Butterbean, macadamia and rosemary hummus

I remember my first time seeing hummus, having never eaten it or it being featured in our fridge, my thoughts weren’t leaning the same way as they are now. I remember being at my friend’s house, much younger, and seeing a tub of something  besides a bag of carrots. Now dips weren’t a part of my life as they are now, that does indeed mean no guac, hummus, baba ganoush, muhammara, salsa, tahini (I know it’s scandalous) perhaps the odd sighting of a sour cream and chive or some tzatziki. So coming across hummus, when I first tried it there was no convincing me. For young tastebuds only just developing away from chips and bread and butter, the savoury, garlicky tang of hummus didn’t do it for me.

I tried again possibly in my early teens, we had just bought a new blender and I found a recipe for homemade hummus. I thought, what could possibly go wrong, had a go, and remember it tasted a bit rubbish. Bland, chalky and just a bit meh. I’m sure that happened a few times, determined as I was to make it like the one you buy in shops, as I kept being told: ‘homemade is ALWAYS better than shop bought’. In my case that wasn’t true. A couple years later again, after week on week buying shop bought hummus (I had bought into the hype), I gave it one last shot. A simple cupboard raid recipe to use up that tahini after thinking it would be nice on porridge (another thing which hadn’t yet found a place in my heart) so in it went with all other common ingredients. Chickpeas, garlic, lemon, salt (lots of that), tahini, olive oil, a pinch of cumin and water to thin it out. Easy.

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Since that day as few years back, I’ve been making it to the same recipe ever since. I’ve had friends comment having the same experience as me, ‘I had a go at making hummus and it just wasn’t that great, so I gave up and bought some’.  Completely understandable, and you’ll probably think, as I did, that buying one is so much more efficient. Guaranteed it will taste right and no fiddly washing up. However shop bought dips contain so much more salt and fat than when whizzed up in your own food processor. If hummus is a daily thing on your plate or for a snack, changing it up a bit will benefit your pocket, tastebuds and waistline.

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Just make sure to keep a form of beans and any nut or seed butter in your cupboards, then you’re just two minutes away from a satisfying lunch or dinner or a friend for the lonely carrot in the bottom of your veg drawer. Even on Christmas morning, I was providing the starters for our dinner, and had a mini panic that I hadn’t made enough. I had prepared a salmon rillettes with mini toasts and crudités, but with the addition of a vegetarian to our family, a big bowl of hummus was surely on the cards. It always goes down well with a crowd and they will be really impressed if you’ve made it yourself.

Don’t get me wrong, when I’m travelling or away from home I can’t make my own so I always buy a shop bought. The best that I can afford. Look for one made with extra virgin olive oil or rapeseed oil rather than sunflower oil, and fresh garlic (not the powdered version), make sure it contains tahini and opt for organic if it’s within your price margin. Even in India I managed to buy hummus, it had lumps of black olives in and on first encounter I thought it had gone off, and it wasn’t that great but we all need that fix. And when in Greece, don’t expect to find any because hummus is most definitely not Greek. Fava will be your hero item on the menu, and a very good one too.

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Every time I make a batch, it lasts easily for a week in the fridge, but is usually licked clean within a few days. I also tend to change the type of bean and added flavours each time to keep things a bit new and exciting. If you want a traditional hummus, swap the butter beans for chickpeas and omit the Rosemary adding around 1/2 heaped teaspoon of ground cumin instead.

I had just used the food processor to make some roasted macadamia nut butter, so instead of washing the bowl I left some around the sides, stuck all the hummus ingredients on top and added another dollop for good measure. It made it even creamier than usual with a nice toasty flavour from the nuts. Of course they are expensive ingredients so feel free to use tahini, light or dark to your preference.

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Butter bean, macadamia and rosemary hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 tin or carton of butterbeans
  • 2 small cloves of garlic
  • 3 heaped tbsp macadamia nut butter (or tahini)
  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • pinch of ground cumin
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Drain the butterbeans and rinse well, tip into a food processor along with all the other ingredients.
  2. Add a BIG pinch of salt
  3. Whizz up until it forms a paste and is completely smooth. Taste for seasoning then drizzle in cold water to thin the hummus out. Transfer to a bowl or Tupperware and serve.

 

May your hummus problems be for forever resolved, when you get it right it really does taste better than shop bought. Next time try mixing up the flavours, a swirl of harissa there, some turmeric and curry powder here, lemon zest and finely chopped coriander, pureed beetroot and some finely chopped dill, or some roasted carrots and cumin seeds. Hummus is such a great source of fibre from the beans, healthy fats, calcium from the tahini and antibacterial properties from the raw garlic. A real deal SUPERFOOD.

(Disclaimer, superfoods is just a selling ploy used by brands and supermarkets, hummus isn’t scientifically proven to be a superfood, it’s not going to bring you back from the dead or anything. However it is a food and it tastes pretty super so…).

 

Much love and happy dipping

X

January Jams

In order for me to keep on top of the blog, and to keep things fresh, I’m starting a new series. So every month I will be writing a list of things that I’m vibing on, and it won’t just be food related don’t you worry!

In the early stages of 2017, it seems a common trend that everyone is feeling slightly under the weather, missing some sunshine and (even though I don’t believe in it) is on a relentless diet that is draining you of all frivolity and joy. These are some of the things that are ‘getting me through’ January, filling up my evenings and brightening up my days.

#1

Fuss-Free Moisturiser – Clean Beauty Co.

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Get in from work, go in the shower, wash hair, get out and slather body in moisturiser, if not legs will soon be scaling, as the winter leaves you looking like a lizard. Go to bed, only to wake up in the middle of the night really sticky, really really sticky but so COLD.

Anyone else?

I never end up putting moisturiser on because I hate the routine of prancing around with nothing on, swinging my arms around until the said cream has sunk in and it’s safe to put some clothes on without a trail of white rings left on my tights.

So, here’s the miracle product: an in-shower moisturiser that’s completely natural. At the end of your shower rub liberally allover, then hop out (no need to rinse) and just pat dry. Your skin will feel utterly smooth, and no sticky residue leftover. I think Clean Beauty Co. have sadly stopped selling this product as they are going on to bigger and better things (see this book), however you can find the recipe here for a little Sunday DIY. I can tell you, once my next jar has run out (will probably only take a month, it’s that good) I will be making this on the regular. Watch this space, everyone who knows me will probably be receiving a tub!

 

#2

Hotel Chocolat Tea

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This came along with a few other gifts from a good friend for Christmas, tea tends to feature always in her gift buying which = V. happy Thea.

Recently I’ve been quite obsessed with the Hotel Chocolat rare and vintage chocolate bars (and the free samples every time you visit the shop) but was yet to try the tea. There are five different varieties which you can either buy a single for 75p or a pack of 10 for £5.00. Each catering for a different time of day or specific need, in the Teaolat range: Energise, Invigorate, Refresh, Cacao Breakfast, Unwind and Spice. All containing one specific ingredient, cacao nibs. The cacao nibs come across strongest in the aroma, a whiff of hot chocolate but mingled with divine spices and herbs. Next time you pop by Hotel Chocolat grab some of the samples to try and when you have a spare minute boil the kettle and let one brew for a few moments of bliss.

 

#3

The OA

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How could I leave out something to binge on on Netflix. That’s what January is all about right? On the sofa, under a duvet with some snacks and a cuppa. After watching (and LOVING) Stranger things, up popped Netflix’s next recommendation (they’re onto something there I think) for me and my mum. A series called The OA, with not much explanation as to what it is about.

‘Having gone missing seven years ago, the previously blind Prairie returns home, now in her 20s with her sight restored. While many believe she is a miracle, others worry that she could be dangerous.’

So four episodes in, it’s GOOD. Brad Pitt is one of the producers, I think that says it all. It’s most definitely weird, really odd at first, but stick with it. If you’re a Sci-Fi and mystery fan like me, you will be hooked!

 

#4

Pink Puffer Coat – Monki Exclusive to Asos

I attempted to buy this coat on many occasions with no luck. It seems everyone else wants this big, soft, pastel pink duvet to wrap themselves up tight in the cold.

With no luck of buying it, as Asos kept selling out and only the larger sizes were left in stock, I gave up on my dreams of becoming a big marshmallow. UNTIL, on Christmas morning my last present to unwrap was a huuugeeee surprise and out came this coat. It has not been off my back since. In the UK we’ve had all sorts of weather the past few weeks and even during the heavy snow fall it has kept me warm, snug and cosy without any complaints (actually OVERHEATING has been the biggest thing, but rather that than be cold any day). On the Monki website they also have the coat in black (sadly the mustard and dark green tartan print has gone), but hop to it and you might bag yourself a beauty.

 

#5

Microplane Grater

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I love cooking. Can you tell?

I’m not a big gadget fan, however there are a few little things which make the process much speedier and oh so more satisfying. Queue my Microplane grater. Whenever a recipe calls for the zest of some citrus the overall result will be so much zingier and tarter. Picture a lemon drizz but with a real zippy tanginess that cuts through the sugary sweet topping, or if you’re making a stir-fry lumps of ginger and garlic aren’t overly pleasant, so whizz some across the Microplane and it will be distributed evenly to leave a good heat in its wake. I understand you’re reading this and thinking, ‘how sad’ yes it is. I don’t really care as I’ve got my Microplane and that makes me happy.

 

#6

Maple peanut butter – Pip N Nut

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Of course I couldn’t do this post without jamming on a food product. If you’re from the UK, I’d assume you will have heard of this new brand which has been growing exponentially over the past year. Now stocked in Sainsburys, Waitrose, Wholefoods, Holland and Barrett, Plant Organic and many other health food shops nationwide. Currently there is a peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, coconut almond butter, honey cinnamon cashew butter and this limited edition, crunchy maple peanut butter.

DONE

It’s sweet, that’s expected, but slather on some carrot or celery sticks for a snack, swirl into zoats or porridge topped with tart berries. It’s mighty mighty fine. As this one is a limited edition I don’t think you’ll find it on the shelves for much longer, but then of course another genius new flavour will be on the market. Whilst you have the chance, grab a tub and spoon and you’ll thank me later.

So that’s it for this month’s jams. I will be back in February with some new and old discoveries which I can’t wait to share. Please do comment, email or find me on Instagram and let me know what you’ve been obsessing and jamming on recently. I’d love to hear and have a chat!

Much love

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beet tahini balls

When I was little, toast or cereal was the only thing on the cards for breakfast. Well thinking about it, it was almost always a big bowl of cereal. Toast was one of those things that sounded great beforehand, crisped and bronzed, slathered well with salted butter and a thin slick of ruby jam, BUT in reality a soggy piece of white loaf spread with flora and overly sweet strawberry jam. Nah never did it for me.

So bowl of cereal it was to break the fast. My eyes always shone at the sight of some Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, Shreddies, Rice Krispies or come winter warm Shredded Wheat or Weetabix with a sliced up banana. Now my mum was always a Sugar Puffs gal. If you’re new to the British cereal aisle, you’ll find them under the name of Honey Monster Puffs, a puffed wheat sweetened with sugar and honey. IN FACT, looking at the nutritional breakdown on the packet, containing 5 types of sugar, there are certainly better options out there.

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(On tasting these bars, my mum remarked how they are similar to Sugar Puffs, I’m hoping on a much more wholesome scale, but I will definitely take that as a good thing.)

Between me and my mum we’re both BIG fans of a good muesli bar (I’m not including my dad here because it’s near impossible to tempt him with a healthier treat, he’s only down for proper brownies and chocolate). I’ve attempted many in the past, and it really is hard to find a good one. Some granola bars are just way too dry, other ‘no-bake’ muesli bars too crumbly and fall apart, some using way too many dried dates or a big glug of maple syrup. I always return to the Muesli Bar from Green Kitchen Stories (on their desserts apps), they keep really well in the freezer and transport without turning into a mass of crumbs. If you fancy a baked bar, this Feelgood flapjack is lovely, just on the right side of sweetness, dipped into a cup of milk, crumbled on top of some yogurt or spread liberally with nut butter. Totally satisfying and moreish.

Now this recipe from Golubka Kitchen has been on my radar for quite a while now. Remember Rice Krispies Squares? The Rice Krispie snack glued together by a mass of marshmallows, this is slightly reminiscent of them. Gloriously magenta in colour, they use blended cooked beetroot to lend a slight earthiness as well as the mega hue. Oats and puffed brown rice make them more sustaining as a snack, and tahini and hazelnut butter lend a richness as well as a good dose of plant based protein. I added a handful of raisins for chewy nuggets, another of sunflower and pumpkin seeds for crunch and some cacao nibs for that 4pm much needed cacao hit.

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Note: The bars are best kept in the freezer and will keep there for a good few months, just take them out a few minutes before serving to soften. I have eaten some straight out the freezer but at room temperature is the best way to enjoy them. They are sticky and gooey and everything you want in a little snack bar. If you’re feeling fancy, drizzle with a little dark chocolate or some raw chocolate, i just rolled mine in whizzed up coconut flakes. The choice is yours.

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Beet Tahini Balls

Ingredients

  • 1 small beetroot, cooked (I roasted mine whole in its skin in foil, then peeled. However use vacuum packed if you can’t get fresh beets)
  • 1/2 cup soft dates, pitted
  • 1-2 tbsp plant based milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups wholegrain puffs (I used brown rice, try buckwheat, quinoa)
  • 1/2 cup tahini (try to use a brand such as Meridian, its much thicker)
  • 2 tbsp other nut butter (I used hazelnut sunflower seed butter but anything else will work)
  • Handful cacao nibs
  • Handful sunflower seeds
  • Handful pumpkin seeds
  • Handful raisins
  • Large handful of desiccated coconut or coconut flakes

 

Method

  1. Make sure the beet is peeled, then chop up and put in the food processor with the dates, 1 tbsp of milk, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. Whizz up to form a smooth paste, and add more milk if it is struggling and still lumpy.
  2. Tip into a large mixing bowl and add all the other ingredients except the desiccated coconut.
  3. Mix well to form a sticky mixture, if it’s too wet add another handful of oats or if i’ts too dry add a little more milk. It needs to come together in one big clump.
  4. Form into little rounded mounds, akin to a coconut macaroon. I find this easier by wetting my hands with water first. Sprinkle the coconut out on a plate and roll the balls in the coconut until evenly covered.
  5. Place on a few plates in the freezer for at least an hour to set, then transfer to a Tupperware where they will keep in the freezer for a few months.

I hope these will brighten up your snacking or on-the-hoof breakfasts.

With love

X

 

Soup for the soul

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Rummaging through the fridge I found a lump of cheese, wrapped tightly in clingfilm (thank GOD, think of the odour) yellowing on the edges and blue tufts sprouting up in many patches. I thought to myself, “I don’t remember this blue cheese, I know we have a Stilton but that’s with all the other cheeses in a paper bag”. Then it clicked, yep it’s that Peakland White Stilton that I brought home from work as I dropped a huge chunk on the floor.          

.It wasn’t intentional.

I am that person. I’m not wasting it, there’s always a home for dropped sausage rolls, ciabattas and Peakland White Stilton Cheese. << What I’ve collected so far and I’m sure the list will grow longer.

A cheese that’s supposed to be a creamy soft white in colour is mild in flavour with a slight pepperiness you would get from a mature Blue cheese. It was destined to be made into a soup.

However the little bacteria suckers beat me, they’ve been feasting on it for a good while now…I’m going to leave them to it.

 

So here’s a quick and easy soup recipe to use up some cheese leftovers. I’m sure we all have a fridge full at his time of year, when you can’t bear the sight of any more cheese and crackers or cheese and a slither of Christmas cake. I’ve used Cropwell Bishop Stilton, but any blue cheese would work really well. For example, Gorgonzola, Roquefort, Harrogate blue, Yorkshire blue, I could go on and on (I do work in a deli with cheese!!) or even that white Stilton that was waiting rather too patiently. Just be sure to taste before you serve as some blues are much stronger so you might need less, and others are creamier and less piquant.

At this time of year, a soup is on the lunch menu weekly, preferably served with a slice of warm-in-the-centre sourdough from my local bakery and a big smattering of butter, or some rye toast (I like Biona rye), possibly a smear of hummus, perhaps even baked sweet potato wedges dipped in hummus. It makes the perfect satisfying lunch and you can rest in peace knowing there was a good amount of veggies thrown in the mix. I added a few large handfuls of spinach as I wanted to UP the veg quota, if you’d rather stick to the traditional, leave out the spinach all together and possibly use two heads of cauliflower, or to go along with the green thing use broccoli instead. Just make sure to add in those stalks, this is frugal feeding at its finest.

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Cauliflower and Stilton soup

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp ghee or rapeseed oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 large head of cauliflower (substitute broccoli or use a mixture of the two)
  • Around 500ml-750ml of vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • A few large handfuls of spinach
  • 50g Stilton (or any other blue cheese)

 

Method

  1. Finely dice the onion and cook in the ghee in a large pan until softened. Up to 10 minutes.
  2. Whilst the onion is cooking, chop the cauliflower into florets and chop the stalk into small chunks.
  3. Before the 10 minutes is up, add the stalks to soften for a few minutes.
  4. Put the cauliflower florets in the pan and stir around then pour in the stock, start with 500ml you can add more later if it needs it. There’s nothing worse than thin soup.
  5. Bring to the boil then reduce to a low simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes with the lid ajar, until the cauliflower is soft and cooked through.
  6. Turn off the heat, add the spinach to the pan give it a good stir around and pop the lid on for a few minutes to let it wilt.
  7. Crumble the Stilton into the soup.
  8. Using either a stick blender or an upright blender (the latter will make a smoother soup, I used my Nutribullet in a couple of batches) blend until completely smooth adding extra stock/boiling water if necessary, until its at a consistency you like.
  9. Reheat slowly on the hob, stirring to prevent sticking on the bottom and serve in bowls with extra black pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Oh and some bread for dipping is obligatory.
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Clean bowls all round

Keep warm this winter, take a flask of soup to keep the shivers at bay.

Much love

X

You’re sweet enough as you are

We’ve ran out of mincemeat. That’s it. The official ending of Christmas.

I made a mini (silent) vow to myself in the Christmas run up that I would try to eat as many mince pies as possible to satisfy my hunger for the boozy tarts until next year.

Now post-December I believe my attempt was rather feeble. Probably only reached a grand total of 10, or maybe it’s 20…I’m not too sure. Next year I will have to step up my game.

I suppose as a blog trying to promote a healthier lifestyle you may think that I am totally contradicting myself. Mince pies containing sugar, butter, pastry, alcohol and dried fruits aren’t exactly going to help maintain your figure but for one month of the year we wear so many layers to protect from the cold, that extra bit of padding will be hardly noticeable.

That’s what I tell myself anyway.

So here’s to January, mince pie free but in desperate need for a sweet treat that really ain’t that sweet. Well, in fact it contains no added sugar at all, unrefined, refined or otherwise.

That’s more like it.

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I really do love baking, and there are so many ‘sugar free’ recipes out there. However these recipes typically replace the full amount of sugar that you would find in a normal cake with an equal amount of ‘unrefined sugar’, such as maple syrup, coconut sugar and agave nectar. If you’ve ever ventured into a health food shop you will know all too well that these substitutes will leave a large gaping hole in your pocket. Aside from the price tag, they will still cause the same addictive sugar rush we get from bog standard caster sugar.

^^This is the issue I have. A ‘so-called’ healthier cake never tastes as good as a proper one. You may be munching on your vegan, sugar free, gluten free cupcake saying how amazing it tastes, how light and airy it is…but let’s be frank, it ain’t. Now on the odd occasion give me a proper slice of Victoria sponge, some Bakewell tart and I’ll be on cloud 9 but not desperate for another piece as just the one wasn’t completely satisfying.

I’m on a mission to find baking recipes full of wholesome ingredients, which don’t pretend to be a healthified version of our favourites, taste amazing and contain as little added sugar, or none at all, as possible.

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One thing I like to do if baking a NORMAL recipe is reduce the amount of sugar by 1/3, it doesn’t affect the taste and it is the most amount of sugar you can take away without affecting the overall bake and texture. So that 200g of sugar in your sponge, try reducing it to 130g, your taste buds will gradually get used to flavours less saccharine and start to appreciate others nuances such as the toastiness of nuts, a hint of vanilla, spices like cinnamon and nutmeg or that little bit of salt on your choc chip cookie.

So this past week I’ve had a couple of bananas gradually darkening, way past an enjoyable eating stage, in my fruit bowl. There’s only one answer for that. Of course. BANANA BREAD! Perhaps one of my favourite cakes, sliced into a thick chunk, occasionally toasted but always (OK sometimes peanut butter sneaks in there instead) with a thick blanket of organic salted butter.

I suppose a lot of people assume banana bread is quite a healthy affair, considering it contains a portion of fruit right? Sorry but quite wrong. Banana bread tends to contain a hell of a lot of added sugar, even when the bananas are sweet enough as they are.

So here’s my favourite recipe which just uses the natural sweetness of the bananas with no added extras. It’s light and airy, not claggy like some banana breads can often be, spiced richly with cinnamon it sits well enough on your plate for breakfast as it does a 4pm slump snack. Try adding a handful of raisins and crushed walnuts to the batter for some more texture and an extra bit of added sweetness that feels a little more indulgent. I like it both ways.

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Banana bread

This banana bread contains no added sugar, is gluten and wheat free and can be made dairy free by substituting the butter with coconut oil. I made this one nut free using pumpkin and sunflower seeds in the batter and topping, however a handful of walnuts or pecans is always a welcome addition. Half a tablespoon of maple syrup can be added if you feel it won’t be sweet enough, but I think it is perfect without, especially if you add raisins to the batter.

Recipe adapted from Hemsley and Hemsley

Ingredients

  • 4 large very ripe bananas
  • 60g coconut flour
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • a pinch of salt
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 50g butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp maple syrup (optional, I feel it’s fine without)
  • A handful of sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds (or crushed walnuts, pecans and some raisins, or perhaps even some dark chocolate chunks)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan. Grease and line a 900g loaf tin with baking paper and set aside for later.
  2. Peel the bananas, and weigh out 350g. Reserve the leftover banana to slice up and decorate the top, or do as I did, save for later for on top of a slice of banana bread spread with peanut butter. Mash the weighed out banana until smooth.
  3. Whisk together, the coconut flour, salt, cinnamon and bicarb in a bowl.
  4. Crack the eggs into the mashed banana, whisk together and mix in the melted butter, vanilla extract, apple cider vinegar and extra maple syrup if you’re using it.
  5. Tip the dry ingredients into the banana-egg mixture and whisk until there are no lumps remaining.
  6. Add in a handful of seeds or your addins of choice and mix well.
  7. Pour into the tin, top with more seeds and bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Cover with foil if its browning too quickly.
  8. Leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack, then store in a Tupperware in the fridge. Or slice portions and freeze ready to stick in the toaster for a quick breakfast or snack.

NOTE: If you use sunflower seeds in the batter, as I did here, don’t be alarmed if you spy bright green flecks in your banana bread. The sunflower seeds react with the bicarbonate of soda and turn green. They’re completely harmless and taste no different, it will still be as delicious.

You stick the kettle on, I’ll bring the banana bread and butter. Deal?

With love and blissful moments

X

 

 

 

hello 2017

New year, new me.

Really, are we still going through the same notions as soon as that clock hits 12 on the 31st of January??

The feelings of guilt for the past month of indulgence and enjoyment (yes didn’t we all have a good time), plans of restriction, intentions of sweaty runs in the arctic gales which will be preceded by a bowl of kale with a no-oil dressing, an early bedtime and an early rise only to start it all again.

Because kale is good for me, right?!?

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This kid knows about intuitive eating

It may sound healthy but that person sure ain’t happy.

2017 should be the year when we realise diets are out the window, and the word balance comes to mind. It’s thrown around a lot these days along with intuitive and mindfulness and I’m sure you use them yourself and have no idea what they really mean.

Intuitive eating is a nutrition philosophy based on the premise that becoming more attuned to the body’s natural hunger signals is a more effective way to attain a healthy weight, rather than keeping track of the amounts of energy and fats in foods.

Thanks Wikipedia
Being healthy 24/7 just isn’t being human. We all see those Insta stars with daily updates of their meals, gym selfies without an ounce of sweat dripping off their faces or a hair out of place, and quotes telling us to ‘glow like a glowstick’ which of course mean well but i’m a human being not an inanimate object and i have feelings. Somedays I really don’t want to be a ‘strong woman’. Collapsing in a heap on the sofa and saying “I can’t” might be the thing that’s needed.

 

I must admit, my interest in food and into this whole ‘wellness’ scene started when I came across Deliciously Ella. It was a good few years ago now, and she didn’t have that worldwide status that she’s now achieved. Slowly taking over the world one sweet potato brownie at a time. I didn’t quite see the downside at the time, but decided to follow a diet like hers, basically of just fruit and vegetables, lots of dates and nuts for energy because I was always hungry.

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There we have, the first example of an unsustainable way of life.

I used to beat myself up about why my meals never looked as amazing as hers (and other fellow Insta health gurus) why my skin wasn’t glowing and why I wasn’t a happy person with a smile plastered on my face.

I’m not against Deliciously Ella at all, I think what she has done for the UK and almost the rest of the world is a really good thing. making more of us aware that we need more fruit and vegetables in our lives, and a good slice of avo on toast of course. I just think it can be quite dangerous for many people if they start to cut things out of their diets unnecessarily. Ella has written many posts about how her lifestyle isn’t the ‘be all and end all’ although some people don’t seem to understand that still. But even her food choices has changed over the years, at the very beginning she was extremely strict, avoiding things like rye and spelt, eggs and fish, whereas now she uses rye bread almost daily, eggs are used in the pancakes in The Mae Deli, and she has admitted to eating fish occasionally, soon to be followed up by hoards of angry followers shaming and guilt tripping her.

It’s this part of the wellness community that I hate. One persons’ food choices shouldn’t be shamed by anyone. Whether you’re vegan, flexitarian, pescetarian, vegetarian, meatarian, fruitarian, whatever other ‘arian’ you may be, that’s your life you’re leading and the choices you make are for you. Nobody else.

As long as you’re healthy, have no vitamin or mineral deficiencies and can live your life full of energy nourished from the fuel you give it, that’s A OK.

Back to January and the wave of diet fads and abstaining from alcohol we all feel pressured to partake in. Number one why? It’s cold, we’re back at work and its a whole 12 months till Christmas comes around again. Also the only time when watching elf wrapped in your duvet becomes acceptable (i.e. not in the middle of summer). In winter, we’re supposed to be laying on a little extra fat as insulation to shield us from the dropping temperatures. Big hearty meals should be celebrated: steaming stews, soups, pies, a nice bit of molten cheesy goo is welcome and some stodge in the form of a good ‘ol potato is always on the menu. Use this furnace from the inside to power up for a bracing walk out in nature. Move your body around, do whatever you fancy whether it be dancing in your knickers, going to the gym or a gentle jog round the park. As long as you enjoy it that’s all that matters.

One thing I love about my mum is how realistic she is. While the majority of adults are on a dry January, she has a dry November (with an exception for drinks at the weekend and whenever we have pasta red wine is a must). No it’s not completely perfect but every year she follows it through and even my dad joins in. All in all they end up drinking much less than usual. Her thoughts are that January is pretty depressing, as I’ve already mentioned before, so supplementing it with a ban on alcohol is just plain wrong. We need a bit of the hard stuff to make it through to the end unscathed. November is the time when we’re starting to get excited about the festive period, so why not stop drinking and save a bit of money to either spend on a loved one or as a special gift for yourself, after all you deserved it.

So back to January. 2017. That’s right, but doesn’t it sound so wrong. Out with the diets and in with all round wellbeing, trying to be a bit healthier, but still enjoy the sweet things in life. Whether that’s a daily square of chocolate, a glass of vino with your meal, a bowl of apple crumble and steaming custard. Seriously what is wrong with that?!

By depriving yourself, it’s only human nature that you will end up craving more of the forbidden fruits and face plant into a tin of Quality Street.

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We’ve all done it

So say no to restriction, no to cutting out whole food groups, your friends may be singing and dancing about a new diet they’re on and how amazing they feel, but are they feeling the same a few weeks down the line? I highly doubt it. Enjoy things in moderation, eat every meal, no feelings of guilt and learn to love yourself. It’s a hell of a lot easier to say than to do (I’m struggling but it’s one of my aims to improve on this year).

Read this piece by Laura Thomas on learning to respect our eating habits, enjoying our food and a big fat NO to diet culture.

I always like to follow the same principles, loads of veggies, a bit of meat or fish if I fancy it just not every day, protein with every meal typically in the form of nuts, beans, lentils, tofu (I’m attempting to learn to like it), organic full fat dairy, healthy fats like olive oil and rapeseed oil, avocados, olives and a variety of whole grains. Not forgetting my favourite indulgences of a thick wad of butter on sourdough, cheese, wine, dark chocolate, and a big fat pudding and custard, they make me happy and make me human. This is what works for me and we are all different so listen to your bodies and when you get a pang for that sticky toffee pudding HAVE IT!

So lets all celebrate this new year, new experiences and people are awaiting. Start with a bang by enjoying some fresh air, making tasty heart warming food and spending it with friends and family. That sounds a hell of a lot better to me than going on 6:30am runs in the rain and eating an iceberg lettuce salad for lunch, which one sounds healthier to you?

Much love, wishes and warmth sent for this January. Don’t worry it’s nearly Summer!

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