Easy to make and a fairly healthy treat (quite high in sugar because of the dried fruit), energy balls are a great idea for snacks on the go. They keep for days in the fridge and freeze well too.
There are lots of recipe variations and I reckon as long as you use equal quantities of nuts and fruit, you could mix whatever you fancy. I soaked the nuts in hot water with a squeeze of lemon juice for a few hours – to remove the mould and lectins which coat raw nuts and cause digestive issues. I also soaked the dried fruit in hot water to rehydrate it and make it softer – the texture of these energy balls was smooth and moist, like a healthy chocolate truffle.
Ingredients (makes at least 20):
200g raw cashews
100g walnuts and brazil nuts
100g cranberries (apple juice sweetened)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 tablespoon raw cacao
Pinch of sea salt
3 tablespoons coconut oil
desiccated coconut and raw cacao to coat
Put the nuts into a bowl and pour over hot water to cover. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and mix well. Leave to stand for at least two hours before use (or overnight).
Soak the dried fruit in hot water too for a smooth moist texture (optional).
Strain the nuts and rinse them. Place them in a food processor and blend until smooth or a fine crumb.
Strain the fruit and add to the nuts. Blend until smooth.
Add the flavourings. Blend.
Melt the coconut oil in a small pan. Drizzle into the food processor until thoroughly mixed.
Place the mixture in the fridge for at least an hour to harden and chill.
Roll a dessertspoon of the mixture into a ball with your hands. Roll the ball in coconut or cacao.
Earlier this year, I attended a fermentation workshop with Fran & Jude. Out of all the fabulous recipes they shared, Sauerkraut has become a staple for me. I love the salty sour taste and fermented foods can have a beneficial effect on our microbiome (the 2-3lbs of ‘friendly’ bacteria which live in our gut doing invaluable work helping our immune system, making vitamins, hormones, etc).
I’ve been asked to share the secrets of making your own successful batch, so here’s how I do it:
an organic or home-grown cabbage (you don’t want any chemicals in the mix as it may affect fermentation). You can use any variety of cabbage – I prefer to use red as it has the added benefit of even more antioxidant nutrients)
pure sea salt (preferably unrefined or ‘grey’ – you can buy it locally here)
seasonings – to taste and definitely optional – choose from: a bay leaf, 10 peppercorns, 6 juniper berries, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 2 cloves, 1 tsp caraway seeds, 1 tsp celery seeds, clove of garlic, a few chilli flakes, half an onion.
Remove any damaged outer leaves of the cabbage. Then remove and keep two whole large leaves (these will form a lid later).
Cut the cabbage into quarters and remove the hard core.
Weigh the remaining cabbage and calculate how much sea salt to use – 10g (two teaspoons) per 1kg of cabbage.
Slice the cabbage finely, put it into a large mixing bowl and sprinkle on the sea salt.
Wash your hands with natural soap and hot water (don’t use strong smelling or antibacterial soap!).
Now knead and massage and pound the cabbage with your hands until it’s about half the volume and there’s a few tablespoons of liquid at the bottom of the bowl. This can take 10 minutes or more.
Add the seasonings (if using) and mix well.
Pack the cabbage into a clean jar. Make sure there is enough liquid to cover it completely. If not, go back and knead it some more.
Cover the cabbage with the saved outer leaves.
Weight the cabbage down so it all remains below the liquid – I use a glass jammed in the lid (see pic) *this bit is really important*
Seal the jar and place it in a warm, dark place – I use the kitchen cupboard next to the dishwasher. You can start to eat the sauerkraut whenever you like – the longer you leave it, the more it ferments. I leave mine 4-6 weeks.
When it’s at the required fermentation (tangyness), store it in the fridge.
Eat with everything!
**If at any time your sauerkraut grows a mould which is any colour other than pure white, compost the whole lot! White mould can be scraped off.**
Like most people, in December I tend to eat foods I don’t usually … and drink more alcohol. So, I’m doing a gut cleanse this week. Here’s what I’m doing:
NO alcohol or caffeine
At least two litres per day of still mineral water and herbal teas. I use whole leaf tea – the flavour and quality is so much better. I have a teaball for single cups and a teapot for when hubby joins me. I get my loose herbs from Helen’s Whole Foods in Weymouth or Buy Wholefoods Online. My current favourites are: nettle, dandelion, lemon verbena, fennel seed and dried ginger.
I’m planning to include some home-made raw juices with plenty of fresh turmeric and ginger (but I haven’t got round to it … it’s something to do with the weather I think!)
NO dairy (except small amounts of butter)
Low carb (very little rice or potatoes)
Maximise veg, herbs and spice intake (I ordered in extra veg from Riverford this week along with organic turmeric and ginger root which I’ve been adding to everything)
Go to Menus below to see what I’ve been eating day by day and to download recipes (click on the links).
My kinesiologist came up with two products I needed to help cleanse my gut:
CandiSolve – a combination of digestive enzymes and a specific probiotic which re-balances candida overgrowth.
Made another batch of hummus and linseed crackers and I’m trying out a new lemon cookie recipe. Riverford had bergamot lemons this week – smell amazing and the juice tastes like a cross between lemon and mandarin.
Dinner: pork & veg casserole, spring greens, muffin, two squares 85% choc.
I think that this week of menus shows you the diet which best suits me when I want to feel good and lose weight (I lost 3-4lbs – I’m back to my usual weight). There is no one-size fits all in terms of which diet is best … please contact me to book in so we can find which diet suits you. Happy new year!
I’m a convert! I saw this recipe on social media and had to give it a go. Nori is a type of seaweed and it’s available in sheets in supermarkets – I got mine in Sainsbury’s. I love seaweed! It’s really tasty and nutritious – it’s packed with minerals and full of fibre. Seaweed is especially rich in iodine, which is needed for good thyroid function and other metabolic functions. Our diets are typically low in iodine now that most of us don’t eat much fresh seafood.
These nori rolls could be made the night before and kept in the fridge for breakfast on the go. They could also be taken as a packed lunch. Yum! They’re really easy to make, satisfying and nutritious!
These flatbreads are great for breakfast, brunch or lunch. Ideal if you’re cutting out wheat, gluten and/or grains, this recipe uses coconut flour and arrowroot powder. They can also be made with a linseed ‘egg’ – this makes the flatbread hold together so well you can roll it as a wrap. Linseeds add extra texture and nutrition too.
These flatbreads work really well with smoked salmon & avocado or bacon & tomatoes, mushrooms, etc. You can take them with you too – add some hummus and salad for a quick packed lunch.
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp water
1 egg (or a linseed ‘egg’ – see below)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp lemon juice
1/3 cup arrowroot powder
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pre-heat the oven to 170C.
If using a linseed egg, soak 1tbsp of linseeds in 2tbsp of water while you prepare the rest of the ingredients or until it becomes gloopy. Then blitz it in a NutriBullet, spice grinder or blender.
If using a hen’s egg, beat the egg in a large bowl, add the sea salt, lemon juice, olive oil and water – mix well.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix into a ball.
Roll out to about 1/2 cm thickness between two sheets of baking paper
Bake on one of the sheets for about ten minutes or until the edges are golden and the bread is firm to the touch.
While salads are the mainstay of my diet in summer, in the deepest, darkest days of winter the last thing you want to eat is cold food. Your body has to get it up to body temperature to start with – before it can begin digestion. That takes up a lot of energy and effort.
So, we have soup just about every day for lunch at home and I promised a client I would share some recipe ideas. These are not soups for entertaining … these are for everyday lunches or light dinners. It’s more about getting in some good nutrients rather than impressing. So, the absolute best base to start with is bone broth – stock made from the carcass of a chicken or meat bones which have been simmered on very low heat for a long time. See my post on chicken soup here.
Other than that, here are my top tips for healthy, nutritious soups:
If you don’t have time to make stock, then this vegetable bouillon powder is the best start: Marigold Organic Bouillon. (I like the Organic version best as it doesn’t contain as much added salt or any hydrolysed vegetable protein.) A heaped dessertspoon of this powder and a litre or two of cold water from the filter is the start of most of my soups.
Chop vegetables small so they cook quickly. Use a wide variety of veg.
The aroma from this bowl takes me straight back to Christmas as a child! The day after Boxing Day (ie, 27 December) we’d always have a version of this soup. The turkey carcass would have been simmering for hours in a pot on the stove and any leftover veg, stuffing and turkey bits would be added to the soup.
My version starts with organic chicken carcasses (from Riverford – currently great value at £2.45 per kg) slow-cooked in water for 24 hours. After a few hours, I remove the meat from the bones and the first extraction of stock. I put the bones back in and pour over more fresh water and simmer them again – usually overnight. I add lots of fresh veggies to the stock to make a really nourishing winter soup. I could also use the stock as a basis for risotto or for cooking vegetables such as leeks, cabbage, kale, etc – sort of steaming them in stock makes a really tasty side dish.
For variety, I grate in fresh turmeric and/or ginger root, add a handful of lentils or fresh herbs. Enjoy!
I needed some extra income this summer so I’ve been working weekends on the checkout at a supermarket. It has really brought home to me the message that WE ARE WHAT WE EAT. Spend any amount of time looking at people and their shopping and you can clearly see the absolute correlation between health and diet.
One of the things that has shocked me most is the ubiquity of crisps. Just about every shopping basket contains a bag of crisps – of one size and type or another – from posh hand-cooked named potato varieties to strange puffs of something unrecognisable and flavoured like an exotic meal. There is a whole aisle of the supermarket dedicated to these savoury snacks.
As a nation, us Brits must be eating our bodyweight in crisps each year. Why on earth do so many people buy sacks of 24 bags of crisps? (The quantity of non-recyclable packaging alone makes me feel queasy.) I wonder … is it because it’s only a small, light bag that we think they don’t count as food? Or that we can get away with eating them? Worse – why do we think every British adult’s and child’s lunchbox should contain a bag of crisps? Why does a supermarket ‘meal deal’ always include a bag of crisps? Do we think they are adding something to our nutrition? Or do we just believe they’re harmless to our health?
Crisps are BAD food. For a start, they wreak dental havoc because they are basically just starch – their digestion starts with the saliva in our mouths and they stick to our teeth better than sweets or chocolate. They are deep-fried at high temperatures in oil. (Don’t be duped into thinking the oils are healthy because they have pretty made-up names!) Any seed oil at high temperature becomes unstable (begins to create free radicals) and re-heating creates even more instability. Free radicals are most definitely a huge threat to our health. The ‘free’ (hanging on by a thread) molecule bits scavenge our body’s cells for a mate – at any price. They will even steal molecules from our very DNA to try to stabilise themselves. This is what causes diseases like cancer. Read the ‘Processes’ part of this Wikipedia article for more detail.
Furthermore, the ‘bad fats’ they contain cancel out the ‘good fats’ (omegas) in our diet – and the average UK diet is already very low in these essential fats. Finally, the flavourings they are coated with are high in artificial flavourings, sugar, artificial sweeteners (why??) and of course salt. Artificial chemicals are alien to our bodies and have to be neutralised and processed by our liver. A single serving pack of ready salted crisps contains at least 0.5g of salt. That isn’t a problem in itself but I bet crisp eaters are eating more than one of those little bags a day and I bet they’re also eating plenty of other foods high in salt – preserved meats (bacon, sausages, etc), ready meals, convenience foods (pasta sauces). So one of those little bags could well take them over the 5g recommended daily salt intake – for an adult.
Yes, crisps can be tasty but before you tuck in, please remember they are not food – in fact, they are anti-nutrition! If you’re in great health and your diet usually consists of lots of fresh vegetables and good sources of protein, then you can probably afford to ‘treat’ yourself once in a while. Otherwise, please leave them out of your daily diet!
If you want a salty snack, open a jar of olives or try one of these favourites of mine:
Tamari Seeds: put a handful each of (raw) sunflower and pumpkin seeds into a frying pan on medium heat. Stir all the time – do not allow them to brown! You will see the seeds begin to swell and puff up – at this point, remove the pan from the heat and drizzle on a teaspoon of tamari (wheat free soya sauce). Stir quickly and well. Leave to cool before serving.
Salt and Pepper Cashews: melt a teaspoon of coconut oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add two handfuls of raw cashew or cashew pieces (they’re cheaper!) – stir continuously – don’t let them burn. As soon as they begin to turn a golden colour, remove from the heat and sprinkle on sea salt and fine black pepper to taste (do NOT stir). Leave to cool before serving.
I’m always on the look out for snacks or sweet treats which are nutritional – something I can grab to eat which fills a gap or have with a cup of my favourite earl grey – and know there’s only good ingredients. I’m hooked on this recipe at the moment – big thanks to the Civilised Cavemen for this inspiration! I’ve even served one with garden raspberries and goats yoghurt on top as a dessert and everyone’s enjoyed them.
You will need:
3 large or 4 small ripe bananas
4 free-range eggs
140g almond butter (I make mine in a Nutribullet with 140g whole almonds + a dessert spoon of coconut oil)
4 heaped dessert spoons of coconut oil (+ some for greasing the tray)
2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder (I use Doves Farm)
a heaped teaspoon of cinnamon (buy true cinnamon, not cassia bark – it doesn’t have the same health properties. You can find true cinnamon here.)
Nothing says summer more than a fragrant bunch of basil. Fabulous with tomato salad and added to omelettes. But I don’t eat pasta very often so making pesto with this bagful in my veg box from Goldhill Organics isn’t an option. I’ve come up with two ways to make my bunches of summer herbs last longer … Even into the winter months.
Basil oil – I thoroughly blitzed all the stalks and some of the leaves, two cloves of fresh garlic, some sea salt and a good glug of olive oil in my Nutribullet. This will keep for weeks in the fridge. I use it to drizzle on salads and roasted vegetables. I brush it onto stuffed peppers before roasting them and drizzle it onto steamed fish or roast chicken.
Basil butter – I chopped all the leaves, added a pat of butter, the zest of a lemon and one clove of fresh garlic before roughly blitzing in my Nutribullet. I put teaspoonfuls onto a plate and quickly froze them before bagging them for the winter. A taste of summer melted onto steamed fish, veggies, steak, jackets potatoes, etc.