Breakfast, Snacks & Treats

Banana & Oat Pancakes

Without a doubt, these are my favourite pancakes. I mean, I love traditional ‘pancake day’ pancakes, but these are something else, and super healthy (the best bit). They are my go-to pancakes for a lazy-weekend breakfast, and I’m actually going to (or try to) start my own tradition of banana oat pancakes for Christmas day breakfast (my mum’s tradition is cinnamon rolls – yummy!) These pancakes are moist in the middle and sweet from the bananas, and will set me up perfectly on Christmas day!

So there’s only 1 week left until Christmas, and it has been a busy build up. I’ve had a visit from my uni friends, Liam and I had a board game night with some of our fellow board gaming friends, and I’m paying two visits to my mum because we can’t be together at Christmas. Good job the pancakes are worth your wait! So, only 1 week to go, and I still need to do everything that is actually related to Christmas. The last couple of days before The Big One will be filled with present wrapping, Christmas tree decorating and Christmas food preparation.

I was asked by my pen pal what my favourite season was a few weeks ago. Apparently hers is autumn, and I agreed that was mine too. What was I thinking? Winter is definitely the best! I love the crispness in the air and all the wrapping up in layers to go outside. I love it when there is a frost on the ground and a mist lurking over the little lakes that my train travels past. I also love snuggling up at home in the evening or at the weekend (our new house has a log burner too, so we need to get that going soon. Super snuggly!)

These pancakes are perfect for the colder months, when healthy and warming food is a must! These aren’t nutritionally-void pancakes like the traditional ones, but ones made from banana, oats, spices and healthy fats. The bananas are really potassium-rich, which is essential for cardiovascular health and maintaining a healthy blood pressure. Bananas also have a high fibre content, some of which is soluble fibre that is linked with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Oats are a really good source of this soluble fibre! These are super healthy pancakes!

Banana and Oat Pancakes (nabbed from Cookie and Kate)

Ingredients:

3 ripe bananas

2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon honey/maple syrup

2 eggs (room temp)

1 cup oats

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions:

1. Mash bananas in a bowl, then mix in the melted coconut oil, lemon juice and honey/maple syrup.

2. Beat the eggs, then add to the mixture and mix.

3. Pop the oats in a little food processor and blend until the oats resemble flour (about 10 seconds or so). Mix in the baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg

4. Add the oat flour mix to the banana mix and stir to combine.

5. Leave for 10 minutes!

6. Heat up a little coconut oil in a pan and drop a tablespoon or two of the batter in and even it out with the back of the spoon. Cook the pancakes for a minute or so on each side.

To keep the pancakes warm while you cook the rest, wrap them loosely in foil and pop in the oven, preheated to about 90 C

Top with maple syrup, sliced banana, crushed walnuts and coconut flakes

Enjoy guys 🙂 x

 

 

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Make-ahead, Snacks & Treats

Sea Salt & Black Pepper Crispy Wholegrain Flatbread

These wonderfully moreish crisp flatbreads are a simple solution to an inevitable problem: Carrots just get boring sometimes! I wanted something that I was actually looking forward to dipping into my hummus. I found it! These are adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s rosemary flatbreads. I tried doing the recipe first with thyme, because I don’t own a rosemary plant, but the delicate taste was lost during cooking. All that was left was the saltiness from the sea salt sprinkled on top. Now don’t get me wrong, I loved this. So, I paired it with some freshly ground black pepper, and swapped half of the flour for the wholegrain variety, and I was left with an incredibly tasty, crunchy bread for dipping.

Maybe it’s not a coincidence that my craving for something less ‘veggie’ came when I entered into the final year of my PhD. I do, after all, think I am a little bit of an emotional eater. I remember a few weeks ago I was annoyed with Liam over the phone, hung up, and immediately headed for the waffle shop in Liverpool Street station (oopsie!). I didn’t even enjoy eating it. Making crisp flatbreads for hummus-dipping is definitely a more sensible option. They even taste great on their own if you want a little cheeky nibble here and there.

Anyway, PhD times. I think it is more the commute to/from London that is slowly wearing me down, rather than the lab work. The workload/stress is ramping up though, and after a long day, the last thing I want is to have to spend the next hour and a quarter getting home. (Poor me, I know.) A lot of the time I’m still feeling the buzz from working. I think to myself ‘yeah I’ll to this, this and this when I get home! I feel great!’. Then I get home… I feel like crawling right into bed!

These flatbreads will last for a little while in an airtight container (I think we have kept them for about 4 days – but then we had eaten them all! I’m sure they would last for longer though). You can break them up to get them in a container, or alternatively, you can make mini flatbreads! I haven’t actually done this, but I keep wanting to. Next time, definitely.

Ingredients:

115g Plain flour

115g Wholegrain/wholemeal flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup (125ml) water

1/3 cup (80ml) extra virgin olive oil

For on top of flatbread:

Extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 220 C (200 C Fan)

2. In a large bowl, mix together the two flours, baking powder, salt and pepper.

3. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture. Add the water and oil, and mix with a wooden spoon until everything comes together into a ball. Tip it out and knead a few times.

4. Split the ball into 3 pieces (or more to make mini flatbreads), and wrap all but one up in cling film.

5. Place the ball on a large piece of greaseproof paper, and place a large piece of cling film on top. Roll the ball out with a rolling pin until it is really quite thin. Like a couple of millimeters in thickness. 

6. Peel the cling film off carefully. Brush a bit of extra virgin olive oil on top, then sprinkle on a good pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

7. Pop in the oven and bake for 8 – 10 minutes. Check on it though, you don’t want it to burn!

 

Hope you enjoy 🙂

 

Alice x

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Smoothies & Shakes, Snacks & Treats

Chocolate & Strawberry Dairy-Free Milkshakes

I don’t follow a dairy-free diet (I love Greek yoghurt, soured cream and cheese too much!), but, you know how much I love everything coconut-related! I was inspired to get my blender out and mess around with different milkshakes when I read an article in the latest Women’s Health magazine, which contained a recipe for a healthy burger, chips and milkshake. The addition of dairy-free ice cream in that milkshake I feel was unnecessary, and I tend to try and avoid using loads of substitute foods, so I concocted these two traditional-flavoured milkshakes, with a healthy twist.

Each of the ingredients images show enough for 1 large milkshake or two small ones, but I actually just made half of this (so 1 small milkshake in each flavour) as I was making both flavours. Regarding the amount of ice you use, well, that all depends on how you like it! The strawberry milkshake is thinner than the chocolate one, because of the addition of banana to the chocolate shake. You can add more ice to thin them out if you want, but I think this is a balanced amount to start with.

I almost feel like I’m copping out here. A recipe with only 4 ingredients? I know. I have been in an ‘Oh my god, what am I going to do with my life?’ kind of crisis. October marks the start of the final year of my PhD, and I never though I would feel so terrified of the real world approaching. I have to get a proper job after this. Oh god. To stop too much comfort food passing my lips, I’ve been sipping on the odd coconut milkshake. Mmmm, creamy coconut! Anyway, Liam and I have really been enjoying these milkshakes recently (and a tropical one – think banana and pineapple!) so I thought I would share it with you.

Although coconut milk contains loads of saturated fat (if you hadn’t heard!), it is the specific type of saturated fat in coconuts that is actually thought to have a beneficial effect. Long chain fatty acids, the bad type of saturated fat, are linked with heart disease. Medium chain fatty acids, for example lauric acid, are known to have anti-viral and anti-bacterial effects (and so help out our immune system). This is the main type of saturated fat in coconuts! Yippee! Lauric acid also increases high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels, which lowers your chances of developing heart disease.

Pass me a straw!

Ingredients

(Each makes 1 large milkshake, or 2 small milkshakes (like the ones pictured)

Chocolate:

1/2 can coconut milk, refrigerated

150g or so of ice, crushed

2 tablespoons organic cocoa powder

1 banana

Optional extras to sweeten it a little: drop of vanilla essence and a squeeze of agave nectar (yum!)

 

Strawberry:

1/2 can coconut milk, refrigerated

150g or so of ice, crushed

100g strawberries

4 pitted dates

 

Directions:

1. If your blender doesn’t handle ice well (like mine), pop it in a bag (the ice, not the blender) and place on a chopping board, cover with a tea towel and give a good bash with a rolling pin. Quite therapeutic.

2. Add crushed ice, coconut milk, and either banana and cocoa powder, or strawberries and dates, to a blender.

3. Blend until smooth. Add agave and/or vanilla essence to the chocolate milkshake if using, to add sweetness.

4. Enjoy!

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Snacks & Treats

Healthiest Chocolate Mousse

I remember Liam’s face when I first told him the main ingredient of the delicious-looking mousse I had made, was avocado. He wasn’t too keen! Its a good job he is open to trying new things, because he did, and he absolutely loved it. Me too, for that matter!
The avocado makes this mousse so creamy and velvety, and the cocoa powder adds a richness and bitterness, that is tamed to perfection by the agave nectar. This ticks boxes left, right and centre for me!

The recipe is from the honestly healthy book (I need to dust some of my other recipe books off, for sure), which has a pretty decent-looking dessert section. I’ve not really made many others though, because a lot of the recipes use loads of unheard of ingredients and different sugar substitutes that I don’t own. This one is so simple though, and it tastes so indulgent too.

The mousse tastes good regardless of whether you eat it straight away or after chilling for a couple of hours. Chilling it it sometimes nice to do as you can really slice through it with your spoon, but when I made this the other day I just plopped it on a plate and scooped it right up, because it is thick enough right out the food processor to hold its shape

I bought 6 avocados this week. Six! I’m into all of that healthy fat business, which avos are rammed full of. The fats in avocados have anti-inflammatory benefits, could help with lowering the risk of heart disease, and also help with the absorption of some fat-soluble nutrients, such as carotenoids (so popping one in a salad is a pretty good idea!). Avocados also make a damn healthy chocolate mousse, apparently.

I love healthy desserts!

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 avocado, skin and stone removed, and flesh chopped

1 tablespoon water

2 heaped tablespoons cocoa powder

2 tablespoons agave nectar

Raspberries, to serve

 

Directions:

1. Melt the coconut oil in a heatproof bowl over a pan of boiling water.

2. Add the melted coconut oil, avocado flesh and water to a food processor (I use my mini one). Whizz it up until very smooth.

3. Add the cocoa powder and agave, and whizz it all again u til really, really smooth!

4. Either put into ramekins and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours, or enjoy straight away. Serve with fresh raspberries.

 

Enjoy!

Alice x

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Breakfast, Snacks & Treats

Banana & Cherry ‘Nice Cream’

Apparently this ‘nice cream’ stuff has been going around for ages. By ages I mean years! I hate missing out on things, and I really hate the thought that I have been missing out on this for that long. I was clearly too busy stuffing my face with Haagen Dazs while churning out essay after essay at university a couple of years ago.

A fair few of your will know I also have an Instagram account, where I like to post pretty pictures of the yummy things I eat. It is there that I found a recipe for this healthy ‘ice cream’, or ‘nice cream’ as people like to call it. Who would have thought that frozen banana could make such a smooth and creamy dessert?! Not me, for sure. How wrong I was!

Since Liam and I have been eating this, we haven’t bought any ice cream or made any late night trips to the local shops for a mars bar ice cream (but damn, those things are good!). This, I have to say, is a pretty grand achievement. Pat on the back for me! To be honest, I haven’t even felt like I wanted any proper ice cream. Nice cream just feels so indulgent that I feel totally satisfied after I’ve eaten it (well, only after I’ve licked every last bit out of the bowl).

It has been a bit of a struggle since I moved house last week to get back into the routine of things. This past week in the lab I’ve had a total ‘can’t be bothered’ attitude, and I’ve not really felt like doing anything when I get home. That’s what a week off to move house will do to you! I really needed a holiday after all of that packing, lifting, knackering my knees, unpacking, cleaning, more cleaning, and more unpacking. Oh, and the final day of my time off (literally the Sunday) we found out the washing machine wasn’t working! More lifting (this time heavier than any piece of furniture we own, because the washing machine was full of water) and more knackering my knees.

Despite the washing machine being hard work though, it was nice learning something new. I will have to get used to this DIY business now we’re homeowners!

Anyway, I have finally got round to taking some snaps of this amazing dessert, and here it is. It is so easy to make, even my Mum said she made it when I told her about it a few weeks ago (and she is not one for making new things). I think she uses cow’s milk, but I like to use homemade almond milk. If you want to do this, it is SO easy. Here’s how!

For about 3/4 cup: Soak 1/2 cup almonds in some water for about 2 hours. Drain, then whizz them in a blender a little. Add 1 cup filtered water and blend until smooth. Add 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp agave nectar and blend slightly just to mix. Pour the mixture into a nut bag or a muslin cloth (I got mine from Steamer Trading Co for about £2.50) and then squeeze the liquid through into a jug/bowl. There you have it! You can save the almond meal that is left in the nut bag/cloth for baking with. I made these with my almond meal. YUM!

It is so simple, all you need for this delicious dessert is a bit of frozen fruit, a bit of milk, a hand blender and a bowl. My hand blender is such an old faithful. I’ve had it since I first moved out of home to go to university (6 years ago!) and it is still going strong even though it was a real cheapy.

This is what you need:

Serves 2

1 banana, sliced and frozen

1 cup frozen fruit (my favourites are mango, cherries or raspberries)

1/4 cup (60 ml) milk, which can be cow’s or nut milk. I love to use homemade almond milk! If you want to make your own almond milk, just follow my little ‘how to’ in the ramble above.

This is what you do:

Put all the ingredients in a sturdy bowl. I say sturdy because I broke through the bottom of a cheap and flimsy bowl from Poundland. Serves me right, I guess.

Let the frozen fruit thaw slightly, which should only take a few minutes.

Now blend! Blend it all up with a stick blender until smooth.

Enjoy! (I’m sure you will.)

You will be happy (but not goofy, like me) if you make the switch to nice cream!

Alice x

 

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Snacks & Treats

Rustic Plum, Ginger & Cinnamon Galette

I’m not a big plum-eater (and I like to carefully place my hyphens). However, when I spotted a whole array of fruit for sale at a market stall (that was significantly cheaper than my usual supermarket) I just couldn’t say no. Before I had even exchanged cash for plums, I knew exactly what I was going to do with them.

When I made a plum galette previously, it was using an overly-sweet pastry and a plain plum filling. This time, I wanted to cut down on the refined sugar in the crust, and instead of sweetening the plums with a whole heap more sugar, I decided to add a small amount of honey and cinnamon. I also added a lovely kick with some freshly grated ginger. Ask Liam, it really is lovely!

I’ve had to battle with myself to save each slice I’ve taken to work until lunch. As soon as my bottom hits the chair in the morning, my stomach (brain, even) craves this. But boy, is it worth the wait every time!

The second best aspect of this rustic beauty (the first being the taste: the wonderful punch of ginger-y plums in every mouthful) is that it is so darn easy to make. You can even make the pastry in a food processor, which will take about 20 seconds. Personally, I do mine in a big bowl, but only because I’m lazy with the washing up!

I have so much going on at the minute, washing up is always the last thing I want to do. I’m quite sure everyone can relate to that! Good news though: we’re moving into our very own house next week (which has a dishwasher, yippee!)

I find the summer here really unbearable. Yes, the English summer. Even 25 degrees is too much, let alone the 32 degrees that we had to ensure in London recently. Trying to sort out my hoard of belongings and pack everything ready to move isn’t proving to be as enjoyable as I would have hoped, seeing as merely moving in my superheated flat is enough to make me break out a sweat.

I wanted to post some healthy ice cream recipes today (like, really healthy. Like, just-made-out-of-fruit healthy) because Liam and I have been living off it lately due to the heat. I just couldn’t find the time between baking this plum, ginger & cinnamon galette, preparing lunch and breakfast for the week, standing on my head, and fulfilling my Netflix-addict needs to actually make some while it was still light.

There is always next time, I guess!

Until then, why don’t you have a slightly more guilty (but not too guilty) treat with this plum galette.

I’m so excited that I can bring you food from my new kitchen soon. YEAH!

What you need:

Pastry:

1 1/2 cups plain flour

1 stick (113g) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons honey (I used wildflower honey, it is delicious!)

1/3 cup cold water

Filling:

400g plums (I used 10, which were small-medium sized), halved and pitted, each half sliced into 3

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated

1 tablespoon honey (again, I used wildflower honey)

1 teaspoon dried, ground cinnamon

Approximately 1/2 – 1 tablespoon flour, for dusting the pastry before you add the plum topping

1 egg, beaten

 

What you do:

To a large bowl or food processor, add the flour, butter, salt and honey. Either quickly combine with your hands or whizz for 10 seconds. Add the water, and mix this in with your hands again, or if using a food processor, whiz for another 5-10 seconds, until everything is combined and comes together.

Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and kneed a couple of times to make sure everything is combined. Shape into a ball, cover with cling film and pop it into the fridge while you prepare the plums.

Half, pit, and slice the plums. They will contain quite a lot of juice, so pat them thoroughly with kitchen paper. I also like to place them in a sieve to drain while I prepare the rest of the ingredients, and just occasionally give it a stir to make sure the juice gets through the sieve. 

Place the plums, ginger, cinnamon and honey in a bowl and make sure everything is well mixed.

Preheat the oven to 200 C (180 C Fan).

Onto a floured surface, roll out the dough to about 12 inches in diameter. I transferred mine to a pizza stone before I gave it the last rolling out, just to make it a little easier to transfer over. Leaving about 2 inches around the edge, give the dough a light dusting of flour.

Place the coated plums onto the pastry, leaving about 2 inches free around the outer edge. It looks really pretty if you make a concentric pattern, starting in the middle. You can fill in any little gaps when you finish. Next, fold the outer edge of pastry over the plums. You can see my pictures if you are unsure!

Make sure there are no holes or gaps in the pastry, because you may get some leakage. We want all of the plummy goodness to stay inside!

Whisk the egg and brush over the pastry.

Place the galette in the oven for approximately 45 minutes, until the pastry is nicely golden brown.

Leave to cool slightly when you take it out the oven. Serve hot or cold (it is scrumptious both ways!)

 

Get baking, and stay happy!

Alice x

 

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Breakfast, Snacks & Treats

No-Bake Cranberry & Macadamia Granola Bars

Who doesn’t love a granola bar, hey? I used to eat them all the time as a snack, but then stopped as I was put off by all the junk and refined sugar that is in them. You don’t need high maltose corn syrup, sugar, honey and fructose, ALL in ONE bar. Well, according to some on the supermarket shelf, you do. Because of this, it has been a while since I’ve had the pleasure of tucking into one of these (I have to admit, they are yummy). Why didn’t I make my own before now? I have no good answer for that. However, I have ventured down the homemade granola bar route now, and I am quite sure I shall never return!

A good friend of mine asked me to make a ‘no-bake’ granola bar recipe for her, so I started googling straight away! Why no-bake? I have no idea, you would have to ask her that, but I cracked on, no questions asked (I was excited!), to find what I thought would make a healthy yet really satisfying bar. What are good friends for, if not to make scrumptious recipes for one another?!

I’m so glad she asked actually, because Liam and I have spoken recently about making some, but we never actually got pen to paper, or fingers to laptop, to create or find a recipe we wanted to make. Not enough hours in the day, and all that nonsense.

From my research on the ‘no-bake’ element of anything granola-like, I seemed to find that there may be a problem of binding everything together strongly enough, so when you pick up a bar at one end, the other end doesn’t fall off. There were all sorts of suggestions flying around the internet. Some recipes use coconut oil, some use peanut butter, and others use mashed banana. I decided to go with using cashew butter. I thought a nut butter sounded like it would do the job well, but I didn’t want that well-known peanut butter taste in my bars. I preferred a more mellow, creamy taste that you get with cashew butter.

Then came the almighty decision of what to actually put in the bars. Anyone who knows me well, will know that I hate making decisions. I really hate making decisions when there is too much choice, mostly because I want more than one of the choices, and I’m worried that my choice will turn out to not be the best one in the end. This may sound like a problem, but in reality it involves situations such as ‘which snack shall I buy from Pret?’ or ‘what shall I get for lunch from Pho?’ Hardly life or death decisions.

In the end, after much internal debate, I settled on cranberry and macadamia for the main elements. Why? Well, I didn’t just want to put something in there that I ate every day, or that I don’t regard in my mind as a ‘treat’. I wanted to make my mouth water when I thought about them, basically. So that part was settled.
As I’d taken all that time to choose the stars of the show, or bar, I didn’t want to overpower them with loads of other nuts, seeds or fruit. I chose just one extra, a popular seed for granola bars: pumpkin seeds – scrummy little nuggets of nutrition. For a little bit of extra sweetness, I added a small amount of agave (or honey, if you want to substitute), and cinnamon.
I like that you can taste each element of the bar, as one ingredient doesn’t overpower the rest.
Regarding the ability of the bar to crumble despite your best efforts, it is best to keep them in the fridge. This keeps the nut butter more solid, and I found this does actually keep them together really well. I like to eat mine in the afternoon, to give my morale a little pick-me-up while I’m slogging away in the lab (ha), so I take it to work wrapped in a little bit of kitchen foil and pop it in the fridge until I’m ready to eat it.
I just realised, this is another oat recipe! Oh well, I guess this just shows you another super easy way to make them into something delicious.

These granola bars are definitely a healthy alternative to the store-bought kind, and these ingredients together will provide you with a little hint of indulgence. Lovely!

This is what you need:

1 cup whole rolled oats

80g (I estimate about 1/4 cup) of nut butter (I used cashews for their lovely creaminess)

50g dried cranberries

50g macadamia nuts

25g pumpkin seeds

2 tbsp agave nectar/honey

1 tsp cinnamon

This is how you make them:

Mix all the ingredients in a big bowl.

Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and press the mixture into it, making sure to pack it in really tight. If the mixture doesn’t fit the tray, don’t worry! just cram it all up to one side (like i did – pictured 2 images above).

Pop into the fridge for at least a few hours, before cutting into bars. I made 8 – I find this makes nice sized bars.

Keep them in the fridge in a sealed container.

When I take one to work, I wrap it in kitchen foil/cling film and keep it in the fridge until I eat it.

I hope you enjoy these. Liam and I sure did!

Stay happy,

Alice x

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