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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Mains, Make-ahead

Mexican Bean Burgers

I risk sounding like a broken record, but I’ve been such a busy bee lately. I thought that putting that final citation in my overdue 18-month report would let me breathe a huge sigh of relief, but it brought the fear of my presentation, fear of the viva, and all the lab work that has been put back while I have been writing. I thought that my now-empty weekends would feel like I was frolicking through a beautiful meadow, letting the fresh smells of freedom waft up into my nostrils, but instead I’ve been overcome with the need to see my friends and family that I’ve neglected for months, and the guilt that I still can’t find the time for all of them (I don’t even have that many people to see!). I’m sat here on a Saturday in the lab office, waiting for my cells to do their thing so I can go home and try to cling on to the remainder of my spare time*.

I should have known a PhD would be like this. After all, Liam has been through it, and, along with many others, has tried to warn me of the pains of a PhD student. Somehow I thought it would be different, but no! I have not escaped. Oh well, only another 16 months to go.
At least I can go home and tuck into a tasty Mexican bean burger!

*spare time to worry about not finishing enough work for my PhD,  not having enough time to see my friends, and not having enough time to blog (obviously the most important…)

Fry!

Mash!

Mix!

Shape!

Liam found this recipe on the Delicious Magazine website when looking for something that would feel satisfying enough for a Saturday night to keep us from reaching for the takeaway menu. A vegetarian burger fits the bill perfectly! Anything between two layers of bread tends to go down well, but we tend to try and avoid a carb-heavy diet most of the time. I can make an exception for this Mexican bean burger though, as it is rammed with healthy pulses and delicious toppings.
The tins of mixed pulses I use contain chickpeas, soya beans , black eyed beans, pinto beans, red kidney beans and adzuki beans. There’s a load of fibre and protein packed into each burger, and when topped with red onion, spinach, avocado and jalapeños (our favourite!), makes a wonderfully nutritious meal. I love topping mine with soured cream too!
I eat these in the satisfying knowledge that I’ve got a good portion of soluble and insoluble fibre for the day in there, which is essential for healthy heart and bowel, respectively. Soluble fibre is thought to be effective at lowering our cholesterol levels, while insoluble fibre helps with regularity (if you know what I mean) and keeps you feeling fuller for longer.
Aswell as being super healthy, they are super easy and super handy, as they can be cooked from frozen for a lazy weeknight treat!

To make them, this is all you need:

1 tbsp oil for frying (e.g. rapeseed oil)

1 large red onion (I only had small, so I used 3), chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp chilli powder (optional)

3 cans (400g) of mixed beans/pulses, rinsed and drained

2 slices of wholegrain bread

1/2 lime, juiced

1 medium free-range egg, beaten

1 handful pf coriander, chopped

To Make:

1. Heat the oil in a pan and cook the onion for 5 minutes until soft, but not browned.

2. Add the garlic, chilli, cumin, paprika, cayenne, chilli powder (if using) and cook for another few minutes

3. Take off the heat and let cool slightly. If you haven’t already, you can drain and rinse the mixed beans/pulses now.

4. Pop the cooked onion/garlic/chilli/spices in a bowl with the mixed beans/pulses, and mash. Mash until approximately half is mushed up, and half still resembles beans. This will give it a nice texture.

5. Whiz up the bread in a blender until it resembles breadcrumbs

6. Add the breadcrumbs, lime juice, egg and coriander and mix it until everything is combined.

7. Shape into burgers of equal size. The size I make mine, I always seem to come out with 9, but you can make this mixture into slightly more or less, depending on your needs.

Don’t they look so appetising?!

If you want to freeze some, place them uncovered on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and pop them in the freezer. When they are frozen, portion them out into freezer bags and freeze for up to 3 months (mine never last this long though because they are too tasty).

To Cook:

Fresh: Chill the burgers for 30 minutes in the fridge. Heat 1 tbsp additional oil in a pan, and fry for a few minutes on each side, until golden-brown.

Frozen: Preheat the oven to 220°C (200°C Fan). Place the frozen burgers on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Cover the tray with tin foil and cook for 30 minutes. I usually flip mine over half way through, too. (If you are cooking sweet potato fries too, put the fries in the oven 10 minutes before the burgers, at the same temperature, and flip them over every 10-15 minutes.)

To Serve:

Serve in a wholegrain bun with spinach, red onion, avocado and jalapenos, and top with soured cream. To make it even more tasty, serve with sweet potato fries (it is definitely worth it!)

Stay happy (these burgers are sure to make you!)

Alice x

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Breakfast, Smoothies & Shakes

Glorious Green Smoothie

Everyone loves a smoothie, right? Well, we do in this house (flat)! My favourites are the green smoothies, whereas Liam loves the more indulgent ones – frozen banana, milk, chocolate and peanut butter, for example.
I love green smoothies. Why? For starters, they helped me kick my caffeine habit. It wasn’t a bad one, but I was always conscious that my intake was slowly increasing. I went from one instant coffee a couple of times a week, to 1 instant with breakfast, 1 americano when I got to work, and then another americano in the afternoon, all in about 3 years. This was too much for me! I still enjoy a cup at home at the weekend, but now I really enjoy it without feeling like a slave to it.

My motivation to get rid of the coffee came when I bought the Honestly Healthy recipe book. It is really informative on which foods are acid-forming in the body (which is bad). Coffee is apparently one of the worst. I was also more than aware that coffee can actually cause more tiredness – anyone who saw me around 3pm would have known this too.
I needed something to substitute for the coffee, but also give me a bit of a boost in energy. Enter the green smoothie!
I won’t lie… the headaches and tiredness were pretty bad – I decided to (pretty much) go cold turkey. But, it passed, and I felt really good.
Now, all this liquid veg and lack of coffee does my energy levels wonders!
I also love the fact that before, I would never eat a stick of celery, or a kiwi, or a handful of kale in any regular day. I would never eat a stick of celery in any day to be honest – I think it tastes quite vile. But whizz it up in a concoction of nutritious green yummy-ness and I’ll drink one straight down, no problem.

All of these vegetables and fruits that would have never made it into my meals or snacks, are now giving me all this extra nutrition that I wasn’t getting before. Bonus! I have recovered from the coffee-induced slump and gained an extra boost from the veg.  
This green smoothie is one of my favourites. It is from the Honestly Healthy book, with a little extra addition of a banana (or mango if you don’t like banana). I still drink one every morning ‘in replace of my coffee’ even though my coffee habit is long gone. If this is my new habit, well, I don’t think I will be trying to kick it just yet!

You will need:

A large handful of spinach

1 kiwi, skin and white centre removed

2 celery stalks, ends removed

1/4 avocado

1 banana (or about 6 x 1 inch chunks frozen/fresh mango)

10cm piece of cucumber (approx. 1/4 – 1/3 cucumber)

1/2 lemon, juiced

250ml cold, filtered water

8-12 ice cubes, depending on size

This is what you do:

1. Wash the celery, spinach and cucumber.

2. Put the spinach in the blender first. Chop the rest of the solid ingredients and add to the blender.

3. Juice the lemon into a small bowl. Really go for it! Then remove any seeds that popped out. Pour the juice into the blender.

4. Add the water and ice cubes.

5. Blend until smooth!

Stay Happy,

Alice x

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