Thursday, 24 April 2014

Purple Grape Smoothie


The title of this recipe is pretty self explanatory. This smoothie contains purple grapes and they are the reason why this blend boasts such a beautiful purple hue. Much like my newly dip-dyed hair. I previously dip-dyed my hair bright red back in October, but after maintaining the red tips for nearly eight months, I grew slightly tired of them. So that's why I experimented with a purple dye this time instead. It took me two applications to reach this 'plum hue' as I like to call it, but I'm sure after another application or two, it should be a brighter, bolder purple colour. I can't wait for that! Purple is my favourite colour of all time after all. 


If your interested in seeing more personal pictures of mine, such as this, follow me on Instagram here. Now though, on with the recipe. 

Purple Grape Smoothie

Ingredients
1 banana
1/2 cup purple/black grapes
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk


Method
- Chop the banana into chunks and place them into a blender, food processor or a tall and wide jug if using a hand-held immersion blender.
- Add the grapes and the unsweetened almond milk and blend until a smooth consistency is reached. Some purple speckles will remain.
- Smoothie are best served and enjoyed immediately. 


Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Banana Bread Smoothie


Here is yet another one of my banana bread flavoured recipes. I really really am obsessed with the flavour combination of banana bread and am always looking for ways that I can incorporate these flavours into other foods that aren't the traditional loaf itself. Check out my recipe for a banana bread baked porridge or my recipe for my chunky banana bread stove top/microwave porridge, to see what I mean. And just in case you may not know exactly what flavour combination banana bread encapsulates, it contains; bananas (obviously), subtle spices (such as cinnamon and nutmeg) and often walnuts (to add a crunchy texture). And that's exactly the flavours incorporated into this smoothie! Yes, you can add nuts to a smoothie. Just make sure that you soak them beforehand, which makes them easier to blend. Simply immerse the nuts in water and soak for at least eight hours, but overnight is a lot easier. 

Banana Bread Smoothie 

Ingredients
1 banana
2 tablespoons soaked walnuts (about four whole walnuts)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk


Method
- Chop the banana into chunks and add to a blender or a wide, tall jug if using a hand-held immersion blender.
- Add the soaked walnuts (drained) and the spices and almond milk.
- Blend on a high speed until all the ingredients are combined and reach a smooth consistent texture.
- Smoothies are best served and enjoyed immediately. 

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Tuna Salad Sandwich


I am dark chocolate obsessed! I think we are all well aware of that now. But after that Easter long weekend, the simple sight and smell of chocolate (even my beloved dark chocolate) is completely off-putting to me. I never thought I'd ever type the words! But I'm sure I am not the only person craving a bit of savoury food after a chocolate-filled Easter Sunday and so, for that reason, I thought there would be no time more appropriate to post a savoury breakfast recipe than today. And my recipe of choice, is my reinterpretation of the classic; tuna salad sandwich. 

We all know the traditional tuna salad sandwich. It's a classic choice for a stop-off at a petrol station while on a long journey, or something like that. But are we all aware of how bad the classic tuna salad sandwich is for us? It's usually made using white bread (which we all know has little to no nutritional value what-so-ever) and though tuna and sweetcorn are both usually healthy food choices (tuna being a good source of protein and essential omega fats and sweetcorn counting towards one of our five a day), it's the fact that the flaked fish and sweetcorn kernels are dripping in fatty mayonnaise that ruins everything. So I've created my own version of the classic tuna salad sandwich which you do not have to feel one bit guilty about scoffing. 

In my recipe, I use 100% wholemeal bread instead of white bread. Except, I have chosen to use a Pat The Baker 100% Wholemeal Slimbo, which means that I end up eating less bread and less calories (the Slimbo contains just 98 calories altogether) and yet, I still get almost 3 grams of fibre from it. However, if you prefer, you can simply use two slices of regular 100% wholemeal bread. Just keep in mind that each slice contains anywhere from 88 to 100 calories. So always check the nutritional information. In my recipe, I have replaced the mayonnaise with natural soy yoghurt, but you can use any natural yoghurt, be it full fat dairy, low fat dairy, fat free dairy or goats milk dairy yoghurt. Make sure to choose a tinned tuna that is canned in brine and not sunflower oil. And also make sure that you choose a can of sweetcorn that is tinned in just water and not salted or sugared water. 

This recipe is designed to serve two people. 

Tuna Salad Sandwich

Ingredients
2 100% wholemeal Slimbos

1 large tin tuna in brine drained
2 tablespoons sweetcorn (canned in water, drained and rinsed)
2 tablespoons natural soy yoghurt


Method
- Open the tin of tuna and drain off all of the brine.
- Open the tin of sweetcorn and drain off the water and rinse thoroughly.
- Flake the tuna into a bowl and add two tablespoons of the sweetcorn.
- Add two tablespoons of natural soy yoghurt (or natural yoghurt of choice) and mix together until thoroughly combined.
- Divide the mixture into two servings and spread evenly onto two 100% wholemeal Slimbos (or use four slices of 100% wholemeal bread).
- This recipe serves two people. 


I hope you all enjoyed your Easter long weekend as much as I did. What did you all get up to over the weekend just passed? I attended The Easter Rising Fight Night 2014, which is a boxing event held in my local town in order to raise funds for the local GAA club. Twenty two amateur boxers volunteered and raised loads of money for the club through sponsorship, my boyfriend included. It was a great night all-in-all. However, it's most definitely time to get back into the swing of things now. Time to get organised again and straight back into routine. 

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Easter Quick & Easy 4 Ingredient Chocolate Mousse


What could be a better breakfast on Easter Saturday morning than this rich, dark and decadent chocolate mousse? Nothing in my opinion. Yeah, chocolate mousse seems more like a naughty dessert option than a breakfast choice, but when you pair it with a sliced banana and the mousse itself is this good for you, you'll never look at breakfast the same again! Yes, you read that right, this chocolate mousse is utterly good for you! Better to be in your belly than not in it. And why is this? Well, this chocolate mousse contains one secret ingredient, the sole ingredient of the mousse in fact, that is super nutritious for a number of reasons, yet you would never guess that this ingredient was included at all. And what is this ingredient you might ask? Well avocado of course!

I'm sure if you are a frequent reader of my blog, that you have come to the realisation that I am in love with avocados. I use them in absolutely everything! From smoothies to porridge to savoury dishes, even to desserts! They are the perfect additive to any dish that requires a touch of luxury, richness or decadence. They add the most perfect smooth texture to recipes and even act as a thickening agent too. And in this case, the avocado is the base of my healthy chocolate mousse. Honestly, you have to trust me on this one, the texture of this mousse is so alike it's unhealthy counterpart, which is filled with bad things like egg yolks, cream and sugar, that you actually can barely tell that there is a difference. And by combining a perfectly ripe avocado with my other three ingredients, you really can create a chocolate mousse that would satisfy anyone, and in a fraction of the time that it takes to prepare a traditional chocolate mousse. This chocolate mousse takes just five minutes to prepare. If even that long! And you get to reap the added health benefits, which is an extra bonus. 

Avocados are rich in healthy fats, which are essential for our health and help to keep us fuller for longer. I used just half of a large avocado for my chocolate mousse. Which is plenty for me. But if you have a big appetite, use a whole avocado. You may need to double the quantity of all the other ingredients in the recipe if you do this though. Just taste the mousse as you go and adjust the measurements as you feel you need to. I added unsweetened cocoa powder to my chocolate mousse, which you can find in just about any supermarket. Try to use a dark chocolate cocoa powder brand too, if you can find it. I use Cadbury's Bournville. I also added 100% pure maple syrup to my chocolate mousse, which sweetens it naturally. But you can also use pure honey or agave nectar if you prefer. And the final ingredient that I added to the mousse is vanilla extract. I use a vanilla extract which contains real vanilla bean seeds, but just use a good, high quality vanilla extract. 

After chilling your mousse in the fridge for at least two hours before serving, pair this chocolate mousse with a sliced banana. It would also be delicious served alongside any type of berry, such as strawberries, raspberries or blueberries. 


Easter Quick & Easy 4 Ingredient Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients
1/2 large ripe avocado
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tablespoon - 1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method
- Scoop the avocado into a food processor. I used my mini food processor to make his mousse. But if you don't have one, you can make the mousse in a jug using a hand-held immersion blender. 
- Process the avocado until it resembles the texture of a smooth, thick cream. 
- Add the cocoa powder, the maple syrup and the vanilla extract (start with the smaller measurements of maple syrup and vanilla extract and add more if you feel the need after you have tasted it). 
- Blend on high until all the ingredients are well combined and the mixture resembles a thick chocolate mousse consistency. 
- Scoop the mousse into a ramekin or container and chill in the fridge for at least two hours, or overnight.
- Serve with a chopped banana or alongside an array of berries. 


This is the last of my Easter themed recipes for this year. I hope you have enjoyed them all. And I hope that I have proven that you really can enjoy your chocolate and the traditional Easter time foods that we all know and love, but in a healthy way. Enjoy your Easter Sunday tomorrow and if anyone tries any of my Easter themed recipes, please do let me know how they turned out! 

Friday, 18 April 2014

Easter Home-Made Healthy Rocky Road


When Easter time comes around, you don't have to throw in the towel when it comes to your health. It is still possible to enjoy all of those traditional chocolate-y treats at Easter, while still staying true to your health and fitness goals. Take this recipe for example. I turned a very typically unhealthy, traditional chocolate recipe, rocky road, flipped it completely on it's head and created my own healthy version, a version that is actually better in our bellies, nutritionally, than not. How good does that sound? 

The secret is; I took each component of a traditional rocky road and thought of a healthier counterpart that I could replace it with. So, a traditional rocky road contains a crunchy element, usually chunks of biscuit, a chewy element, usually jellies or chewy sweets and a soft element, which is usually mini marshmallows. So for my version, my crunchy element are two different types of raw nuts (I used almond and Brazil nuts, because they are my favourite, but you can use any two varieties of nuts that you prefer, like peanuts, hazelnuts or walnuts). The chewy element to my rocky road are two different types of dried fruit. I used sultanas and dried cranberries, because they are my favourite, but again, you can use any dried fruit that you prefer, such as raisins, dried cherries or dried apricots. I do not have a soft element to my rocky road. I have made this recipe before using sugar free marshmallows, which worked a treat. But after a closer look at the nutritional value of the product, I really started to re-think using them. They are simply empty calories, with no nutritional value what-so-ever. And the brand that I used actually contained an ingredients that wasn't proven to be completely 'digestible'. Yikes! But of course, if you simply can not have your rocky road without marshmallows, I would recommend that you use a sugar free variety or just one to two servings of normal, mini marshmallows. Make sure to read the packet to see what one serving consists of.  



Now, I have done all the nitty gritty calculations for you, when it comes to the calories of this recipe (your welcome). I worked it all out so that this recipe would contain four servings, and each serving consists of 200 calories. Which is within the perfect calorie range for a snack, between 150 and 250 calories. So, in order for you to do the same, simply ensure that you have one serving of each type of nut and one serving of each type of dried fruit and four servings of 70% dark chocolate. If your using almonds, one serving consists of about 14 almonds. One serving of Brazil nuts consists of about 6 Brazil nuts. And when it comes to dried fruit, two tablespoons is generally a serving. If your planning on using different types of nuts, work out how many nuts equates to 100 calories, and substitute this for one of the types of nuts in my recipe. 

When it comes to the chocolate, obviously make sure that you use 70% dark chocolate or higher, as the higher the percentage of chocolate, the more antioxidants that chocolate contains. You'll have to look at the packet of your whichever brand of chocolate you are using, as every brand is different when it comes to their serving suggestions. But just look for four servings of around 100 calories. In my case, I used 70% dark chocolate mini eggs and one serving consists of 3 mini eggs and equated to 102 calories. So, altogether, to get four servings, I used 12 mini eggs. 

Okay, with all of that explained, onto the important stuff; the recipe of course! Your probably wondering where the fourth slice of the rocky road has disappeared to throughout my pictures. Well, I couldn't wait long enough to take a photo without having a taste. What? I'm only human. 



Easter Home-Made Healthy Rocky Road

Ingredients
14 almonds
6 Brazil nuts
2 tablespoons sultanas
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
4 servings 70% dark chocolate 

Method
- Line a small square or rectangular ramekin or plastic container with cling film.
- Roughly chop all of the nuts and evenly spread them out over the lined container. 
- Evenly distribute the dried fruit over the lined container too. 
- Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave (stopping every 10 to 20 seconds to stir, as this prevents burning) or melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water (make sure the bowl is not touching the water, as this prevents burning also). 
- Pour the melted chocolate evenly over the nuts and dried fruit. 
- Chill in the fridge for at least two hours before cutting the slab into four separate servings. 
- Store in the fridge. 





As you can see, it is possible to stay healthy over the Easter season, simply by being careful when it comes to choosing your chocolate. And to encourage you further to not jump off the band wagon, here are the Easter eggs that my boyfriend got me this year (the sweetheart). A 70% Green & Black's Organic Easter egg. A 70% dark chocolate, vegan Easter egg which he got in Holland & Barrett. And a bag of 70% dark chocolate mini eggs. So get stuck into your chocolate this Easter, but in a healthy way of course! 


Thursday, 17 April 2014

Easter Hot Cross Bun Porridge


Yes! It's finally time for the Easter themed recipes. I've been excited about my Easter themed recipes for quite a while now. In fact, I've just been super excited about Easter in general (think it's pretty obvious, considering my ownership of these cute pink bunny ears and these even cuter Easter bunny themed socks). 


I was trying to decide throughout April, and even some of March, which Easter themed recipes I should share with you all. The two ultimatums I came up with were; the recipes had to be classic recipes that everyone would associate with Easter and, of course, chocolate muct be involved in some way, shape or form. So I thought I'd start off with a recipe inspired by a very traditional treat that is enjoyed around Easter time; a hot cross bun. I enjoy a good hot cross bun myself, as much as the next person, but the truth is, they really are not all that good for us. They are completely made from refined white flour, laced with refined white sugar and usually glazed with a sugar based syrup and topped off with a sugar based icing. Yeah, that's a lot of sugar all right. So I decided to come up with a porridge recipe (as I do), inspired by this spiced, fluffy bun. 

For those of you who aren't completely aware of exactly what is included within a hot cross bun, allow me to enlighten you. A hot cross bun is a soft, fluffy bun made from a yeast based dough. It contains subtle spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. It also usually contains either orange or lemon zest or a mixture of candied peel instead. The buns are then baked off, glazed with a jam or sugar based syrup (to give them that traditional 'shine') and either topped with a sugar based icing (to create the signature cross) or this is a separate flour and water mixture which is baked into the dough previously. 

Sometimes, I even surprise myself when it comes to how well a recipe turns out. I promise you, this is no word of a lie, but I actually enjoyed this porridge so much more than I would typically enjoy a shop-bought hot cross bun. I swear! The subtle spices combined with the juicy sultanas which were cooked into the porridge, was just delicious. And to top it all off, I created the signature cross design using a creamy 'icing' that has no sugar added what-so-ever and is actually really good for us. Oh, and one thing I did notice, was the addition of the lemon zest. Though it was only a tiny amount that I added, it really made a world of different to the whole dish. In fact, the subtle lemon flavour is what made this porridge so good, so definitely do not skip this step (even if you are usually not a citrus zest/peel kind of person, like me). 

So as you can see, you really can still enjoy the traditional Easter goodies, such as hot cross buns, and not have to wave the white flag when it comes to your health and fitness goals. 


Easter Hot Cross Bun Porridge

Ingredients
1/3 cup gluten free oats
1 tablespoon flaxseed
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon sultanas/raisins 
1/2 cup water
50ml unsweetened almond milk
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon natural soy yoghurt/vanilla soy yoghurt 

Method
- Place the gluten free oats, flaxseed, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon zest and the sultanas in a deep bowl. 
- Pour the water into the bowl and stir to combine.
- Heat the oats in the microwave for two minutes uncovered and uninterrupted.
- Mix through the unsweetened almond milk to make the porridge 'creamy'.
- Stir through the honey to sweeten the porridge.
- Finish the porridge off by piping the yoghurt 'icing' onto the porridge to create the signature cross effect.


I used natural soy yoghurt to create the 'icing' for my hot cross bun (yes, I finally found some in one of my local supermarkets, Tesco). But you can use any other flavour of non-dairy or dairy yoghurt. But it is best if the colour of the yoghurt is white, to achieve the perfect hot cross bun 'look'. So a flavour like vanilla or coconut or something like that would be perfect. Now, you can use a small piping bag to pipe this 'icing' onto the porridge, if you have one, or you can do what I did, which is much easier, and just use a standard plastic food, freezer or sandwich bag to pipe it. Simply put the yoghurt into the corner of the bag and snipe a small piece of the corner of the bag off, using a scissors, to allow the yoghurt to flow out. Squeeze gently to 'pipe' the yoghurt onto the porridge.

Keep an eye out for my next Easter themed recipe which I will be posting tomorrow. It's a recipe for healthy rocky road. Yes, it is possible to create such a thing! 

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Peach Pie Smoothie


This post is a follow-on recipe from yesterday's post. I wanted to use up what I had left from my canned peaches (remember, always buy peaches canned in water or 100% juice, to avoid added sugars and salts) so I decided to put together a peach pie smoothie. Peach pie is a dessert which combines peaches with typical 'pie' flavourings such as ground cinnamon and nutmeg. So that's exactly what this recipe is inspired by. Again, you can use a fresh peach if you wish, and make sure to leave the skin on for added fibre. Also, you don't have to use canning juice/grape juice as your liquid, use whatever juice or milk that you prefer or whichever you have on hand. 

Peach Pie Smoothie

Ingredients
1 banana
1 peach (canned or fresh)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup canning juice (grape juice)

Method
- Chop the banana into chunks and place the pieces into a blender or a wide jug if you are using a hand-held immersion blender. 
- Chop the peach into chunks (remove stone if using a fresh peach) and add this to the blender or jug. 
- Add the cinnamon, nutmeg and canning/grape juice and blend until completely smooth. 
- Smoothies are best served and enjoyed immediately. 


Keep a close eye on the blog over the next few days as I am starting to post my Easter themed breakfast recipes! Would you like a sneak preview of some of the delectable Easter themed recipes you can look forward to? Oh, okay then. You can expect recipes inspired by some great Easter time classics, such as, hot cross buns, rocky road and chocolate mousse. All healthy versions of course. And yes, it is possible! So stay tuned!