Dark Chocolate Popcorn & Walnuts

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Air popped popcorn can be quite tasteless, and by covering it in a load of butter, this healthy snack takes a turn for the worst! Here is where this recipe fixes this… Its sweet as well as salty, and all together just delicious! This is an incredibly simple recipe that is a great alternative to microwave popcorn which is full of rubbish..  An amazing snack to take with you on the go.. just store in an air tight container and it will stay fresh for up to 3 days.

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Ingredients

1/4 Cup Popcorn Kernels
50g of Dark Chocolate, use over 75% if possible
1/2 Cup Walnuts
2 Tbsp Coconut Oil

Melt the coconut oil in a pan, add the kernels and put the lid on.
You should be able to tell as it is when the kernels stop popping.. ensure you pay good attention to this as if you keep them on for longer they will burnt!
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over some boiling water on the stove.
Spread the air popped popcorn and walnuts on a piece of foil, season with salt and drizzle the chocolate over them.
Wait until the chocolate has hardened before eating.

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Walnut, Cranberry, Beet & Feta Salad

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This salad is simply delicious, all the flavour combine together perfectly, with the sweet flavours of the beetroot and feta being toned down excellently by the walnut. I got this idea for this salad while travelling the states, and finding the miracle shop Whole Foods. They have one of the largest salad counters I have ever seen, where you can take a box and fill it to your hearts content, which is where I can up with this idea. Since recreating it at home I have had it 3 days in a row, and haven’t got bored yet.. 

IMG_1016Another great thing about this salad is how colourful it is. A lot of people just think of lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes when they think of salads, but I want to show you that a salad can be fun and exciting and not dull in the slightest! I simply used some olive oil and pepper for a dressing, which is a great alternative to stay away from processed and unhealthy store bought salad dressings.

Ingredients 
(Serves 1)

2 Handfuls of Greens (I used a lot of rocket as it is my favourite)
1 Beetroot, Diced
1/2 Avocado, Diced
Small Handful of Walnuts, Crushed
Small Handful of Dried Cranberries
25g of Feta

Combine in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and season.

Enjoy!

Crab Linguine with Brown Rice Pasta

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This is a great alternative to spaghetti bolognese, which is great if you are trying to cut back on your consumption of red meat, or just looking for some variation to a classic home cooked meal! The great thing about this dish is it shows that you can still indulge in pasta whilst skipping on the wheat and gluten rich pasta! The brown rice variety is a great alternative to your normal white/wholewheat pasta, and whilst it may be a little bit more difficult to find, it is so worth it, as it won’t leave you feeling lethargic or overly full afterwards. Crab is great for you as it is packed full of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to keep your brain healthy! I paired this with a very simple salad to ensure I got some extra veg into the meal!

IMG_0939The dish has quite a pleasantly strong and sharp taste to it, with the bold flavours of the crab being dominant in the dish. I used a food processor to make the sauce, but if you don’t have one don’t worry, just chop everything up finely instead.

Ingredients

400g Crab Meat
2 Carrots
3 Spring Onions
1 Red Onion
2 Cloves of Garlic
Handful of Fresh Basil
1 Tbsp of Fennel Seeds
1 Tbsp of Capers
1 Red Chilli
400g of Passata

For the Salad
A few Handfuls of Mixed Greens
1 Avocado Diced
1 Carrot Grated
2 Celery Stalks Chopped Finely

Place the carrots, garlic, red chilli, stalks of the basil, capers, onions and fennel in the food processor, and process until all finely chopped. 
Add to a pan with a dash of olive oil and fry for a couple of minutes.
Add in the passata, the juice of a lemon, 3/4 of the basil and crab meat, and reduce for 15 minutes. 
While this is cooking, put your pasta onto boil in salty water and prepare the salad. 

Serve topped with the remaining basil and season with salt and pepper.

 

 

Teresa Carles, Barcelona

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I recently visited Spain with a group of friends, staying in a gorgeous villa, with afternoons of volleyball, wonderful barbecues and sadly a bit of chemistry.. After these few days of relaxation, I spent two nights in one of my favourite cities; Barcelona. On the first day, we trailed the streets with not much of an indication of where to go, ending up at an awful, dingy cafe due to the fact everyone was too ravenous to carry on searching for the dream tapas destination we had in mind. Hence, that night I spent some time browsing the internet to have a solid food plan for the next day… and that is where I came across Teresa Carles. With hundreds of incredible reviews, plus an amazing healthy vegetarian menu I thought this place was too good to miss.  The atmosphere was buzzing, and so worth it regardless of having to queue for 30 minutes to get in. I can’t emphasis how worth the wait it was!

The menu is very simple, with a choice of two starters, five mains and three desserts. For me, the amount of choice was perfect, as too much to pick from is not always a good thing. (Completely off topic… but Barry Schwarts gives an excellent lecture on the Paradox of Choice.. for those interested!). There is another menu giving you more options, but the simpler menu gives you great deals.. with three courses only costing you 13 euros! They keep these selections for a week, and rotate to a new menu every week.. meaning you can never get bored here!

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As the first picture shows, I went for the beetroot soup to start. I was a little skeptical at first, with the soup being served cold, but it was absolutely incredible, and gave beetroot flavours I didn’t know existed! Teresa Carles claims the secret ingredient to making an soup delicious incredible, and even though this may be a little bit of a bold statement, I have to agree with them in this case.. who knew beetroot could be complimented by cumin?! The texture was light, not too thick; a great consistency for a hot summer day when you don’t want anything stodgy. Serving the soup cold was another great move, it kept it extremely refreshing.

Chickpea meatballs was an obvious choice for the main; I love meatballs.. of any sort. I was slightly disappointed with the portion size upon being served, but found out this was a case of my eyes being bigger than my belly; it was just the right amount without leaving me feeling lethargic. The meatballs had a harder exterior, with the softness of the inside coming through once bitten into. The sauce was similar to a thai green curry sauce, quite spicy and rich.. ridiculously tasty. I inquired about exactly what when into the sauce, but the waiter was very mysterious when it came to revealing the ingredients; so either this meant it was top secret or he has no idea.

photo 2-1Dessert was the winner. I could have eaten ten of these and taken more home. I chose vegan chocolate and pear cake, but I the base was more of a cheesecake bottom consistency, rather than a sponge. It consisted of nuts, oats, honey and pear, with a dark chocolate layer, topped with pear slices, free of any dairy or refined sugar! After devouring this desert I made it one of my life aims to be able to produce a desert that is this healthy and tasty at the same time.

Teresa Carles has certainty nailed it on the head when it comes to producing vegetarian healthy food, which will please even the toughest carnivores. There is no way you will be missing meat when you dine here. So on that note, I encourage anyone visiting or living in Barcelona, to visit this gem of a restaurant.. it completed my holiday, I only wish it was closer to Bristol!

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Flax & Kale, Barcelona

Eat Better > Be Happier > Live Longer.

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 Barcelona is extremely well known for its tapas, and for good reason. It’s reputation lives up to the real thing, with my favourite being Irati, tucked away behind Las Ramblas. It serves pinchos for two euros each; small pieces of tapas on wooden cocktail sticks, where you can pick and choose until your full. After dining on these mouthfuls of deliciousness, a waiter will simply count your cocktail sticks to work out the bill. It really is incredible, after visiting it a couple of years ago I bought a bunch of friends there on a recent trip, and they were not disappointed!

But, with that recommendation said, that is not what this blog post is all about! I want to focus on this amazing restaurant I stumbled upon called Flax & Kale. Whilst Barcelona gets a lot of press for its spanish cuisine, it is quite difficult to find healthy, mainly vegan restaurants. Here is where Teresa Carles comes in, ensuring each meal is 80% plant based. This company has a branch of restaurants in the centre specialising in vegetarian food, and god lord they really are gems. After reading about Flax & Kale online, I got very excited about visiting this wonder, after a week of gorging on tapas and barbecues, I couldn’t wait to get back to healthy eating!

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A friend and I visited this haven for breakfast, as we couldn’t wait to try it out after reading about it the previous night, and with our hostel serving a pretty terrible breakfast, it was a great option! Flax & Kale have such a wide range of freshly pressed juices, I went for the ‘Green Medicine’ which was so delicious and refreshing, surprisingly sweet with a slight tang! Into the bottle they pressed grapes, pears, cucumber, kale, parsley, lemon and dandelion, which I chose as it strays away from the conventional green juice, which normally has a base of apple and celery. For breakfast I chose and açai bowl, which was just bursting with superfoods! Blueberries, crumbled chestnuts, goji berries and hemp seeds topped the blend of honey, açai, and banana. The açai is what gives the bowl such a brilliant purple hue, and its full of amazing vitamins and essential amino acids, which are vital to make up the building blocks of our cells! The only thing I could critique was the amount of ice they used in the blend.. my insides were chilled to the bone in the 30 degree heat!

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To finish, Anna and I devoured this blueberry and quinoa muffin from the gluten free bakery, which was also free from refined sugars, making it the perfect snack! As I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, this was perfect as it wasn’t overwhelming sweet as some muffins can be. Instead it was full of rich blueberry flavours, making it extremely moist with a slightly crispy outside.

To drink, Anna had an incredible smoothie, with coconut water & milk, cacao, and bananas. It was so rich and thick you almost had to use a spoon to drink it, giving me terrible food envy, and frustration that I didn’t order it myself! I will defiantly be attempting to recreate this on my blog, so look out for that in the near future! As well as Flax & Kale, Teresa Carles have another restaurant tucked just a few streets away, which was just as amazing- with another post giving the incredible review of lunch! The work of Teresa Carles won’t stay a hidden secret for long, and there is no doubt this will become one of the hottest tables in town.

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No-Nonsense, No-Bake Granola Bars

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Today I did my first ever car boot sale, excluding one when I was 10, where apparently I was pretty sassy with the customers, selling Polly Pockets to anyone who crossed my path. It wasn’t quite as successful today, getting up at 5.30 am, meeting the girls and sleepily displaying our unwanted junk in the pouring rain. Fortunately the weather cleared up by midmorning, but the initial drizzle put off any potential customers from leaving their beds early Sunday morning. So last night with these potential mishaps in mind I set out around midnight frantically putting together some breakfast bars to take for the coming day… Only to wake up to find they hadn’t set and still were extremely crumbly. BUT IT DIDN’T MATTER! As out of this mornings mayhem these beautiful bars were created, and they really are the best granola bars I have ever made. Once home from the car boot, I initially processed the nutty mixture, and planned to use it for a cheesecake base, but when my sister and I sat devouring it with a spoon, we decided it was too good to put with anything else- and hence the creation of the bars! The texture is chewy and soft, and they stick together the way a brownie does, delicious!

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They are very simple bars that require no baking, so everything is left its completely natural and raw form- meaning all the goodness is kept within and nothing destroyed upon heating! The recipe was a very ‘throw it together’ idea, with the basis of what goes in being what I have most available to me… But it couldn’t have gone any better!

Ingredients

1 Cup of Oats
1/3 Cup Sunflower Seeds
1/3 Cup Pumpkin Seeds
1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries
2 Tbsp Flax Seed
1/4 Cup Peanuts
3 Tbsp Honey
3 Tbsp Peanut Butter
1/2 Dates (Pitted & Soaked)

Simply put all the dry ingredients into a food processor, and process until you get a nutty flour, and it starts to stick together.
At this point add in the honey, peanut butter and dates, and process until it all starts to stick together. You should be able to pick up the mixture between two fingers and roll it into a ball.
Place the mixture into a lined baking dish, an refrigerate for 5 hours, or overnight, until set.

Enjoy!

Mint and Peach Green Iced Tea

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Such a refreshing summer drink! Throw away your fizzy pop and get a load of this, it is DELICIOUS! Better than the Starbucks iced tea you’ll be tasting any time soon, so quick and easy to make, chop up a few peaches, whack in some tea bags and you are done!
After an initial failure of mashing up peaches to get more flavour and ending up with a very average messy drink that I tried to convince myself was good.. I tried again by just boiling the cut peaches with the tea and it really worked, along with mint leaves picked from my garden!
And the benefits of green tea- I’m sure you all know already how good it is for you. I have heard some nutritionists call it an antidepressants in a drink.. and although this may be praising its benefits a little too far- it is still wonderful! Packed full of antioxidants, these speed up your metabolism and help speed weight loss, as well as protecting against cancer (how much better can you get?!) this tea is a true superfood- so drink up!

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Ingredients

4 Green Tea Bags
3 Peaches chopped into Quarters
Handful of Mint
1 Litre of Water
2 Tbsp of Honey

Boil the peaches and mint with the teabags and water in a sauce pan for 20 minutes. Remove these peaches and add in the honey.
Let cool in the fridge (could take a couple of hours) and when ready to serve, add in more peaches, mint and ice.

Enjoy!