Friday, 23 January 2015

Iced Pomegranate Green Tea + Aloha Collaboration

Vegan - Vegetarian - Gluten free - Dairy free - Paleo - Oil Free - No Added Sugar - No Added Salt

This isn't just an ordinary post where I simply give you a recipe for yet another one of my delicious iced beverages. This is a special post. I was approached by Hannah VanderWeide from the organisation, Aloha, and she asked me to write up a blog post, helping her with a project Aloha are currently working on. The project involves bloggers, like me, writing up a post containing our own personal advice about staying as healthy as possible during the winter months. So this is my contribution to the project.

I have decided to post a new recipe that will help one's immune system stay on top form during those harsh winter months. Then, I will link a few of my previous recipes, which will also help the immune system fight off any nasty winter niggles. And finally, I will then list a few of my own personal tips, tried and tested by yours truly, which all aid in keeping you feeling your best throughout the whole of winter.

This is a recipe for an iced pomegranate flavoured green tea. I will list the benefits of green tea below, referring specifically to how it can be helpful to you during the winter months in particular.

Green tea has endless benefits when it comes to health. It is packed with antioxidants and nutrients that have powerful effects on the body. Green tea has been shown to improve brain function, aid in weight loss, prevent the risk of developing cancer and loads of other diseases, among many other benefits. But in relation to protecting your immune system during the winter months in particular, the catechins in green tea have been proven to kill bacteria and inhibit viruses, such as influenza.   

So basically, if you want to avoid the dreaded winter sniffles, drink up!

Iced Pomegranate Green Tea

1 pomegranate green tea bag
Boiling water
1 teaspoon coconut sugar (or sweetener of choice)
2 large/4 small coconut water ice cubes/normal ice cubes (optional)

- Boil the kettle with an ample amount of water.
- Put a pomegranate green tea bag into your serving glass of choice. 

- Pour the boiling water into the serving glass, almost all the way to the top.
- Then add your sweetener and stir it to fully dissolve and incorporate it into the tea.
- Allow the tea to come to room temperature.
- Then, place the tea into the fridge to steep and chill for four to eight hours (or over night).
- When the tea has steeped and is chilled, remove the tea bag from the glass.
- I add two large coconut water ice cubes to my iced drinks (for extra nutrition) but you can add two to four normal ice cubes, depending on their size.

- This is an optional step, as you can drink the iced tea straight from the fridge.

I got my pomegranate green tea from Tesco. But you can use ordinary green tea if you can't find it, it works perfectly either way and is just as delicious and nutritious. 

Here are a few previous recipes of mine which will also help your immune system during the chilly months:

Iced Green Tea
Green Tea Steeped Porridge
Sunrise Citrus Orange Porridge
Blueberry Super Smoothie
Green Tea Smoothie
Improved Digestion Pro-biotic Smoothie
Super Charged Green Monster Smoothie
Raspberry Vitality Smoothie
Home-Made Lemon Iced Tea
Home-Made Healthy Brocolli Coleslaw
Home-Made Healthy Hot Chocolate

Now, to finish off my post, I'll leave you with a few of my personal favourite tips for surviving winter!
1. Take a multi-vitamin.
2. Drink plenty of hot drinks (tea, coffee or hot chocolate).
3. Drink soup often.
4. Eat plenty of fruits & vegetables.
5. Eat hot dinners whenever possible (stew, casseroles, etc.)
6. Take sugar free Strepsils if you have a sore throat.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Home-Made Banana Protein Milk

Vegetarian - Gluten Free - Paleo - Oil Free - No Added Sugar - No Added Salt

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a celebratory New Years Eve. I certainly did! 2014 was a great year for me overall. A few of my personal achievements this passed year include; starting my course through Image Fitness Training, becoming a qualified Fitness Instructor and Group Class Instructor, competing in Miss Bikini Swimsuit Ireland 2014, I am over a year with my boyfriend and I also went to the Electric Picnic 2014. I also feel like I learned so much during 2014, I met loads of new people and personally feel like I grew, somewhat, as a person. 

But after all the Christmas and New Years celebrations, I think a few of you will agree with me here, that it is definitely time to get back on track regarding health and fitness. I one hundred percent believe in the moto 'everything in moderation' but it's times like these, after the Christmas holidays and many consecutive days of feasting and alcohol consumption, it truly is appropriate to 'detox' in my opinion. If any of you are interested in how I carry out a 'detox' then comment below and let me know. If a few people are interested, I can definitely write up a blog post about it. 

Along with getting my healthy eating back on track, I am also getting my fitness back on track, as the gym is open again now, after being closed over the Christmas season. So do you know what that means for me? Resistance training. Weights. Lifting! I am hoping that the indulging over Christmas will give me loads of energy to get the most out of my workouts (and secretly hoping that all that food will go to my buttocks). And you know what goes hand-in-hand with resistance training? Protein! Post-workout protein milk/shakes to be exact. This is my recipe for my home-made banana protein milk. Perfect for post-workout as it contains protein (from the milk) and carbohydrates (from the banana). People underestimate just how much carbohydrates are actually as important as protein after a workout. They are equally as important!

As some of you will already know from reading my previous posts, protein powder (the concentrated level of protein) doesn't agree with my digestive system, so I have to get my protein from more natural sources. That's why I adore Avonmore 1% Fat Protein Milk. It's been a life-saver for me. So this recipe includes that product. Of course, you can alter this recipe to include your own protein powder of choice. Just incorporate a single serving of your protein powder (it should be an all natural, flavourless powder) along with the banana and water or milk. 

Home-Made Banana Protein Milk

1/2 large banana
250ml/1 cup banana protein milk

- Peel and half a large banana and chop one half of the banana into coin sized pieces.
- Measure out 250ml or 1 cup of Avonmore 1% Fat Protein Milk.
- Place the half of the banana, now chopped, and the milk into a blender, food processor or a tall and wide jug (if using a hand-held immersion blender like me).
- Blend the milk and banana until completely incorporated and smooth.
- Pour into a serving glass or protein shaker and consume immediately or keep refridgerated until ready for consumption. 

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas... Spiced Hot Chocolate

Vegetarian - Gluten Free - Paleo - Oil Free - No Added Sugar - No Added Salt
Merry Christmas Eve to all! I am sitting here, eating a Terry's Dark Chocolate Orange, as I write this post. Could it get much more Christmas-y than that? Well I just want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy Christmas and say that I hope you all really enjoy your day tomorrow. I'll post again before the New Year, to wish you all the best for 2015.

My boyfriend and I are exchanging gifts today, because I won't get to see him tomorrow, as both of us will be spending the day with our immediate families. So I am super excited about opening my presents, and vise versa, with him opening his!

So this is my last Christmas themed recipe that I have prepared for you all. I hope you like. I highly recommend that you give this one a try. The taste and aroma of this one just screams Christmas!

Christmas... Spiced Hot Chocolate

1 cup/250ml Avonmore 1% fat protein milk
1 tablespoon cacao powder/unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 - 1 tablespoon maple syrup/honey/agave nectar
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon mixed spice

- Measure out the milk and pour it into a microwave safe mug.
- Microwave the milk, on high, for 60 to 90 seconds. The milk should be scalded, but not boiling.
- Once the milk is heated, measure out to cacao powder, maple syrup and mixed spice.
- Add these ingredients to the hot milk and stir well to thoroughy combine.
- Once combined, either drink the hot chocolate as is, or use a milk frother (like me), to froth the hot chocolate until bubbly perfection.
- Dust the hot chocolate with ground cinnamon to finish.

As always, you can use whatever milk that you prefer, dairy or dairy free. I choose to use 1/2 a tablespoon of maple syrup for my hot chocolate, as I don't like it too sweet. If you like your hot chocolate a bit sweeter, use one full tablespoon of liquid sweetener.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Christmas... Peanut Butter Pretzel 'Sandwiches'

Vegan - Vegetarian - Dairy Free - Oil Free - No Added Sugar - No Added Salt

We all know that pretzels are a food type commonly consumed at Christmas time. Though, this tradition is more widely associated with Americans. But I have to admit, whether it's a large, soft pretzel or a mini, crunchy pretzel, it's like love-at-first-bite for me. It's just the combination of the slight smoky favour that a pretzel encapsulates along with the saltiness it too contains. And do you know what goes perfectly with a smoky, salty pretzel? Peanut butter! You heard it here first. 

Pretzels are a relatively healthy type of food. They are low calorie, contain a minimal number of all natural ingredients and supply us with carbohydrates which gives us energy. And believe it or not, soft pretzels actually contain a high percentage of protein. A large, soft pretzel can contain up to 10 grams of protein naturally. And even though pretzels contain refined white four, they can be made into a balanced meal or snack by pairing them with a food high in protein or high in healthy fats. Peanut butter is the perfect accompaniment as it is high in both protein and healthy fats.

I used a packet of mini pretzels which I bought from Marks & Spencer's. These snack packs are already portion controlled, and each one contains less than 100 calories. But if you have a large bag of pretzels, simply read the serving suggestion and measure out 100 calories worth of pretzels. Mini pretzels are ideal for this recipe. 

This recipe can also be easily made gluten free, by using gluten free pretzels which can be purchased from most health food stores, such as Holland & Barrett or The Heath Store. 

As always, the peanut butter I am using is made by the health food brand, Kelkin. I use crunchy peanut butter, to add more texture to the recipe, but you can use smooth if you prefer. 

Christmas... Peanut Butter Pretzel 'Sandwiches'

1 snack packet of mini pretzels 
1 tablespoon crunchy peanut butter

- Measure out the tablespoon of peanut butter.
- Using a butter knife, spread small dollops of the peanut butter onto the mini pretzels.
- Use an additional mini pretzel to 'sandwich' the peanut butter and create the 'pretzel sandwich' effect.
- Any unused pretzels, once all of the peanut butter is gone, can be eaten along side the pretzel sandwiches.
- This recipe is best chilled in the fridge for 30 minutes after preparing, to set the peanut butter slightly, but can be enjoyed immediately. 

Monday, 22 December 2014

Christmas... Classic Hot Chocolate

Vegetarian - Gluten Free - Paleo - Oil Free - No Added Sugar - No Added Salt

I'm so sorry for the serious lack of posts recently. I have just been so busy with my Image Fitness Training course. I had exams a few weeks ago and have just got feedback that I am now an officially qualified EQF Level 3 Fitness Instructor and an EQF Level 3 Group Class Instructor. I have three weeks off for Christmas, so thankfully, I have some time to post a few recipes. But then I will be heading back for another month or so to finish off the course; the EQF Level 4 Personal Training qualification. 

I have also just recently starting working at my local gym; Fitsquadgym. So I have been busy with that too. I just started doing classes at the gym. So far, I've just done the class 'Legs, Bums & Tums' but I should be starting more soon. So anyone from Edenderry, Co. Offaly or the surrounding areas whose reading this and are interested in doing a class thought by me, call on up to Fitsquadgym or get in touch via the Facebook page for more information.

So after getting all of that off my chest, on with the recipe. Of course, I have a few Christmas themed recipes to share with you all. 

Christmas is a time for celebration! It's a time to be spent with family and friends. It's a time for exchanging gifts and a time for good food to be enjoyed by all. And let's not forget, it's also a time for religious celebrations, if your that way inclined. 

But in my personal opinion, my favourite thing about Christmas is, when family or friends open the presents that I had gotten for them! I just love to see their reactions and the expressions on their faces. I make a real effort to ensure that all of the presents that I get my family or friends, are as personal to that particular person as possible. Or, I try to get them something that they have always really wanted or something that they just would never have gotten for themselves.

But my second favourite thing about Christmas has got to be the food. Particularly Christmas dinner. But even tough I completely believe in the concept of 'everything in moderation', I still believe that if there is a healthy alternative to an unhealthy food favourite of yours, why not choose the healthy option? Your body will thank you for it! And for me, this is particularly important over the Christmas period. Take this recipe for example. Say one of my sisters makes a steaming mug of hot chocolate on one of these cold, wintry December nights, and the smell of it is just going to my heart, I can still enjoy a hot chocolate with them. Because I am armed with the knowledge of how to create a healthy alternative. And I want to share this knowledge with you all. So you, too, can do the same. Who says we have to sacrifice our health just because it's Christmas? 

Christmas... Classic Hot Chocolate

250ml/1 cup Avonmore 1% fat protein milk
1 tablespoons cacao powder/unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 - 1 tablespoon 100% pure maple syrup/honey/agave nectar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

- Measure out the milk and pour it into a microwave safe mug. 
- Microwave the milk, on high, for 60 to 90 seconds. The milk should be scalded, but not boiling.
- Once the milk is heated, measure out to cacao powder, maple syrup and vanilla extract.
- Add these ingredients to the hot milk and stir well to thoroughy combine. 
- Once combined, either drink the hot chocolate as is, or use a milk frother (like me), to froth the hot chocolate until bubbly perfection. 
- Dust the hot chocolate with additional cacao powder to finish it off. 

I use Avonmore 1% fat protein milk for this recipe, because I try to include more protein in my diet, but you can use any dairy or dairy free milk of your choice for this recipe, it will still work perfectly. I use cacao powder because it is the purest and the healthiest form of chocolate available to us. But alternatively, you can use unsweetened cocoa powder. I also only use half a tablespoon of maple syrup in my hot chocolate, as I don't like mine too sweet, but you can use up to a full tablespoon of maple syrup, or, any other kind of healthy sweetener of your choice. 

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Halloween Healthy Caramel Apple

Vegan - Vegetarian - Gluten Free - Dairy Free - Paleo - Oil Free - No Added Sugar - No Added Salt

Yes! Here it is! The recipe I am most proud of out of my three Halloween themed recipes this year. It's my healthy caramel or toffee apple recipe. And yes, it is totally possible to make something as unhealthy as toffee into a nutritious treat that you don't have to feel one bit guilty about. And in fact, it is so super easy as well, you would not believe it. I gaurentee you that it's harder to throw together a real, unhealthy toffee recipe. This is just one of those recipes where I even surprise myself. I surprise myself with the fact that the ingredients I put together actually worked to make a caramel-like consistency and taste, but also, the fact that this recipe was just so damn good. Every now and again, as a blogger, you come up with a recipe that even blows yourself away. And this is definitely one of those recipe for me. You all have to try this right now! You will not regret it, trust me.

The one ingredient that you might not have but definitely need for this recipe, is coconut sugar. The granulated texture of the sugar is required but also, the dark, caramel taste it brings to the toffee, similar to that of brown sugar or muscavado sugar. You can buy coconut sugar in any health food shop or any health food store online. I got mine in Holland and Barrett. But I know you can get it on online stores such as Body First Nutrition too. It's pricey enough, but such a worth while investment, as you can replace any granulated sweetener in a recipe with it and it delivers so much more nutrionally than any other sugar or sweetener available on the market, even including healthy liquid sweeteners.

Halloween Healthy Caramel Apple

1 sweet apple (I used Pink Lady)
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
1 tablespoon honey

- Wash the apple under cold water and pat dry with a piece of kitchen paper, to ensure it is clean and place it onto a serving plate.
- Measure out one tablespoon of coconut sugar and place into a small, microwave save bowl.
- Measure out the honey and drizzle this all over the coconut sugar in the bowl.
- Place the mixture into the microwave and heat on high for 40 seconds.
- Remove the bowl from the microwave and stir the sugar and honey together really well until completely smooth and combined.
- Pour the caramel over the apple. Even though the mixture looks very thin, it will cling to the apple very well and firm up quite quickly.
- Allow the caramel to set and cool for around 5 minutes before devouring.
- Happy Halloween!

I'l leave you with a few pictures of the Halloween decorations I put up in my room this year. Yes, I put up Halloween decorations. I love the time of year that much! It's on the same level as Christmas for me.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Halloween Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Vegetarian - Gluten Free - Paleo - Oil Free - No Added Sugar - No Added Salt 

Sorry that I've been M.I.A the last couple of weeks. I have been so busy with my personal training course (it is super intensive as it is only seventeen weeks in duration) and I have also been busy with the Miss Bikini Ireland competition. But I am back with a vengeance! And with my return, I am sharing three super delicious Halloween themed recipes. What could be a more perfect time for a come-back than my favourite occasion out of the whole entire year (yes, even including Christmas).

The first Halloween themed recipe that I am going to share with you; is a pumpkin pie smoothie. This smoothie tastes of pumpkin spice and hosts a light orange coloured hue. Although, if you want your smoothie to be more noticeably orange in colour, double the amount of pumpkin that I have stated in the ingredient list below. Don't worry though, it will not affect the flavour at all if you add additional pumpkin, as the dominant flavours of this smoothie are the spices that I used and also, the sweetness of the banana. 

I don't think canned pumpkin exists in Ireland (which I am so disappointed about) so if you don't live in America, unfortunately, you are going to have to pre-cook your own pumpkin. But it's super simple. Just chop it up and whack it into a moderate oven until tender or, alternatively, you can cook it in the microwave. Again, just chop it up and put onto a plate and heat using two and a half minute intervals. Don't forget to flip the cubes of pumpkin around every now and again. 

I would encourage you to cook a lot of pumpkin at once, as it lasts really well in the fridge and you'll have cooked pumpkin on hand for any recipes you might want to whip up this spooky season. After the pumpkin has been cooked, remove it from the skins and mash or purée it. Whichever you prefer. 

Halloween Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

1 banana
1/4 cup mashed/pureed pre-cooked pumpkin
2 whole walnuts/1 tablespoon chopped walnuts
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup/125ml Avonmore 1% Fat Protein Milk
1 tablespoon sultanas/raisins

- Peel the banana and break it into chunks. Place the chunks into a blender, food processor or a tall and wide jug (if using a hand-held immersion blender).
- Measure out the pumpkin and add this to the blender.
- Chop the walnuts and add these to the blender also. 
- Measure the ground cinnamon, nutmeg and the milk and add all of these to the blender.
- Blend the mixture until completely smooth.
- Add the sultanas (optional) and pulse the blender, just until they are broken up sightly. This means that you get random chewy bites of dried fruit throughout, which completely makes the smoothie.