Just Peachy

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This week I’ve increased my calorie intake to 20% above maintenance (SHOCK HORROR – not all women are trying to lose weight) in effort to get stronger and build more muscle. Eating so many calories of food that’s actually nutritious can get pretty difficult, especially when half of it is from sustainable carbohydrate sources. I’ve found that at the end of the day I usually have some carbs to make up in my macros and at 9pm in the evening, I don’t want more oats, sweet potatoes or brown rice.

I’m not good at eating fruit in general, I don’t particularly like it, especially not for dessert, largely because it’s not cream or chocolate. However, I absolutely love it cooked. Stewed apples, caramelised bananas and my latest obsession, roasted peach.

Peaches are so sweet and juicy at this time of year and easy to make into a delicious pudding. This dish is very high in carbs, which I know isn’t suitable for a lot of people, especially mid-cutting season!! But if you struggle with sugar cravings and want a fuss-free, delicious summer pudding, you can’t go far wrong. Yeah, it’s sugar, but at least it’s natural sugar and with the addition of greek yoghurt, you get a liiiiittle bit of protein too.

This isn’t even really a recipe as such, more of a construction. Just a side note – peaches are one of the fruits you really should buy organic. They’re so sweet that they require a gas tank of pesticide to keep flies away, so organically grown peaches are much safer and more delicious.

  • 1 peach per person
  • 170g Total Greek 0% fat yoghurt
  • handful pistachios, roughly chopped
  • handful blueberries
  • maple syrup
  • cinnamon

Approx macros per serving: Kcal – 221 Carbs – 44g Fat – 2g Protein – 6g

Method:

Heat the oven to 150C. Halve and stone the peaches, then fill the indent with blueberries. Put into a baking dish, sprinkle with cinnamon and drizzle with maple syrup (I could drown in the stuff, so use 2 tbsp per peach, obviously adjust it if you care about dental health). Bake for 40 mins, until peaches are very soft.

Serve with the Greek yoghurt and chopped pistachios. And maybe some more maple syrup…..

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Instant Gratification Chocolate Mousse

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Ok so the title for this post is a little weird…but this really is instant gratification in so many ways! It takes barely 2 minutes to make (plus a little refrigeration), uses only a few ingredients and is genuinely good for you! That, and calling it ‘instant, sugar-free, dairy-free, vegan, clean chocolate mousse’ didn’t really work.

The secret ingredient is avocado, which seems weird in a dessert, but actually does a similar thing to what bananas do to smoothies. A blended avocado gives a velvet texture, a whole bunch of decent fats and a creamy taste to this pudding. Plus, it’s angelic just for the fact it’s a mousse without cream and sugar!

Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat that is easily burned for energy. This makes them ideal for meeting calorie intake and getting in some healthy fats without seriously increasing your carbohydrate intake. Monounsaturated fats are vital for glowing skin, strong hair and nails. They’re also an excellent source of fiber, B vitamins and folic acid, which women are often deficient in. So there literally is no reason not to make a massive vat of this mousse and eat it all guilt free!

For 2 mousses:

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 3-4 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp 70% organic cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp 100% cacao, melted (optional – increase cocoa powder to your own preference, or use 70% dark chocolate instead)

You might want something to serve it with, I used hazelnuts and raspberries.

Method:

Squeeze the avocado flesh from their skins into a blender & blitz with all other ingredients, until smooth. Chill in the fridge for 40 mins or so and serve!

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Sin-free Fried Chicken

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I’ve been trying to create a healthy version of fried chicken for ages and have tried so many combinations in search of that crispy, crunchy coating with the juicy, soft chicken center. I’ve finally found the resounding winner- thank god- or I’d be starting to look like I was on some kind of dirty bulk..just in time for summer!

Fried chicken will always have a high fat content, because it’s cooked by hot fat soaking into the meat. This recipe minimizes damage limitation by using coconut oil a raw, pure fat source which is easily synthesized by the body and perfect for high-heat frying. Instead of a carb loaded batter, I used a beaten egg, dessicated coconut and quinoa flakes. The quinoa flakes are like really fine porridge oats, with a high protein content. It fries up really crispy and the coconut gives it a bit of a Caribbean feel. I serve this with chipotle sauce, which I’m obsessed with and sweet potato fries & coleslaw (recipe coming up soon!)

Ingredients:

  • Chicken strips, or breasts cut into strips
  • Dessicated coconut
  • quinoa flakes
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • Salt & pepper to season

Method:

Beat the egg into a shallow bowl & season generously with salt & pepper. Cover a large plate or tray with a mixture of the quinoa flakes and dessicated coconut (how much you use of each is up to your individual taste) and more salt and pepper. Get another plate out and put it next to this one.

Dip the chicken strips in the beaten egg, then roll across the quinoa-coconut plate. Make sure the chicken is totally covered in the quinoa and coconut. If it’s not sticking, dip it back in the egg and then coat again. Keep doing this until all your chicken strips are coated and on the clean plate.

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Heat a large frying pan on a high heat and add the coconut oil. It will need to heat to a high temperature, so when it looks shimmery, drop a few quinoa flakes in. If they turn into crispy, golden flakes within a few seconds, the oil is hot enough. Add the chicken strips carefully. Turn them with tongs after a couple of minutes and fry until the coating is golden all over. Cut one in half to ensure the chicken is cooked through, then drain the rest on a slotted spoon over kitchen paper.

Serve and enjoy, guilt free!

Chocolate protein banana loaves

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Banana bread is one of life’s greatest comforts, but it can be far from wholesome. I bought these little loaf cases from Waitrose a while ago and have been wanting to use them for something I can snack on during those 3pm sugar cravings I know so well. No longer a straight-up carb party, I’ve added a whey/casein blend protein powder to this, to level the nutritional content a bit.

I’ve used hazelnuts, but walnuts or almonds would work well too, as would vanilla or banana whey. If you don’t care about the protein evaluate your priorities
substitute with flour instead. If you want to lower the fat content, leave the nuts & chocolate out altogether and switch the almond milk for water. Play around with it to suit your taste/macros.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium bananas, mashed
  • 2 scoops of whey protein
  • 170g whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 egg whites
  • 10g stevia
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 150ml almond milk
  • few squares 70% dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • Handful of chopped hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp Maca powder (optional for a superfood boost/slightly malted flavour)

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C, 170C fan.

Mix all the dry ingredients together, except for the nuts and chocolate. Mix together the wet ingredients, including the bananas, then add them to the dry. The texture should be like a thick, stiff cake batter, that falls off a spoon when you tap it sharply.

Add the hazelnuts and chocolate and stir up together. Put into greased cases, as above, or a large greased loaf tin. I use coconut oil for a clean grease. Fill them very slightly past half way, as they’ll rise.

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Baking time depends on your oven and the size of the loaves. I baked mine for 30 mins, a larger cake will take 45-50. After 30 mins uninterrupted baking (do not open that door) insert a skewer or sharp knife and it should come out roughly clean. If it’s covered in uncooked cake batter, give it another 10 and check again. When they’re baked, leave to cool slightly on a wire rack.

Will keep in an air tight tin for 4-5 days.

2 minute Guacamole

guacamole

There seems to be a bit of a dip theme going on at the moment on my blog, but hey, it’s Superbowl this weekend and so having a few speedy ideas for entertaining snacks is always handy.

I eat a lot of home made dips like this because they’re highly nutritious, satisfying and portable! Great to take to work with a few Ryvitas.

Guacamole is a great way of getting healthy fats via avocado and if you make sure they’re ripe enough, you can just squeeze the flesh out of the skin with your hand instead of fiddling around trying to slice it up. This recipe really does take minutes, just chuck everything in a blender, blitz and serve!

  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 ripe avocado’s
  • 1/2-1 red chilli
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 bunch of corriander
  • 4 spring onions

I like to serve it with organic gluten free corn chips, so crunchy and way better than standard Doritos.

Raw chocolate brownies

raw choc brownies

As I’ve mentioned recently, I’ve become an advocate for eating clean and cutting down refined carbs and sugars which always send me on a crazed spiral of peaks and troughs. I feel much more alert and controlled so far, thanks to the lack of sugar but maaaaan do I want some cake!

I know a lot of other people have similar resolutions at the moment and are probably struggling for treats which are nutritious and delicious at the same time.

They do exist! These brownies are so fast, so good for you and so tasty. The recipe is by Madeleine Shaw (http://madeleineshaw.com/index.php/raw-chocolate-brownie/) an amazing nutritionist and the perfect advertisement for healthy eating; I mean she literally glows.

All the sugar is natural as it comes from dates and I also added a touch of Sweet Freedom, a great natural sugar syrup. Obviously it’s still sugar, but being realistic, I love the stuff and won’t give it up entirely. I just want it to be as natural and close to it’s raw state as possible. The recipe uses coconut oil which is something I’ve only recently discovered. The downside is it costs £6.99 for a pot from Sainsbury’s. The upsides are plentiful, you can eat loads of it, as it’s a similar nutritious fat to that you can get from avocados. It’s not processed and you can use it in so many dishes and bakes as it only has a subtle coconut flavour. Raw cocoa is quite hard to find, Wholefoods or health shops are your best bet. It’s a non-processed cocoa which isn’t heated under pressure, so retains the natural antioxidants and other nutritional benefits of cocoa. I guess you could use average cocoa too if you can’t get hold of any.

My favourite thing about these brownies is that you really do only need 1 or 2 to satisfy any chocolate or sugar cravings. Mine were insaaaane, I used to eat 3-4 chocolate bars a day, probably some cake or biscuits too. No, really. But these really nip that in the bud and give you a guilt-free energy release and tons of Omega 3. What’s not to love?!

Ingredients:

  • 100g Medjool dates
  • 150g crushed walnuts
  • 50 g of raw coconut oil
  • 50 g of raw cocoa powder
  • A tsp of Sweet Freedom

Method:

  1. In a blender, blend the walnuts until they are almost in a paste, then add the dates, Sweet Freedom and cocoa.
  2. Add the coconut oil and blend together. Transfer it using a spatula into a cake tin or baking dish and press down to desired thickness.
  3. Place the mixture in the freezer for half an hour then refrigerate until you need it!
  4. Decorate by dusting with cocoa

 

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Quinoa & Halloumi salad with Harissa dressing

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I’ve been hearing a lot about quinoa since I started working out regularly, it’s a super grain that’s been a big deal for wholefoods health buffs for a while now; in fact the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations has just announced 2013 as ‘The International Year of the Quinoa’ (no, really, true story). The health benefits are amazing, which is clearly the reason this ‘lil grain is making such a big fuss. Quinoa, pronounced ‘keen-wah’  (I have Lizzie of www.blueoctoberblog.com to thank for the pro-tip on pronunciation) is low in calorie content, but high in protein, making it a fab pre-workout lunch. The really amazing benefit though, is that unlike other grains, quinoa is gluten-free and anti-inflammatory, with a low glycemic index. Can you really afford not to be eating it?!
 
This is a really simple, healthy salad with plenty of tasty bits and the spicy kick from the harissa dressing makes it a perfect autumn lunch.
 
For the salad:
+ 40g quinoa per person
+ 1 block Halloumi cheese
+ 1/2 cucumber
+ large bunch of mint
+ handful cherry tomatoes
+ 1/4 red onion
 
For the dressing:
+ 1 tsp Harissa
+ 150ml natural yoghurt
 
Cook quinoa according to packet instructions. Check regularly to ensure it isn’t sticking. Meanwhile, chop all your salad ingredients up small and mix the harissa into the yoghurt.
 
Heat your pan to a high temperature. Halloumi sticks to everything – even some cheap non-stick coated pans. I was lucky enough to receive an Ozeri Earth Textured non-stick pan and have to say, it’s absolutely fantastic. Nothing sticks to it’s honeycomb patterned base, it’s easy to clean, high quality and best of all – contains no harmful chemicals or heavy metals often found in non-stick pan coatings. I was really impressed and have put the rest of the pan range on my Christmas list.
 
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http://www.amazon.com/Ozeri-Textured-Ceramic-Non-Stick-Coating/dp/B005473FMO

The quinoa shouldn’t need draining, just toss it up with the salad and coat in the harissa dressing. Add the halloumi pieces for the perfect hot/salty combination

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Peanut Butter Bites

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New research has found that teenage girls who eat peanut butter twice a week cut their risk of developing breast cancer by 39%! Now, I don’t feel qualified to give you the science behind this but apparently the high proportion of Vitamin E in peanuts can cut the risk of benign breast tumours (which can lead to even scarier tumours) by this significant proportion*. Could just be another superfood story, but it’s not the first time Peanut Butter has been heralded for it’s nutritional properties. I love the stuff for pre-workout energy snacks, high in protein and slow release carbs.

These bars are like fake Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and actually require *NO COOKING AT ALL*! So whatever your reason, get some of the crunchy stuff down your gob and feel good about it!

Recipe – Nigella Lawson, How To Be a Domestic Goddess

For the base

  • 50 cm muscovado sugar
  • 200 grams icing sugar
  • 50 grams unsalted butter
  • 200 grams smooth peanut butter

For the topping

  • 200 grams milk chocolate
  • 100 grams plain chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Method

  • Stir all the ingredients for the base together until it resembles soft, damp sand.
  • Press the sandy mixture into a 23cm sq lined brownie tin and press down the surface as even as possible. If you have kids, this bit is fun so don’t let them do it!

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  • To make the topping simply put the chocolate and butter in a glass bowl and microwave for only a minute or two to melt.
  • Spread on base and put the tin in the fridge to set.

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  • When the chocolate has hardened, warm a sharp knife under warm water and cut into mini squares to serve.

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*http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2438566/Teenage-girls-eat-peanut-butter-twice-week-reduce-risk-breast-cancer-39.html

Shortcut Supper: Pesto Salmon

pesto salmon

  • salmon fillets
  • fresh pesto
  • shaved parmesan
  • long stem broccoli

This is one of my fave suppers. Healthy, fuss-free, fast and seriously satisfying. I love using wild Alaskan salmon fillets. They’re only £1 or so more than Scottish fillets and have a richer, meatier taste and texture. No recipe as such for these, moreso just throwing it all together! Spread the pesto generously atop the salmon fillets, sprinkle with a dusting of parmesan and cook at 180C for 10-12 minutes. Meanwhile, steam the broccoli for 4-5 minutes. Enjoy!

Oriental Beef Noodle Broth

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Nothing described as a ‘broth’ ever inspired me to eat it until one ‘under-the-weather’ Friday when I was totally knackered from work and wanted something quick, tasty and ultimately revitalising! I came across this on a recipe card as part of Waitrose’s Love Life range and have adapted it slightly. It’s the kind of meal that makes your body feel like a temple of goodness. I never got the ‘chicken soup’ thing, for me if something was going to heal me, it had to involve steak or liver. I was anaemic for most of my teenage years so I guess dinners to make me feel strong and healthy always revolve around red meat. This is GENUINELY tasty, unlike the majority of boring broths that are hard to get flavour in to. Nice as a light week night meal, or a Saturday lunch.

100g Thai Taste Rice Noodles
2 x Beef Stock Cubes
1 small onion, finely chopped
3cm piece root ginger, peeled and thickly sliced
1 red chilli, seeded and thinly sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
230g frying steak, trimmed of any visible fat
½ x 300g pack beansprouts
235g pack Green Pak Choi, thickly sliced
2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves
1 lime, cut into wedges, to serve

Method

1. Place the noodles in a large bowl, cover with a kettleful of boiling water and leave to soak for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice to make sure the noodles don’t stick together.

2. While the noodles are soaking, place the stock cubes, onion, ginger, chilli, cinnamon, star anise and 750ml boiling water in a large pan and bring back to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes.

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3. Meanwhile, cook the steak in a non-stick frying or griddle pan for 2–3 minutes on each side, until nicely browned but still a little pink in the centre. Transfer to a plate, let it rest for 5 minutes, then slice thinly. I cook it slightly rarer than usual as it does continue to cook slightly when added to the broth

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4. Stir the beansprouts and pak choi into the broth and cook for 2 minutes or so until the vegetables are tender.

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5. Drain the noodles and divide between 2 bowls. Ladle over the broth and vegetables then top with the sliced beef and coriander. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing over.