Author Archives: thetwist

The Amazing Double Kidney Bean Chocolate Cinnamon Protein Muffins (with Marshmallow Frosting)

I’m super pleased with how these delicious protein muffins with marshmallow frosting turned out. I had no recipe to follow, just a few tried and tested ideas stored in the back closet of my brain.

Chocolate Cinnamon Protein Muffins with Marshmallow Frosting

Chocolate Cinnamon Protein Muffins with Marshmallow Frosting

I’ve experimented with beans in cake batters before & I’ve experimented with marshmallow frosting made from bean juice too, so somewhere in this lot, there had to be an awesome & totally viable recipe, with minimal waste on the bean front.

Now, I’ve made these delicious, moist, firm, protein packed, chocolate chipped, bouncy frosted delights with red kidney beans, but there’s no reason why something like a black bean or a butter bean wouldn’t do the trick – just avoid baked beans, because that’s just not ever going to work!

Anyway, these cakes are pretty amazing. I’m totally excited that I can use the WHOLE contents of a can of beans, with no waste. I feel like Heston Blumenthal, with more hair & less money!

If you’ve never tried a protein muffin before, then the texture may be a little alien to you. I find that protein cakes, especially those made with whey, tend to be a little rubbery and slightly dry – feel free to try reducing the amount of whey in the batter, or subbing the whey for something like a hemp instead, which will lend itself beautifully to the chocolate flavour, but may mean that you’d need to fiddle with the rest of the ingredients to balance out the batter – if you’re an experienced protein baker, you’ll be fine doing that! However, the protein marshmallow frosting that is slathered all over the top of the muffin really helps to balance out the base – it gives moisture, texture, & creamy fluffiness, just delicious, the 2 together are pretty amazing & go great with a freshly brewed coffee.

Some of the ingredients you’ll be familiar with, some maybe not so much, but there are some real gems in the list, like stevia – an awesome natural sugar alternative, really versatile & a world away from the sweeteners of the 80s! Coconut sugar – another amazing table sugar alternative, it doesn’t actually taste of coconut, as it is derived from the nectar of the coconut flower. It has delicious, deep caramel tastes to it. Xantham gum is a genius thing to have in the kitchen – it is easy to get hold of now, in most supermarkets (find it either in the baking aisle, or the ‘free from’ type section). This genius powder will allow a liquid to emulsify & thicken, without the need for cooking, it is so so clever & is the secret behind that delicious marshmallow frosting.

Before you get started, I’ll just warn you that you’ll end up with wayyyyy more frosting than you’ll actually need for the cakes, but that is great, because, if you’re anything like me, you’ll happily sit and eat that right out of the bowl or end up spreading it on anything, or topping a bunch of fruit or… oooh yes, ice-cream with it – you’ll most definitely find a million and one things to do with the left-overs!!

Right, here goes…

Recipe (makes 12 muffins & a world of frosting):

Ingredients:

Chocolate & Cinnamon Protein Muffin Batter-

  • 1 can red kidney beans (DO NOT CHUCK THE JUICE, save it for the frosting!!!)
  • 2 scant scoops of unflavoured whey
  • 4tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup stevia/natvia
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (or any other milk)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract/bean paste
  • 1-2tsp ground cinnamon
  • 30g dark chocolate, chopped

Cinnamon & Vanilla Marshmallow Protein Frosting-

  • The juice from the can of kidney beans
  • 1/2 cup + 2tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2tsp vanilla extract/bean paste
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1.5 tsp xantham gum
  • 1 scant scoop unflavoured whey

Method:

  1. Start by pre-heating the oven to around gas 3/170C & then begin making the cake batter. Chuck all of the batter ingredients (apart from the dark chocolate) in to a bowl & use a stick blender to zap it all up until you have a smooth batter. Then fold in the chopped chocolate.
  2. Divide the mix in to a silicon muffin tin, with 12 holes. I like to put my silicon trays on to a metal baking sheet before filling, because it is next to impossible to move those wibbly wobbly sheets once they are filled, without spilling it all everywhere!
  3. Bung the cakes in to the oven, for about 10-20minutes – check after 10, they should be *just* cooked. Remove from the oven when ready & allow to cool in the tin for 5-10minutes before removing to a cooling rack.
  4. Whilst the muffins are cooking, get going with the amazing, genius frosting. You’ve got to use an electric  whisk here, preferable a stand mixer, unless you want to spend forever trying to whisk this yourself, I’m not even sure if you could whisk it yourself!
  5. Put the bean juice & the coconut sugar in to the bowl & start to mix it. Let it whip together for 2minutes, to allow the sugar to dissolve & combine. Stop the whisk & add in the xantham gum, the vanilla, the maple syrup & the cinnamon. Now start the whisk again, gradually turning up to maximum & leave it to beat the hell out of itself for about 5-10minutes. You” see it go from a small amount of brown liquid, to a whole voluminous bowl full of creamy coloured marshmallow fluff. The frosting is almost done when you can lift the whisk up and leave a firm trail of marshmallow hanging from the beater (excellent opportunity to get a spoon in there and taste lots of it).
  6. Add in the scoop of whey and slowly beat to combine – this will stiffen the frosting slightly, so that it will be just the right texture to pipe on to the cakes. Taste the frosting (again!) to check for vanilla and cinnamon – add more if you’d like to.
  7. Once the cakes are cool & have been removed from their cases, you can load up some of the frosting in to a piping bag & get loading it on to the muffins. Go crazy with it, you almost want the ratio of cake to frosting to be 50:50. The frosting is a bit like trying to pipe jelly, so don’t cry if you can’t make a perfect pattern with it!
  8. Once you have frosted the muffins and eaten a bunch of the leftover marshmallow fluff, you can grab a blow torch & give the frosting a quick toast – this is totally optional, but I love it, plus the frosting does this weird thing where it looks like it’s breathing when you torch it!
  9. Allow the frosting to cool a bit & jam a cake right in to your mouth! These cakes will keep for about 2 days, in an airtight container – they are actually slightly better and more moist if you leave them overnight & have one the next day, but the frosting starts to go a bit mushy if you leave them too long, so you know, you’d better just eat them all super fast! 😀
Gooey, delicious, toasted...

Gooey, delicious, toasted…

Just LOOK at the chocolate chunks!

Just LOOK at the chocolate chunks!

 

 

Macros per muffin (1of 12):

Without frosting- 84kcals, 3.5g fat, 6.6g carbs, 7g protein

With frosting- 131kcals, 3.6g fat, 17.4g carbs, 8.3g protein

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Dark Chocolate & Cranberry Protein Coconut Macaroons

Ok, oh my goodness, I mean really, really OH my goodness. I really think I hit the jackpot with these protein powered coconutty cranberry macaroon babies.

Dark Chocolate & Cranberry Protein Coconut Macaroons

Dark Chocolate & Cranberry Protein Coconut Macaroons

I’m a chief procrastinator. If I can get out of one task by finding another, seemingly more important, job, then boy, I will! So, there I was this morning, staring through my revision notes & thinking, “hmmmm, it’s about time I made something new. I have an open carton of coconut milk… I ought not to waste it… hmmmm, I also bought coconut. I wonder what I can make…”.

So, I thought about it a bit & then had a memory spark, from decades ago, of those super delicious little coconut macaroons – not the fashionable, pinterest-friendly french macarons, but the good old traditional coconut rammed, chocolate bottomed crispy, chewy confections of my childhood.

Right, good, yeah, lets make those – traditionally these are made with sickly sweet dried coconut, heaps of white sugar & sometimes a can of condensed milk – I knew I could better that, so I tried & I did & they are awesome!! These are crispy & crunchy and golden on the outside, white, chewy and coconutty, studded with chewy cranberries on the inside & they are wearing a dark, almost bitter pants and hat combo *drooooool*

Give these a go, you won’t regret it, unless you don’t like coconut… or chocolate… or cranberries… in which case, maybe go look elsewhere!

Dark Chocolate & Cranberry Protein Coconut Macaroons

Dark Chocolate & Cranberry Protein Coconut Macaroons

Recipe: (makes 11-12 macaroons)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsweetened dessicated coconut
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 scoop unflavoured whey protein
  • 2tbsp natvia/stevia
  • 10drops vanilla flavdrops / 0.5tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1/4 cup dried unsweetened cranberries
  • 2tbsp coconut milk
  • 1tsp coconut nectar syrup (or maple/agave will do the trick)
  • 40g dark chocolate

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to gas 3/170 degrees C, line a baking sheet with non-stick baking parchment.
  2. Using an electric whisk/kitchen mixer, whip the egg whites until they are frothy. Add in the natvia/stevia and vanilla & continue to whisk until stiff peaks have formed.
  3. Carefully add in the rest of the ingredients (apart from the cranberries & chocolate) and fold in to the whites.
  4. Once the mix is sort of coming together (it doesn’t really form a cohesive dough, but it will clump together in wet blobs – if it is too wet, add a little more coconut, if it is too dry, add a little more coconut milk), fold in the cranberries.
  5. Take clumps of the mix and place on the paper on the baking sheet – the mix should make 11-12 golf ball sized blobs.
  6. Tidy up the edges of the blobs, just to stop any rogue bits of mix from burning.
  7. Pop the tray in the oven for 10-15minutes. Keep an eye on them, they will burn quickly, if they are browning too fast, turn the oven down a bit – the insides need to be cooked, but without burning the outsides.
  8. When golden brown and cooked through, remove from the oven & leave to cool slightly.
  9. Melt the chocolate and dip the bases of the cooled macaroons in to it, then place back on the baking tray. Use any leftover chocolate to drizzle lines over the tops.
  10. Put the macaroons in the fridge to set the chocolate, then store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Macros (per macaroon, based on 11 in a batch):

107kcals, 7.8g fat, 7.5g carbs, 3.2g protein

Dive in & lemme know what you think!

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Next Level Cauliflower – Recipe

I’ve had a long-standing dislike to cauliflower. Even slathering it in cheese sauce and bacon bits could never disguise the taste of Grandma’s sock drawer. Until…

…You roast the hell out of that brassica!

spiced, roasted cauliflower

spiced, roasted cauliflower

OK, in all fairness, I am getting better at eating cauliflower, now that I’m a grown up (sort of), so if you do really really truly HATE cauliflower, this may not be the holy grail of all recipes, but it is worth a shot, because this really does change up the flavour and texture of that brain-like veggie.

Another reason to train yourself to eat cauliflower is that it is so good for you. These white cruciferous vegetables are rammed with phytonutrients and antioxidants (clever things that can help to protect us against cancer). They are also low energy dense foods, as in, you can eat lots and lots and lots & feel full (high water content), without actually eating very many calories – excellent if you need to feel satiated after eating & good news if you are on a calorie-restricted diet. Being a vegetable, the humble cauliflower is also a great source of fibre – another tick in the box for helping you feel full & keeping your tummy happy.

This way of cooking cauliflower is genius. It take a few seconds to prepare, next to no cooking supervision required & it uses no fat whatsoever, so it keeps the dish low in fat & therefore, low in calories too. The best thing about cooking vegetables in huge roasted chunks like this, is that you can often use them in place of higher carb foods, like potatoes.

So, here is how you make this:

Ingredients:

  • 1 big cauliflower
  • 1-2tsps of spice mix (your choice, but I used ‘old bay’ seasoning, something like cajun/curry/fajita seasoning would be awesome too!)
  • Spritz of lemon juice

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to Gas 6/200C
  2. Remove the outer leaves of the cauli
  3. Chop the cauli in half, then try to cut in to large, equal sized wedges – not all wedges will stay in one piece, but that’s cool because the small bits roast up & go super crispy & tasty!
  4. Bung the wedges on a good, solid non-stick baking sheet & sprinkle with your chosen spice mix.
  5. Turn the wedges over and season the other side.
  6. Chuck the tray in the oven for approx 30-40mins (use your own judgement here & cook to your liking, I like it when it starts to blacken around the edges!)
  7. Whip out the oven, sprinkle with lemon juice & eat the whole damn lot before anyone else gets a look-in!

Enjoy!

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Smart BBQ Side-Dish Swaps

Unless you choose griddled chicken breast & a green salad, BBQs can be a calorie minefield.

Typical BBQ sides include coleslaw, pasta salad, cous cous, sweetcorn, potato salad & bean salad. Whilst these can all be full of yummy veggies, they also tend to be crammed with mayo-based dressings or oil/butter.

By making your own sides, rather than buying them in, you can control what goes in to them, without compromising on taste – I mean, have you *tried* low-fat shop bought coleslaw?! Ewwwww!

Try these three options at your next BBQ & save on calories and fat…

Coleslaw:

Swap the shop bought stuff for this homemade version. Crammed with veggies and made with a fat free yoghurt. A high fibre, high taste, fat free alternative.

Fat free coleslaw

Fat free coleslaw

This version had a head of fennel, 2 carrots, 1 red onion, a handful of radishes & half a head of broccoli (florets & stalk) in it. The carrots & broccoli stalk were grated & the rest of the veggies were super finely sliced. The dressing was a few good spoons of 0% fage greek yoghurt, the juice of half a lemon & some dried dill. Mix well & season to taste.

Potato Salad:

Swap out the mayo coated BBQ staple for this low-fat, tasty option.

Low-fat Potato Salad

Low-fat Potato Salad

By using a mix of baby new potatoes & a large sweet potato, the GI of this salad is reduced, making this salad filling for longer & helping to stave off the second/third/fourth helpings. The potatoes have been chopped and roasted in just  tsp of olive oil, a little seasoning & some dried lovage (use any dried herb here, I just love the savoury taste of lovage). Roast up, then throw over the juice of 1 lemon, some sea salt flakes, some finely chopped chilli & some fresh chopped mint. It is important that you get the lemon juice on as soon as they come out of the oven, otherwise the potatoes won’t soak it all up & become yummy!

Guacamole:

I beg of you to never ever buy shop bought guacamole. It just ISN’T guacamole. It is gross & tastes bland and slimy! Many shop bought versions are actually made using powdered avocado, that is mixed in to a mayo base, so actually pretty grim & full of the wrong fats. Try this fresh version – it literally takes 5 minutes to make and tastes so so much better.

Fresh Guacamole

Fresh Guacamole

This bowl full of deliciousness used 2 ripe avocados, 2 small tomatoes, 2 spring onions, 1 fresh chilli,  lime & some sea salt. Here is a top tip for your guac – spoon out the avocado flesh in to a bowl & then use an apple corer to mash it – go on, try it! It takes seconds to mash and also means you can keep it chunky. Finely slice everything else, juice the lime right in to the bowl, add in a pinch of sea salt, mix & taste. Try also adding some chopped fresh corrainder, or a pinch of cumin or paprika – delicious!

Go ahead and try these swaps out at your next BBQ & feel smug about your healthier choices – it also means you saved enough macros for that dessert! 😉

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Ginger Banoffee Protein Flapjacks

I’ve been desperate to find a recipe for a protein flapjack with a baked crunch, moist softness, yummy flavour & that oaty texture. I reckon that I’ve baked that right up earlier on today. If you’re a fan of flapjacks & a fan of protein treats, but not a fan of the fats and sugars used in average commercial brands, then give this a go & see what you think.

IMG_0208

Ingredients:

  • 1 small banana
  • 3tbsps coconut oil
  • 3tbsps ginger flavoured coconom (or regular coconom & a pinch of ground ginger)
  • 12 drops toffee flavdrops
  • 15 drops banana flavdrops
  • 1 cup rolled oats (regular or gluten free)
  • 1/3 cup rice protein
  • 2 scoops myprotein protein crispies
  • 2tbsp water

Method:

  1. Heat oven to Gas 6/200C
  2. Peel the banana, snap in half & chuck in a bowl.
  3. Melt the coconut oil (I usually chuck mine in a cup in the microwave for a few seconds)
  4. Add the ginger coconom to the melted coconut oil, add in both flav drops and stir. Pour this liquid mix in with the banana. Blend with a stick blender until it looks a bit like caramel.
  5. Add the rolled oats, rice protein & protein crispies and mix – add in 1 or 2 tbsp water if needed. The mix should not be stiff, but also not runny – it should hold its shape in the baking case, but easy to spread and level out with a spoon.
  6. Dump the mix in to a silicon pan – I used a square brownie pan – if your mix doesn’t quite fill the pan, just spread it out to about 1.5-2cm thick & square up the loose side with a spoon.
  7. Bake for about 15-25minutes – this will depend on how thick your have made them, but they should be a golden brown colour and firm to the touch.
  8. Allow to cool in the pan for about 15minutes, then gently transfer to a cooling rack until totally cool. Chop in to 8 pieces & hide them from everyone else!!

Macros per Slice (approx):

Cals: 135, Fat: 5.9g, Carbs: 13.7g, Protein: 6.7g

I’ve used ginger coconom in this recipe, hence the ‘ginger’ bit, but to be honest, it doesn’t come through massively in the end product, so if you are after a major ginger punch, whack in a little extra ground ginger before mixing.

If you’re not a fan of ginger at all, just use unflavoured coconut sugar. If you don’t like bananas, leave out the banana & the banana flavdrops, replace with a good dollop of apple sauce and some vanilla flavdrops.

Serve these babies up alongside a cup of tea, or with yoghurt and fruit for breakfast, or whack some ice-cream on it for an awesome dessert.

Give them a go, what do you think??

 

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Recipe: Spinach & Pumpkin Fritatta

I LOVE fritatta!

Spinach and pumpkin fritatta

I probably make one a week, or at least every fortnight.

They are quick to make, relatively cheap, can be the product of a fridge and cupboard cull & they are rammed full of awesome stuff like protein, fibre, good fats & taste.

By the way, they are also awesome straight from the oven, cold the next day, or even blasted in the microwave for a quick lunch or snack.

Anywho, here is my recipe for a (pretty bloody tasty) spinach, pumpkin & mozzarella fritatta. Enjoy!

OK, as I said, these can be an awesome way to use up any stuff you have hanging about – this one was made with such items, but you can also just go ahead & grab the bits you need and/or sub out any stuff you don’t have or don’t like – the recipe is super forgiving!

Protein pow whey protein muffins

In fact, I was making these AMAZING protein pow choco blueberry muffins (which require pumpkin puree) when I found that I had some leftover – cue a fritatta!

RECIPE (makes 8-12 wedges):

Ingredients:

  • 5 large free-range eggs
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree (I used canned, leftover from those yummy muffins)
  • 6/7 chunks of frozen chopped spinach, defrosted & squeeeeeeezed dry (mine was from Sainsburys)
  • Approx. 1/4 cup of pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 tbsp of teeny tiny capers, drained
  • 1 ball of light mozzarella
  • Pinch of dill
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • Sea salt & pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to gas 6ish, or equivalent. Grab a silicon case – I used round, square or rectangular would work too. Put the case on a baking tray, so it doesn’t puke its load everywhere when you try to move it.
  2. Chop the mozzarella in to good sized chunks and distribute over the base of the case (this goes deliciously gooey once it has cooked). Blob on dots of pumpkin puree. Sprinkle over the capers and the pine nuts.
  3. Crack the eggs in to a bowl, beat until combined. Add the squeezed out, defrosted spinach, the dill, nutmeg, s&p & whisk together.
  4. Pour gently over the bits on the case and give the tray a wiggle to make sure all of the egg works in and around the bits.
  5. Bung in the oven for around 25-35mins – keep an eye on it & grab it out when it is firm, but springy.
  6. Let it cool in the case, then slap it on to a board, chop it up in to either 8 or 12 pieces & eat that delicious little dude!

Approx macros (for 8 servings):

113kcals, 8.7g fat, 3.2g carbs, 6.6g protein

I like to serve it with salads – maybe a quinoa & cashew salad, a fennel and pecan salad or just a green salad. Other awesome filling combos are:

  • goats cheese and roasted butternut squash
  • pea, mint & feta
  • sweet potato, red pepper & halloumi
  • smoked bacon, asparagus & cheddar

Give it a go & lemme know what you think!

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Dear Santa, I’ve been ever so good…

Now, I’ve been pretty committed to being good this year, so I reckon that Santa should take note of my ultimate Christmas list. Some of these will most definitely NOT be under the tree this year, because my Santa is a bit of a tight-wad, but hey, it’s worth asking for a Christmas miracle, right?!

Dear Santa,

Pretty please may I have these things??

  1.  A TRX home suspension trainer:

trxI started using this back in the Summer & you just wouldn’t believe how amazing, effective & difficult it is. Working out using your own bodyweight is amazing on so many levels. Helping to build strength and mobility in a million, bajillion different ways. If you’ve never tried this out before, you are really really missing out. Venture out in the cold, find a gym that has one and get someone to show you what to do with it. I promise, you will be hooked!

2. A new, bigger kettlebell:

kettlebellI’ve already got an 8kg kettlebell (in a rather attractive purple colour), but as I progress with using kettlebells, I’m beginning to need a slightly heavier one for certain moves. It is actually best to have a variety of kettlebell weights as different weights are better for certain moves, but they are kind of expensive, so treating yourself to one every few months is cool. I personally like the vinyl coated kind. Not only do they look pretty awesome, but the vinyl cushions your forearms a little and it allows a little extra grip when your hands start to slip. I like these Fitness-Mad Kettlebells, which I found on amazon, but try a few out & see which you prefer!

3. Quest Bars:

quest barsI just can’t get enough of these. Sure, you can buy quest bars, by the box, nearly anywhere, but you’re stuck with just one flavour. The awesome guys at Protein Pick & Mix have got a ‘Not so dirty dozen’ mix – pick 12 different flavours if you like – totally up to you what you go for. This is genius because I find I like most of the flavours, but I don’t want a whole heap of one kind. Also, the dudes behind protein pick & mix are brilliant, super friendly & possibly the fastest dispatchers of protein laced goodness ever! Check them out for all your protein needs! (P.S. I’ve just seen that they do gift vouchers now too, so, you know, they are just perfect for a stocking…!)

4.  Omron BF511 Scales with Body Fat Monitor:

omron scalesTo be honest, my 10 year old crappy digital scales that I bought from a supermarket are just not cutting it for me any more. Whilst they occasionally can provide me with my rough weight (I say rough, because the reading depends on where I put it on the floor, where I stand on it & which day of the week it is), they can’t give me the information that I really need. I’m less interested now in what my overall weight is, and more interested in what is making up my weight. The Omron BF511 Scales with Body Fat Monitor gives me readings and classifications in: body fat, BMI, skeletal muscles, visceral fat, resting metabolism. I found this set on Newitts website.

5. The Tom Tom Runner Cardio GPS Watch:

tom tom cardioAs far as I’m concerned, this watch is the mecca of all GPS watches.  Take all the good things associated with an average GPS watch, like run tracking, times, auto sync-ing, water resistance etc, then add in the fact that it has a built in cardio monitor – yes, built in, no stupid chest band – win win. It is easy to use and navigate through, it has a slim design and it looks pretty awesome too, but at over £200, Santa has gotta realllllllllllly love you! 😉 Grab this awesome watch from Tom Tom.

6. A pair of Nike Free Flyknit 4.0 Trainers:

nike freesI’m becoming a bit of a trainer collector. I’ve gone from having one pair (that I’d owned since I was 15 – now got rid of!) to 4 pairs; a pair of crosstrainers, a pair for natural style running, a pair for gym work & a pair of trail shoes for OCR events. These flyknits would make an awesome addition to my spring running collection – lightweight, flexible & comfortable. I found these on startfitness.co.uk – I use this site lots for brilliant bargains!

7. A ticket for Tough Mudder 2015:

tough mudderIf the phrases ‘OCR’ or ‘Tough Mudder’ mean nothing to you, then either read ahead & find out all about it, or quit now & let it remain a mystery. These mud filled obstacle course races (OCRs) are a bit more than your average run in the park. Think river walking, mud swamps, tunnels, walls, bars, ladders, ropes, fire pits, logs, tyres, electrocution, cuts, bruises, sprains, blood, sweat & tears. I took part in my first OCR event earlier this year at mud monsters run & it was AMAZING! I’m also signed up to the Dirty Dozen Races next year. But everyone knows that Tough Mudder is the king, so I want in!

So Santa, if you are reading, please take note! I reckon this beats last year’s list that consisted of chips, wine, crisps, cheese, wine, cake & wine…?!

Cheers,

Charlie *kissy kissy kissy*

 

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The Great Butter Debate…

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always bought skimmed milk, wholewheat bread, wholemeal pasta, fat free yoghurts and olive spread. Have I been getting it wrong all along?

The Great Butter Debate

The Great Butter Debate

I’ve recently brought our butter dish back out of the cupboard.

The last time it was in use, was when my daughter was very young & the advice was to give full fat dairy products, such as whole milk & butter. I’ve always shied away from the butter dish for myself. Growing up thinking that butter was a near equivalent to downing shots of bleach, or chewing down arsenic sandwiches – you know, it *will* kill you.

Butter is fat. Fat is bad. Fat will kill you.

I follow A LOT of fitness experts, food bloggers, nutritionists, sports enthusiasts, personal trainers and hobby gym go-ers. Most of these guys are incredibly careful about what they put in to their bodies. Some are clean eaters, some are veggie, some are high protein-ists, some are paleo, some are strictly alkaline. All are about eating the most pure form of foods, the best that they can find, the unadulterated. Those of them that eat dairy, almost all eat ‘real’ butter. It has left me wondering why I do usually opt for the reduced fat spreads. I’d never really given it a thought…

The thing that started me down my route of questioning the norm, was whilst I was making a cake for a birthday party. I had bought proper butter to make the cake, but didn’t quite have enough. I reached for the pot of ‘light olive spread’ & it proclaimed that it couldn’t be used for baking, frying or cooking. Weird, I thought, I wonder why… Then I looked at the ingredients, trying to figure why it wasn’t suitable for baking, and this is what I found:

Water, Vegetable Oils in varying proportions (22%) (Rapeseed, Palm, Sunflower), Olive Oil (16%), Modified Corn Starch, Salt, Buttermilk, Emulsifiers (Mono- and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids, Sunflower Lecithin), Preservative (Potassium Sorbate), Citric Acid, Natural Flavouring, Vitamins A and D, Colour (Carotenes)

I flipped my butter pack over, ingredients:

Jersey Cream

I kind of stood in my kitchen, thinking “hmmmm, hmmmmmm, ahhhh, hmmmm”, tapping my head a bit, re-reading both packs and then thinking “hmmmmmmm”.

I feel like I’ve been sidelined in to this ‘healthy eating’ brainwash: “Butter = Bad. Low fat spread = Good.”

Reading, what can only be described as a chemical cocktail, I’m no longer convinced that low fat spreads are the way forward, certainly not for me & my family. Whilst the overall fat content of these low fat spreads may sound more appealing, I think that it makes sense to use real butter, but perhaps more sparingly. I’m not about to start eating a block a day, because, good or bad, it is still a source of saturated fat. But a little bit here and there will be better that a bunch of chemical junk any day.

I have shunned my previous favourite spread to the very back of the top shelf of the fridge – I don’t know why, I’m not planning on ever eating it again, maybe it is there for an emergency, you know, when I really feel the urge to spread some Potassium Sorbate on my toast (ick!)

By dropping ‘butter vs low fat spread’ in to the interweb search box, heaps of articles pop up, some pro butter, some very anti butter. I’m sure that there are pros and cons to each side, as there always is with any choice or debate. I’m gonna go ahead and stick myself firmly on the pro butter side.

What do you think?

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Gluten Free Apple & Pistachio Crumble Cake

I made a ‘normal’ version of this a few weeks ago and it was SO good, but I tried it with gluten free flour this weekend & hey, guess what?! It is even BETTER!

Gluten Free Apple & Pistachio Crumble Cake

Gluten Free Apple & Pistachio Crumble Cake

The cake was moist and delicious, delicately spiced with cinnamon, rich from the cinnamon buttercream, sweet from the cherry jam filling & chunks of apple. The crumble topping was crisp and crunchy and the chunks of pistachio gave a great texture.

I highly recommend making this with gluten free flour, whether you are gluten intolerant or not, it just works so much better! The gluten free flour I used was a Doves Farm self-raising.

Ingredients:

Cake batter:

  • 250g room temp butter
  • 250g muscovado sugar
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1tbsp raw honey
  • 4 medium eggs, beaten
  • 250g gluten free self-raising flour
  • 50 g pistachios
  • 2 big or 3 small cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped in to 1-2cm chunks

Crumble topping:

  • 50g cold, diced butter
  • 100g gluten free self-raising flour (you could use plain here, but I only had SR)
  • 50g muscovado sugar

Cinnamon Vanilla Buttercream (& Cherry Jam) Filling:

  • 140g room temperature butter
  • 280g icing sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp milk
  • 1/2tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1tbsp raw honey
  • (Cherry Jam – I used Meridian no added sugar morello cherry fruit spread, but use whatever you have open already & in need of using up)

Cake Batter Method:

  1. Preheat oven to gas 4. Line a 25-30cm round cake tin (I used a spring-form because it comes out easily).
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together. Add in the cinnamon, honey and vanilla. Add in the eggs a little at a time.
  3. Gently mix in the flour, pistachios and apple chunks.
  4. Pour the cake batter in to the prepped tin.

Crumble Topping & Baking Method:

  1. Put the cold butter, flour and sugar in to a bowl & rub together with fingertips, until it looks like breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the cake batter.
  2. Bake in the pre-heated over for around 1h 30 – 2hrs, or until a metal skewer poked in to the centre comes out clean.
  3. Leave to cool in the tin, before cutting.

Cinnamon Vanilla Buttercream & Assembly Method:

  1. Beat the butter and icing sugar together until smooth.
  2. Add in the honey, cinnamon and vanilla, then add the milk until it is the right consistency.
  3. Cut the cooled cake in half and remove the top section (be careful not to brush off the crumble topping).
  4. Spread the buttercream over the base of the cake – it will take all of it, no problem! Slather the jam all over the buttercream & carefully place the lid of the cake back on.
  5. Sprinkle with a little icing sugar and (because I’m mentally a 6 year old when I make cakes) chuck on some glitter and sparkly sprinkles! 😉
  6. Cut a huge wedge & eat it up along with a glass of wine/baileys/gin!

Please share the recipe with your friends & surprise a gluten-intolerant person with a thoroughly delicious cake of yummy proportions! Let me know what you think of it!

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Vegan Kale Pesto Recipe

I love getting my weekly veg box delivery. I like that it forces me to include a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in to my diet. This week, when I saw a huge bag of beautiful dark green kale arrive, I knew I was going to definitely make a gorgeous green pesto out of it, and I did, and here it is:

Vegan Kale Pesto (makes a good soup-bowl sized amount):

Kale is an awesomely good source of iron, vitamins A, B-6, C & K and rammed full of antioxidants. Cashews are also a great provider of B vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, copper and zinc and a good source of mono-unsaturated fatty acids. They are full of soluble dietary fibre too.

Super Green Kale Pesto!

Super Green Kale Pesto!

Ingredients:

  • 1 large-ish bag of kale, washed & tough stalks cut out
  • 2/3cup of cashew nuts
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4cup green olives
  • 3tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1/4cup cyder vinegar
  • 1tsp ground nutmeg
  • salt & pepper

Method:

  1. Cut the kale up a bit to help with blending later on.
  2. Cook the kale in salted boiling water until *just* cooked, drain.
  3. Blend kale along with all other ingredients – make sure that you add the oil a bit at a time, you may not need it all, or you may need a little more.
  4. When the pesto is blended to your preferred consistency, check for seasoning.

I love to serve this pesto as a stunningly green pasta salad dressing, teamed with tomatoes, chickpeas and pine-nuts, or over hot potatoes. Try adding in to soups, or mixing with cottage cheese as a topping for cracker breads. Use as you would any other pesto really!

Vegan Kale Pesto with Pasta, Chickpeas, Pinenuts & Sunblushed Toms.

Vegan Kale Pesto with Pasta, Chickpeas, Pinenuts & Sunblushed Toms.

I find that this pesto will keep well in the fridge for a few days, or, if you are unlikely to get through it all, pop in to ice cube trays, freeze and then bag up for later – add a couple of frozen cubes in to soups/stews to cook through, or defrost in the fridge and use as before.

Don’t let your kale go sad and floppy at the back of your fridge, go and give it a try!

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