Summer Fruits – Smooth operator

Recipe courtesy of The Co-operative Food Magazine.

Nothing evokes summer quite like the taste of plump and juicy summer berries.  Whether you’re planning a weekend picnic, making a fruit tart or a healthy smoothie.

Berry smoothieIngredients :
115g blueberries
115g raspberries
150ml apple juice
2 tblsp natural yogurt
Some crushed ice
Extra blueberries and raspberries to garnish

Method :

Bullet logo Pop all the ingredients in a blender and whizz until smooth.  Pour into a glass and garnish with the blueberries and raspberries.

Salted Vanilla and Walnut Smoothie

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (February 2018) and taken from ‘Well Being’ by Danielle Copperman .

Enjoy this energising drink, which is more like a milkshake than a smoothie, in the morning, or before or after a workout to aid muscle repair.  Add raw cacao powder for a chocolatey version.

Serves : 2

Vanilla and walnut smoothieIngredients :
20g raw almonds (with or without skin)
2 tbsp hemp seeds or golden linseeds
30g raw walnuts
110g banana, sliced and frozen
2 tbsp avocado flesh
200ml filtered water or plant-based milk
1 tsp maca powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
0.5 – 1g salt
20g tahini or nut butter
2g vanilla powder
1 medjool date
6-8 ice cubes

Method :

Bullet logo Put all the ingredients, apart from the ice, in a blender and whizz on a medium to high speed for 1-2 minutes, until everything is combined.

Bullet logo Scrape down any mixture on the sides, add the ice and then blend again on the highest speed, until the ice has fully broken down and you have a silky smooth, creamy texture.

Serve immediately.

Mocha Morning Buzz

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (July 2016).

This chilled smoothie take on a cappuccino is sweetened with dates, and the rolled oats keeps you fuller for longer.

Mocha morning blitzServes : 1
Nut-free

Ingredients:-
3-5 soft dates, pitted
2 teaspoons cacao powder
3 tablespoons rolled oats (choose certified gluten-free if allergic)
250ml (1/2 fl oz / 1 cup) unsweetened plant milk
1-2 shots espresso (approximately 2-4 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon cold-pressed coconut oil
2 ice cubes

Method:

Bullet logo Put the ingredients in a blender and blast on a high speed until smooth.

Bullet logo Taste and adjust the sweetness and coffee flavour to your liking by adding dates, espresso or milk.  Pour into one medium-size glass or cup and enjoy straight away.  Stir in a splash of extra plant milk, if you fancy it.

Flax to the max

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Article courtesy of Psychologies Magazine and written by Eve Kalinik.

These tiny seeds may fall short in size, but they’re big in terms of benefits.

One of the most notable facts about flax is that the seeds are considered to be one of the highest sources of ALA, a type of plant-based omega-3 essential fatty acid.  These are necessary for myriad processes in the body, including helping to manage inflammation and support cardiovascular health.  This type of omega-3 is different to the ones in fish oil that contain EPA and DHA fatty acids.  Studies show that, depending on your gender, you may convert more or less ALA into EPA or DHA components – women seem to have higher levels than men.  It is crucial that we get enough of these and we should try to obtain them from different sources.

From a gut perspective, flaxseeds give a welcome boost, as they provide fibre that feeds our beneficial gut microbes.  This has a positive knock-on effect, as the microbes can produce more anti-inflammatory substances like butyrate and, as research is starting to show, potentially increase out output of positive mood neurotransmitters such as serotonin.

The mucilage gel-forming fibre that flaxseeds provide helps keep things moving along nicely in the bowel too.  Flaxseeds are a good source of lignans and are considered a phytoestrogen foods, which means they may have an influence on hormones, mimicking and moderating the effects of oestrogen in the body.  This can be beneficial during menopause, although, if you have any type of hormonal condition, you may need to check with a practitioner before you introduce flax regularly into your diet.

When it comes to eating flaxseeds, and to really tap into their benefits, it is best to grind or sprout them.  In their whole raw form, the seeds pass through the gastrointestinal tract undigested, so try to grind from fresh using a coffee or spice grinder, and store in the fridge as they can go rancid.  Flax is brilliant in Bircher muesli or stirred into yogurt with a lick of raw honey, but they also work as an excellent substitute for eggs if you need to bind in a vegan or egg-free dish.

Suggested products:-

Grind – Use a De’Longhi Coffee Grinder that can give you freshly ground flaxseeds in a flash.  Remember to store your ground seeds in an airtight container in the fridge.

Baked – Flaxseeds can give a delicious boost of flavour in a simple loaf.  Try Biona Organic Rye, Chia and Flaxseed Bread.

Seeds – You could buy whole seeds from the supermarket and grind at home but, for pre-ground, try Linwoods Sprouted Milled Organic Flaxseed.

Raspberry, Liquorice and Star Anise Gummies

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (June 2019) and taken from ‘The Beauty Chef Gut Guide’ by Carla Oates..

These gummies contain ingredients that help repair the lining of your gut.  Liquorice is rich in anti-inflammatory compounds that suppress pathogenic bacteria.  Paired with gelatin, rich in gut-healing amino acids, you have a remedial snack that tastes more like a childhood treat.

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Makes 375ml

Ingredients :
340ml cold water
2 tblsp grass-fed powdered gelatin
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 star anise
240g fresh or frozen raspberries
2 liquorice root teabags
Stevia equivalent to 1 1/2 tsp of normal sugar

Step One : Pour 180ml of the water into a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the surface in an even layer. Set aside for 10 minutes to bloom.

Step Two : In a medium saucepan, toast the fennel seeds and star anise over a low to medium heat for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Pour in the remaining 160ml water, add the raspberries and bring to the boil. Decrease the heat and simmer for 2 minutes.

Step Three : Remove the pan from the heat, add the teabags and set aside to steep for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the teabags, squeezing out all of the liquid, and discard.

Step Four : Add the gelatin mixture and Stevia to the hot raspberry liquid and stir until dissolved. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a measuring jug, using a spoon to press the raspberry pulp to ensure you get all the juice out. Don’t scrape, as you don’t want to push too many of the seeds through. Top up the liquid with water to make 375ml, if necessary.

Step Five : Place ice-cube trays or silicon moulds onto small baking trays. Fill with the raspberry liquid. Refrigerate for al least 1 hour, or until completely set.

Step Six : To unmould, briefly dip the base of the ice-cube trays or moulds into boiling water. Using your fingertips, pull the gummies away from the edge of the moulds to release the seal, then invert onto a plate.

Step Seven : Store the gummies in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Super Snack Tip : Asma’s Beet Brownies

Recipe taken from Psychologies Magazine (October 2015) 

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Serves: 6

Ingredients:
2 cans black beans, drained (approx. 480g)
80ml melted coconut oil
4 eggs
1 cup cacao powder (or unsweetened cocoa powder)
4 tblsp beetroot powder
Seeds of one vanilla pod
12 dates
1/4 tsp Himalayan salt

Step One : Preheat oven to 170oC. Grease the bottom of a 13 1/2 x 8 x 1 inch brownie pan with coconut oil.

Step Two : Add all the ingredients to a large food processor and blend until smooth.

Step Three : Spoon into the pan and bake for approximately 35 minutes until you can see slight cracking on the top, and it is springy to the touch.

Step Four : Leave to cool fully before cutting into squares.

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Trends & Facts : What should a balanced lunchbox for kids look like?

Article taken from Psychologies Magazine (October 2015) 

healthy lunchbox

Assuming allergies or intolerances are not present, this is a rough idea of what a packed lunch should include:

Carboyhydrates
Sandwiches made from additive-free, wholegrain seeded bread with real butter; wraps made with wholegrain or gluten-free flours; cooked quinoa; sweet potato wedges, mini buckwheat pizza bases.

Protein
Fill or top the above with full-fat organic cheese, nut butters, organic cheese, nut butters, organic meat or fish, hummus, free-range eggs.

Antioxidants
Create posts of your favourite veggie bites with tasty dips (raw carrots, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and celery with tzatziki, tahini, hummus and guacamole). Smoothies are ideas for hiding veggies. Blend a banana, 2 teaspoons of cashew nut butter, a handful of spinach, a drizzle of maple syrup or good honey and a cup of dairy or non-dairy milk.

Calcium
Use full-fat organic yogurt of full-fat organic milk for milkshakes and smoothies. Remember, green vegetables, almonds, tahini and white beans are also good non-dairy sources of calcium.

Better treats
A small bar of good-quality, high-cocoa chocolate (try Oh So bars, a unique probiotic chocolate proven to support good gut flora), an oatcake with hummus or nut butter (check out Nairns range or Heavenly’s Wafer Wisps) or an oaty homemade flapjack or muffin. Try fresh and seasonal fruit – banana boats are usually a hit. Slice one in half, add peanut or other nut butter, and decorate with goji berries, cacao nibs and coconut chips. It’s nutritious, delicious and gets kids’ creative juices flowing.

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Gluten-Free Gnocchi with Roasted Butternut Squash, Brown Butter and Sage

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (Spring 2019) and taken from Skinny Pasta by Julia Azzarello.

The addition of pomegranate seeds rounds off the sweetness of the squash and nuttiness of the butter with just the right amount of acid and tang. Plus, it’s a lovely colourful garnish to lift the dish.

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Serves : 4

Ingredients:
300g butternut squash flesh, cut into small chunks
2 tblsp olive oil
2 tblsp butter
5 sage leaves, chopped
40g Parmesan cheese, grated
40g pomegranate seeds, to garnish

For the Gnocchi:
2 medium baking potatoes, scrubbed
1 egg, beaten
60-80g gluten-free plain flour, plus extra for dusting

 

 

Step One : First, make the gnocchi. Preheat the oven to 200oC / Gas Mark 6. Prick the potatoes with a fork and wrap them in foil. Bake for 1 – 1 hr 20 minutes, or until tender. Leave to cool slightly, for about 15 minutes, then scoop out the potato and pass through a ricer. You need about 400g. Mix in the egg and flour.

Step Two : Dust a clean worktop with flour. Divide the dough into four equal sized pieces. Roll each one out to a cylinder 20cm long, and cut into 2cm chunks. Make grooves on each piece using the back of a fork, then place on a baking tray dusted with flour.

Step Three : Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and cook in two batches or 1 minute, or until they float to the top. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside, reserving some cooking water. Leftovers can be kept in a sealed container in the fridge, or freezer for two to three months.

Step Four : Preheat the oven to 200oC, Gas mark 6. Toss the squash with half of the olive oil and spread out evenly on a baking tray. Roast for 30-35 minutes.

Step Five : Put the remaining oil and the butter in a deep frying pan and cook for 1-2 minutes until browned and it smells nutty. Add the gnocchi and saute for 2 minutes more, then add the roasted squash, sage and a splash of pasta cooking water and toss together. Serve on plates topped with grated Parmesan cheese and pomegranate seeds.

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Pea and Orzo Risotto

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (Spring 2019) and taken from Skinny Pasta by Julia Azzarello.

Orzo tends to be a bit starchier than other tiny pastas, so makes a lovely risotto. It is also easier than using Arborio rice, as you don’t have to stir it so vigilantly. The addition of pea shoots at the end gives it a sweet crunch.

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Serves : 4

Ingredients:
1 tblsp olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
300g orzo
100ml dry white wine
400ml vegetable or chicken stock
150g frozen peas
50ml single cream
50g ricotta salata or pecorino Romano, grated, plus extra for sprinkling
10g fresh mint, chopped
4 sprigs of tarragon, chopped
40g pea shoots, to garnish

Step One : Warm a large, deep pan, then add the oil and shallot and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Tip in the orzo and stir around for 1 minute more, then add the white wine. Once the wine has evaporated pour in the stock and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. The orzo should take about 9-10 minutes to cook, but keep an eye on it and stir it occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

Step Two : When it is creamy and cooked, stir in the peas, single cream, grated cheese and herbs and cook for 2 minutes. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Serve in bowls, sprinkled with some extra grated cheese and the pea shoots.

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Chocolate Seed Soldiers

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (October 2015) and taken from The Virtuous Tart by Susan Jane White.

These seed soldiers are excellent allies in the war against afternoon slumps. Practically jumming with energy, they will deliver a cargo of essential minerals to service your mojo alongside battery-boosting B vitamins. Goji berries are rich in iron, protein and vitamins C, E and A.

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Makes 20 generous servings

Ingredients:
1 cup (100g) pitted dates, chopped
1 cup (105g) milled sunflower and pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup (180g) cashew nut butter
1/2 cup (80g) raisins
1/2 cup (65g) coconut flour
1/2 cup (125ml) maple syrup (not honey)
3 tblsp raw Cacao Nibs
2 tblsp goji berries , plus extra to decorate
Up to 1 tblsp Tamari or raw coconut aminos
130g dark chocolate (75% cocoa solids)

Step One : In a food processor (a fork and a temper will also work), combine everything except the dark chocolate and decorative goji berries. Spread it out over a parchment-lined shallow tin – the perfect size is 20 x 25cm, a little larger than the usual 20 x 20 cm square brownie tin. Place another piece of parchment on top of the base mixture, pressing down firmly with your fingers. Once the base is smooth, you can ditch the top parchment. Chill in the fridge.

Step Two : Meanwhile, slowly melt the chocolate in a bain-marie – a pot of simmering water, 2 1/2 cm in depth, with a heatproof bowl sitting on top where a lid might otherwise be. The contents of the bowl will gently melt from the steam of the water underneath. The trick is not to let the water boil or let the bottom of the bowl touch the water.

Step Three : Smother the chilled base in melted chocolate and parachute a couple of goji berries on top for colour. Refrigerate overnight. I doubt you’ll need an alarm clock to wake you in the morning.