No-Nonsense, No-Bake Granola Bars

photo 2-2  
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!

photo 3photo 1-2

 

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

photo 2

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!

photo 1

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!

Zucchini Linguine

IMG_0147

Zucchini linguine that will make you teeny in your bikini!! After returning home from Canada, I was welcomed with a new toy- a spiralizer!! This thing is amazing, after a few hiccups of working out how to use it- I found it is super simple. Using zucchini (or courgettes) instead of pasta is a great alternative to using grains! And you get all that vegetable goodness!! Mmmmmm!!

I made a spicy tomato prawn sauce to go with the noodles, which took maximum 15 minutes to make, and with the noodles being cooked in under a minute, this is a great meal to cook if you get home late from work. 

IMG_0152Ingredients
(Serves one, so multiple as needed)

3 Large Zucchinis/Courgettes
1/2 Cup chopped Tomatoes.
1 Small Red Onion (diced finely)
1 Red Pepper (diced finely)
3 Cloves of Garlic (again, diced finely)
1/2 Cup of Prawns
1 Tbsp of Capers
Chilli Flakes

Add all the ingredients to a pan with olive oil, exact the tomatoes and zucchinis, until there is a bit of colour in everything. 
Then add the tomatoes and simmer until a thicker sauce is formed.

Using a spiralizer, make noodles out of the zucchinis. If you don’t have a spiralizer, don’t worry- you can use a juilenne peeler which you can buy for a couple of quid- or a grater. Neither will give you the exact same texture but they will still work!
Throw these into a big pan, with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and cook for 30 seconds on medium heat.

Top the noodles with the sauce and you are done, simple!

Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Spelt Pizza

IMG_0109

After my previous post highlighting the health risks of the modern wheat species, I wanted to include a recipe using the ancient grain Spelt, which has been cultivated since 5000 BC. Anyone health conscious should consider switching to spelt from conventional wheat, has spelt such a broad range of benefits. With a considerable about of vitamin B, which helps us convert our food into fuel, eating spelt will help keep our bodies energised! 

IMG_0110

These pizzas are just dellllicious! The pizza base recipe was taken from the cook book Honestly Healthy- one of my absolute bibles. These two wonder woman, Natasha Corrett and Vicki Edgson, have combined forces to create a wonderful book. They promote an alkaline diet, and take you on a step by step journey on how to achieve that, including all the “sciencey” stuff, a 5 day cleanse, and many many recipes. So if you are just starting out on a new healthy life style, this is one book that I would really recommend! 

Now onto the PIZZAS!

So we have two slight variations of the pizzas here. Both have a sweet potato puree base- an alternative to the usual tomato base, which is really so amazing and moist. Both have a topping of caramelised onions and leak, and goats cheese. The only difference is that one has asparagus and the other apple.

Ingredients
(Makes 3/4 mini pizzas)

For the Base
250g Spelt Flour
150 ml Water
1/2 tsp of Yeast

For the Toppings

2 Large Sweet Potatoes
2 Large Red Onions
3 Leaks
5 Asparagus Shoots, Trimmed
1/2 Apple
150g Goats Cheese
Chilli Flakes
Few Handfuls of Rocket.

IMG_0112

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. 

Firstly, add the yeast to the water, mix, and cover for 15 minutes.

While waiting for this, cut up the sweet potatoes into chunks, and boil until soft. Once soft, throw into a food processor with salt and pepper, and process until they become a smooth puree. 
Chop the onions into strips, and chop the leaks. Add these to a pan with lots of olive oil, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until soft and caramelised. 

After the 15 minutes is over for the yeast, make a well in the flour, add in a big pinch of salt, and pour in the mixture. 
Mix and knead this mixture until a smooth dough is formed, then turn out onto a table top and continue to knead until smooth and elastic. Add more flour onto the work surface is kneaded.
Split the dough into 3 pieces, and roll these out individually to a circular pizza shape.  

Top with the sweet potato puree, the caramelised leaks and onions, then the apple, aparagus, goats cheese, and sprinkle with chilli flakes, as many as you desire.

Bake for 15 minutes, take out the oven and top with rocket. 

Enjoy!

A Grain of Truth

Maintaining order rather than correcting disorder is the ultimate principle of wisdom. To cure disease after it has appeared is like digging a well when one feels thirsty, or forging weapons after the war has already began. – Nei Jing. 

More and more diets are appearing in the current media promoting a gluten, grain free lifestyle. Supermarkets are stocking a vast array of free-from groceries we wouldn’t have seen cluttering our shelves five or ten years ago. Gone are the days when these products would only be found in abstract health stores, they have now transitioned into the big convenience stores, often getting their own aisle. Although this is great news for those suffering with celiac disease, is this a new diet fad followed by hippies and overly health conscious individuals, or is it something the public should be genuinely concerned with? To start with I think it is important to address what gluten actually is; due to the fact many people want to go gluten free but have no idea what they are banishing from their diet. Gluten is a collection of proteins that vary depending on the type of grain and provide elastic properties, making the dough stretchy and malleable. A combination of gliadin and glutenin proteins make up gluten, with the former being thought of as the most destructive component of modern wheat. The wheat we now know, and that society consumes on a daily basis, is the result of years of genetic breeding, resulting in a semi-dwarf high yield variety of wheat. Although this may be great for farmer’s income, as well as a step towards reducing famine, no preliminary research was done to assess the consequences on human health of consuming this modified version of wheat before it was widely distributed. The wheat we now know, has 28 chromosomal differences compared to its ancestral variety Einkorn wheat.

What has changed in this new strain of wheat, and hence gluten? Firstly, the increased expression of a certain amino acid, linked closely to triggering celiac disease, and secondly the new forms of gliadin that enters the brain and binds to opiate receptors. These are the same receptors heroin and morphine bind to, and although gliadin will not give you the same euphoria, it will induce the addictive behaviour, and hence withdrawal symptoms when cut out. The opiate effects of gliadin are closely tied to the obesity epidemic, as opposed to the lifestyle of a recreational drug user, by stimulating appetite and increased calorie consumption. In studies using opiate blocking drugs such as naloxone, appetite can be decreased by up to 400 calories a day, when the inhibitor is taken with meals. New genes for gliadin protein found in modern wheat have never been detected in older forms, and with agriculture scientists focusing on yield rather than suitability for human consumption, potential effects of the novel genes were never investigated. 

 

Diseases such as skin conditions, joint pain, fatigue and mental health problems have also been linked with the consumption of gluten and grain. Experiments on schizophrenic patients have demonstrated that the removal of grains from their diet gives a decrease in hallucinations. David Perlmutter, a practicing neurologist and a Fellow of the American College of Nutrition has gone as far as to solely blame grains for Alzheimers, calling it Type Three diabetes. As well as mental health, inflammation is a big problem attributed to grain consumption. Lectin, a defence molecule found in plants, has been detected as a toxic strain found in wheat. Binding to the lining of the intestine, it causes an increase in gut permeability allowing increased diffusion of potentially damaging molecules into the bloodstream. Once inside the blood stream, lectin causes an avalanche of unhealthy effects, including the stimulation of abnormal immune responses such as the mechanism behind rheumatoid arthritis.

The question now follows is what we should make of all of this? Is this research enough to discourage consumption of certain grains? I personally believe yes. Buckwheat, millet, quinoa and rice are all great alternatives to gluten containing grains, and once the addiction to wheat is broken, these are all easy substitutions to make. This being said, I do not agree with rushing out and buying the gluten free substitutes found in supermarkets since these can be laden with extra sugars and unhealthy fats. The key is an unprocessed diet, then you can guarantee what you are putting into your body is good for you. My next recipe will use spelt, and ancient grain, full of all the nutrients absent in wheat and without the added inflammatory effects gliadin!. Spelt is a great alternative as many people sensitive to wheat can tolerate it. With pizzas coming up, it won’t be hard to forget about wheat.

 

Simple Summer Salad

Simple Summer Salad

Sorry for not posting for a long time- been travelling for over a month- and still have nearly two months to go! My semester ended in April, so I have been travelling the west coast of America since, which I have fallen in love with, especially San Diego. Also one thing I love about the US compared to the UK is their selection of health foods. Although Americans are known for their obesity,  in actual fact they have more health food stores, fresh juiceries than England, meaning a green juice is never more than a few blocks away…!

I promise will be very active once I return in the summer! Have a lot of university work to catch up with once I return to the UK, as well as preparing medical school applications, so will liven up this work load with new recipes! I want to focus more desserts, full of nuts and fruit, as well as perfecting nut cheese and maybe some videos! In September I hopefully will be starting a part time course in nutrition, at the College of Naturopathic Medicine, so will be learning more about what I put into these recipes, and more ways to nourish your body.

I made this salad when spring started to show it’s head in Canada, it was so delicious and refreshing, it has been made any more times since! The pistachios, avocados and strawberries compliment each other perfectly, with a great mixture of textures.

Ingredients (Serves 1)

Two Large Handfuls of Rocket (Argula)
Half a Cup of Strawberries
Small Handful of Chopped Pistachios
Half an Avocado Diced

For the dressing
Blend a small handful of raspberries with a quarter of a cup of balsamic vinaigrette, before adding in a tablespoon of honey for a gorgeous, sweet dressing!

Enjoy

Quinoa and Prawn Risotto

IMG_7766

 

This was a recipe that came together fantastically while trying to use up miscellaneous ingredients in my kitchen! I cooked a dish for a tapas dinner party a couple of weeks ago, and had a lot of prawns left over, so utilised the excess in this dinner! When people think of protein, the mind automatically conjures up thoughts of meat; quinoa is often overlooked, but it shouldn’t be. It has a secret ingredient; an amino acid called lysine, making it a complete protein. This means it is a great addition to the diet, partially for vegetarians or vegans looking for an animal-free protein source.

Ingredients

1 Cup Quinoa
1/2 White Onion, chopped finely
3 cloves of Garlic, chopped finely
1 Red Chilli, chopped finely
1 Cup/1 Punnet of Cherry Tomatoes (halved)
1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
300 ml Vegetable Stock
1/4 Cup White Wine (optional)
1/2 Cup Peas
1 Cup of Prawns (or how ever many you like- I like as many as possible!)

IMG_7755

Begin by preheating the oven to 180°C.
Add the halved cherry tomatoes to a baking tray, drizzle in olive oil, and place in the oven.
Add some olive oil to a large frying pan, and add the prawns. (Defrost if previously frozen). Fry these for around 3 minutes, then remove from the pan.
Add the garlic, chilli and onion to the same pan, and cook until the onion softens. Stir in the tomato paste.
At this point add the quinoa, and stir for a minute, before adding the wine.
Once the alcohol has reduced, add the stock and bring to the simmer.
Cook for approximately 20 minutes, until the quinoa is soft.
At this point cook the peas by boiling them in water on the stove for a couple of minutes.
Add the cherry tomatoes, peas and prawns, and let it  carry on cooking on low heat for 5-10 more minutes. Ensure the risotto doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan here.