Seasonal superfoods

If you’re reading this in the UK, you might have spotted a new title on the shelves of your local supermarket or newsagent lately – Superfood, a magazine dedicated to eating well using ingredients that are naturally nutritious.

We hear a lot about superfoods, and sometimes information on the topic can be confusing or contradictory. Even the term itself is much debated and hard to define, so I really hope that this magazine helps clear things up!

The first issue is a Christmas special, so I thought I’d share five wintery fruits and veggies that I’ll definitely be incorporating into my seasonal celebrations.

  1. Cranberries. A rich source of vitamin C and greatly valued for their anti-inflammatory properties, cranberries were even used by Native Americans to treat arrow wounds!
  2. Sprouts. I LOVE sprouts, and have done since I was a baby. Maybe it’s because they’re low in carbohydrates and a 20g serving contains more vitamin C than an orange?
  3. Sweet potatoes. One of the most versatile superfoods around, sweet potatoes are also one of the best sources of vitamin A. Plus, they’re linked to cancer prevention and the maintenance of good eyesight.
  4. Beetroot. Research suggests beetroot can help lower blood pressure, boost performance when exercising and prevent dementia. Even better, it’s a hangover cure! The beta cyanin that gives beetroot its colour is an antioxidant which helps your liver flush alcohol out of your body.
  5. Onions. Do not underestimate the humble onion! It provides many vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre, beta carotene and folate, but almost no fat – no wonder we use it in everything!

Thanks to Superfood magazine for the facts. If you’re keen to incorporate more of these natural goodies into your Christmas feast, check out the first issue which has plenty of recipes to inspire you – from a traditional cranberry sauce to a colourful winter slaw. 

  

Vegan peanut butter muffins

I’ve tried out a LOT of different vegan bakes in my time, and I have to say that they can often be disappointing. It’s easy to find delicious sounding recipes online, but sadly the end result doesn’t usually taste as good as it looks in the pictures. Which is why I wanted to share these yummy peanut butter and honey muffins from Nutritionist In The Kitch – a rare exception to the rule!

They’re super easy to make, don’t require any exotic (and therefore extremely hard to track down) ingredients, and they certainly won’t disappoint! The texture is somewhere between a cupcake and a muffin… I like to call it a ‘cuffin’…

So, start by heating the oven to 180, then whisk together a cup of flour (preferably whole wheat), a teaspoon and a half of baking soda and a pinch of salt. Next, add three tablespoons of peanut butter and two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, and mix everything together until crumbs form. You should probably use a fork, but I used my hands because it’s more fun!

To this, add 3/4 of a cup of almond milk and three tablespoons of honey. You’re supposed to have little clumps of PB in there, but make sure they’re not too big as you don’t want mouthfuls of powdery flour left in the mix. Spoon into paper cases and bake for about 15 mins.

When you’re serving them (or just eating them yourself!), drizzle some honey over the top. I also added some chopped Brazil nuts, because I think the crunch brings out the PB flavour in the muffins.

Here’s the original recipe – hope you agree that it’s one worth making!

Vegan pizza

2015/01/img_0163.jpgI kid you not, this vegan pizza is so delicious that you won’t even notice the cheese is missing.

Start by lightly toasting some pine nuts before setting them aside. Next, chop up half a yellow bell pepper, half a red onion and a few mushrooms and fry them in some coconut oil. (This recipe uses a tortilla as the base and that takes just minutes in the oven so we need to cook our veggies beforehand.)

Spread two tablespoons of tomato purée on a soft tortilla wrap, leaving just a small border around the edge. Once the veggies are done, layer these on top. Add 5/6 halved black olives, a generous sprinkling of sweetcorn and top with the pine nuts, which give it a satisfying crunch.

Put your pizza straight onto the oven shelf and cook for 5 -10 minutes, depending on how crispy you want the edges. Et voila!

This genuinely tastes like pizza, but better because it’s a super virtuous, clean and wholesome version. Veganism = easy and pizza = delicious, therefore veganism + pizza = winning. It’s just maths.

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Sweet potato hash with fried eggs

IMG_0020.JPGWhen I was younger and ate meat, corned beef hash was one of my favourite meals. Here’s how to make a high protein and equally delicious veggie alternative:

1. Peel and dice one sweet potato, then boil for about 8 minutes or until tender.

2. While the potato is boiling, dice half a red onion and fry in coconut oil. Once the onion has softened, add in the chick peas.

3. Drain the sweet potato then add it to the frying pan, combine with the red onion and chick peas and season with salt, pepper and paprika.

4. Flatten down the mix and when the potato starts to go crispy, break it up again.

5. Create two dips in the mixture and crack an egg into each. Once the eggs have fried, it’s ready to serve!

The measurements for this aren’t precise – you’ll need one sweet potato for each person but the rest is up to individual taste.

Healthy party food ideas

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For some reason, probably because essentially I’m just a great big overgrown child, I like my food better when it’s served up in bite-sized pieces. Not only does colourful finger food make me feel like I’ve had a treat, I’m also less likely to eat 50% of it during the preparation stage because I don’t have time for that nonsense – I’m too busy making it look pretty! So when I saw a recipe for these little rolls online I had to make my own veggie version.

First of all create the courgette ribbons by peeling off thin strips running the whole length of the vegetable. Spread a little houmous on each ribbon and sprinkle on a few pine nuts. Add half a slice of fake turkey/chicken/whatever-it’s-supposed-to-be to one end and roll up around a chunk of red pepper. Hold the rolls together with a toothpick and you’re done!

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I don’t often eat meat substitutes but I will have Quorn (or similar products) every now and then – just for variety. The main reason that I don’t eat them any more is that , contrary to popular belief, meat substitutes aren’t that healthy. I think the assumption we make is that a good vegetarian diet is healthy and so products aimed at vegetarians must be healthy too. In reality, yes they’re low in fat but they’re also highly processed and have little nutritious value. So, like all things, they’re okay in moderation but you’re much better off getting your protein from eggs, nuts, seeds, etc. – despite what Mo Farah might tell you!

In keeping with the party food theme, I had these banana and PB slices topped with a few cherries for dessert. Man, I ❤ food…

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Cool & creamy breakfast bircher

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My first overnight oats experience came in the form of Starbucks’ Berry Good Bircher, and it was truly delicious. Scrambled eggs is my ‘go to’ brekkie but I do love oats so will usually have porridge at least once over the weekend. I’ve just finished three days of gruelling Green Face diet so I felt I deserved a special treat and decided to make my own bircher to look forward to.

I used 1/3 cup of oats, 1/3 cup of natural yoghurt, 1/3 cup of soya milk and half a grated apple. All you need to do is mix the ingredients together and leave them in the fridge overnight. The oats absorb the milk and yoghurt to become creamy and delicious. The following morning, just top with some pure honey and a sprinkle of something with a crunch – I used sunflower seeds because it was last minute and that was all I had in the cupboard, but I think pumpkin would be better.

This cool, creamy mix would be perfect for summery days – it keeps you full up without sitting heavy in your stomach – and you can experiment with all sorts of fruits and seeds.

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I was curious about where the name ‘bircher’ came from so I did a bit of research (thank you, Google), and found out that this dish is actually named after a Swiss physician called Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Benner who basically invented muesli! His ideas included swapping a diet heavy on meat and bread for fruit, vegetables and nuts combined with plenty of exercise and his theories were based on achieving harmony between people and nature. Nice one, Max!

A breakfast bircher is the ideal meal to have after coming off Green Face, because it’s sweet without an overwhelming sugary hit. I found Green Face much tougher this time than before – perhaps because it was only me and my PT doing it so there wasn’t the same sense of community as there usually is with my challenge group – but I’ve literally no idea how I managed seven days last time!

It definitely works though, so unfortunately the monotony is worth it. I’m not remotely interested in chocolate but I CANNOT WAIT to have a banana. I feel like my diet is back on track now, for the time being at least!

No-bake bounty bites

If you love chocolate anywhere near as much as I do, you too will be mourning the fact that Easter is over and there are no more excuses to eat absurd amounts of the stuff on the horizon. In order to try and get over this depressing predicament, I made these yummy coconut treats.

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To make ten bites you will need:

– 8 tbsps of coconut flour

– 12 tbsps of coconut milk

– 1/2 tbsp of pure honey

– 1/2 tsp of vanilla essence

– 10 chopped almonds

– the most natural chocolate you can find (here I went for ‘no added sugar’ chocolate chips)

Simply mix all the ingredients together and shape into little bites with your hands. Because I’m impatient, I did mine really quickly so they look like gyoza! Chill them in the fridge for at least half an hour before eating.