Low-sugar acai bowl

My Instagram feed has been LOADED lately with smoothies. Smoothie bowls, açai bowls, ‘nice’ cream, basically blended up cold things, with toppings for crunch.

Don’t forget the toppings!

Out of all the breakfast foods (OK perhaps not the avo toast as that is the ULTIMATE in photogenicity) the smoothie bowl photos rather well. Thick and creamy in a vibrant green or purple – or brown if you use spinach – a good nut butter drizzle and the generous overflow streaming down the sides. It’s cool, similar to ice cream so surely is the perfect candidate for summer breakfasts when porridge most definitely isn’t the answer.

Why is it then that every time I make a smoothie, it just doesn’t float my boat. I’m not sure whether it’s that a liquid meal just doesn’t satiate my appetite? Or perhaps that I’m conscious of not adding too much fruit so instead it ends up tasting of pond, never mind resembling one? I just can’t figure it out. SOS (save ones’ smoothies).

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Now I’m sure we’ve all heard of the açai bowl. A street snack from Brazil which is a deep purple berry frozen and blended and then topped with toppings galore. Bananas, granola, berries, coconut, seeds, you name it, you can top it. Here in the UK the açai berry isn’t as abundant so we have to rely on frozen bananas for the texture and then freeze dried açai powder or little frozen sachets of the açai pulp for the taste and colour. If you’re then centering your toppings around granola, banana and berries it’s not a very balanced breakfast. Meaning spiked blood sugar levels and a grumble in your belly by 11am. Breakfast preferably wants to contain a good balance of slow and fast release carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats so we need to rethink our smoothie bowl making rituals.

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Something else that has been trending lately. Fruit-free and low-sugar smoothies. Yuppp that’s right, ones that supposedly don’t taste like salad, are filling and all add up to that much needed 5-a-day (or is it now 7, or 10? I’m not sure it keeps changing). Frozen banana is the fruit of choice when it comes to smoothies, but have you ever considered steamed and frozen cauliflower? Or courgette? Or butternut squash? Thought not. Me neither. The furthest I ever roamed into vegetable territory was spinach or kale , the odd bit of avocado – that’s technically a fruit so doesn’t count!

Steamed to make it gentler on your tummy and frozen to keep the smoothie chilled, vegetables are a wondrous addition. Paired with ground flaxseeds, a spoon of plantbased protein powder, some berries, maybe a cheeky half a date as I’m just not that hard-core, milk and any funky powders you like, you’d be none the wiser that it contains some cruciferous vegetables. A spoon of oats or soaked buckwheat blended into the mix would be ideal if you need it super filling, or a generous sprinkle (*ahem* handful) of granola or muesli…leftover cookies in my case.

Maybe this smoothie bowl is the one that will change things forever? It was good. I’m not going to lie. But I am still ever faithful to my porridge/toast/muesli/overnight-oats rotation. The girl knows what she likes. -\_(‘~’)_/-

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Maybe I haven’t landed upon the perfect granola yet? Not too sweet, plenty of crunch. The sort that you just can’t get off of your mind. Saying that, this one was mega, it hasn’t escaped my mind. Maybe I’ve found the one?!?

If you’re after some more smoothie bowl inspiration and recipes, all low sugar veggie-centric and drool worthy may I add, head to these blogs and Instagram accounts. These girls are killing it in the smoothie game.

Low-sugar açai bowl

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup steamed and frozen cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup steamed and frozen courgette (zucchini)
  • 1/2 cup berries (I used a mixture of strawberries and blackberries, any fresh or frozen would work)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup milk
  • 1 heaped tbsp açai powder
  • 1 tbsp protein powder (I used hemp)
  • 1 tsp ground flaxseeds/linseeds
  • 1/2-1 date depending on sweetness preference

Topping ideas

  • Granola (try to use a low sugar one)
  • Muesli
  • These crumbled up cookies
  • Pumpkin or sunflower seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Fruit such as strawberries, blueberries, banana, kiwi
  • Bee pollen
  • Cacao nibs
  • Chopped Nuts
  • Nut or seed butter (I used a roasted almond, cashew and hazelnut)
  • Yogurt
  • Coconut flakes
  • Puffed rice, buckwheat, quinoa or amaranth

Directions

  1. Add all the ingredients for the smoothie into a high powdered blender, starting with 1/4 cup of milk.
  2. Blend until everything is blitzed smooth and you have a thick smoothie with the consistency of ice cream, adding more milk if necessary. A high powered blender will work best here, I use a nutribullet. One less powerful will struggle to blend the frozen fruit and vegetables and it will be lumpy.
  3. Spoon into a bowl (watch your tongue on that blade I know you’re licking it clean!)
  4. Choose your toppings, add as many or as few as you wish.
  5. Dive in whilst it’s still cold, and don’t forget that picture for Instagram!

Enjoyed al fresco basking in the morning sunshine listening to the birds whistle their tunes. That’s the ideal breakfast situation. Not achievable most of the time I know, but on the one day that it appears, make the most of it. Embrace it with both hands, the smoothie bowl included, and DIG IN!

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Burnt courgette veggie chilli and all the fixings

Meat Free Monday. An initiative started up to encourage eating a vegetarian meal altogether as a family just one day per week, to improve your health as well as the health of the environment. Also there’s One Part Plant, started up by Jessica Murnane, with the idea to eat one plant based meal per day. Some use it as a chance for a healthy meal full of vegetables, others to reduce the impact of meat production on the environment. By vegetarian I’m talking vegetables, grains, legumes, a bit of dairy or eggs perhaps (I do love me a bit of cheese), but definitely not Quorn fish fingers and chips. Please can a vegetarian explain to me why you would want to eat something which resembles the taste and texture of a fish finger when you choose not to eat the real thing? I just don’t get it.

Now for many, a vegetarian meal completely devoid of meat, fish and sometimes eggs and dairy too if it’s vegan, well that’s not a meal. I’m from the North of England. The home of meat and two veg, bread and dripping, Lancashire hotpot and the legendary Pie Barm (google Wigan Kebab). If it contains, meat, potatoes and pastry, it’s probably Northern and the food that we were brought up on. It’s cold up here, we need the stodge to keep the warmth in our bones.

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The struggle here has to be the Dads. Happy with steak and chips every night I’m sure, the meal that always fits the bill, but not necessarily a happy one on the purse strings. A veggie meal for Meat Free Monday which isn’t too funky, not too many greens and no weird unpronounceable components like quinoa or edamame or tzatziki, that’s what we’re after. I always opt for a veggie chilli full of different beans, lentils and veggies for that texture and a lack of meat means we need to up the flavour for some oomph! Of course whenever the pan is set down at the table for dinner my dad has to ask ‘does this contain any meat’, well no it doesn’t. Nevertheless we all really enjoy it, and as soon as he has dug in the lack of beef isn’t mentioned again.

Chilli Con Carne is one of those meals I remember fondly from my childhood. Something which is quick and easy for busy families and makes everyone happy. One made from minced beef and tomatoes (basically Spag Bol minus the herbs with added spices and chilli) and a tin of kidney beans thrown in the mix. Probably the only meal we used to eat that contained beans or legumes (the chickpea was alien to me) and the beans I then picked out and left sucked of their chilli juices on the side of the plate. Oh how things have changed. Spooned on top of white rice and a side of garlic bread it was a regular on the meal rotation.

Perhaps traditional in the UK, but not so much a traditional recipe. Hailing from Mexico the Chilli Con Carne is a far cry away from what we are used to. Chunks of beef, like cheek, brisket or shin slowly simmered in a deeply rich sauce, no minced beef here, and technically kidney beans shouldn’t be seen either. A melange of spices, paprika and different chillies all balanced to give layers of smoky-sweet flavour which is finished off with some dark chocolate (it makes all the difference). Cooked up in one pot, cowboy style, that’s how a chilli should be.

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Well and truly burnt

For those Meat Free Mondays we want a veggie chilli which isn’t just a substitute or a side, but it’s even better than the real thing. So good that the vegetarians have to fight to get their fill before the carnivores tuck in. That’s when you know it’s good. Vegetarian food is no more difficult than cooking meat it just requires extra spices and flavouring tricks to pack in that flavour. Different pulses, grains and vegetables are used to provide varying texture and interest so every mouthful is different.

I like to serve this veggie chilli over a jacket or baked sweet potato, but brown or white rice, quinoa, cauliflower rice, in a wrap or just in a deep bowl with tortillas to scoop up the juices. All will suffice here. The toppings are a necessity. Whether you go basic with some guacamole or all out with sour cream, coriander, lime to squeeze, feta or grated cheddar cheese, tortilla chips, pickled jalapenos, chilli sauce (Cholula Hot Sauce always is a winner), spiced up salsa and some sauerkraut. This is the pot that will suit all, just make sure to fill the table so everyone can DIY.

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This recipe I found in the January edition of Good Food magazine, from Izy Hossack (of Top with Cinnamon). It was a recipe for a burnt aubergine veggie chilli, and, not like me at all, we didn’t have any aubergines in and I couldn’t be bothered to walk down to the shops in the rain to get some. So courgettes had to do. If you’re familiar with making Baba Ghanoush, the courgettes need to be charred under a grill or directly on your gas ring until blackened and starting to collapse. The skins are then peeled away to leave a silky smooth interior with some smokiness that is to be folded through the chilli. If you’d prefer, here is the original recipe using the aubergines, but at this time of year I’m sure you avid gardeners are growing courgettes out of your ears. So for a respite from courgette chutney and fritters, add this into your courgette cooking repertoire.

Below are also the recipes for the sweetcorn and tomato salsa and guacamole with which I served the chilli. Super simple and quick and only require a few extra ingredients. But it’s the extras that make this dish shine!!

Burnt courgette veggie chilli

Ingredients

  • 2 courgettes
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 1 stick celery, finely diced
  • 30g red lentils, rinsed until the water runs clear
  • 1 tin kidney beans
  • 1 tin black beans
  • 3 tbsp dark soy sauce/tamari
  • 1 heaped tsp chipotle paste
  • 1 tin plum tomatoes
  • 20g dark chocolate (70% plus, the darker the better)
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes (or more/less to taste)
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 heaped tsp vegetable stock powder (I use Bouillon)
  • 400ml water

Directions

  1. Turn your grill up to high and place the courgettes under for around 30 mins to 45 mins, turning occasionally until well blackened and charred all over. If you have a gas hob place the courgettes directly on the ring and char until completely blackened. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pan then add the onion, carrots and celery and cook gently for around 20 minutes until softened. Stir often to make sure they don’t burn.
  3. Go back to the courgettes and peel away the burnt skin to reveal the soft inner flesh. Throw away all the burnt bits, making sure to scrape every little bit of the insides away and set aside.
  4. Once the carrots, celery and onions have softened add the red lentils and the two tins of beans along with the water in the cans. Add in the courgette flesh, soy sauce, tinned tomatoes, chipotle paste, all the herbs and spices, chocolate, vegetable stock and 400 ml of water. Stir everything together, bring to the boil, then turn down to a very low simmer.
  5. Put the lid on ajar, and leave to cook for 1 1/2 hrs, stirring very often, as it thickens it will stick to the bottom. If it starts to look a bit thick add a bit more water.
  6. After the time, take off the lid and check the consistency, if it seems a little thin leave to reduce for another 15 minutes or so longer. You want a thick sauce.
  7. Check the seasoning, adding more salt or chilli if you think necessary, then squeeze in the juice of half a lime, sprinkle with some coriander and take to the table to serve.

Sweetcorn and tomato salsa

Ingredients

  • 1 tin sweetcorn
  • 4 medium tomatoes
  • Handful of coriander leaves and stalks
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1 green chilli, deseeded

Directions

  1. Drain the sweetcorn and put into a bowl.
  2. Finely dice the tomatoes, slice the coriander leaves and stalks finely along with the deseeded chilli and add all to the sweetcorn.
  3. Squeeze in the juice of some lime, a big pinch of salt and pepper then taste for seasoning. Add more chilli, lime or salt if you like and serve spooned on top of the veggie chilli.

Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 lime

Directions

  1. Slice the avocados in half and scoop out the flesh into a bowl.
  2. Add the juice of the lime and a large pinch of salt and mash well with a fork. Leave chunkier if you like or mash until smooth and creamy if that’s what you prefer. Taste for seasoning.

 

Let me know what you think if you cook this recipe. It doesn’t have to be on a Monday either, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, any day it will be good. And the leftovers even better. If you’re making this for a solo dinner or two people, make the full amount. Eat leftovers for dinner or lunch later in the week or freeze for a rainy day.

Snuggly warming hugs

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Mexican Black Bean Dip

Hummus is my GO-TO thing. Lunch or dinner looking a bit dull? HUMMUS. Need a healthy snack full of protein and fibre? HUMMUS. Need a dish to take along to a friend’s party or gathering? HUMMUS. Ran out of the last lot of hummus? Time to make some HUMMUS. 

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I understand how easy and accessible hummus is nowadays, your local Tesco Express probably stocks at least 4 or 5 different varieties, and it is a good way of adding some healthy fats and protein into your diet. Looking at the label, the ingredients are pretty familiar but the levels of fat and salt can be pretty high, so the serving size is limited to 1/4 of a pot. Seriously, does anyone stick to that guideline? It takes some stroonggggg will power, one of which, I don’t have.

I’m totally ok with that.

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I do prefer home made though. It leaves space to mix up the beans and pulses, as we all know eating a predominantly plant based diet requires lots of variety, so rotate those legumes. Chickpea is the classic, but try Butter bean or Cannellini bean for some smoooooth dipping. I always try to buy the best tinned beans I can afford, in the supermarkets they do an organic range which is in a carton with no added salt. I would soak and cook them myself but always end up forgetting, and this girl is not waiting for beans to soak to get her hummus fix. If you’re much more organised than me, than by all means using dried beans is a thriftier (and usually tastier) option.

 

Most of my recipes and creations tend to involve using up a glut of things in my fridge. This time it happened to be coriander, which always wilts quicker than I can use it up. And the Saturday curry night never uses the entire bunch – I do love my coriander it gets sprinkled on everything – but still there will be some left. I also wanted to make a black bean dip to change things up a bit. Refried beans has to be up there in one of my favourite things to eat. Just give me a bowl of refried beans, guacamole and salsa. That’s one happy Thea, just leave me be. 

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So the general elements of hummus, chickpeas, lemon, garlic, cumin, olive oil, tahini and salt all get a little switch around. Here we have black beans (but feel free to use kidney beans if you can’t get hold of them), lime, garlic, ground cumin and coriander, chilli, pumpkin seeds, fresh coriander and salt. Rather simple, takes only a few minutes in the trusty food processor (mine is older than me, it’s vintage!) and is ready to dollop at your hearts desire. Carrot sticks at the ready!

Mexican Black Bean Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 tin of black beans, drained
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 small bunch of coriander
  • 1 small handful pumpkin seeds
  • 1 green chilli, de-seeded
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • Lime
  • 2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil/rapeseed oil

Method

  1. Put the drained black beans into a food processor along with the peeled garlic clove, pumpkin seeds and ground spices
  2. Chop the stalks of the coriander roughly and add it all into the food processor along with the zest and juice of 1/2 the lime.
  3. Chop the chilli and add along with a big pinch of salt and the oil and blitz.
  4. Leave the motor running for a minute or two, you may need to scrape down the sides until smooth, then taste. Add any extra salt, lime or chilli you feel necessary.
  5. Scrape into a serving dish or Tupperware where it will keep for 5 days.

Enjoy you lovely lot!

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Time for a bit of tucker chez Federal

Do you know anyone who’s not a sucker for eggs? ALWAYS some toasted sourdough, perhaps smoked salmn or a dollop of mashed avocado. Pair that with a nice cup of tea or a creamy flat white and you’ve got yourself a date.

Manchester is spewing out new coffee shops and all-day brunch spots, head to the Northern Quarter and you will see what I mean. One thing we seem to do well, is a good coffee shop. A little bit makeshift, INDIE (if you so wish), full of industrial architecture, half finished paint jobs and men with beards. That’s all the ingredients you need for something to succeed. Add in a stellar brunch menu and they will come in their hoardes.

With Manchester being the closest city to me, it’s my hometown, I feel comfortable there and that there’s no place much better. Perhaps London has a slight one-up, but Manchester isn’t lagging far behind. Ever since all the young creatives, business people and anyone searching for that dream has vacated to London, its growing wider and wider with not enough housing to fit them all. Manchester is defineitly benefiting from that, a lot of work and large companies are moving offices UP NORTH, so people are following – and minus the London pricetag.

Even Manchester seems to be spreading its wings, with places like Levenshulme, Chorlton, and Ancoats -once destinations you wouldn’t venture through if you could help it – to now being the trendy parts of town. With good food, good drinks and what more do you need?

The recent popularity in Aussie style cafes, where we all sit for a picture perfect brunch anytime of the day, eggs oozing, with a lil’ cheeky cocktail at 11 o’clock, really is kicking off in Manchester. I doubt many of us coffee shop dwellers have even visited the country, never mind experienced the real deal. In my experience, of only ever seeing pictures on Instagram and scrolling past quickly before I get too jealous, is that they’re as near as damn it legit.

Ok, minus the sunshine, Bondi beach and 30+ temps. But we can’t have everything.

One of my favourites of the BRUNCH (poor pun attempt, I know!) has to be Federal. Open since 2014, this unassuming spot on the corner opposite the Arndale Fish Market has got a lot to give, and has been slowly growing in popularlity over the years. It took me so long to get there, when I finaly made it, at 6:30PM on a weeknight (they say all-day brunch so I took their word), of course it was worth the wait. But I should’ve been before because I haven’t eaten enough brunches in my lifetime. Has anyone, ever?

 

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Plus a bit of plate porn, I was tempted to lick the plate clean and slip it into my handbag. Shhhhhhh…

They do simplicity, done well. Not an overly extensive menu, you see I think that’s the proof of a GOOD eatery. But eggs any way, eggs benedicts, French toast, sweetcorn fritters, banana bread, bagels, sourdough (not sooooo toasted that it flies across the room when you cut into it, just enough browning to stop any sogginess in its tracks) are all there. Plus a daily changing two specials, one is always an omelette the other a surprise. usually containing eggs though, why ofc!

 

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On my first visit me and my mum traipsed through the brisk northern winds to Federal and found a warm and cozy spot in the corner. We went for a pre-theatre dinner, before heading off to see The Rocky Horror Show. All in all a good night. They do a small list of cocktails and wines, but we weren’t indulging ourselves too much now. So a glance at the menu and for me it had to be poached eggs and avo on toast with smoked salmon and she opted for the halloumi and shrooms.

GAH, its so good!!

The prices ae completely reasonable, you won’t be paying over £10, infact most of the dishes range around £7-£9 (the other bonus about living in Manchester rather than London) and the portions are hefty enough. However if you’re STILL hungry??? there’s a delightlful array of cakes and pastries and some Australian sweets. Not forgetting those Lamingtons, and if you’re lucky a Pasteis de Nata (Portuguese custard tart).

 

 

**ALSO**, for you Aussies out there, there is MILO on the drinks menu. I’d never heard of this apparant childhood favourite drink until I went to India where I was stayng with a South African and she was raving about the stuff. FYI her sweet tooth was on overdrive. It seems similar to our Nesquick with a malty flavour like a Horlicks, served cold or as a warm drink. No I didn’t have a test run, I will admire the packaging as a cutlery holder but that’s as far as I will go.

So obviously Federal called for a second visit. This time, no matter how tempted I was by the French toat (dripping in ruby berry juices marbled with creamy mascarpone on a tower of eggy bread) I went back to the old favourite. Sourdough, poachies, avocado, grilled tomato, some mushrooms (I nicked from my mum) and this time a big pile of side salad to up my veggies – you know how much I like my veggies. And my mum also went back to her favourite, halloumi and shrooms. Toast, grilled and golden halloumi, poached eggs, garlicky sautéed mushrooms, a sweetly spiced tomato chutney and dukkah.

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Two perfect poachies (and a hell load of spinach)

 

Followed swiftly by a flat white and a green tea, their coffee is smooth and creamy with lots of options of milk. Obviously its made with whole milk, but Rude Health almond milk is on offer (mini fist pump) and Bonsoy soy milk. The tea selection is wonderful, proper tea leves in a tea pot and a wide variety too. I went for the green ginseng which I always search out on a menu. There’s matcha lattes, chai lattes, cold brew coffee, an in house blitzed Superman juice and cocktails a plenty.

Obviously, there’s many more coffee shops and restaurants in Manchester for me to testrun, but Federal will always be one that I’ll be referring back to time and time again. If you’re ever in the city centre and need a bite to eat (arrive with an appetite) I’d seriously advise a perch in Federal, and if you are there don’t forget to call me and i’ll join you!!

I’ll be bringing more from Manchester soon, hoping to give you an insight to some of the amazing food we have on offer. There’s some stiff competition to London, lacking on the ‘healthy eating’ front I must admit you need to go further afield, but if you’re in need of some proper northern grub Manchester will have you covered.

 

Federal

9 Nicholas Croft, Manchester, M4 1EY

 

Happy brunching you lovely lot

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A tribute to toast

Bread

All you carbophones keep on scrolling as you won’t be interested. BUT YOU SHOULD BE.

Is there anything better in life than some fresh bread, sourdough, baguette, white, brown anything goes, and smothered (we’re not talking a thin coat, I mean 1 inch thick) with butter. That’s salted. Always.

I went through a sad time in my life after reading too many of these health food blogs in this ‘wellness world’, when I decided that carbs were bad. Which meant completely avoiding bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, even grains such as quinoa, buckwheat, spelt and at one point even rye. I thought they would make you put on weight, all we need is a paleo way of life. Vegetables and protein and lots of fat.

But my idea of that didn’t include much protein. So basically I was surviving on just vegetables, avocado and nuts. And I wondered why I was hungry all the time…

(Do not go down this route, it’s not good, not good at all!)

So in an attempt to get my life together and learn to practice balance, carbs have come flooding back in. BIG TIME.

You see they are kinda necessary. Carbohydrates in the form of starchy foods need to make up up to a third of what we eat. Apart from being an excellent source of energy (the slow releasing sort) they contain calcium, iron, B vitamins and most importantly fibre. Every little bit adds up to that 30g of fibre we need a day.

So in a bid to put on some much needed pounds and give myself the energy to power through not just workouts but my whole day, more carbs it is. There could be worse things.

Now when it comes to bread I do love some sourdough. Hefty, chewy and with that must have tang, as it is is best. Or dunked into some steaming soup. My love affair with bread however was rekindled by a certain rye bread. Now considered to be popular among the health food lovers amongst us, and the main component of a #basic breakfast, Biona rye bread is the one. 

Sworn on by the Danes, and most of Scandinavia, rye bread is nothing new. It’s been eaten daily by all walks of life before it became trendy. And why shouldn’t it be, with such a rich deep flavour, that toasts up to perfection.

Did I just mention toast?

Stuck in a mealtime rut, or just so hangry that you need something in your mouth, RIGHT NOW!

Toast is always the answer.

It can be topped an infinite number of ways. Sweet, savoury, or mix the two together, and you don’t have to stick to plain avo with salt and lemon. Although why mess with a classic, it has a time and a place.

Black tahini, kiwi and passionfruit


So let’s av’ it. Toast up your bread till nice and crispy and get ready to devour, veerrryyyyyyy soon.

Arf n arf. For you lot not from the north, it is indeed half and half (usually in the form of half chips and half rice with a curry)


Sweet options are up first.

  • Peanut butter and banana

Ok, ok use almond, cashew whatever else, but pb is LIFE, and its’ soulmate is banana. Sprinkle with a good amount of cinnamon, bee pollen and cacao nibs. Fancy pants enough for you?

  • Nut butter and berries

So this is where the sweeter flavour of almond or cashew comes into play. If you can grab a coconut almond butter from either Meridian or Pip and Nut, you’re laughing. It compliments the tart berries to perfection, add some flaked coconut and perhaps more seeds for that crunch factor. 

  • Peanut butter, kiwi and granola

Granola on toast? Yep you read that right. After having seen @jescoxnutritionist post this on Instagram I knew she was on to something. It really is as good as it sounds. Make sure the kiwi and ripe and juicy, sliced thinly on top of some (make it crunchy) peanut butter, a good dousing with granola and a drizzle of date syrup for a little sweetness. The best by far, I think so!

  • Apple, tahini and cinnamon

If you’re a tahini lover this will float your boat. Smother the bread with dark, light or black tahini. Thinly slice an apple (British if possible), fan out across the toast, add the obligatory cinnamon and whatever other sprinkles you like. Quick, simple and most importantly tasty. 

  • Baked Fig, tahini and yogurt

Now if you follow me on instagram you’ll have seen me post this the other morning. Figs are in season for such a short time so grab em quick! Bake some figs for around 10 mins until warm and juicy, spread the toast liberally with tahini, swirl on the teeniest tiniest bit of raw honey, top with figs, yogurt dollops and lotsa cinnamon. The sweet stuff.

  • Avo, berries and nut butter

Feeling indecisive, why not mix the two together.

  • Peach Melba toast

Spread with coconut yogurt, top with thinly sliced peach and raspberries, sprinkle with hemp seeds and bee pollen. Feel like the ultimate summer goddess.

Now for some savoury tings, acceptable for breakfast lunch or dinner. Get on it! No I’m not going to get all egg on toast here, although that’s always a good option, here’s to something different. 

  • Avo on toast #basic

Go simple and smash it on there with a squeeze of lemon or lime to be zesty, and good pinch of salt and some chilli flakes.

  • Miso and tahini (future names for my cats), avo on toast   

An idea I got from the lovely blog, Dolly and Oatmeal. Mix a good tbsp of your favourite tahini with a small amount of white or brown miso and spread on toast. Top with sliced avo a good squeeze of lime and some sesame seeds for a sprinklinn’.

  • Avocado, strawberries and feta

When it’s summer and the sweetest of strawberries are in season,this is stellar. Mash the avo, spread on your toast, top with thinly sliced strawberries (nectarine/peaches are also good) and add feta or goats cheese. Its got that salty, sweet thing.

  • Avo, pea and feta smash

It is what is says, add some finely chopped parsley, a squeeze of lemon and get spreading. Top with seeds and some rocket leaves.

  • Tahini, cucumber and smoked salmon
  • Beetroot, smashed avo and smoked mackerel
  • Hummus, mashed butternut squash, sliced tomatoes and chillies. Throw a little smoked paprika on there too. 

Messy, but still delicious. Hummus is always the right answer.


Obviously this not a definitive list, use up whatever’s left in your fridge to create something new, or stick to a well loved classic. Just always try to include some protein (animal or plantbased) and a small amount of fat, that way you’ll keep on chugging easily until the next big feed!

A toast to toast

Much love

X

The Mae Deli

Me and my mum are best friends. There is no one else on this earth that I would trust more than my mum. We do everything together, I ring her a few times a day and then we talk for hours. I feel so so grateful, and I’m so glad that we have this relationship. Maybe it’s me being an only child, having no brothers or sisters to play with, there’s no other choice really (and sorry dad, I love you but I don’t want to watch football or talk about sheds). 

Now that I’m away during the week and don’t see my mum as often, I find it quite hard. For one it’s because I can’t afford to go out to nice places like we do when we’re together, and two because I love to share experiences with someone else. Going to exhibitions or cool restaurants by yourself just isn’t as fun. There’s no one to ooh and ahh with, and laugh about daft art (we are fans of an art gallery to be frank).

I look forward to the few times a year when my mum comes to visit me in London for a day out. Obviously I plan the day around where we will eat, and we go from there. Typically a vegetarian or health foodie spot for some lunch then a must visit restaurant I’ve been eyeing up on Instagram for dinner. Probably involves some serious carbing or deep fried crispy goodness because, BALANCE people! 

Most of the time though I’m by myself, either I haven’t got any friends around, or no one else can afford to spend the money. For me however I spend all my money on food, occasionally clothes, but mainly food so it will include a detour to Wholefoods or Planet Organic too (my weakness). Staring at all the new things on the shelves makes me tick. Weird I understand, but we all have our ways.

Once in a while, I start to get sick of my food. I KNOW, bet you never thought I’d be saying that. But think of it this way. When you’re cooking just for yourself only for four to five days it’s not possible to buy a wide variety of foods, so the same thing day in day out, only altered ever so slightly tends to become the norm. Now you see, pretty boring. When I start to get these pangs for variety I take myself out for a little lunch date. Yepp, solo. If anyone fancies joining me, that would be rather lovely, as long as you don’t mind me instagramming my food before you can start eating it #issues.

So off I trot to a healthy hot spot that’s been lurking on my radar. I could swear that every time I tick one off the list, another two new ones get added. It never ends!!! But I’m not complaining. 

And when it’s variety I’m after a quick tube to Marble Arch is all it takes to reach The Mae Deli.

I’m sure there’s no need for me to explain if you’ve been on this planet for the last few years, or if you live on cloud cuckoo land I shall begin:

Opened up by the blogger wellness warrior that is Deliciously Ella and her husband Matt, The Mae Deli is a cafe where you can eat ‘Deliciously Ella style’ and obviously walk out like a glowing goddess, and they’ve even made it accessible for the non vegan crowd by providing a side of either chicken or salmon if you so wish. 

Open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or even a sweet pick me up there is so much on offer here. The portions are generous so you won’t be leaving hungry.

For the three times I have visited I’ve always opted for the Mae bowl, a selection of four of the salads, dips or hot options that you can mix and match to your liking. Pretty good right! I can’t leave a review of anything else as I just haven’t tried them, there’s always a next time…

For breakfast, expect porridge, avo on toast, chia pots, coconut yogurt and granola, smoothies, juices and shakshuka. After your deli bowl maybe grab a matcha latte, turmeric latte, coffee or loose leaf tea, and if you’re feeling not so virtuous one of the sweet delights that tempt you on top of the counter.

Also available to buy are Deliciously Ella’s books, loaves of bread, bags of granola and the Deliciously Ella energy balls available in three flavours, cashew and ginger, cacao and almond and hazelnut and raisin (the last is my faveeee).

There’s plenty of seating, and downstairs feels a little like your best friends house cosy, warm and comforting. If you arrive at 1 or 7 (peak times!!!) beware you will probably have to queue but it’s definitely worth it.

When I say ‘Deliciously Ella’ you’re probably thinking all kale and quinoa. Of course they feature but it’s a hell of a lot better than that, the menus change seasonally but there’s always two dips on offer, obviously I’ve always gone for the hummus and if you don’t you’re missing out! Expect sweet potato dishes, warming curries rich in coconut milk, avocados galore, sundried tomato falafel 😻😻. There’s more inspiration to make you want to eat like this 24/7 than you could shake a stick at!! So go, right now if you can, your dinner will be delicious (apparently just like Ella).

Happy eating my loves

X
(I apologise for the lack of photos, they seem to have all gone from my phone, well at least there’s a mystery so you just have to go to find out for yourself) 

Sweet potato falafel and not your average tzatziki

So it’s Friday night. Every week for me, that means catching the train from Euston back to Manchester. Ma HOME TOWNNNN. I really do hate the trip though. Just thinking of staring at the departures board, waiting for the platform to flash onto the screen, it makes my tummy knot. Is it really necessary to sprint to the train, even when you have an allocated seat? I don’t believe so.

I could rant on and on about the trains. Ridiculously expensive, always overboked, the last off peak train of the afternoon at 3pm (who even finishes work early enough to be able to catch that), and trying to eat my dinner with someone elses bum in my face. No its not that fun at all.

Anyway, talking of dinner. That’s the one thing that gets me through the journey. Why hello Leon. A London based chain of fast food restaurants. But most definitely not your typical fast food joint, no greasy burgers and soggy chips here. Created by Henry Dimbleby, wanting to provide the hungry london hoards with healthy and nutritious food, but quickly. Not a big ask at all.

Expect warming tagines, meatballs, curries, or a fish finger wrap, a superfood salad, even oven baked waffle fries, Leon provides something for everyone at an affordable price. Sick of Pret and Itsu? Then head on over to Leon for a change, you won’t be disappointed. They cater for all diets: vegetarian, pescetarian, meat eater, even some for vegans. If you like what you see and eat grab one of their cookbooks to recreate the recipes in your own kitchen.

And onto the reason we’re all here. Sweet potato falafel. I’m not usually one to eat the same thing over and over. I always like to try something new, that way I can exerience as much as possible. However that has backfired on me many times. Anyone ever get super hangry, can’t make up your mind about two things and ALWAYS choose the wrong one? Done it! All too often.

The stress from catching the train for me is enough, I like to know that I will at least enjoy my food. So from now on, I’m sticking to what I know is good. Sweet potato falafel salad. It casues a lot of confusion as its not techcincally on the menu but hey, I do try to be special and awkward.

Spinach, broccoli, tomatoes and quinoa topped with, baked not fried, sweet potato falafel, roast peppers and aioli. NEW DISCOVERY: ask for the chilli sauce and slather that on aswell, you will never turn back.

I am a huge falafel fan. If its on a menu it will most definitely end up in my belly. After trying it at The Good Life Eatery, Leon and also at the Mae Deli I’ve been on a mission to recreate some just as good, if not better. And there have been many attemtpts. Nothing has been a failure, but ya know, just not right. Either, too dry so it needs to be somethered in sauce (tahini FYI, it heals all things bad in the world), or too dense, or not enough flavour. Give me the issue, i’ve had it, eaten it, but not been completely satisfied.

So on this lovley sunny bank holiday Monday, instead of enjoying the sunshine I of course spent it in the kitchen. When you bake falafel, of course its not going to be the same crispyness that you achieve from deep frying but we don’t want those oxidised fats anyway. The sweet potato keeps them soft, so no dry and crumbly disappointments. Packed with spices and herbs and some sundried tomatoes to give that deep umami flavour that turns anything from meh, to MEGA!


Sundried tomato sweet potato falafel

Eat hot from the oven, or leave to cool slightly. I prefer them this way, or even cold from the fridge, we all know how I love to eat cold leftovers. Top a salad and some grains with a few of the falafel, wrap up in some nori, lettuce, perhaps socca or nibble as is for a snack when those 4pm munchies arrive. Full of protein from the beans and carbohydrates from the sweet poatatoes they’re a well balanced little ball of goodness. need i say more?

Ingredients

  • 2 small sweet potatoes baked until soft in the oven or microwave
  • Big handful coriander
  • Big handful parsley
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 8 sundried tomatoes
  • 1 heaped tsp ground cumin
  • 1 heaped tsp groundcoriander 
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 lemon zested 
  • 1 tin white beans (I used Cannellini but chickpeas or butter beans will work equally well)
  • 2 tbsp gram/chickpea flour (maybe 3 tbsp if your mixture is too sticky)

Method

  1. Peel the cooked sweet potato and put the flesh into a food processor with the two peeled cloves of garlic and blend to a smooth purée
  2. Add all the other ingredients except the beans and gram flour, with a big pinch of salt and blend again until fairly smooth and well combined
  3. Add your beans and pulse until mixed in but still a little chunky for some nice texture.
  4. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the gram flour
  5. Cover and put in the fridge for 30 mins to 1 hour to firm up slightly
  6. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees or 180 degrees fan and line a baking tray with baking paper
  7. Wet your hands slightly then roll the mixture into 1 inch balls, it will be sticky but this is what ensures a soft and squidgy falafel
  8. Place on the baking tray until you run out of mixture, I got around 16 falafels
  9. Brush each falafel with a little oil, and then put in the oven
  10. Bake for 18-20 mins until they feel slightly firm, still with a little squidge and then leave to cool
  11. Serve as you like, maybe with a dip like tahini, hummus or guacamole

Speaking of dips, how about a bonus recipe. Anyone else ADORE tzatziki? I don’t know what it is about the creamy Greek yogurt combined with grated cucumber and finely chopped mint, not forgetting the lemon spritz…it just hits the spot rather nicely.

I do love me a good yogurt. Not those ones aiming at kids with more sugar than a can of coke, I mean a full fat organic natural yogurt with probiotics, give the tummy some lovin’. I know sometimes I overdo the yogurt and the cheese, it’s easily done, but i now need to think of other ideas. The other day I was really craving some tzatziki, but wanted the creaminess without the dairy. So in steps Mr Avocado. No it’s not traditional, but you’re adding another portion to your 5 a day, and I mean come on, avocado, is anyone really going to be complaining.

Avocado tzatziki

Super fresh and herby, but with that cooling creaminess we all love from avocado, perfect for dunking your falafel into. Or dunking anything into for that matter. Pass me over a spoon, I’m hungry!

Serves up to 4 as a dip or spread, or up to two if eating alone for a snack.

Ingredients

  • 1 avocado, soft enough to mash
  • Small handful dill
  • Small handful mint
  • 1/4 cucumber
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 1/2 lemon

Method

  1. Grate the cucumber on a coarse box grater onto a plate and add a big pinch of salt. Leave for a couple of minutes
  2. Meanwhile,scoop the avocado out of its skin, put the flesh in a bowl and mash it until really smooth.
  3. Squeeze the juice of the lemon into the avocado and mix it in
  4. Finely chop the dill and the mint, put into the avocado and again mix in well
  5. Go back to the cucumber and squeeze over a sink so all the excess water is squeezed out
  6. Then add the cucumber to the avocado mix, add a good pinch of salt and pepper and taste for seasoning

Serve with smugness

And Enjoy

X