Caribbean rice with Jerk Salmon and a zesty mango salad

If you love good, flavoursome food and strong fruity cocktails that are on offer almost all day every day then Turtle Bay is the place for you. There are two restaurants in Manchester one in St Peters Square and the other in the Northern Quarter and they’re both amazing!

The food is really tasty and every time I go I always think “I should definitely make this when I get home!” as the ingredients themselves aren’t hard to find it’s just the mixture of spices I have never been sure of so, if you fancy a bit of the carribbean in your life then follow the recipe below and you can’t go wrong!

There was something really satisfying about making this meal, you’ll be really chuffed with yourself when all the spices come together and develop into that wonderfully aromatic flavour that I just absolutely love. The zestyness of the lime and sweetness of the mango go really well with the jerk seasoning and it’s really simple to do.

Health Benefits

  • The brown rice is good source of fibre and protein. This won’t spike your blood sugar like white rice does so you will feel fuller for longer.
  • Salmon is full of omega 3 fatty acids which are amazing for your cardiovascular system by lowering the risk of heart disease, preventing strokes and as your mum rightly says “it’s brain food!”
  • High levels of antioxidants and vitamin C from the mango giving your skin that healthy glow. The antioxidants fight free radicals in your body so therefore reduces your risk of disease.
  • Avocado is full of healthy fats and is really high in potassium too which helps to reduce high blood pressure.

One of the best ways  to keep your meals exciting and tasty is to have a good range of herbs and spices in your cupboard. Now I know that may seem obvious but it’s so easy to get into that routine of using  3 or 4 old reliable’s that end up making all your meals taste the same and variety is key to healthy and exciting food! So rather than going out and spending a fortune getting lots of unusual herbs that you don’t know how to pronounce or what they go with, just build up your collection slowly and each time you do a food shop get one new herb or spice that takes your fancy and try it out in a new recipe. Hmm (hint hint) maybe this one?

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Serves 2

  • 2 salmon fillets (if you can get smoked it’s even better!)
  • 150 g of brown rice
  • 1 can of black eyed beans
  • 100 g frozen peas
  • 1/2 fresh mango – (I freeze the other half to put into smoothies)
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 bag of rocket
  • 2 limes
  • 1 small bunch of fresh coriander

Spices you will need :

  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 2 tsp Allspice
  • 1 tsp Chilli powder – I use mild as it’s a gentle heat. If you want it to blow your socks off then get medium/hot or just add more!
  • 2 tsp Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne powder
  • 1 tsp Curry powder – again use mild, medium or hot depending on what you like

If you haven’t got these you can cheat and buy jerk seasoning, just be wary of potential additives and preservatives. If you’ve got some of the above but not all I think it’s really worth getting the others as they are all spices that can go into so many other dishes.

  1. Put the brown rice on to boil in salted water according to the packet instructions.
  2. Put all the spices into a bowl and add in the salmon fillets, making sure they are coated all over, season well.
  3. Roughly 5 minutes after the rice has been put on, wrap the salmon fillets in tinfoil to make a parcel and put into the oven at 180 c for 15 minutes. (try to make the parcel as airtight as possible so that the salmon will steam in it’s own juice and keep moist).
  4. Whilst the salmon is cooking, finely chop the onion and coriander add in the rocket and put into a bowl.
  5. Then chop the avocado and mango into little chunks and add into the bowl with the onion and coriander, squeeze the juice of one whole lime and mix well then pop into the fridge.
  6. When the salmon is done put the black eyed beans into a bowl with their own water along with the frozen peas and microwave for the amount of time it says on the tin.
  7. When the rice is done, drain then add in the black eyed beans and peas and season well with salt and pepper. Then flake in the salmon fillets, squeeze over the juice of the other lime, mix well and then serve with the mango salad, a sprinkling of coriander and an optional wedge of lime!

 

 

 

Peanut butter cookie dough energy bites

Yep. You heard it right, peanut butter cookie dough.

And it’s good for you.

I’ve looked up quite a few recipes for energy bites but what has slightly put me off making them is they have so many ingredients and a lot of them I don’t have in my cupboard like baobab, maca, spirulina and matcha. Don’t get me wrong these are all amazing and wonderful for you but they aren’t very accessible for most people and can be quite pricey so I thought I would do some energy bites for beginners that are easy on your purse strings but still taste great.

However if you do have these and want to add them then please do so! I can’t tell you how they will taste but you could always do half with and half without and see how you get on.

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The good thing about these are that they are pretty easy to change to suit what you’ve got in. So if you’ve got almond butter instead of peanut, then use it. If you’ve not got maple syrup, use honey or another sweetener. You could even put mashed banana in as the stickiness that holds them together. If you don’t have ground almonds or flaxseed that doesn’t matter too much either. I’ve put them in for their added health benefits but don’t go out and buy them just to make these. You could even make your own DIY ground almonds by blitzing almonds in a food processor until they are very fine crumbly consistency.

These little bad boys don’t tasty healthy at all… they are sweet and crunchy and best of all they are satisfying! The peanut butter and ground almonds provide a good dose of healthy fats and paired with the slow release energy from the oats means they will keep you feeling fuller for much longer.

The dark chocolate and/or cacao nibs are really high in antioxidants and in particular Magnesium which is so important for many daily bodily functions. It helps to keep you alert…..

They are so good for snacking, I usually take 2 to work and have them mid afternoon to satisfy my sweet tooth and they keep me going until dinner.

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Ingredients

  • 3 heaped tbsp of peanut butter (I used crunchy but you could use smooth)
  • 1 1/2 cups of oats
  • 1/2 cup of ground flaxseed
  • 2 tbsp ground almonds
  • 2 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs or 70% dairy free dark chocolate cut into little chunks

Method

  1. This is the fun bit! Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until well combined
  2. Put a tablespoon sized amount in your hand and squeeze into a compact shape
  3. Roll it between the palms of your hands or on a flat surface until its round
  4. Once you are done place all the balls into the freezer for half an hour to firm up and then they can be kept in the fridge for 3 weeks… they freeze well too, just let them defrost before eating!

The reason why I’ve used cups in this recipe instead of grams is because you really don’t need to be that accurate! There is no baking involved so it’s pretty hard for them to go wrong. As long as you use the same sized cup for all measurements you are good to go and once you mix everything together you will be able to tell from the consistency whether it needs a bit more of something.

Goats Cheese, Spinach and Sun dried tomato Frittata

Leftovers are the best kind of lunch in my eyes… if there is anyway I can reduce the amount of prep I have to do during the week for lunches I’m all over it and this recipe is so so versatile and easy to do. You can serve hot or cold and as it’s high in protein it will keep you a lot more satisfied than your average sandwich!

FRITTATA

If you don’t eat dairy that’s fine, just leave out the cheese! It’s a nice touch but this recipe doesn’t need it so I often make it without, the variety of tomatoes and herbs give this dish  a lovely flavour as it is.

Now I know many of you might not buy sun dried tomatoes in your weekly shop as they used to be seen as more of a luxury food item that you would get if you wanted some fancy nibbles but they really aren’t these days. I usually get them from either Morrison’s, Home Bargains or Aldi and they are a pound or less for a jar! Some shops are still getting away with charging way more though so do shop around.

Whats great about them is they last a long time in the fridge and they give recipes such an intense flavour so you don’t need to use loads and the price per meal is even lower. Also if you chop them into big chunks they have quite a meaty texture (not taste!) which I quite like..maybe it’s a veggie or vegan thing? .

Ingredients

  • 5 free range eggs
  • 1 red or yellow pepper
  • 1 courgette
  • 2 small red onions or one large
  • 10 cherry tomatoes
  • 6 sun dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 bag of spinach or a handful of frozen spinach
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 50 g goats cheese

If you don’t have enough eggs, say 3 or 4 for example add approx 100 ml of milk (both dairy or non dairy will work fine) and beat together before adding to the pan, just bare in mind the cooking time may be longer as it will need more time to set.

Method

  1. Turn the hob to a medium heat and add in a good glug of olive oil.
  2. Chop the onions into thin slices and then separate the individual layers into the pan.
  3. Finely chop the garlic and add in too.
  4. Chop the courgette into half moons,the pepper and sun dried tomato into small chunks and the cherry tomatoes in half and add them all into the pan.
  5. Once the vegetables have started to soften add the oregano and basil and season well.
  6. If you are using fresh spinach add this in now. If you are using frozen put it into a bowl and cook according to the instructions. Then once cooked drain well and add to the pan.
  7. Crack the eggs into a jug and beat for a minute or so until well combined then season with salt/pepper and a little basil.
  8. When all the vegetables are cooked turn the hob up to a medium high heat and pour the eggs over, lightly pressing the vegetables down so that they are all covered.
  9. After 10-15 minutes check with a wooden spoon that it is starting to set, then chop up or tear the goats cheese into little pieces and dot over the top.
  10. Pop under a hot grill for 3-4 minutes so that the cheese melts and then serve!

If you want to ensure the frittata holds it shape, I would leave it to cool for 5 minutes before cutting it into slices. This is lovely on it’s own but goes well with a nice side salad and some smoked paprika sweet potato wedges 😀

 

broad bean, mint & feta super salad

Despite there being so many creative salad options out there, it can be easy to default back to salad leaves, tomato, cucumber and the main ingredient… it’s so boring! At the weekends when I have more time my salad bowls tend to be more adventurous with hot and cold elements but when you are doing a packed lunch it’s not always as simple. Although the main ingredients to most of my salads are fish or roasted veg I do often revert back the above rule when time is precious….I need to change things up a bit!

feta, broadbean salad

I wanted to make a salad that was weekend worthy but time friendly, so that I could enjoy this at work and didn’t need to spend a lot of time in the evening prepping my lunch for the next day. As I’ve said before the key to living a healthier lifestyle is to be that little bit more organised, so if you make a big batch up this can last you a few days so you have more time to yourself!

You could change this up to suit your taste too, swap feta for another cheese, or you could substitute the cheese with some tuna or you could throw in some olives or roasted squash, different herbs/spices, different beans such as black eyed beans, whatever you have in! As I’m not a huge fan of raw onion in salads, sometimes I chop them into little wedges and roast them in the oven with some olive oil and balsamic and it makes them lovely and sweet!

feta broadbean salad close up

This salad has become a real favourite of mine, it’s so tasty and  I think it helps if you leave the salad to soak up the dressing for a little while too so it really takes on those fresh zesty flavours. It’s full of fibre and protein from the chickpeas, healthy fats form the avocado and olive oil all of which will help you stay fuller and more satisfied for longer. There’s lots of vitamins and minerals in there too from the spinach, tomatoes and broad beans, it’s a great all-rounder!

What you need:

  • 1 bag of spinach or salad leaves of your choice
  • 10 x cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 of a cucumber
  • 3 x spring onion
  • 1 x red onion or 4 little radishes
  • 1 x avocado
  • A handful of sun-dried tomatoes – roughly 5 or 6
  • 100g – frozen broad beans
  • 1 x can of chickpeas
  • 100g of feta cheese – don’t worry this is for 4 meals so only 25g per serving

For the dressing:

  • Juice of a small lemon or half a large one
  • Handful of fresh mint
  • 70ml olive il
  • Salt & pepper

Method:

  1. Put the broad beans into a pan of boiling water for 5 minutes until cooked and then drain and put to one side.
  2. Whilst they are cooking pour a can of chickpeas and their water into a bowl, cover and microwave for 3 minutes on a high heat or according to the instructions, drain and add to the broad beans.
  3. Meanwhile roughly chop the spinach and place into a large bowl.
  4. Finely slice the tomatoes, cucumber, spring onions, radishes and sun-dried tomatoes into little chunks and mix with the spinach. Slice the avocado, remove the stone and scoop out the flesh, chop into bite-sized chunks and add to the salad. If you’ve got any extras I’d add them now too.
  5. Add the cooked broad beans and chickpeas to the salad, crumble in the feta and mix well, season with black pepper
  6. Finely chop the mint and add to a little bowl. Then squeeze in the juice of one lemon and add in olive oil, mix well and then season to taste.
  7. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and give it a good stir making sure everything is coated with the dressing and serve!

This will make enough salad for 4 lunches but I often save 2 portions for dinner and 2 for lunch the next day. The quantities for the salad ingredients are very rough, use as much as you like or have in. If you don’t have much fresh salad in, add some more beans or pulses instead. Thats when the frozen broad beans come in handy as you can always have them on standby for times like these! If you are wanting to bulk it out even more, I often add in some cooked broccoli or couscous and this works a treat!

 

 

 

 

 

Salted Caramel Easter Eggs

Happy Easter everyone! I hope you are all having a lovely long weekend 😊

I  couldn’t resist doing a healthy option for those that want to enjoy a little chocolate over the holiday but without all of the refined sugars, additives and preservatives that your typical easter egg contains. When you are trying to follow a healthier lifestyle it can be difficult to avoid days like today when unhealthy food is all around you but it you are able to, I’m sure you will take great pleasure in taking naughty treats and turning them into healthy alternatives! This way you don’t feel deprived and you can feel good about what you are eating too!

eggs

I’ve taken my original recipe for my  chocolate freezer treats and adapted it slightly and now these eggs won’t melt if left out at room temperature plus I’ve filled them with yummy salted caramel!

For the Chocolate:

  1. Cacao powder 80g
  2. Cacao butter 100g
  3. Maple syrup 4 tbsp
  4. Coconut oil 1 tbsp
  5. Ground cinnamon 1 tsp
  6. Vanilla extract 1 tsp

For the Salted Caramel:

  1. Tahini 1 tbsp
  2. Vanilla extract 1 tsp
  3. Maple Syrup 3tbsp or date syrup works really well too
  4. A good pinch of himalayan rock salt
  • Melt the cacao butter, coconut oil and maple syrup in a glass bowl over a pan a quarter full with water over a medium heat- make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the glass bowl.
  • Once melted, add the cinnamon and vanilla extract and then slowly add the cacao powder a bit at a time whilst whisking so that it ends up nice and glossy.
  • Fill the moulds you have half way, if you don’t have any chocolate moulds you can use an ice cube tray…but it might not give the same effect for easter!
  • Pop these into the freezer for 20 minutes until they have hardened. Whilst you are waiting, mix together the caramel ingredients and sweeten to taste with extra maple syrup if necessary.
  • After 20 minutes take out the chocolate’s which should now be firm to touch and using a teaspoon put a little blob of caramel into the middle of each one. Then put back into the freezer for another 20 minutes.
  • Finally once this has set, cover the caramel in the remaining chocolate and leave to set in the freezer.

Tahini isn’t for everyone and if you don’t have it in or aren’t a fan, not to worry, I’ve provided another way to make the caramel using dates instead. If you are trying to reduce your sugar intake then I would go for the tahini option but either way they are both completely natural!

Follow the above steps but when it comes to making the caramel use this method:

  1. Cover a handful of dates in some warm water and soak for 5 minutes.
  2. Once soft, drain as much of the water as you can and place into a food processor with the 1tsp vanilla extract and the salt.
  3. Blend until smooth, you may need to get a spatula and scrape the sides down a few times and if it still isn’t to your desired consistency strain the caramel through a sieve to make it nice and smooth.

daffodils

Go on, give them a try and make the easter bunny jealous! 🐰

Super Easy Kiwi & Pineapple Smoothie

Some days are harder than others to get all 5 portions of your fruit and veg and I often find at the weekend when I’m not in as much of a routine food-wise, this is when I can miss out on those vital nutrients and minerals. Particularly this time of year when many of our everyday fruits aren’t in season, frozen fruit really comes in handy and it’s cheap and convenient for blending.

Smoothie

Smoothies are such an easy way to give your body a boost of goodness and it really doesn’t have to be boring or over complicated. There are so many different variations and different ways of building them up, if you prefer a thicker consistency add a banana /avocado or sometimes I add a teaspoon of chia seeds and leave for a few minutes to soak up. For greens I often add frozen spinach as the taste isn’t as potent as fresh but still gives you the nutrients and vibrant colour! If you wanted to make it more substantial, adding some oats into the blender will increase the fibre and provide slow release energy too, great for breakfast.

Some supermarkets provide a wider variety of frozen fruits than others, so if you really love a particular type of fruit, it may be worth buying extra to freeze when they’re on offer to save money. Try to freeze as soon as you buy or as soon as the fruit is ripe to ensure you keep as much freshness and nutritional value in as possible.  Chopping the fruit into small pieces and putting them into zip-lock freezer bags will also make it easier for you later on, if you wanted to add smaller amounts for a smoothie for 1 person or to use for other recipes.

Sainsbury’s, ASDA, Tesco & Morrison’s do some if not most of the below options:

Cherries                                  Black forest fruits

Blackberries                          Strawberry & Banana

Summer fruits                       Pineapple

Raspberries                            Mango

Rhubarb                                  Blueberries

If you are new to making smoothie’s, this is a nice and easy one to begin with,  it’s a mixture of fresh and frozen ingredients and its lovely and refreshing. Often shop bought smoothie’s contain banana to thicken them which some people aren’t fond of… so if you aren’t a banana fan this is for you!

Serves 2

  1. small handful x frozen spinach
  2. 1 x kiwi – flesh scooped out and cut into small chunks
  3. 1 cup x frozen pineapple
  4. The juice of 1 lime
  5. 2 cups of water

Use the same  cup to measure the water and the pineapple – these are only rough guidelines so if you want it to be thicker, add less water etc

  • First blend the frozen spinach, pineapple and water together.
  • Once smooth then add the kiwi flesh and blend again until this is fully combined.
  • Finally, add the lime juice, give it a final blend and away you go!

 

Roasted Parsnip, Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup

Homemade soup is the epitome of heart warming  food and when it’s cold outside on a dreary Monday morning there is nothing better than knowing you’ve got a nice hot bowl of goodness to look forward to at lunchtime. If you’re anything like me and think about lunch as you are finishing breakfast then this is an important factor in your day!

I tend to alternate my lunches at work between salads, leftovers from the night before and soup but at the moment salads just haven’t been cutting it for me. It’s too cold and I want a hug in a mug. Does anyone remember those adverts? With the big purple hairy arms?

Anyway, this sunday as part of our now almost weekly baking/food prepping session, we decided to make some lovely homemade soup.

Soup is really easy to make, I think a lot of people are put off at the thought of whipping up their own but you can make it as easy or as complicated as you like. With this recipe you can do it one of two ways. The first is by roasting the carrots, parsnips and sweet potato in the oven with some olive oil, thyme, honey and mild curry powder. The other and notably easier option is to throw all of that into one big pot with the rest of the ingredients and let it bubble to it’s hearts content. The flavours will be stronger if you roast the veg but if you don’t have loads of thyme on your hands (excuse the pun) then go for the latter.

Soup - Homemade Health“Souping” is said to be the new trendy foodie thing in 2016 (personally I’ve always thought it was great!) and with a variety of different diets and lifestyles, making soup to suit your dietary requirements such as  gluten/dairy free, vegetarian/vegan/paleo couldn’t be easier. Or if you are wanting to adopt a healthier eating style or trying to lose weight then soup is a good choice for lunch as it’s really filling and satisfying.

Using complex carbs in your soup such as sweet potato will help to slowly release the energy too.

Not only is making your own soup much tastier than tinned versions, it’s so much better for your health! You can alter the seasoning and consistency to suit your taste and avoid all the preservatives, salt, sugar and fat  that is often added into the processed kinds.  It’s also freezes well too so if you make a larger than expected batch as I always do then just put the excess into some airtight Tupperware and pop into the freezer.

This recipe makes 8 portions.

  1. 5 Carrots
  2. 500g Parsnips
  3. 3 Medium Sweet Potato’s – peeled
  4. 2 Onions
  5. 2 Garlic Cloves
  6. 2 tbsp Medium Curry Powder
  7. 1 tbsp Honey
  8. 2 tbsp Fresh/Dried Thyme
  9. 2 sticks Celery
  10. 1 litre Vegetable Stock
  11. 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Turn the oven to 220°C
  • Roughly chop the parsnips, carrots and sweet potato and season with salt, pepper, olive oil, honey, 1 tbsp fresh or dried thyme and 1 tbsp medium curry power. Roast in the oven for around 30-40 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes of them being in the oven, finely chop the garlic, onion and celery and fry in a large pot over a medium heat with olive oil until soft. If you like some extra heat, you could throw in a chopped chilli or some dried chilli flakes. 
  • Once the roasted vegetables are done, add them to the pot with the onions and stock with the remaining curry powder, thyme and a bay leaf (can be dried) if you have any.
  • Leave on a medium-high heat for 20-30 minutes.
  • Finally blend using a hand blender or a food processor to your desired consistency and season to taste!

 

I hope you enjoy this soup as much as I did and that it gives you a bit of confidence to make your own if you never have before!

Maple, Pecan & Almond Granola

top view granola

For some strange reason, despite loving all things breakfast I have waited until now to make homemade granola. I literally have no idea why as every time I’ve looked up recipe ideas people always say how easy it is and that it makes you never want to get shop bought granola again… they weren’t lying!

This granola makes your home smell incredible and it tastes delicious… you could have this plain and simple with milk or layered between yoghurt and fresh fruit for a breakfast parfait.

Granola doesn’t necessarily shout ‘healthy’ to some, as those who usually get the shop bought kind know it contains very  high levels of sugar, sometimes even chocolate chips! However this granola  contains all of the main food components and only natural sugars…

Carbohydrates  Carbohydrates are one of food groups our body produces energy from but complex carbohydrates such as oats take a while for your body to breakdown meaning you stay fuller for a lot longer and you don’t have a sudden spike of insulin in your blood.
Protein You can use any nuts you like for this recipe but as almonds and pecans are some of my favourites I decided to use them. They are a great form of plant-based protein that fuels your body throughout the day, helping your muscles to grow and repair.
Fibre Granola as a whole is full of fibre and this makes it the ideal thing to eat for breakfast as it kick-starts your digestive system ready for the day, ensuring that everything is running smoothly. It reduces the amount of time food is travelling through your colon too which can help prevent harmful bacteria growing and leading to more serious health issues.
Vitamins/Minerals Seeds of all varieties are such an easy way of getting essential vitamins and minerals into your body. Pumpkin seeds are especially good for you as they contain Zinc, which is a real immune booster, helping to prevent disease.
Fat Coconut oil is high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and is made up of medium-chain fatty acids. This makes it easier for the body to absorb and convert into energy rather than storing as fat! Great for your heart, lowering your bad cholesterol levels and also your skin, hair and teeth too!

In spite of all the goodness these cripsy little clusters give you, I would make them just for the smell alone! I spent most of yesterday opening the jar and just smelling the comforting cinnamon and maple! Honestly its so easy to make and the taste is so amazing, much more flavoursome and with homemade you know exactly whats gone into it.

5 minutes to make and 30 minutes in the oven.

Fills a 2 litre jar!

  • Coconut oil – 2 tbsp
  • Natural Maple Syrup -150ml
  • Natural Vanilla Extract – 1tsp
  • Oats – 250g
  • Cinnamon – 2tsp
  • Desiccated Coconut – 50g
  • Mixture of Almonds/Pecans – 150g 
  • Mixed seeds – 100g (I used pumpkin and sunflower)
  1. Heat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
  3. Melt the coconut oil using a microwave and then mix this with the maple syrup and vanilla extract in a small bowl.
  4. Chop the nuts to your desired consistency, I put some into the food processor and pulsed a few times so that some were halved and others were more crumbly – this is optional though.
  5. Combine all the dry ingredients (oats, nuts, seeds, desiccated coconut, cinnamon) in a large bowl.
  6. Pour the wet ingredients into the large bowl with the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly until all the oats, nuts and seeds are completely coated.
  7. Half the mixture between the two baking sheets, spreading evenly and then pop into the oven.
  8. After 15 minutes take out and give them a good stir and switch the trays round so that they have the same amount of time on the higher shelf.
  9. Pop back in for another 15 minutes or until they are a nice golden brown.
  10. Once done leave out to cool, (enjoy that amazing smell!) then put into an airtight jar.

This recipe is dairy free, suitable for vegans and is completely natural. If you are celiac you could use gluten free oats for this and you can alter the above with your favourite nuts/seeds. You could also add dried fruit after it’s cooled too for a sweeter spoonful… enjoy!

Heartwarming Porridge

porridge1

Most mornings, particularly in winter my breakfast comes in the form of creamy porridge topped with anything and everything I have in the cupboards. They are super cheap and so so good for you but they don’t have to be boring!

Oats are one of the best sources of fibre which is so important for your digestive system as it takes a while for your body to break it down and absorbs harmful bacteria that may be lingering in your gut, keeping everything running smoothly.

They are also naturally gluten free and provide slow release energy that is easy on your blood sugar levels and helps you feel fuller for longer.

There are 3 main types of oats, all of which can be used pretty much interchangeably, which are:

  1. Steel Cut (or pin head) – Oats cut into 2/3 smaller pieces with a steel blade
  2. Jumbo – larger oats ideal for thicker porridge
  3. Rolled – steamed and dehusked, then flattened with heavy rollers

Porridge is best done the old fashioned way by combining ½ cup of oats (50g)  and 1 cup (roughly 350ml) of water/milk and microwave for 2 minutes or put on the hob and keep stirring (check the oats packaging if unsure). There are a lot of brands that do sachets which are quite handy if you are on the go but unfortunately most of them are full of added sweeteners and preservatives, so check the labels thoroughly first.

Using seasonal fruit in porridge is a great way to up your fruit intake and reach your five a day.  I often use different berries, bananas and dried fruit but you can also make fruity compotes to stir in too.

Example: peel and core an apple, and chop into bite sized chunks. Add 2-3 tbsp. of water, a squeeze of honey and a dash of cinnamon and put on a low heat for 5-10 minutes until the apples become soft then stir into your porridge!

I love adding sultanas, blueberries, flax seeds and cinnamon to mine or if I’m really feeling like something sweet I will have raw cacao powder and a drizzle of maple syrup!

Flax seeds are getting more and more popular and are a great way of adding fibre and omega 3 fatty acids into your diet, which are great for a healthy heart as they have been found to reduce blood pressure and the “bad” HDL cholesterol. As well as being full of antioxidants and vitamins like magnesium, the omega 3 fatty acids in these tiny seeds can help fight against inflammation in the body which are contributing factors of a number of huge health issues like cancer, heart disease and arthritis.

Being ground into a crumbly texture means it’s a lot easier for your body to digest and also makes it easier to add to many things such as yoghurt parfaits, smoothies, pizza bases, and baking without the flavour or consistency being overpowering.

As for raw cacao powder, it’s AMAZING and I could easily talk about it all day long…

However just to give you a little snippet, raw cacao powder is basically chocolate in its most purest, natural form. Cacao pods contain little white beans inside which are usually roasted at high temperatures and processed over and over to create coco powder which is used to make all things chocolaty. Due to this process all the natural goodness is stripped from the bean and lots of artificial sweeteners and preservatives are added.

With raw cacao powder the beans are unroasted and cold pressed to remove the fat known as cacao butter (amazing for making raw healthy chocolates with!) and ground into a fine powder. This powder is full of extremely potent antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and in particular it’s one of the highest sources of magnesium of all foods on the planet! It really is a brilliant thing and can I just reiterate that this is CHOCOLATE!!

I’ll calm down now.

Just having a tbsp of raw cacao powder in my porridge makes it feel incredibly indulgent and a little bit naughty for breakfast but then I remind myself of how good it is so you really could eat this any time of day and not feel the slightest bit guilty!

Porridge really doesn’t have to be boring and once you have tried a few different toppings you will really enjoy being able to mix it up rather than choosing the same old cereal or toast in the morning. Also I noticed that after a while of eating porridge for breakfast, if I did have something like cereal there was a massive difference in how long I felt full and more importantly satisfied for, never mind the spike in my blood sugar levels!

I know for some people the thought of having a bowl of hot creamy porridge first thing is too much, especially for those who don’t have much of an appetite in the morning but you can have it in the form of overnight oats which is a cold version with yoghurt – click here for my recipe.

Whether you have hot porridge or cold overnight oats, it’s definitely one of the best ways to start the day!

Creamy coconut and fennel curry

Its getting to that time of year again where everyone is coughing and sneezing and all you want to do is snuggle up and eat delicious comfort food…but who says it has to be unhealthy?

nanny's curry

As I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, I love a one pot meal and this curry is very easy to make and you can put whatever you want in to bulk it out such as chickpeas, broad beans, peppers and frozen peas.

The main ingredient, Fennel,  is a funny little thing… I have never been a fan of aniseed or liquorish but when you gently cook it, the flavour changes completely and it’s so tasty, you just have to try it!

Fennel is full of Vitamin C which is great for boosting your immune system, especially if you are fighting off a cold! It’s also required for your body to produce the protein collagen, which is essential for cell growth and regeneration, keeping your bones and teeth strong and ensuring that your wounds will heal and blood will clot. It’s also  said to help reduce the risk of bowel and colon cancers due to it’s high fiber content that helps to remove any nasty toxins that could remain in your colon.

The other superfood in this dish is spinach! If you aren’t a huge fan then this curry is a good way of increasing your intake of vitamin K, and B vitamins such as folic acid without the strong flavour. Folic acid can’t be stored within the body so it must be consumed through every day diet and is especially important for pregnant women as it is required to develop a healthy baby and keep blood sugar levels stable.It helps keep your brain active and alert and the dark green colour means it contains a higher level of chlorophyll that’s anti-inflammatory and promotes good eyesight. Spinach can be used as a base for salads or lightly wilted into a warm dish just before serving as over cooking will reduce the amount of nutrients you absorb. However, I wouldn’t worry about that in this dish, as you are likely to eat a lot more spinach this way than you would in a salad!

Serves 2 main meals (with two lunch sized portions for left overs the next day!)

  • 2 Leeks finely sliced
  • 2 Onions finely sliced
  • 2 Fennel bulbs, feathery top removed and thinly sliced length ways
  • 1 courgette sliced into discs and then halved
  • 1 Pack of spinach – (If you don’t have fresh spinach in or don’t buy it very often, frozen spinach is just as good and is usually compacted into little blocks, so use 4-5)
  • 1 Tin of coconut milk
  • 1 Vegetable stock cube
  • 1 Can black-eyed beans drained (you could substitute any sort of legumes you have in such as butter beans/chickpeas)
  • Half a bunch of fresh coriander
  • 2 Limes
  1. Over a medium heat, gently sauté the leek, fennel, courgette and onion in a little olive oil until soft
  2. Add the coconut milk, black eyed beans and chopped coriander and season to taste with salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  3. Crumble in the stock cube
  4. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes – If using frozen spinach add the blocks in with the coconut milk but if you are using fresh, add once it’s simmered.
  5. Squeeze in the juice of 2 limes and serve with brown rice or quinoa

If you wanted to make this even more substantial, double up on fennel, coconut milk and vegetables. Quorn chicken pieces complement this dish really well too or you could try tofu if you want to keep it vegan 😉