per serving, this sandwich provides you with approx. 2.5 servings of fruits/veggies towards your 5-A-Day!

Have a great weekend everyone! 🙂

 

Ingredients

1           Roasted Red Bell Peppers, cut into strips
3T.       Broad Bean & Spinach Dip
1           Handful of Baby Spinach, washed & dried
2          Slices of Multi-Grain Bread, toasted (GF if required)

 

Directions (In Seven Simple Steps!)

  1. Chop the roasted bell pepper into strips (if you haven’t already done so).

       2. Wash and dry the spinach. Remove and discard any large stems.

       3. Place the bread into a toaster and heat until lightly brown and crispy.

  4. Spoon 2 tbsp of broad bean dip onto one slice of the bread. Spread evenly.

 

5. Layer the spinach over the spread.

 

6. Layer the strips of roasted bell pepper over the spinach. Spoon 1 tbsp of bean spread onto the other slice of bread, spreading evenly.

 

7. Place the slice of bread (with just the bean spread) over the roasted bell pepper. Slice into halves and serve.

 

 

Enjoy!

 

Pearl Barley Tabbouleh-Fattoush Fusion Salad w/ Crumbled ‘Feta’ [Vegan]

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 6
Prep,Cooking & Assembly: 40-45 mins (*Dependent upon skill and/or grain used).
Type: Main Meal
Tools: Chopping board(s), large bowl or casserole dish, large pot (with lid), colander, sharp knife, baking tray (or grill pan), small dish, pastry brush, resealable containers

Notes: This recipe contains: B-Vitamins, Vitamins C, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and per serving is low in added salt and sugar and has a moderate quantity of fat!

We’re both fans of Middle Eastern (ME) foods, so when looking for something to add to our meal plan last Saturday, Tabbouleh sprang to mind! It’s a great recipe that enables you to still make use of some tasty, cheap and seasonal ingredients (tomatoes and cucumber!) or herbs from your garden before summer is officially gone. Yes, this salad can really put a spring in your step courtesy of its wonderful, healthful and fresh flavours; mint, parsley and lemon are delicious and they can really transform a dish!

For those that are unfamiliar with this recipe, Tabbouleh is a ME dish that offers big flavours, and beautiful colours that are all really satisfying to the last bite! It can be served with flatbreads, but we thought about taking that idea one step further and created this Tabbouleh-Fattoush fusion salad (with crumbled ‘feta’ aka marinated, silken tofu)!

Fattoush is another ME classic where flatbreads (that have become stale) are then seasoned, toasted or fried to create croutons. These delicious morsels of bread are then combined in a chunky, vegetable-based salad; mint, parsley and sumac (a tart and citrusy spice that comes from a flower) are typical flavours that give this salad a fresh and tangy taste.

So why the pearl barley?? We prefer larger grains in our salads, but unfortunately giant couscous (at least where we live) can be quite pricey in comparison to other grains. Luckily, pearl barley makes a tasty and cheap substitution… it just takes a little longer to cook (but we assure you it’s completely worth the wait)!

We kept our salad veggies slightly chunky and varied; radish is another great, seasonal vegetable that works well in this salad. We also added crushed sumac berries (aka ground sumac) to not only to season the croutons, but the salad and tofu. If you are not keen on pearl barley, you could use more traditional Tabbouleh grains such as Israeli couscous or bulgur wheat, or even experiment with orzo. If you need a gluten free option, be inventive! Try using cooked quinoa, millet, brown basmati or wild rice, or a GF couscous (if you don’t mind the taste of maize).

Please adjust the flavourings, grains and/or vegetables to your own personal taste and we hope that you enjoy this healthy salad as much as we did! 😀

Quick Foodie Facts & Tips:

  • Per serving, this salad provides you with approx. 3 servings of fruits/vegetables towards your 5-A-Day!
  • Pearl barley is naturally low in fat and sugar and is a great source of many nutrients including: protein, fibre, Vitamin B3, iron, zinc (just to name a few) among other vitamins and minerals.

 

Ingredients

NB: If using more than two pitta breads, increase the oil mixture accordingly. Also, if you’re using fresh lemon juice, use the juice from approx. three small lemons or two large ones.

Need an easy-print recipe?Print here. 🙂

 

Directions
  • Prepare the ‘crumbled feta’. Open, drain and place the tofu into a casserole (or large) dish. Sprinkle over 2g onion powder, 2g dried oregano and 1/2 tsp crushed sumac berries. Pour over 2 tbsp garlic-infused and 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and 3 tbsp lemon juice. Season to taste with a little salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Leave it to marinade for about 40-45 mins (if possible). Tip: Prepare this the day before; the longer you allow for marinating, the better the ‘crumbled feta’ (aka tofu!) will taste.
  • In the meantime, cook the pearl barley according to the packet instructions. Drain. Rinse with tepid water (if necessary). Allow to cool. NB: Ours took about 30-35 mins to cook. We rinsed ours as it was a bit ‘starchy’ post-cooking.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the salad veggies. Wash and remove the mint and parsley leaves from its stem; coarsely chop them. Wash, trim the ends and roughly dice the cucumber. Wash, trim the ends and chop the spring onion into slices. Remove the stem, wash and then dice the tomatoes. Wash, trim the tops and finely slice the radishes Tip: a cheese grater works great for this!

 

 

Prepare The Croutons (The Fattoush!)

NB: Use 1/2 to 1 pitta bread/person. We recommend heating the bread in ‘larger pieces’; smaller pieces burn faster and you’ll have  an unnecessary amount to turn over!

  1. Heat the grill to a medium-high setting.

2. Place 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp of crushed sumac berries and a pinch of salt into a small dish. Mix with a fork to thoroughly combine.

3. Slice the pitta bread into halves. Lightly coat both sides with the oil mixture using a pastry brush or your fingers. Place under the hot grill for 2 mins, turn and heat for a further 2-3 mins or until lightly toasted. Remove.

4. Separate the pitta bread. Coat the inside of the bread with the remaining oil mixture. Place back under the grill for a further 1-2 mins or until lightly browned and slightly crispy. Remove. Allow to cool slightly.

5. Break into smaller pieces (if desired).

 

Assemble The Salad!

Note: (Step 1): Oops! We got one step ahead of ourselves and put it into this bowl instead of our tupperware for future lunches!

  1. Once cool, place the pearl barley into a large bowl or (resealable plastic container) with the mint and parsley. Stir with a fork to combine and ‘fluff’ the grains.

2. Add the cucumber, spring onion, tomatoes, radish, 2 tbsp garlic-infused  and 2- 2½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 3-4 tbsp lemon juice and ½-1 tsp crushed sumac berries. Season it to taste with a little salt and a few grinds of black pepper.

3. Stir with a fork to thoroughly combine. Taste and season as necessary.

4. Gently chop the tofu into rough pieces (as small or as large as desired) to form your ‘crumbled feta’.

5. If you are not serving this straight away, remove the tofu with a slotted spoon and transfer it into a separate resealable container with a little of its marinating liquid (if preferred).

 

Place the salad onto a serving place. Top with the ‘crumbled feta’ and croutons.

This shows one serving. We also added some crushed pistachios and sliced black olives! 🙂

Enjoy!

 

Refrigerate any leftovers in a resealable container; the salad is best consumed within 3 days. NB: The tofu is best consumed within 4-5 days. 

Recipe updated: 23/02/16

Slow Cooker Root Vegetable Soup w/ Pearl Barley

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 8-10
Prep: 30-60 mins (*Dependant on skill and desired serving size.)
Cooking time: 4-7 hrs (*Dependent on SC setting.)
Type: Main meal
Tools: Colander, chopping board, sharp knife, slow cooker

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamin C, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, magnesium, potassium, zinc and (per serving) is low in sugar, salt and saturated fats!

This is a great autumnal or winter vegetable-based soup. It’s easy to execute and adapted not only to the season but your taste buds! Our variation contains a great blend of herbs and some delicious (chunky) veggies! 

The peas and pearl barley provide a great source of protein, but feel free to swap them for your favourite type of legume, pulse and/or grain; smoked seitan or tofu would also make a tasty addition! Diet permitting, you could add a little lean beef or chicken (we think that this could also work quite well!). 

We cooked the pearl barley separately and would recommend doing so, unless this is only going to be served as ‘one meal’. We have found in the past that the pearl barley keeps absorbing liquid… so your next day leftovers will be more barley than broth! :/

You’ll find that we initially kept the liquid to a minimum; we were waiting to see how much water was given off in the first 3 hours before adding any more! However, we have advised for everyone to add all of the liquid at start of the cooking process. 

Quick Food Fact: Per serving (based on 10 servings!), this soup provides you with about 3.3 servings of vegetables towards your 5-A-Day!

Happy cooking everyone! 😀

 

We used 1/2 the swede and 1/4 of the cabbage shown here; fresh thyme and rosemary not shown here.

 

Ingredients

Need an easy-print version? Print here. 🙂

 

Directions

Wash and then chop the potato into chunks. Wash, trim the ends and quarter the parsnip. Transfer the potato and parsnip into a slow cooker.

 

 

Wash, peel and chop the swede into chunks. Wash, trim the ends and slice the carrot; transfer the vegetables into the slow cooker.

The only root vegetable we peeled was the swede; it’s time saving, but it also adds some extra nutrients to the soup (just remember to give your veggies a good scrub first)!

 

 

Peel and dice the onion. Wash, remove the stem and core and then roughly chop the bell pepper. Peel and dice the garlic; transfer the vegetables into the slow cooker.

 

 

 

Wash and roughly slice (or shred) the cabbage leaves. Wash the parsley; remove the leaves from its stem and roughly chop them. Remove the rosemary sprigs from its stem and roughly chop them. Remove the thyme leaves from its stem.

 

 

Add the cabbage, parsley, rosemary, thyme, sage, bay leaf, black pepper and 1/2 tsp of salt  into the slow cooker. Add the pearl barley (if applicable*).

*See above notes.

 

 

Prepare the stock. Pour in the hot stock and some (just boiled) water. Cover with a lid. Cook on a high heating setting for about 3.5 hrs or on a low heat setting for 7-8hrs instead.

 

 

When there is about 40 minutes of cooking time left, defrost the peas. Add the corn flour to a small dish with equal parts water; stir into a paste to form a ‘slurry’. Add the peas into slow cooker. Whilst stirring, pour in the slurry. Stir until dissolved and combined. Cover with the lid. Cook for a further 40 mins.

 

 

In the meantime, cook the pearl barley according to the packet instructions.

Ours took 30 mins to cook. NB: We lightly oiled and seasoned the leftover pearl barley to prevent it becoming one, big flavourless blob!

 

 

Stir and season the soup to taste before serving.

 

 

Serve warm. Place some pearl barley into a large serving bowl (if applicable). Ladle the soup over the barley. Stir together. Garnish with some parsley (if preferred).

We served ours with some tasty spirulina-based bread! 🙂

 

 

Enjoy!

Chickpea Salad Sandwich Filler

Healthy Recipes

Yields: approx.16 sandwiches.
Prep, Cooking & Assembly:17 hrs (*Time allocated to soak + cook the legumes!) + 45 mins.

Recipe adapted from: The Simple Veganista

Notes:This recipe provides: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamins C, E & K, protein, fibre, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and (per serving) is low in salt, sugar and saturated fats!

This sandwich has been trending for the last three years or so (it’s also known as a ‘smashed chickpea sandwich’!), but this was only our second time making it! On that note, we’ve adapted a tried and tested recipe to ensure a maximum taste factor and because their is not much room for originality in this department; this sandwich has been adapted many times (a change of legumes, seasoning’s, veggies…you name it!) and we can hardly claim this recipe as truly ours… but that goes for 90% of recipes out there!

Anyways, if you’re stuck for lunch ideas, try this sandwich filler; it’s not like the typical store- bought ‘fillers’ that are full of salt and fat (particularly from their overuse of mayo)! Why does everything have to have mayo?!

In any case, this filler is perfect for a simple, quick and versatile lunch (and it definitely doesn’t contain any egg yolk!); season the mixture any way you prefer and skip the ‘steam-fry’ step if you prefer raw veggies, or just want your sandwich to have some extra ‘crunch’!  Additionally, try using some homemade ‘vegan mayo’ or any other alternative dressing if you do not like the idea of using houmous in your sandwiches!

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

 

 

Directions:

Place your chickpeas in a large bowl full of water. Soak overnight or for 12 hours. Drain. Cook them in a slow cooker. Drain and allow to cool.

 

Alternatively open, drain and rinse a tinned variety. NB: You will most likely need about three tins if you are using this method!

 

Wash, trim the ends, peel and dice the carrot. Wash, trim the ends and dice the celery and the onion. Wash, remove the stem, de-seed and dice the bell pepper.

 

 

Meanwhile, heat a non-stick saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add some water.

 

 

When it begins to bubble, add the carrot, celery, onion, bell pepper, bay leaf and a pinch of vegetable stock. Season it with some black pepper to taste. Mix together. Gently steam-fry/simmer for approx 10 minutes or until desired texture is achieved.

This step is just to soften the veggies…

 

 

Remove from the heat. Drain and allow to cool.

 

 

Meanwhile, organise your seasoning ingredients.

 

 

Mash the chickpeas into a ‘rough’ consistency.

This step really works your muscles!

 

 

 

Add the houmous and seasoning’s.

 

 

Fold and mix together until ‘creamy’. Taste and season as necessary.

 

 

Add the vegetables.

 

 

Fold through.

 

 

Transfer into a large, resealable and air-tight container. Refrigerate and use within 5 days.

 

 Enjoy!

 

 

For some added inspiration, this is how we assembled our sandwich!…

Spread some filler onto one slice of toasted multi-seeded bread.

 

Add some salad cress and shredded cucumber.

 

Top with sliced avocado and tomato.

 

Top with the other slice.

 

Slice…don’t slice…whatever eh?! Just dig in… it’s delicious! 🙂

Baked Beans

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 6-8
Prep: 30 minutes ( + 12hrs to soak dried beans!)
Cooking Time: 8 hrs (On a low S.C. setting)

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamin C, protein, fibre, calcium, iron, mg, manganese, potassium, zinc, and (per serving/based on 8 servings) is low in salt, saturated fats and have a moderate quantity of sugar!

Ah, lovely baked beans! As the rain and cooler weather sets in they become even more desirable! 

We’ve tried various slow cooker bean recipes in the past (predominately using ‘white beans’), but we’ve found that the recipes that use a mixture of beans to be far more satisfying! Why limit yourself to one type anyways?! 

Our baked beans are not your typical ‘British’ bean that you’ll find in your local supermarket; they are not ‘tomato-based’ and we didn’t use a ‘haricot’ variety, nor do they have excessive levels of salt and sugar! Our slow cooker recipe produces a sauce that is not too salty, sweet or rich, just delicious; the treacle and brown sugar provides a lovely deep flavour!  🙂

The only possible amendment you may want to make is with regards to the volume of water. With about two hours to spare, we noticed that the sauce didn’t have the right consistency…so we added a slurry of corn flour! The choice is yours; use slightly less water (approx. 400-500ml) or just add the slurry as we have instructed. Also, feel free to adjust the flavours as you see fit; try a spicier or barbecue flavour next time!  

Serve these beans as a main meal or whip up a batch to take to your next family BBQ!

Quick Food Facts:

  • Beans, the variety and their health benefits are various and many! However (particularly for those following a plant-based diet), they can be a great source of: protein, complex carbohydrates, soluble fibre, B-Vitamins, iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium, manganese and potassium (just to name a few!). They can also help you meet your 5-A-Day!
  • One serving of our beans (the recipe makes eight!) provides about 2.5 servings of your 5-A-Day; the typical tinned variety only provides you with one!  🙂

 

 

Ingredients

 

 

Directions

Place the dried beans into a large bowl of cold water. Soak overnight for 12 hours. Drain and thoroughly rinse.

We used a mixture of beans; 230g cannellini, 130g black turtle and 100g of red kidney beans!

 

 

Peel and dice the onion and garlic. Wash, trim the ends, peel and then dice the carrot. Wash, trim the ends and finely chop the celery. Wash, remove the stem and core and then dice the bell pepper. Wash and dry the thyme and then remove the leaves from its stem.

 

 

  • Heat 1-3 tsp oil into a large, non-stick saucepan or frying pan over a medium-low heat. Tip: Alternatively, use some low-fat cooking oil or a steam-fry technique to soften the vegetables!
  • Add the onion, garlic clove, carrot, celery, bell pepper and garlic. Mix together. Gently fry for 3 mins or until softened. Tip: covering with a lid will also help to soften the vegetables.
  • In the meantime, boil 1.6L water. Prepare 500ml stock according to the packet instructions (unless you are using your secret homemade variety!).
  • Add the thyme. Season it to taste with salt and black pepper. Stir together.

 

 

  • Transfer the beans into a slow cooker.
  • Transfer the vegetable mixture into the slow cooker.
  • Add 2 tsp sugar, 100g tomato purée, ¼ cup cider vinegar,1 tsp mustard powder and 2 tbsp treacle.
  • Pour in the stock and 1.1L of freshly boiled water. Stir together. Tip: Always make sure there is enough ‘liquid’ to cover your ingredients.
  • Create a ‘slurry’. Add 50g corn flour into a small dish with equal parts water. Stir until the flour has dissolves. Whilst stirring, pour it into the slow cooker. Mix thoroughly to combine.
  • Cover with a lid. Cook on a low-heat setting for 8 hours. Tip: Cooking with acidic ingredients can cause your beans to have a slightly ‘firmer’ texture. However, we found the majority of our beans to be soft and/or creamy.

 

 

Serve warm. Ladle into a serving bowl. If desired, serve it with a small bread roll and/or additional vegetables!

We used a small GF roll and some steamed red cabbage! 🙂

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Refrigerate any any leftovers in an air tight and resealable container; reheat and consume within 3-5 days. Alternatively, store and freeze; defrost, reheat and consume within 1-2 months.

Saturated Fat: A Killer or Not?

Diet & Weight Loss

This is a topic that I have sat on for some time, mainly because the media have been all over it and opinions have been going back and forth. However, I was eventually drawn into writing this article because of an experience in my work recently; I was educating a group about fats and was interrupted by a patient stating that butter is good for us and I was wrong to tell people to avoid or limit it. They were quite insistent and it required all my diplomatic skills to respond and move past the point. Afterwards I reflected on the experience and realised that many people might feel this way due to the recent (relatively) debate around the effect of fat, especially saturated fats on heart health.

 

So what’s all the hype about saturated fats?!

You’re likely already aware but to summarise…fat has long been blamed for causing heart disease, and in particular saturated fat; international guidance pushed for a reduction in total fat and saturated fat intakes with swaps to unsaturated (poly and mono) fats. So far no surprises, but in the last couple of years rumblings began about the evidence behind this stance, and in short order several studies and meta analyses came out which appeared to contradict our long held beliefs(1,2,3); namely saturated fats have no impact on heart disease risk, and that the guidance on reducing fat intake was based on unfounded research!

Some commentaries and media organisations took this further and suggested we had been lied to or that the carbohydrates were the real killers.

 

So what’s the real story?

To preface, as a Dietitian (yes there is no C) I am required to follow evidenced-based guidelines and best practice, this can appear to sometimes lag behind the latest research and trends/fads but for a good reason.

I had heard the news stories and read up on the topic when the topic resurfaced over a year ago… but I didn’t change my practice or advice!  Why you might ask?

Well the obvious answer is because the guidelines haven’t changed; but maybe they’re lagging? Well, that’s where best practice can step in… but no, that hasn’t changed either and neither has my own personal opinion.

 

…Why not?  You ask.

 

It’s because of what the media missed (through no real fault of their own), is that the underlying message from the studies is that more research and evidence is needed before any real conclusion can be made, and certainly before guidance is changed. Such was the confusion that many of the authors of the studies issued statements to try and clarify the situation; from the British Heart Foundation:

At the moment UK guidelines encourage us to swap saturated fats for unsaturated fats. You might have seen reports about a recent study we helped to fund which suggests there’s not enough evidence to back the current UK guidelines on the types of fat we eat. We think more research is needed before suggesting any major changes to healthy eating guidance.

 

So what does this mean?

 

Well it might turn out that saturated fat isn’t as bad as we all feared but hold off on eating that bacon and cheese sandwich full of butter.

It would be unwise to think that the claims that saturated fat is healthier than we previously thought, provides some sort of answer to our current health crisis. If your already obese and don’t exercise, eating more saturated fat and less sugar is not going to solve your problems.

The issue is further complicated because our overall health is affected by many factors; saturated fats being only part of an equation that includes almost every diet related public health message out there.

 

Why is this?

1. For starters, we don’t eat foods in isolation and many people avoiding saturated fat replace them with equally unhealthy foods.

2.Secondly, fats are twice as high in kcals as other food groups and it’s easy to over consume on a high fat diet and become overweight or obese, which increases heart disease risk. As our national rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease show; with ischemic heart disease a leading cause of death in the UK.(4)

3. Thirdly, a diet high in animal products (a major source of saturated fats) can be a risk factor for cancer.

4. Finally, processed meat products are high in salt, which is a risk factor for heart disease.

 

For now though, the UK Guidance for a cardioprotective diet is:

  1. No more than 30% energy from fat and less than 7% from saturated fat/day*.
  2. Replace saturated fats with mono and polyunsaturated fats.
  3. Aim for 2 servings of oily fish per week.

 *66g of fat and 15g of saturated fat/day based on 2000Kcals.

 

The bottom line, don’t take news stories at face value and appreciate that scientific studies are designed to be read by scientists who can fully evaluate the results; that’s not to dissuade you from taking an interest and reading up on nutrition, and I would recommend the following article: Is butter really back? It was written by the school of public health at Harvard, which does a great job of explaining the situation.

 

 

Article written by: Alex Risby BSc, RD
Feature image source: Krivochenco_Flickr

 

References:
1: Patty W Siri-TarinoQi SunFrank B Hu, and Ronald M Krauss (2010). Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/91/3/535 (accessed May 2015)
2: Chowdhury et-al 2014. Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids With Coronary Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis, http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1846638 (accessed may 2015)
3:Harcombe et-al (2015).  Evidence from randomised controlled trials did not support the introduction of dietary fat guidelines in 1977 and 1983: a systematic review and meta-analysis:  http://openheart.bmj.com/content/2/1/e000196 (accessed may 2015)
4: ONS 2014.Mortality Statistics: Deaths Registered in England and Wales (Series DR), 2013 : http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/mortality-statistics–deaths-registered-in-england-and-wales–series-dr-/2013/stb-deaths-registered-in-england-and-wales-in-2013-by-cause.html#tab-Leading-Causes-of-Death-in-2013

One Lovely Blog Award

Awards

We have been nominated for the ‘One Lovely Blog Award’ by Bekah at: A Vegan With A Plan.

This award is another friendly way of getting to know your fellow bloggers whilst helping to give your blog supportive and mainstream exposure, and of course some recognition for all of your hard work! So we’d like to give a very big thanks to A Vegan With A Plan; we are honoured to have received this lovely nomination!

Bekah is a fellow science head with a love of great food, cooking, and recipe experimentation (especially when it comes to vegan foods!). She’s helping the plant-based/vegan community break out of the box with innovative and updated healthy and tasty meals!  Fellow vegan/plant-based eater or not, we’d recommend checking out her blog. 🙂

 

 

Below are the guidelines/rules for The One Lovely Blog Award.

1. Thank and link back to the person who nominated you (mention your nominator in your own award post with a link back to their original award post, which would be this one).

2. Share 7 things about yourself.

3. Nominate 15 other bloggers and comment on their blogs (usually on their about page or contact directly if necessary) to let them know.

 

 

Here are 7 quick facts about us…

Lynn Alex
1. I used to be a qualified dental nurse before I went on to do a degree in human nutrition. I think that people (over the pond!) would be happy to know that the average British person has better dentition than what ‘Family Guy’ likes to portray! 😀 1. Lynn and I started our plant-based/vegan lifestyle 11 months ago! We are still finding our way but it has been a really tasty and rewarding journey!
2. I love art and food preparation has provided me another artistic outlet. Cooking or baking though? It has to be the former (at least in this part of my life)! Baking might be therapeutic… but it’s not great if there are only two of you to eat the baked goods…and I also feel that eating it on a regular basis is not considered ‘Eating2Health’ (a biscuit is still a biscuit)! 2. Thinks: I know we should be grateful for have a democratic right to vote, but on the eve of an election you wonder what’s the point when after the last one we got a mish-mash government that no one voted for, nobody wanted, that did nothing they promised they would, and many things they said they wouldn’t!
3. We started our blogging journey seven months ago and are really appreciative of all the support and encouragement we have received along the way. 3. I did lots of adrenaline sports (surfing, snowboarding, mountain boarding, power kiting and mountain biking) when I was younger and now sadly I do none.
4. I live in limbo; I still have a hybrid accent after living in England for nearly 16 years! 4. Dietitians (no c!) do more than dispense meal plans and supplements. I work as a mental health Dietitian, but am a therapist as much as I am the diet police!
5. I/we hate social media (especially twitter!); it’s destroying our ability to spell, use punctuation and construct sentences…like…innit…jelly… Lolz…Sorzz Bruv! 5.  I’ve lived in five different locations in the UK!
6. I once met Gordan Ramsey, Lloyd Grossman and Jodie Kidd (but not all at the same time!). 6. I hate reality TV shows (see Lynn’s number 5!).
7. I have 20/20 vision and I’m quietly confident that I won’t need glasses ever (well, fingers crossed!). 7. I have 20/20 vision and I’m quietly confident that I won’t need glasses ever (well, fingers crossed!).

 

Now that you’ve heard these random facts about us, we’d like to nominate 15 other blogs for this fun award. It was hard for us to choose as we have come across so many lovely blogs in the last seven months… but we’d encourage everyone to check these guys out!

  1. The County Fare
  2. Veganquake
  3. Bubbles And Booyah 
  4. Italian Vegan Way of Life
  5. The Green Bowl
  6. The Yoga Journey
  7. Fat Girl to Ironman
  8. Kicking It Whole School
  9. The Circus Gardener’s Kitchen
  10. A Normal Woman’s Guide to (Mostly) Healthy Living
  11. Sweet on Greens
  12. The chaotic life of the Toad
  13. Bright Young food
  14. Active Beans
  15. Cooking With Toddlers

 

 **If any of these blogs are too busy to participate (or simply do not want to!), we fully understand…but we’d like to wish you all the best and happy blogging- keep up the great work everyone!

 

 

Roasted Bell Peppers With Rice & Beans

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 4
Prep & Cooking Time: 50-60 minutes.

Notes: This recipe contains:Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamins C & K, protein, fibre, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and is low in salt!

We hope you’ve all had a great weekend?! We did, despite the wind and rain! It’s also a great feeling to finally have the British summer time kick in (at last)! We didn’t really feel the affect of it though; we both went to bed early! This is only because we donated blood on Saturday and were completely wiped by the evening. We’ll both be working hard over the next few months to restore our iron levels… making ourselves fighting fit and ready for our next donation (#givebloodandsaveuptotwelvelivesperyear)! For anyone interested in discovering more about iron, check out our article here

For those that were joining in on the ‘meat free week‘ last week and loved it! (or have been taking part in the international Meatless Monday’s or Meat free Monday’s experience)… this is a great recipe for you to try! However, anyone that has been following us might remember our stuffed peppers with quinoa we posted last year?! Well if you enjoyed that recipe, then we thoroughly recommend that you try this version!

These peppers are filled with a delicious mixture of rice, black beans and vegetables… seasoned with Mexican-inspired seasoning’s and flavours! Our peppers were slightly too small, so we would recommend getting 1kg worth of peppers! Additionally, we would suggest using slightly less jalapeños than we have instructed- unless you love the heat!

 

Mix it up! Add the flavours, veggies and beans (or lentils) that you prefer!

 

 

Ingredients:

Use a ‘Mexican seasoning mix’ if you have it and omit the cumin, paprika, chilli powder, ground coriander and oregano! NB: This meal (per serving) has moderate amount of saturated fats; to make it low in saturated fats, use some low-fat cooking oil instead of the rapeseed oil instructed!

 

 

Directions:

 Drain and wash your beans (if applicable).

 

Wash, slice the tops off the peppers (but do not discard) and then de-seed them. Discard the stem and finely chop the tops of the peppers. Place the peppers onto a microwavable plate. Heat in a microwave for approx. 6 minutes or until softened. Remove.

 

 

 

Place them into a baking tray. Allow to cool slightly.

 

 

 In the meantime, peel and chop the onion and the garlic.

 

 

Wash, remove the stem and dice the tomato. Chop the pineapple into small cubes. Drain and dice the jalapeño slices.

 

 

Wash and dice the chives. Wash, trim the end and finely slice the spring onion.

We used frozen chives; we got them out of the freezer just before we needed them.

 

 

Meanwhile, heat 2/3 of  the oil in a large, non-stick saucepan.

Alternatively use some fry spray (low-fat cooking oil)!

 

 

Add the onion and garlic. Gently fry for 1-2 minutes or until softened.

 

 

Add the pepper ‘tops’. Stir to combine. Gently fry for a further minute.

 

 

Add the beans, rice, nuts.

 

 

Stir together.

 

 

Pour in the boiling stock or water. Stir together.

 

 

Cover with a lid. Bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cook for approx. 8-10 minutes.

 

 

In the meantime, prepare the white sauce.

NB: The sauce will be thicker than most other sauces….this is to make sure it ‘sits’ on top of the peppers whilst cooking! This sauce is similar to the one we used in our lasagne!

 

  • Step 1)  Heat a non-stick saucepan over a medium-low heat.
  • Step 2)  Add the spread.
  • Step 3)  When it melts, add the flour.
  • Step 4)  Stick together quickly until combined and a roux is formed.
  • Step 5)  Pour in the milk. Add the onion and garlic powder, thyme and         oregano. Whisk together; dissolving the roux.
  • Step 6)  Keep whisking until the sauce thickens.
  • Step 7)  Remove from the heat. Taste and season with some salt and black pepper (as necessary).
  • Step 8)  Leave covered until you are ready to use it; stir once before adding it to the peppers.

 

 

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Gently use the remaining oil (or some low-fat cooking oil) and grease the outside of the peppers.

 

 

Remove the saucepan from the heat.

 

 

Add the cumin, paprika, chilli powder and coriander.

 

 

Followed by the tomato, pineapple, chives, approx. 3/4 of the spring onion and the juice. Stir to combine and coat in the seasoning. Taste and season to taste (if necessary).

 

 

Spoon and push the rice mixture into the peppers.

Our peppers were not quite big enough..so we used some make-shift ‘ramekin peppers’ instead!

 

 

Top with the sauce. Garnish with the remaining spring onion.

NB: If preferred, garnish them after they are baked…as the onions will lose their vibrant shade of green whilst they cook!.

 

 

Place the tray into the oven. Roast for 20-30 minutes of until the peppers and sauce is lightly browned and the rice is completely cooked. Remove.

NB: Finished! Ours took 27 minutes. Adjust your cooking times according to the type of rice used.

 

 

In the meantime, steam some kale (or whatever other dark, leafy greens that you desire!).

 

 

 Serve warm. Place the kale into the bottom of a serving bowl. Place the pepper into the centre of the kale.

We garnished ours with some dried chives and a few extra pieces of pineapple. 🙂

 

 

Enjoy!

It”s realllyyy tasty folks!

 

 

Refrigerate any leftovers in a resealable container (ideally within an hour after cooking); reheat and consume within 1-2 days.

NB: When reheating, always check to make sure the rice is steaming hot all the way through and do not reheat the rice more than once. 

Roasted Cauliflower & Almond Soup

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 6
Prep & Cooking Time: 40-45 minutes

Notes: This recipe contains: B-Vitamins, Vitamins C & E, protein, fibre, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and is low in salt and saturated fats!

This is probably one of our last soup recipes for a while. We meal planned for another soup- based lunch this week as the weather has yet to pick up (#wherehasspringgone)!

So, what can we say but this soup…well it’s fibre-licious! It’s not too surprising as our recipes are normally crammed full of delicious veggies! We found that the roasted cauliflower added a slightly nutty element to an already nutty base. The only amendments we would make would be to adjust the amount of cauliflower or liquid (stock, milk and/or water) used. This is because the soup (even though it’s tasty and highly recommended by us!) was a little thicker than we would have liked; luckily although it was thick, it was not a ‘heavy soup’! We would suggest reducing the amount of cauliflower by approx. 500-600g or increasing the volume of liquid used by approx. 500-600ml. Additionally, it you would like a smoother consistency, use ground almonds instead of whole ones; personally, we liked the grainy texture! 🙂

The ingredients list shows our original measurements but feel free to experiment! 

 

 

Ingredients:

+++++++++++++++++++++++++1.4kg       Cauliflower head
+++++++++++++++++++++++++200g      White onion
+++++++++++++++++++++++++100g       Celery stalk
+++++++++++++++++++++++++30ml       Rapeseed oil
+++++++++++++++++++++++++2g            Ground nutmeg
+++++++++++++++++++++++++                Salt & ground black pepper
+++++++++++++++++++++++++60g         Almonds (unsalted)
+++++++++++++++++++++++++450ml     Vegetable Stock (low-sat/DF; GF if required)
+++++++++++++++++++++++++200ml     Soya or Almond Milk (unsweetened & fortified)
+++++++++++++++++++++++++650ml     Water

 

 

Directions:

Heat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a baking tray with a silicone mat or parchment paper.

 

 

In the meantime, remove the outer leaves from the cauliflower and discard them. Cut the cauliflower head into half and break (or cut) off the florets from the stem. Discard the stem. Wash and soak the florets in a large container full of cold water. Drain.

Sometimes it’s just easier to clean large quantities of chopped vegetables in this manner! 🙂

 

 

Lightly pat the cauliflower dry.

We placed them onto the baking tray (lined with kitchen paper) and patted them dry.

 

 

Pour a little of the oil onto the tray and spread it evenly over the surface.

NB: Use a pastry brush, silicone spatula or your fingers! 🙂

 

 

Place the cauliflower onto the mat. Sprinkle over half the quantity of nutmeg. Season it to taste with some salt and black pepper. Drizzle over the remaining oil.

NB: Using your hands, toss the cauliflower around in the oil.

 

 

Place it into the oven. Roast for 25-35 minutes or until lightly browned and tender; turn once (if desired). Remove. Leave on the tray and allow to cool.

We baked ours for 35 minutes, but it probably could have come out after about 30!

 

 

In the meantime, heat a small, non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat.

 

 

Add the almonds. Dry roast until lightly browned and/or they start to ‘pop’.

 

 

Remove from the heat. Transfer into a small dish. Allow to cool slightly.

 

 

Meanwhile, peel and dice the onion. Wash, trim the ends and slice the celery.

 

 

Place the frying pan back over a medium-low heat. Once hot add a spoonful of water. When it starts to bubble, add the onion and celery.

 

 

Gently stir together. Cover with a lid. Steam-fry for approx 5 minutes or until tender. Stir occasionally and add more water if necessary. Remove from the heat.

 

 

In the meantime, add the almonds into a blender. Pour in the stock. Allow to soak.

 

 

Add the onion and celery into the blender.

 

 

Blend until processed.

 

 

Add as much cauliflower as your blender will allow.

 

 

Blend until smooth.

 

 

Pour the mixture into a large saucepan or resealable container.

 

 

Add the remaining cauliflower and the milk into the blender. Process until smooth.

 

 

Pour into the applicable saucepan or container. Stir together.

 

 

Add the remaining nutmeg. Pour in the remaining water.

 

 

Stir to combine. Taste and season as necessary.

 

 

Place the saucepan over a medium-low heat. Gently warm (if applicable).

 

 

Serve warm. Ladle into serving bowls.

We garnished ours with a few whole almonds (for a little bit of crunch!) and a sprinkle of dried chives and chilli flakes for colour. 🙂

 

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Refrigerate in a resealable container; consume within 2-3 days. Alternatively, freeze in a resealable container(s); defrost, reheat and consume within 1-2 months.

Soya & Vegetable Spaghetti Bolognese

Healthy Recipes, Meatless Monday

Serves: 4
Prep & Cooking Time: 35-40 mins
Type: Main Meal
Tools: Chopping Board, sharp knife, sieve, bowl, 2* non-stick pots, wooden spoon

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamin C, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, iron, potassium and per serving is low in added salt, sugars and saturated fats.

‘Veganising’ a recipe of this nature was effortless! In no time at all we created a pasta sauce that is not only plant-based and versatile but most importantly, nutritious and delicious! If you’ve never used dried soya mince before and/or fancy something new for your pasta night, we’d thoroughly suggest that you give this recipe a try! It’s packed full of great flavours from a tasty medley of veggies and seasoning’s alike (hint: the soya mince is great at absorbing of all these tasty elements from your dish!), and a wonderful ‘meaty’ texture from the mince! Serve it over some hearty wholemeal or GF spaghetti and you’re good to go!

It’s good to note that:

  • We used some frozen veggies because we had some on hand, but feel free to use fresh, frozen and/or anything seasonal!

 

Quick Foodie Facts:

  • This meal contains about 4 servings of vegetables (per serving/*based on four servings) towards you 5-A-Day! 
  • The soya mince is easy to use, inexpensive and also a great source of protein! Check out some of other health benefits from soya products mentioned here.

Happy cooking everyone!

 

Ingredients

++++++++++++180g        Frozen Mushrooms
++++++++++++100g        Frozen Bell Peppers
++++++++++++80g          White Onion
++++++++++++8g            Garlic Clove
++++++++++++240g        Courgette
++++++++++++180g         Carrot
++++++++++++50g          Dehydrated Soya Mince
++++++++++++                 Low-Fat Cooking Oil
++++++++++++ 10g          Balsamic Vinegar (2 tbsp.)
++++++++++++10g           Lemon Juice (2 tbsp.)
++++++++++++4g             Herb Blend (2g of each: Dried Basil & Dried Oregano)
++++++++++++2g             Sweet Paprika
++++++++++++                 Salt & Ground Black Pepper
++++++++++++2               Tins Plum Tomatoes (800g/ unsalted)
++++++++++++40g          Tomato Purée (unsalted)
++++++++++++65-80g    Wholemeal Spaghetti (use GF if required)/person

Need an easy-print recipe? Print here. 🙂

 

Directions

  • If you’re using frozen mushrooms and bell peppers, place them into a microwavable dish. Place them into a microwave and defrost them. Drain.
  • Alternatively wash and prepare any fresh mushrooms and peppers to your own personal preferences. Prepare the remaining vegetables. Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic. Wash the courgette, trim off its ends, slice it (vertically) and then chop it into thin slices. Wash, trim the ends, peel and then dice the carrot.
  • Rehydrate the soya mince according to the packet instructions. Drain. Tip: Make sure to follow the instructions to a ‘T’! We used about 150ml of freshly boiled (and seasoned) water; the whole process took about 7 mins.

 

In the meantime…

  • Heat a non-stick pot over a medium-low heat. Spray it with some low-fat cooking oil.
  • Add the onion and garlic. Gently fry for 1-2 mins or until softened.
  • Add the mushrooms, bell pepper, courgette and carrot. Gently fry for 3-4 mins or until softened.
  • Add 2 tbsp vinegar, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 4g herb blend and sweet paprika. Season it to taste with some salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Mix to coat.
  • Add the tin tomatoes and tomato purée. Mix to combine. Tip: Use the edge of your frying spatula or wooden spoon to crush the tomatoes. 
  • Add the rehydrated soya mince. Stir it through the sauce.
  • Cover with a lid. Simmer and cook for about 12 mins, stirring occasionally. NB: Leave the lid loosely covering the pot for the last half of the cooking process.
  • Remove from the heat. Taste and season the sauce as necessary. Tip: Tinned tomatoes can be slightly bitter; if necessary just add a pinch of sugar or sweetener to help balance out the flavours! Leave the pot covered until you are ready to serve. Give the sauce a good stir before serving.
  • Meantime, cook the pasta according to the packet instructions whilst the sauce is cooking. Drain.

 

Serve warm. Transfer the pasta into a large serving bowl. Ladle over the sauce. Tip: A drizzle of balsamic glaze or a scattering of fresh herbs and/or toasted pine nuts would make for an extra tasty finish!

 

Enjoy!

 

Refrigerate any leftovers in an air-tight and resealable container; reheat and consume within 2-3 days. Alternatively freeze in a resealable container(s); best consumed within 1-2 months, just defrost and reheat before use.

Oriental Vegetable & Rice Bowl

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 2
Prep & Cooking time: 35-40 minutes

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-vitamins, Vitamins C, K & E, protein, fibre, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and is low in saturated fats!

Who doesn’t love a bowl full of ‘colourful goodness’?! This recipe has all the flavours of a stir-fry but without actually stir-frying!  It’s a simple, nutritious, frugal, and tasty meal that you can throw together any time of the week! Use fresh or frozen ingredients; check out our other ideas below for further ways to adapt this recipe! 

Quick facts:

  • This recipe contains approx 4.5 portions of fruit/vegetables towards your 5-A-Day!
  • This is a high fibre meal (talk about pointing out the bleeding obvious!)!

 

We didn’t use the low-fat cooking oil; we ended up steaming and boiling everything instead!

 

 

Ingredients:

 

Nutritional Info:

NB: Per serving, this recipe contains moderate amounts (orange traffic light alert!) of fat and salt and low levels (green traffic light!) of saturated fat; there is approximately 1.8g of added sugar/serving (another green traffic light!).

 

 

Directions:

Cook the rice according to the packet instructions.

 

 

Meanwhile, place a small pot full of cold water over a medium-low heat. Bring to the boil. Add the beans. Reduce to a simmer. Cook for 4-6 minutes or until tender. Drain.

It was a freezer ‘clean out’! We used 50g of soya beans and 30g of broad beans.

 

 

In the meantime, cut the stalk off the head of broccoli. Separate the florets from the remaining stem; cut the florets into halves (or quarters if preferred). Discard the stalk/stem (or prepare it and use it in your meal!) and wash the florets.

 

 

Wash, trim the ends, peel and chop the carrot into ‘match-stick’ pieces.

 

 

Place the broccoli and carrot into a steamer pot with some cold water. Bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer. Steam for 4-5 minutes or until just tender. Drain.

 

 

In the meantime, wash, peel and grate the ginger. Wash, remove the stem, de-seed (keep the seeds intact if you prefer spicier dishes!) and chop the chilli into thin strips. Wash, trim the ends and chop the onion into half (tops & bottoms); finely slice the onion and keep the halves separated. Wash, remove the stem, de-seed and chop the bell pepper into cubes.

 

 

Meanwhile, prepare the dressing. Place the ginger, chilli, onion (top half only), soya sauce, vinegar, sugar, lime juice and oil (if using) into a large measuring jug. Mix to combine and dissolve the sugar.

 

 

Place the beans, broccoli, carrot and bell pepper into a large mixing bowl.

 

 

Pour over the dressing.

 

 

Mix to coat. Taste and season/flavour it as necessary.

We added a little bit more lime juice!

 

 

Serve warm. Place the rice into a large serving bowl.

 

 

Add the vegetable mixture. Garnish with the remaining onion and peanuts.

We added a sprinkling of sesame seeds on the rice. 🙂

 

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Refrigerate any leftovers in a resealable container (ideally, place the rice into the fridge within an hour after cooking); reheat and consume within 1-2 days.

NB: When reheating, always check to make sure the rice is steaming hot all the way through and do not reheat the rice more than once. 

 

If preferred…

  • Make the vegetable medley and dressing your own!  NB: Try making a spicy mustard vinaigrette or sweet chilli dressing- the sky is the limit!
  • Use quinoa, millet, brown long grain rice, wholemeal pasta or buckwheat soba noodles instead of the basmati rice!
  • We recommend washing down this meal with a small glass of unsweetened and fortified almond milk!

 

Vegan Koftes With Savoury Rice &A Minty Soya Yoghurt [Vegan & Gluten Free]

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 3-4
Prep: 30 mins
Baking Time: 20-30 mins
Type: Main Meal
Tools: Grater, serving plate(s), clean tea towel, chopping board, sharp knife, colander, non-stick frying pan, frying spatula, food processor, silicone spatula, mixing bowl, 6 metal or wooden skewers, baking tray, parchment paper, small non-stick pot w/lid (for rice), large serving dish
Recipe adapted from: Jamie Oliver

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamins C & K, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, no added sugars and is low in added salt and fats!

Firstly, we would like to thank Jamie for this great recipe! 

Classic koftes (which include various and many!) are typically made with ground meat, spices, onion and some sort of binding agent such as, bulgur wheat, bread crumbs or rice. Apart from containing meat, this recipe tries to use the same principles. It’s one of the many creative recipes that has come out of Jamie’s kitchen!

This recipe is easy to follow and tastes delicious! It’s also great to see chefs inspiring people to cook healthy and delicious recipes (that also happen to be vegan!); great recipes don’t always need to include butter, cream, milk or loads of salt! These types of recipes also help to break down the stigma that surrounds vegan foods; it’s a great example that supports the argument that vegan foods are not boring, bland, or gross! Thanks Jamie! 

We prepared his recipe once before (last Christmas…when we also trialled his ‘vegan nut roast‘!) to the letter! However, we’re not big fans of shallow/pan frying (and we’re pretty sure trying to pan fry these beauties with low-fat cooking oil just wouldn’t cut it in this case!), nor do we love using coconut products. So we have adapted some of the ingredients along with the preparation and cooking methods used this time around.

When we make these koftes again, we will probably also add some chopped mint into the kofte mixture and use a bit more spinach.

We think that this recipe could be used to make ‘baked falafels’- especially if you are short on time. Check out our falafel recipe for similar preparation instructions! 

Whether these are incorporated into your main meal or used as a quick snack, we would thoroughly recommend them and hope they make you as happy as they did us.

Happy cooking everyone! 🙂

 

Ingredients..check! Let’s start cooking!

 

Ingredients

 

Nutritional Info (Koftes only)

 

 

Directions

 Wash, trim the ends and coarsely grate the courgette.

…Or ‘zucchini’ for everyone in North America!

 

 

Take another serving plate and place a clean dish cloth over it.

 

 

Place the courgette into the middle of the cloth. Sprinkle it with some salt. Gather and bunch the cloth together. Leave it for about five mins; the salt will help draw out some of the moisture from the courgette.

 

 

In the meantime, peel and dice the onion and garlic. Wash, peel and coarsely grate the ginger.

 

 

Meanwhile, heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium-low heat. Spray with some low-fat cooking oil.

 

 

Over the sink, twist and squeeze the cloth to remove the excess moisture from the courgette.

Leave the courgette on the cloth until you need it.

 

 

Meanwhile, add the onion, garlic and ginger to the pan. Gently fry for 1-2 minutes or until softened. Remove from the heat. Allow it to cool slightly

Just be careful not to burn it!

 

 

In the meantime, place the bread into a toaster or under a heated oven grill; gently heat and until crispy and golden brown. Place the toast into a food processor. Blitz until breadcrumbs are achieved. Do not remove.

 

 

Meanwhile, open, drain and rinse the chickpeas. Wash and dry the coriander and the spinach. Wash and then zest half of the lemon.

 

 

Place the chickpeas, 4g ground cumin,4g  ground coriander and 2g sweet paprika into the food processor. Gently rip the fresh coriander into half and drop that in too! Season it to taste with some salt and black pepper.

 

 

Add the courgette, spinach and half of the quantity of the zest.

 

 

Pulse until chunky and smooth.

NB: You might have to use your spatula to press and move the mixture around one or two times whilst you pulse the mixture.

 

 

Remove and transfer the mixture into a large mixing bowl. Divide the mixture into equal portions.

Annoyingly, we only had six skewers …other wise we would have made eight koftes!

 

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Lightly spray it with some low-fat cooking oil. Get out six to eight cooking skewers (NB: We recommend using metal ones).

 

  • Take one portion and roll it on a clean work surface (or use your baking sheet) to form a long ‘sausage’ shape.
  • Slide the skewer into the centre of the kofte (lengthways); gently re-roll the kofte if the positioning of the skewer is not exact.
  • Leave the prepared kofte to one side of the baking tray. Repeat these steps until all of the mixture used been used.
  • Light spray them with some low-fat cooking oil. Place the baking tray onto the middle oven shelf. Bake for about 12 mins.

NB: If necessary, use lightly floured  or wet hands for this step.

NB: Some of our skewers initially poked out of the sides!

 

 

In the meantime, cook the rice according to the packet instructions.

 

 

Meanwhile, prepare the minty yoghurt! Wash, dry and remove the mint leaves off the stem; roughly chop. Wash, trim the ends and dice the cucumber. Add the mint and cucumber to a small bowl with the yoghurt. Add the lemon juice. Mix together. Taste and season as necessary.

The original recipe recommends removing and discarding the fleshy seeds, but we left them intact.

 

 

Meanwhile, remove the baking tray from the oven. Increase the oven temperature to 200°C/400°F. Using a palate knife or spatula, gently turn the koftes over. Respray with some low-fat cooking oil. Place the baking tray back into the oven. Bake for a further 15-17 mins or until lightly brown and firm to the touch. Remove. Leave them on the baking tray. Allow to cool slightly.

Turned, sprayed and ready for round two!

Through the magic of time- baked koftes! *We baked ours for a further 17 minutes.

 

 

In the meantime, prepare any other ingredients you want to include in the rice.

We used some leftover roasted vegetables along with some fresh ones! NB: We placed our tomatoes in a sieve to remove any excess water.

 

 

Transfer the cooked the rice into a large mixing bowl. Fluff the grains with a fork. Add the mint, coriander, tomatoes and the remaining zest. Mix together. Season it to taste with some salt and a few grinds of black pepper.

 

 

Serve warm. Now it’s decision time everyone! The serving style is up to you…but we went for the big, bold/sharing method!

 Follow our lead!

Transfer the rice into a large serving dish.

We also added a dish of low-fat houmous!

 

Add the remaining vegetables. Garnish with the radish, nuts and lemon wedges.

 

Top with the koftes…

 

Serve with minty yoghurt…

 

…and drizzle over some tahini sauce (if desired)!

As soon as the picnic season returns, this tray is going to be joining us in the park- there’s no doubt about that!! NB: You can make your own tahini sauce or buy a low-fat one (like us). Alternatively, try Jamie’s ‘nutty sauce’ in his original recipe! 🙂

 

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Refrigerate any leftovers in resealable containers; ideally refrigerate any rice within an hour after cooking. Reheat and consume any rice within 1-2 days; the koftes and yoghurt are best consumed within 2-3 days.

NB: When reheating, always check to make sure the rice is steaming hot all the way through and do not reheat the rice more than once. 

 

 

If preferred…

  • As always, serve your meal with many, many vegetables!
  • Use a dried (and cooked) variety of chickpeas (or try some broad beans) instead!
  • Serve with some millet, couscous, quinoa, a warmed wholemeal or multi-grain pita or some tabbouleh instead of rice.
  • Replace the spinach for some wild rocket or steamed (and dried) kale!
  • Add some fresh green or red chilli to the kofte mixture… if you prefer things a little spicier!

Red Kidney Bean and Lentil Dip/Spread

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 8-10
Prep, Cooking & Assembly time: 35-40 minutes

Notes: This recipe contains: B-vitamins, protein, fibre, calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and is low in salt, sugar and fats!

This recipe is great for those that love hearty dips and have a love affair with spices. If you are not too keen on mustard and/or horseradish, you will need to adapt this dip with some other great flavourings; try some fresh herbs or perhaps an ethnic seasoning, e.g. Mexican, Asian, Thai or Moroccan- make it your own! We think that the kidney beans and lentils create a great ‘blank canvas’ for most any flavour!

This dip (or spread) is delicious and great for accompanying your tasty snacks or ‘zesting up’ your favourite sandwich! We hope that you enjoy it as much as we did! 🙂

Need some further inspiration in the kitchen? Start by checking out our other great dips!

 

NB: We didn’t add any table salt to our recipe; the horseradish added enough seasoning. *Kidney beans (drained wt. approx 240g)

 

Ingredients:

++++++++++++++++++++1           Tin red kidney beans (unsalted water)
++++++++++++++++++++80g     Dried red spilt lentils
++++++++++++++++++++90g     White onion
++++++++++++++++++++1g         Mustard powder
++++++++++++++++++++1g         Sweet paprika
++++++++++++++++++++            Ground black pepper
++++++++++++++++++++12g       Horse radish sauce (or 3g paste)
++++++++++++++++++++100g    Plain soya yoghurt (unsweetened)

 

 

Nutritional Info:

 

If you’re a fan of using the FSA traffic light system, this is another one of our dips that gets green lights all the way!

 This is another great recipe for those leading a healthier lifestyle. 🙂

 

 

Directions:

Cook the lentils according to the packet instructions. Drain. Allow to cool slightly.

 

 

In the meantime, open, drain and rinse the beans.

 

 

Peel and chop the onion into quarters. Place it into a food processor.

 

 

Pulse until minced. Using a spatula, scrape all the onion from the sides of the container and push it into the bottom.

 

 

Add the beans, lentils, mustard powder and paprika. Season it to taste with some black pepper.

 

 

Add the horseradish and yoghurt.

 

 

Pulse until almost smooth and combined (make it as chunky as you desire). Taste and season it as preferred.