Healthy Hot Chocolate

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Serves 1

IMG_6178

Winter is all about snuggling up with a hot drink by the fire under a blanket.   I love hot chocolate, but the sugary versions full of melted chocolate normally leave me feeling a little bit sick afterwards! So I’ve come up with a version that is free from refined sugar, is super delicious, and is full of superfoods so it’s actually nutritious.  I personally think it tastes better than the sugary version and is very nourishing during the colder months because of the additional spices I’ve added. It can be made vegan friendly and dairy free by using a milk of your choice – I used almond milk for mine.

The main ingredient is raw cacao powder, which is the purest form of chocolate you can consume.  It’s unsweetened, and hasn’t undergone all the processing that we find in normal chocolate, meaning it’s packed with antioxidants (the things that are believed to help prevent ageing, cancer and all other sorts of diseases), and is also high in magnesium and calcium.  It can also act as a natural mood elevator and anti-depressant – so can hopefully help those suffering from the winter blues.

Ingredients:

  • 350ml milk of your choice (I use almond milk)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon honey (or natural sweetener of your choice – you could try date syrup, maple syrup or coconut sugar)
  • pinch of ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon almond butter

Method:

  1. Combine all the ingredients into a saucepan and heat over a low heat.
  2. Continually stir the mixture until all the ingredients are combined (this might take quite a lot of stirring!)
  3. Once the mixture starts to boil turn of the heat and pour into mugs.  If you have a milk frother you can use this to create a foamy top.

IMG_6176.jpg

Health(ier) Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Prep time required: 15 minutes
Makes 15 medium sized cookies

IMG_6052

I broke my foot 7 weeks ago and was put on a strict ‘no-gym’ regime for a minimum of 3-4 months.  This means no running, cycling, swimming and even no walking initially. As someone who usually hits the gym 4-5 times a week, I’m ashamed to say that the first thought that crossed my mind when I was diagnosed was ‘what will this do to my waistline!!!’.   I initially tried to cut out chocolates and biscuits, but found it required a lot of willpower when you’re sat at home, resting your foot and doing mostly nothing all day.  All I really wanted to do was reach for the nearest hob nobs packet!

Since then, I’ve been experimenting with ‘healthy’ baking, so I could have some treats and feel less guilty.  My healthy carrot cake was my first stint at this, but if you prefer something more chocolatey I’d recommend these double chocolate chip cookies.  I can’t say that they are 100% free from refined sugar, as they do contain a teeny bit of dark chocolate, but they are healthIER than their sugar filled alternatives.  They’re great as an afternoon treat or snack for work.

Ingredients:

  • 150g plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 85g dark chocolate chips (50g melted and 35g keep aside for mixing in whole)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees/gas mark 4.
  2.  In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, vanilla essence and coconut oil and honey and beat until incorporated.
  3. Melt 50g of your chocolate chips in a glass bowl over a boiling saucepan of water.  Stir into your mixing bowl.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and mix together until combined.
  5. Cover a baking tray with baking parchment.
  6. Scoop tablespoon sized portions of the batter into balls and place on the baking tray.
  7. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes.

 

Vietnamese Chicken Wrap

Prep time needed: 15 minutes 

Following on from my previous post this week on how much money we could save by making our own packed lunches and ditching boring Pret sandwiches… I have another great recipe for you to try. 

Now, this is a bold statement but, this is probably the best chicken wrap I’ve ever eaten! It’s full of flavour and spices and the rocket gives it some crunch. Plus, you know exactly what’s gone in it, so it’s much healthier than a store bought version. 

This recipe will make two wraps. It only takes around 15 minutes to prepare, so in that time you’ve made lunch for two days (and that will probably cost you less than £1!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 chicken breast, chopped into small chunks 
  • 2 tortilla wraps 
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • Thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped 
  • Pinch of salt and pepper 
  • 1 tsp paprika powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • Juice of half a lemon 
  • Squirt of mayonnaise (I like to use Nandos’ perinaise which can be found in most supermarkets)
  • A handful of rocket leaves 

Method:

  1. Make your marinade by mixing your lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, ginger, turmeric, paprika and salt and pepper in a mixing bowl so that a paste forms. 
  2. Place your chopped chicken breast in the marinade and cover in the paste. Leave to set for a few minutes while you prepare your wrap.
  3. Spread your mayonnaise on the tortilla wrap and place the rocket on it too. 
  4. Pan fry your chicken on a medium heat for 5-7 minutes until cooked through. Then, place in the wrap and roll up. 

Turmeric Latte

Prep time: 5 minutes

IMG_6006

Turmeric is slowly becoming the nation’s favourite health food.  Last year, the Guardian even named the turmeric latte (also known as Golden Milk) as our ‘2016 drink of choice’. Not only is this drink super warming and caffeine free (yet tastes a bit like a chai latte), it has tons of nutritious benefits.  It’s full of antioxidants and has been proven to act as an anti-inflammatory.  This is due to the curcumin compound that is found in turmeric.  In fact, in Ayurvedic medicine, practitioners have been using turmeric to prevent serious health conditions such as heart disease and cancer.

IMG_5999

Turmeric is commonly used in cooking as a spice to add to curries and soups.  If you haven’t cooked with turmeric before, I’d recommend starting with less turmeric and building up to the full amount so that you get used to the taste.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of honey
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of almond butter (this adds a creamy texture to the drink)
  • 350ml milk (I find almond milk goes really well with this drink but you can use any kind)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • A pinch of black pepper (This helps the absorption of curcumin to the bloodstream)

Method:

  1. Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor and mix until the liquid is combined and frothy.
  2. Warm in a saucepan over the stove for 1 – 2 minutes and pour into mugs.  You can use a milk frother to create a foamy texture if you like.

IMG_6007

Healthy Carrot Cake

Prep time required: 20 minutes
Serves 12 

Wouldn’t life be so much better if you could eat cake completely guilt free?  My healthy carrot cake is the answer!! It is free from refined sugar and is packed with vegetables, fruit and nuts…yet it really does taste as good as the sugary version (in my opinion).  This means its not only good as a sweet treat, but also as an afternoon snack to take to work, or even a pre-gym pick-me-up.

IMG_5970

Ingredients:

  • 320g carrots, grated
  • 80g dates, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 3 large eggs
  • 150g coconut oil
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Seeds from 8 cardamom pods
  • 160g plain flour
  • 120g desiccated coconut
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 120g chopped walnuts

Method:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to Gas Mark 3 and grease and line a 20cm cake tin with baking paper.
  2. Mix the carrots, dates eggs, coconut oil and orange zest together in a mixing bowl.
  3. Stir in the rest of all the ingredients except the walnuts.
  4. Blitz the mixture in a food processor or blender and then stir in the walnuts.
  5. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake in the oven for 65 minutes.  You’ll know when its cooked when a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  6. Store in an airtight container.

 

IMG_5948

IMG_5973

Pesto Pasta 5 ways

I recently read an article stating that the average Londoner spends £2,500 a year on work lunches (!!!!!) That is an awful lot of money spent largely on fairly boring sandwiches from Pret and overpriced sushi boxes from Itsu, which are also not particularly nutritious. I, personally, think this is a criminal amount of money spent on lunches, and pride myself on making tasty and cheap lunches for work that work out at no more than £1 a day (A total of £250 a year – so that’s a whopping £2250 saving annually.  To put that into perspective, that could probably get you TWO two week holidays to Bali, Thailand or New York).

Apparently the top reasons most people don’t bring their own packed lunches to work is because 1. they don’t have enough time to cook and 2. they don’t know what to make. So I’m on a quest to help people eat tastier, home-cooked lunches and save money.

The idea behind this is batch cooking. Yes, eating the same meal 5 days in a row can get a bit boring, that’s why I’ve come up with 5 different recipes with pesto pasta as the base, to reduce repetitiveness.  If you still can’t stand eating pasta for 5 days, you can make 5 meals, and freeze each portion for another day, or just give some to your other half to take to work.   The process of making these 5 meals should only take 30 minutes. (Highlighted in bold, because, I’m sure even the busiest of people can find 30 minutes a week). So these can be made on Sunday afternoon and stored in the fridge during the week.

IMG_5935.jpg

Ingredients for 5 meals = £5

  • 1 jar (190g) of pesto (98p from Asda – this brand is really tasty and good value)
  • 500g pasta (50p from most supermarkets)
  • A handful of spinach (approximately 10p worth of spinach)
  • 10 washed cherry tomatoes (5p worth of tomatoes)
  • 6 cloves of garlic (5p worth of garlic)
  • 50g smoked salmon (£1 worth of salmon)
  • 1 mackerel fillet (70p worth of mackerel)
  • 1 chicken breast (80p)
  • 5 slices of salami (50p worth of salami)
  • 100g grated cheddar cheese (30p worth of cheese)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Top tip: if you need to buy larger amounts of the ingredients listed, you can freeze extras so they don’t go to waste (always check the storage instructions first).

Method:

  • Start by boiling your pasta in a saucepan according to the instructions. Whilst this is cooking, finely chop your garlic cloves and pan fry in the olive oil for 1 to 2 minutes until golden.
  • Once your pasta has cooked, drain and stir in your pesto and garlic.  This will act as your base for the rest of your dishes.  Separate your pasta mixture into 5 tupperware boxes (I like Lock and Lock because they’re totally leakproof).

1. The Veggie

IMG_5676

  • Panfry your cherry tomatoes and spinach for 2-3 minutes and add to box one.
  • You could also add leeks, onions, mushrooms or peppers according to taste.

2. The Chicken

  • Next, panfry your chopped chicken breast until cooked through and add into the second box.
  • Make sure you stir in thoroughly so the chicken breast is covered in pesto too.

3. The Salami
4. The Salmon
5. The Mackerel 

IMG_5372

  • The next three dishes are as simple as slicing up your salami, salmon and mackerel into small pieces and stirring through your pasta. (Note: if you are going to freeze these dishes, freeze without the salami as most can’t be frozen)
  • Grate your cheese and sprinkle on top of each portion. You could also add some black pepper.
  • Store in the fridge and take to work each morning!

So, it’s really as simple as that. 30 minutes, 5 meals, £1 each.  You’ll save money, and eat better…. and then you can go ahead and book that trip to Thailand!

Mexican Eggs

Overall time needed: 15 minutes

If you’re looking for a healthy recipe packed with protein whilst being super tasty, these Mexican eggs are one to try! They’re really quick to prepare making them a perfect midweek meal idea, and are also vegetarian, so are great for any of you who celebrate Meat-Free-Mondays!

IMG_4253

Ingredients (Serves 2):

  • 3 mushrooms (sliced)
  • 5 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
  • 2 eggs
  • 10 cherry tomatoes (chopped in half)
  • 50g sweetcorn
  • 100g black beans
  • Few sprigs of coriander
  • Few basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • 25g feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Method:

  1. Add your olive oil, mushrooms, sweetcorn and black beans to a frying pan and cook on a low heat for 1 – 2 minutes.  The heat should remain low throughout this recipe to avoid the ingredients burning.
  2. After this, add the cherry tomatoes and paprika, chilli flakes, garlic and salt and pepper and toss the ingredients to they are covered in the spices.
  3. Crack the eggs into the pan and cover until the eggs are cooked through (this should take around 2 minutes for a runny yolk or around 4 minutes for a hard yolk)
  4. Turn the heat off and add the coriander and basil leaves to the pan and then crumble the feta cheese on top.

IMG_4256